Water & Culture
There is an old Chinese proverb which reads, “If you wish to know about water, do not ask a fish.” The only thing a fish knows is water. For the fish to gain a comparison to the water in which he exists, well, it rarely ends well for the fish.
In many ways, our culture is to us as the water is to the fish. Culture is the medium in which we move and exist in a country, a family or a locale. Because our culture is always with us, it becomes extremely hard to identify what culture sometimes “is” and what it “is not.” If you travel outside the U.S., this grants you a perspective that very few Americans have; if you do not travel, most likely “blissful ignorance” will reign.
Recently, there has been much discussion to change the name of the of the Southern Baptist Convention. The reason? There are those who believe we should change the name of the Convention believe that because the word “Southern” is associated in our culture with the institution of slavery, and because the SBC owes much of its beginning to men who either owned slaves or supported the institution of slavery, we must change our name.
Culture is not automatically equivalent to what the Bible identifies as “worldliness.” Worldliness is all that is opposed to God and the coming of His kingdom. Now culture can certainly qualify as worldliness, but it does not have to be. We speak English in church and read Bibles and sing music that also uses the English language. We are, culturally, an American church, yet we seek to measure ourselves against God’s Word and not our culture.
Now back to the name change for the Convention: Why? Will anything change? The supporters claim it will change how we are perceived. Will our convention be redefined? No, not really. Same churches, same pastors and members, same beliefs but no changes in doctrine or theology. Then why change?
There exist within our churches people who have bought into the perception, ideology and thinking of the cancel culture which is now rampant in our culture. To change our name because the Convention is no longer geographically defined as being predominantly “Southern,” well, that has some legitimate, logical reasoning and purpose. But to change it based on what others may think—and these “others” are already hateful toward all things Christian—is a silly compromise to cultural pressure and its unbiblical societal demands.
In Matthew 11:16-19, Jesus said regarding John the Baptizer, “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
There are those in our culture will never be satisfied even if we acquiesce to their demands. We can attempt to satisfy their calls for cultural compliance, for no matter what we do, we will never satisfy their demands. We will never reach a point where they will cease to insist that our behavior and beliefs should change. If we seek to comply with their demands, or attempt to avoid their retribution, we will find ourselves the victim of their ever-changing rules and definitions which are continually mutable. To do so will only result in our disobedience.
Those who desire that Christians comply will never be pleased. I’ve read the end of the Bible; there will be more and more persecution of the Church coming and believers cannot escape the consequences of prophecy. Again, believers do not seek consolation and comfort in our circumstances, but in our sovereign Lord.
Our worship is to be lived to only One, to the worship of only One. Jesus Christ stated, “Wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Our deeds, the way we live our faith “out loud” amid our culture, will either justify our use of faith before God or convict us before our culture.
Believers do not live in water; we live in faith. We hope in a future we cannot see and is not yet here. Our proof, the proof we offer our culture and this world, is in our deeds.
Deciding Our Fate
Follow along class: “suicide” is self-killing; “herbicide” is weed killing; “homicide” is the killing of another human; insecticide is the killing of insects and “genocide” is the killing of a whole group based on race. When we “decide” we are killing off options, the other possible realities we could experience when we make a decision.
Very few people have even heard of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortion doctor whose trial over the last five-plus weeks has illuminated the dark, bloody and heartless world of late-term abortions. The fact almost no one has heard of this man is a testimony to the complete apathy of the major news outlets regarding their responsibilities—implied or otherwise—to keep the nation informed.
As it turns out, few members of the national media consider this a worthy subject to cover.
While I find abortion abhorrent, despicable, cruel, and as an act, nothing short of legalized convenience-killing, my desire is not really to focus on abortion per se, but rather what its practice and tolerance says about us as a people.
Over this past month our country has been shocked with the violence of the Boston Bombings. How could these men choose to do these things? How is it the majority—if not all—of these types of violence been committed by young men obsessed with killing and “striking at” a perceived lack in their world?
As a pastor and a Christian who believes in the authority of Scripture and the exclusiveness of salvation through Jesus Christ, the 1973 SCOTUS decision of Roe-v-Wade which legalized abortion on demand is a watershed event in our country. Regardless of the arguments now forming in your mind, Roe-v-Wade did more than merely legalize abortion; it validated and rationalized an attitude toward newborn life in particular and “life” in general.
The generations born since this turning point of societal and cultural thinking have realized life is nothing more than a whim; a decision of an adult dependent on circumstance and convenience. According to society and now mandated by law, all children have been a mere subject of choice, a convenience and nothing more than the proverbial whim of the mother. Gone is the idea of intrinsic value of life, of its gift and the imprimatur of Deity on it.
It is no wonder why life is viewed as “cheap” and of no value. Life has become nothing more than the result of a choice. Some may say, “Life is what you make of it, what you do!” While I may be able to comprehend the sentiment, what happens when we as a people fail or we are hurt or crippled? What do we do when we get too old to “do” anything making us significant?
The atheistic mind believes life is found only in the “now” (because when you’re dead you’re dead and there’s nothing but nothing) and the past is nothing more than something we “hope” (an avenue of faith I might add) we may improve on.
