When Religion Makes One Feel Superior…

If you have been through this blog you’d realize that I deeply admire and have been blessed by the writings of one Clive Staples Lewis.

Perhaps my favorite book of his is Mere Christianity, which contains a few chapters which can stand alone as classics.

One of these titled, “The Great Sin”, is a treatise on pride and contains a number of riveting insights.

He describes Pride,

Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.

Also,

The Christians are right: it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. Other vices may sometimes bring people together: you may find good fellowship and jokes and friendliness among drunken people or unchaste people.

But pride always means enmity–it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.

Insightful to be sure and he goes on to say that pride can be a “death-trap” to Christians.

He describes such occasions,

Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good–above all, that we are better than someone else–I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil.

The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object.

It is better to forget about yourself altogether.

Did Martin Luther change Diapers?

With the gender role brouhaha that this post spawned, it seemed good to link up this post from the folks over at “The Silent Holocron” (gotta love the obscure Star Wars reference),

Changing Diapers to the Glory of God”

In the post you’ll find a lengthy quote from one Martin Luther which I think relevant to the discussion.

What the man’s attitude should be (according to Luther) in regards to the so-called drudgeries of fatherhood,

O God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labour, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight.

Then the woman’s to the so-called drudgeries of motherhood,

A wife too should regard her duties in the same light, as she suckles the child, rocks and bathes it, and cares for it in other ways; and as she busies herself with other duties and renders help and obedience to her husband. These are truly golden and noble works. . . .

On a personal note, I once was that guy that proclaimed “Never will I change a diaper” only to do it (happily I might add, though I’ve been slacking as of late) after our son was born.

Prior to witnessing our son’s birth I admired my wife for her beauty, her wit, and her mind. Afterwards said admiration grew exponentially for reasons which words cannot express.

Illegally Sharing Music: What would Jesus Do?

Had a nice discussion last night in home group about illegally sharing one’s music collection with friends and family.

Apparently the illegality of such a thing does not tickle the Christian conscience in the least bit for we are as guilty as our unbelieving friends.

One of the students in the group incredulously asked, “What are we supposed to do, buy all of our music?”

To which I replied that entertainment is a privilege not a right, but somehow this too was a concept that might as well have been from another planet.

Thoughts?

Humans aren’t easily amused, we are too easily pleased

From CS Lewis’ classic sermon, “The Weight of Glory”,

Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased

Preach on Brother Clive…

Peace Village: More Interfaith Confusion

We believe that all religions are basically the same –
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God and salvation. — from Steve Turner’s “Creed”

Many Christians are angered or disturbed by so-called Interfaith groups. Anger isn’t really an emotion that bubbles up within me when I read about these kind of well-intentioned groups (truly the quip about the road to hell surely applies here).

Confusion is probably what besets me when I read about these types of efforts (previously blogged about it here).

After reading a related article in the Houston Chronicle’s Religion section, I was again puzzled.

“Bound by the Golden Rule”

The story is about a woman, Janie Stevens, who has brought something called “Peace Village” to Houston in order to,

“It helps Christians of all ages learn about their fellow human beings on Earth, within the context of their faith,” she said. “It has been a real eye-opener to see how we all have prayer lives of one form or another and we all acknowledge a higher being.”

Well and good, I for one don’t mind learning about other beliefs. It is somewhat enlightening and astonishing how humans utilize their imagination to worship everything and anything instead of the Living God.

I’m not sure if Stevens’ venture seeks to pretend that these different faiths are all the same and they worship the same god.

Anyone familiar with any of the major world religions can see that as Turner points out in his poem they differ vastly on the important stuff. That there are threads of commonality is beyond dispute but this does not mean that they are the same.

Though this seems to be espoused by a Christian Reverend quoted in the article,

“It’s a wonderful depiction of the major world religions,” said the Rev. Gary H. Jones, director of chaplaincy services for St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Care System. “What I saw as the thread is a way of blessing people — the many ways of blessings, of calling for prayer and calling God in times of need.”

I wonder what Rev. Jones makes of Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman,

“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Humans Playing God, Episode #412121821

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. –Hebrews 4:12

Just as a sword can be employed in the service of evil, Scripture can be misunderstood and twisted to advance evil purposes (history is littered with such examples).

Even Scripture itself shows the consequences of twisting God’s Word, in that case it led to “Humans Playing God Episode #1.  Lewis aptly tells us the consequences of this particular historical event,

And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history-money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

Some refer to the abuses of Scripture as so-called “evidence” that religion (Christianity is the popular target) is evil and thus should be banished from the public square. The words of Augustine suffice when talking to these folk,

Never judge a philosophy by its abuse.

All this to refer to the following article,
“Canadian serial murderer wanted to rid world of ‘evil ways'”

in which a man who murdered six prostitutes and as part of his justification he cited Ephesians 5:5,

In one of the letters, Pickton offers his own interpretation of Ephesians 5:5: “You can be sure that no immoral, impure or greedy person will in-herit the kingdom of God … Don’t be fooled by whose who try to excuse these sins, for the terrible anger of God comes upon all those who disobey him.”

The fact that Paul (who wrote the letter to the Ephesians) was not telling us to take matters into our own hands either escaped Pickton’s notice or not and his actions reflect the depravity inherent in mankind.

Sadly had Mr. Pickton perused Paul’s other writings, such as Romans,

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.

“BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (12:18-21)

He might have realized that we are not to take matters into our own hands, even if the offenses are directed against us.

Ironically enough later on in Ephesians (6:17) Paul refers to the word of God as the “sword of the Spirit”, perhaps informing us that just as training (physical and spiritual) is required to effectively use a sword for good, the same must hold true of Scripture.

In a related note there is this story, also from Canada,
“Father killed daughter for not wearing hijab, her friends say”

Not sure where the Qur’an comes out on such matters.

Chris Tomlin coming to you from Tim Tebow’s iPod

Gene Menez of SI.com interviewed Heisman Trophy candidate Tim Tebow.

“Talkin’ with Tebow”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or could care less about college football or sports in general, Tebow is the versatile quarterback of the University of Florida Gators.

tebow-scores.jpgAP

Tebow scores against Ohio State in last year’s National Title game.

Versatile because he is the first player in college football history to throw for 20 touchdowns and run for 20 touchdowns.

He truly is an outstanding player and given the fact that Tebow is a devout Christian and my penchant to root for so-called running quarterbacks I’m a big fan.

If he wins the Heisman I wonder if he’ll be the first Heisman trophy winner to be homeschooled?

Here is a couple of questions I found interesting,

SI.com: Do you still read the Bible every day?

Tebow: Yes

……

SI.com: What do you want for Christmas?

Tebow: You know, I’ve never been someone to be picky or want anything. The best thing about Christmas for me is having all my siblings come home and spend time and hang out with them. That’s the big thing for me for Christmas. Oh, my mom has to cook ice cream Rice Krispie Treat pie when I go home. That’s what I want for Christmas.

………

SI.com: (Laughs) OK. Thanks. What’s getting the most play in your iPod right now?

Tebow: Oh, that’s a good question. I don’t get asked that question. Let me see. Hmm. I’m trying to think. I like George Strait. He gets played on there a lot. Kenny [Chesney] gets played on there a lot. I’m a big country fan, so a lot of country stuff. Chris Tomlin gets played on there a lot. No. 1, though? You know what? I’d have to go with Don’t Blink by Kenny Chesney.

I wonder how many Tebow fans know who Chris Tomlin is? (Ironically enough, Chris Tomlin’s “Give us Clean Hands” started playing in my iPod as I was finishing this post up)

CS Lewis Posthumously Corrects Philip Pullman

There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of “Heaven” ridiculous by saying they do not want “to spend eternity playing harps.” The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them…

A child saying a child’s prayer looks simple. And if you are content to stop there, well and good. But if you are not–and the modern world usually is not–if you want to go on and ask what is really happening–then you must be prepared for something difficult. If we ask for something more than simplicity, it is silly then to complain that the something more is not simple.

Very often, however, this silly procedure is adopted by people who are not silly, but who, consciously or unconsciously, want to destroy Christianity. Such people put up a version of Christianity suitable for a child of six and make that the object of their attack. — C.S. Lewis

When a movie or a book comes out which is perceived to undermine Christianity, the reaction by some Christians really leaves a lot to be desired. The rallying cry of “Boycott” is heard from some Christian leaders and is a symptom of perhaps what can be called knee-jerk reactions.