The evolutionary mind sees us essentially as “Humanity 1.8”; the apes, Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal species we have surpassed prove our superiority. Homo-Sapien-Sapien has overcome, has evolved and survived as the fittest of the species and “Humanity 1.8” is the latest release in the evolutionary line. We are “better” and therefore more valuable because we survived and do survive.
Yet may I point out this rings hollow for those who lost life and limbs in Boston, on September 11 or any other of the mass killing occurring throughout the twentieth century until today.
Do we as a people sacrifice everything on the altar of the convenient? We are taught through the actions of society we all have our “rights” and how dare anyone violate our rights or offend our sensibilities! Those right-wing whackos clinging to their God and their guns are the reasons we have violence and hatred still in our country!
How quickly we have forgotten Nazi Germany outlawed guns and Hitler replaced God. Lenin and Stalin outlawed both God and guns. The resultant loss of life: Hitler killed over 6 million Jews and millions more undesirables; Stalin, not wanting the Nazis to outdo him, conservatively killed over 45 million people.
So much for God and guns, eh?
Yet I offer an observation: if the fittest survive, if we all have a choice, if we all have our rights—especially our right to never be offended—what do we then do with those who cannot speak, cannot stand or especially those who are never given a chance to speak, to stand or even to live?
As a country we mourn our losses—especially difficult are the ones we view as “senseless.” Yet contrary to our words, our actions scream our attitude; life is cheap because choices are easy. We are unable to know the full extent of those choices because we have nothing oppositional giving us a comparison; once we de-cide we have literally “killed off” all of the other realities providing a comparison to our choice.
And after all of the killing and maiming we have witnessed lately, shouldn’t we be more judicious regarding our killing decisions?
I mean, seriously?
Seriously? Getting What We’ve Gotten!
Posted by Jim Grieme
While forgetfulness is a universally experienced bane of humanity, what is now being considered—and even demanded—by many in today’s culture has not so much been forgotten as it has never been learned.
To be forgetful is one thing entirely and is a forgivable problem. Those with family members who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease understand the personal anguish associated with those who have lapsed into the terribly increasing nothingness of those diseases. These families would never blame their loved ones for forgetting; they only possess a deep longing for its cure.
Yet to not know, to be controlled by a veritable arrogance of this agnostic lack of situational awareness, often produces derision in the observers of those who refuse to know. The realization of those who witness this pandemic of ignorance is this: even if they had the opportunity to show those caught up in their blissful celebration, those affected would never desire to see the presentation of reality nor do they possess the mindset to appreciate what they would deem as an antagonistic view.
Their reaction would demonstrate the wisdom of not casting one’s pearls before swine; they would eat as food which should be digested as wisdom.
Ideas have consequences. Words have meaning. Meaning demands that absolute truth must exist. Truth ignored will bring consequences.
I do not believe in an esoteric version of truth; I believe truth is embodied in a Person. There exists One who is Truth. This Truth is absolute. This Truth exists. Someone may choose to not believe in Him, yet He cannot be dismissed or ignored; true, one may attempt to do so, but the consequences are profound.
If something in the wisdom presented by humanity—whether philosophically, scientifically, or practically—if such wisdom is true, the One who embodies Truth is the originator and the owner of such Truth.
Too many of the ideas being spread like nightsoil on a field are being seriously considered as viable options to consider. Are people forgetful? Yes, but that’s part of being human. Are people ignorant? Absolutely! Yet ignorance is an addressable weakness; yet to do so one must acknowledge their lack of knowledge and seek to overcome that lack with knowledge.
Today, because of the prevalence and overwhelming acceptance of postmodernity, everyone can determine their own truth. If someone speaks an idea into existence, then we are forced to accept it, unless the speaker is deemed to be unenlightened by those who “know the truth”—who know their truth—and then it is derided and rejected.
To get well when one is sick, it isn’t the fact a doctor exists somewhere and because there is a doctor “out there somewhere” the sickness will be cured. No, the one who is sick must admit they are sick. Then they must seek out a doctor who possess the “true” treatment regimen which will then make the one who is sick better or well.
Education, filling people with “knowledge,” will not cure the diseases which now wrack our society and culture; in many ways, unfettered knowledge possessed by those who lack wisdom, contributes to the turmoil we are currently experiencing.
The English, Franciscan friar, William of Ockham, invented what has been attributed to him as “Ockham’s Razor.” When a problem has more than two answers which address all the facts of the problem, the simplest answer will be the one most often correct.
The answer to the complex problems facing our world, our society and our culture, should not be addressed by complex and obviously recycled answers. It is time to set aside arrogance, to reject labels of unsophistication and patriarchy, and consider the One who is Truth, Life and the only Way out of our predicament. Jesus Christ is the only viable answer to the chaos we are witnessing and experiencing.
Unfortunately, many will reject this answer. Instead they will opt to once again keep doing what has always been done.
And they will keep receiving what has always been received.
Posted in Social Commentary
Tags: absolute truth, agnosticism, arrogance, consequences, culture, forgetfulness, idiocy, ignorance, Jesus Christ, knowledge, Meaning, pandemic, pearls before swine, postmodernism, society, wisdom