Exhibit A,

“Christian groups slam new Kidman children’s movie”

The movie, of course, is “The Golden Compass” which is based on Phillip Pullman’s book “The Northern Lights”. Mr. Pullman does not like Christianity very much, this may be in part due to a misconception regarding the Way of Christ, but more than likely it might be the natural contempt humans have for the things of God, as the Apostle pointed out here.

Albert Mohler does not commit the mistake in Exhibit A, on the contrary he wrote a good article regarding the upcoming movie,
The Golden Compass — A Briefing for Concerned Christians

Dr. Mohler does his usual stellar job of breaking things down in a logical and concise manner. In his commentary, he cited an article in which Pullman further reveals his ignorance,

“This is exactly what happens in the Garden of Eden,” Pullman told me. “They become aware of sexuality, of the power the body has to attract attention from someone else. This is not only natural, but a wonderful thing! To be celebrated! Why the Christian Church has spent 2,000 years condemning this glorious moment, well, that’s a mystery. I want to confront that, I suppose, by telling a story that this so-called original sin is anything but. It’s the thing that makes us fully human.”

Besides the obvious display of darkened human understanding, as evidenced by Pullman’s description of original sin, Isaiah describes Pullman’s view of things here.

Though Pullman is no fan of C.S. Lewis he might want to read his works to at least know just what he is so vehement against,

A reasonable (and traditional) guess, based on our own experiences of going wrong, can, however, be offered. The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting Yourself first–wanting to be the centre–wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race.

Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. (The story in the Book of Genesis rather suggests that some corruption in our sexual nature followed the fall and was its result, not its cause.)

What Satan put into the heads of our remote–ancestors was the idea that they could “be like gods”–could set up on their own as if they had created themselves–be their own masters–invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God.

And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history-money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

Lewis goes on,

That is the key to history. Terrific energy is expended–civilisations are built up–excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top and it all slides back into misery and ruin.

In fact, the machine conks. It seems to start up all right and runs a few yards, and then it breaks down. They are trying to run it on the wrong juice. That is what Satan has done to
us humans.

Self-Righteousness: A Pillar of Unbelief

Often the charge is levied at religious people (in America it’s Christians since it is, on the surface, the prevalent faith) that they are self-righteous prigs who like nothing better than to impose their morality on everyone else and sapping the “fun” of out of everything. Sometimes the accusation is justified albeit for the wrong reasons.

It’s somewhat comical to watch religious people lob this label on one another. Among Christians much of this brotherly bickering could be curtailed with a cursory look at Romans 14, but I digress.

Currently reading Gene Edward Veith’s, “Loving God with All Your Mind” and are finding it to be a stimulating read.

In one of the chapters he talks about self-righteousness and the way he explains it shed some light on the fact that this disease is not limited to religious folk.

Veith writes,

The most dangerous illusion of them all is self-righteousness. This is the true barrier to Jesus Christ. All rejection of God’s grace takes this form. Those who refuse the free forgiveness of God through Christ do so because they do not see themselves as needing that forgiveness. They do no admit that they are sinners. They deny that they are desperately lost.

God’s Law in its purity works not only to shape society and to show us how we are to live, but also reveals our sinfulness and awakens in us our need of a Savior (Romans 7, Galatians 3).

And yet we try to convince ourselves, even in the midst of our sins, that we are basically good, in fact better than most people. We justify ourselves, and in our complacency and self-sufficient pride we shut out the grace of God.

Thank You God

My wife and I have much to be thankful to God for not just on this day but every day. For our salvation, for our wonderful marriage, for the opportunity to raise our son. We recognize that these blessings are not to be taken for granted but are gifts from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Professor Marvin Olasky (University of Texas, Hook ’em Horns!) pretty much sums it up in this column,
“Thank vs. Thank You”

A sample,

That thanking God, for a Christian, is also bound up with trusting God. Christians (I’m one) are thanking God for grace, unmerited favor. Especially because we have not earned such compassion, we thank God for seeing exactly who we are and giving us what we need to change.

We love God not as equals, but as recipients of his kindness and respecters of his omnipotence. That’s why the Bible tells us he is our Father in heaven and why the Apostles’ Creed begins, “I believe in one God, the Father almighty.” And so when God tells us in the Bible to believe or do something and we don’t fully understand why, we still try to do it; God has done so much for us that we give him the benefit of the doubt.

Thanks to all of you who read and/or comment on this blog. May ya’ll have much to be thankful for to He who is the giver of such blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving!