It is past time for those who call upon the Lord, to call upon the Lord.
If the Lord prompts you, let’s take a few minutes to begin to pray together, on Tuesdays at noon, eastern, for revival in our land.
Pray for personal revival and repentance:
Confession of our sin of selfishness, all about me, all about my script; pride and control; complaining and whining; faithlessness and hopelessness; sins that entangle my life; sins that build barriers between me and others; apathy; laziness and procrastination; wasting time; busyness and chasing after worthless activities; addictions; lack of joy and love and peace and patience; coolness in my hunger for God.
Pray for a revival of my heart and soul and mind; for the Spirit of God to breathe upon me.
Pray for national revival and repentance:
Confession of our corporate sin of the slaughter of millions of babies and the casual selling of their severed bodies; for the sin of sexual immorality—in our laws, in our arts and media, movies and music; for the sin of theft and murder and lawless crime ravaging our streets and cities; for the sin of lust for drugs, for sex, for money, for power; for the sin of rebellion and tyranny in government; for our nation rejecting God.
Pray for revival in our marriages, in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our businesses, in our pulpits and congregations, in our governors, in our state and federal governments.
May the Lord be gracious and merciful to us and turn the heart of our nation back to Him.
Pray for the unity and revival of the Remnant:
Pray that God would breathe on our dry bones; that He would pull us together; that we would stand in the face of persecution; that we would be blameless before God and man; that we would encourage each other, pray for one another, love each other as Jesus prayed we would and that the world would know Him to be the Son of God because of our oneness in Christ; that we would be the light and salt we were meant to be; that God would raise us up for such a time as this.
All for His Glory. Soli Deo Gloria!
This headline caught my eye. And in the opening paragraph were the shocking statements: “..there are currently 5,800 ancient Greek manuscripts or fragments…almost none of them completely agree with the others…” And then the bold statement that errors found in the manuscripts indicate “deliberate, later insertions that could substantially affect Christian doctrine and understanding.”
Wow…I thought. They must have found errors that are going to show Christianity to be false or at least on shaky ground! Now, I only thought that in my typical sarcasm, because we’ve seen these headlines before. The headlines are meant for those who read them and form an opinion whether or not they continue to read the article. In some cases, even after reading the article, that may or may not support the headline, they still retain the initial impression that the headline gave them.
So, what do we find in here that “could substantially affect” Christianity?
Well, first of all, a confession that 99% of the differences are attributed to spelling, transposing words or careless copy errors. This is an honest admission and is quite true. But it its important to note that the reason we know this is because Christians hold the Word of God so highly, that we have, for thousands of years, been scouring over the manuscripts and fragments, categorizing anything that would help us understand what the original documents actually said. The truth is that this scholarly effort, done by Christians themselves, has no peer anywhere. It is the drive to know the original words that compels us to do this kind of excruciating, detailed analysis of every fragment we find. When one fragment has two words transposed compared to thousands that don’t, it is easy to recognize a copy error. This is why we can have such a high degree of confidence that we know what was in those originals. Yes, there are a handful of variants that are “substantial” but none of them “substantially affect” our Christian doctrine.
Well, one is the supposition that Jesus may have not said to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And what is the evidence given in the article? Is it left out of many manuscripts? No. The argument is made because Peter, in Acts 2:38, when he is speaking of baptism, only mentions the name of Jesus. There is absolutely no evidence to say that the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 were altered. And, the author admits it.
Another is whether or not Peter and Paul had a “harmonious” relationship as might be indicated in Gal 2:7-8. The negative evidence is taken, unbelievably, from Marcion of Sinope, a reviled heretic in the second century who didn’t think highly of Peter. This is pretty lame evidence. The only textual evidence is that Paul switches from using “Cephas” to “Peter” in these verses. Even if they were found to have been added later and not in the original, it is hardly going to turn Christianity upside down.
Another of these earth-shaking issues has to do with Paul’s extensive greeting at the beginning of Romans versus his usual simple greeting. This will surely keep me up at night. Again, no textual evidence that Paul didn’t wax long for the Romans and not for others, just as you might not always begin your letters the same way.
Only three of the ten passages in the article fall into the category of possibly not being in the originals. All three have been acknowledged in our modern translations and none of the three have any impact on Christian doctrine at all.
The first is the question regarding the ending in Mark 16:9-20. These passages don’t appear in many of the early manuscripts and almost all translations will have them bracketed with a footnote that they should be read with caution, as they may not have been a part of Mark’s original. Nothing doctrinally is lost if these verses are removed.
The second is the section in John’s Gospel, 7:53-8:11. Again, it is not found in any of the oldest manuscripts. It is the story of the women caught in adultery. Again, there is nothing that would change in Christian doctrine without this passage.
The third is from 1 John 5:7-8. Here are the two passages as they are disputed:
NKJ: For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
ESV (similar in NAS, NIV): For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.
The NKJ has a footnote that the larger portion ending with “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit” is only found in the later manuscripts. Again, nothing has changed in Christian doctrine now that the NAS, ESV and NIV are in use without this verse...and have been for many years.
Are there portions of the Scripture where we still have questions about what was in the original? Yes. But they are few in number and none of them change the fundamental teaching of Christianity. My college students have given me example after example of how professors, and other students, will raise the flag that “the Bible is unreliable, filled with errors.” You will hear it and see it, just like in this headline.
But, you can confidently say to them, “Yes, there are a number of spelling and copy errors. And we have categorized every one of those. But we have so many manuscripts that we have been able to discern those spelling errors and the others and none of them changes one iota the fundamental teaching of Christianity. Thank you for pointing out the deep scholarly work that Christians have done for thousands of years to insure that we have gotten as close as possible to the original texts. And do you know why we do all of this detailed, excruciating work? Because we are convinced that God has spoken to us in written form. And we will do everything possible to capture it rightly and to then preserve it. Thanks for bringing this up!”
A few miles up the road from me, in Lakewood, CO, a baker is fighting for what he believes is morally right. Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, declined to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in 2013. The gay couple, rather than respecting his beliefs, took him to the authorities, because this isn’t about getting a cake or flowers or photos, this is about forcing you to bow the knee or pay tribute.
In this case, as well as the numerous ones flaring up around the country, the court is not only wrong, but it’s ruling is flawed. The argument is that Phillips “discriminated” against the couple and that he was in violation of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law because he was “picking and choosing customers based upon their sexual orientation”. But this is in error. Phillips openly stated that he “has no problem serving gay people”.
It is the purpose for the cake that violates his conscience, not the buyer.
I suspect that even if his mother had asked him to bake a cake for a gay wedding, he would have said no because of his Biblical convictions. This isn’t discriminating against someone for their sexual orientation. The ACLU lawyer stated “no one should be turned away from a shop or restaurant because of who they are or who they love.” This is a false argument, because, first, they weren’t “turned away” like someone in the past might have turned away an Indian, a black man, a Jew or an Irishman. Phillips said he would have been happy for them to order or buy anything else in the shop. They weren’t “turned away”, they were denied a specific request. And second, most importantly, they weren’t refused this request because of “who they were or who they love”. It had nothing to do with them, it had everything to do with what was on the cake and its purpose.
If the gay couple had asked for a cake with "Happy Birthday" on it, he would have made it. If they had asked for "Congratulations, Graduate", he would have made that also. But when he is asked to use his God-given talents to produce or support that which he believes is morally wrong, he is bound, before God, to say no. If the gay couple had asked him to portray a gay sex act or if a black heterosexual couple had asked him to portray a heterosexual act, does he not have the right to refuse both on personal moral grounds? In the argument of our courts today, he is in violation of the law if he refuses either, for he would be considered discriminating against gays and blacks.
Does anyone in their right mind think that a black couple who requested this would take the baker to court? Of course not. Just as I would not do so if I went to a baker requesting a cake for my pork luau, and the baker told me he was sorry, for he was Muslim, and he could not in good conscience, depict a pig. I would ask his forgiveness that I had requested this of him, thank him for his honesty, and then seek out another baker.
Now, if Phillips had stated that he wouldn’t serve gay people at all, then I wouldn’t be supporting him either, because, although I personally think he has a right to refuse service to anyone, I think it would be contrary to a Christian worldview to show partiality. There is a difference between “discrimination and partiality” and partiality is morally wrong.
After the court ruling, the ACLU called it a “proud day”. No doubt there was “dancing in the streets” by some. But this is not a proud day. This is a solemn day...as other headlines trumpet the power of the courts over a florist in Washington, a photographer in New Mexico, county clerks in Kentucky and Tennessee, and another baker in Oregon, who is facing a $135,000 fine because it, too, violated her religious beliefs to support a gay wedding. Some have lost their shops; others are faced with losing their jobs, paying huge fines, and some…going to jail.
A proud day? I don’t think so.
I remember seeing pictures of people celebrating in the streets after 9-11. Some thought that was a proud day too. It wasn’t. I pray I will never celebrate knowing that someone else is grieving or losing something precious to them. Our President did this after the Supreme Court Oberfeldt ruling when he lit up the White House with rainbow colors while a large part of the nation was grieving. That was not a proud day, either. It was an unbecoming, "in your face" by a President. Christians should never do this. I suppose one may rationalize it on the football field, but in real life, we should be a people of compassion...resolute for truth and righteousness, but always gracious in victory.
The courts and blue media and academia and Hollywood and much of civil government are aggressively against us...and against a Biblical worldview. It will most likely get even more difficult for us in the days ahead. But, despite this…there remains a huge remnant in the land. Take heart, take hope, take winsome and gracious, but firm, action.
Jared Fogle, the advertising face of Subway, pled guilty to paying for sex with minors and for possessing child pornography. Both are a crime in this country not only because we find these actions to be unethical, but also because we find that it is in the best interest of our society to have those actions criminalized and subjected to the punishment of the state. Not all unethical actions are deemed to require criminalization. You may covet your neighbor’s goat or hate his children, both in violation of God’s ethical standards, but we have, historically, not codified any means to prosecute coveters or haters, nor do we deem laws of value against those who lust or those who are slothful and lazy, nor children who are disobedient, nor those who do not give to the poor, nor even those who blaspheme God…although there was a time when some states did that, wrongly, I think.
When we do craft a law, therefore, it is, by necessity, based upon some ethical foundation. The laws that criminalize murder are based upon an ethic regarding the sanctity and rights of human life. The laws that criminalize theft are based upon an ethic regarding the rights to private property. And, the range of penalties for committing crimes varies based upon a sense as to the severity of the ethical breech. Spitting on a sidewalk in Wyoming may get you fined, but it won’t get you life in prison or the electric chair. You won’t serve 20 to 30 in the state penitentiary if your parking meter runs out while you shop for milk.
For most of our nation’s history, with some minor disagreements along the way, this ethical sense has been fairly consistent.
In the heart of the AP article about Fogle, in the true nature of blue journalism and its agenda, is a very interesting, if not unnerving, interview. A graduate student, Julie Carlton, sitting in a Subway in New York, made the startling comment that she was more upset with Chick-fil-A than the issue with Jared Fogle. Why? Because the president of Chick-fil-A affirmed a definition of family that did not include same-sex marriage.
This is breath taking…and not simply because of the blue journalism that sets this out-of-place interview in the middle of an article about Fogle’s confession. It doesn’t belong there except for the agenda. But that isn’t what is strange. We see this everywhere in blue media. No, what is so breath taking is the front and center expression by Miss Carlton. Is it possible that we have gotten our ethical senses so wacky that we are offended more by someone who is expressing their religious opinion about the design of the family than an abuser who has paid to have sex with a child?
If you haven’t noticed, then take notice. The ethic regarding sexuality is targeted for destruction. The objective is to achieve zero ethics when it comes to sexual issues, except for the crafting of laws against those who oppose such sexual liberation. Jack Phillips, the baker in Colorado, is one of several examples of how you may no longer be legally allowed to hold your religious convictions regarding human sexuality. We are going to be inundated with attempts to destroy all vestiges of biblical sexual morality. We are going to continue to see story after story of the transgendered, of homosexuals and homosexual couples, of homosexual adoptions, of gender fluidity, of bisexuality, of polyamorism, and even of pedophilia…all in positive and affirming coverage.
Now, the last one may surprise you because you may be thinking, today, that laws regarding sex with minors are sacrosanct. They are not. They can’t be. Those who would want you to think that it would never happen may be the ones who want you to ignore the real consequences of moral relativism. We no longer appeal to a fixed, absolute moral standard in our political discussions. With that gone and Hollywood making it look “oh so beautiful”, public opinion can be quickly swayed. There are already numerous efforts to change the age of consent laws. The Netherlands recently lowered the age of sexual consent to 16. The North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), before it went underground, pushed these changes for years. In 2011, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) held a symposium to discuss possible changes in the definition of pedophilia. Some of the discussion and presenters were lobbying for a position that certain levels of sexual activity between adults and children should be permissible. Today, the APA firmly holds to pedophilia being pathological. But they held the same firm position on homosexuality leading up to their reversal in 1973…and the culture followed suit. In a society where relativism has buried itself deeply into our hearts, the unthinkable is thinkable. Given a heart-tugging Hollywood movie and a few favorable television shows, and we are on our way.
Now, whether or not sex with minors becomes legal in my lifetime, which I believe it could unless something changes, the reality is that we have a plethora of evidence in our culture that we have now entered into an age of an ethical free-fall. The evidence is everywhere around us, from the Oval Office to an interview in a New York Subway.
When a nation rejects God and absolute moral standards, then it is not long before it descends into moral and societal chaos. Along the way, those who hold to the notion of God and absolutes will increasingly become the criminal. Jared will be seen as following his heart and Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-A will be viewed as the villain.
But, this is why it is the perfect time for the Remnant to kneel and to stand:
To kneel…not before the golden statue of the king, but before the King of Kings…in personal and corporate confession and repentance.
To stand…for personal righteousness, though it may cost you your job, or more, and for righteousness in public policy.
And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:9
Take heart, Remnant. It is for this time that we remain.
The role of media in a culture, especially in our modern world, is difficult to overstate. Quite frankly, it is huge and, I believe, it is THE MOST influential element in our society, bar none. Although it has become a tired cliché in Christian circles to complain about the media, this should not fool us into dismissing the reality of the incredible weight and sway that it carries. And, therefore, to not only better understand how and why things are happening in the culture around us, but to also guard ourselves, our families and one another against this most powerful, ubiquitous force that inundates our lives moment by moment.
Although the term “media” was originally used to describe the “medium” by which messages were communicated, i.e. the newspaper or the radio, it has exploded in modern times because the rise of technology has provided individuals and organizations capabilities to craft and deliver messages in a myriad of ways and forms. Long gone are the days when “media” had a small touch upon the American who might buy a newspaper if the headlines were bold or who might, in the evening after family supper, turn on the radio to hear Lawrence Welk or to possibly hear a news broadcast if war was breaking out. In addition, these were days, not perfect mind you, but days when the general population carried a fairly consistent and solid biblical worldview. They were more firm in their belief in God and in things that were right and things that were wrong.
Today, however, we are confronted with media messages everywhere and virtually at every moment. Media has sought to become omnipresent. Computer technology, the internet and now mobile devices have opened a 24/7 window into our lives through which streams an incessant flow of headlines, sports, entertainment, notices, communications, emails, tweets, instant messages, attachments, and links upon never-ending links to a bottomless pool of even more media content for your health, wealth, cooking, travel, political, gaming or any other mind-numbing, world-wide-web searching interest, where each Google query can give you millions of places to go and each of those places linking to a gazillion more places.
And we haven’t even mentioned yet the wealth of movies, videos, music, MP3-downloads, You-Tube, Facebook or the old-fashioned TV set, now upgraded to a screen that takes up half of your wall and a cable or satellite feed that brings you hundreds and hundreds of channels. If you want to sit and watch the life of another family going about its daily life rather than go about your own daily life, you can do so.
And as if this weren’t enough, we could look further and list the books and magazines and newspapers and billboards and advertisements that inundate virtually everything we have listed so far…they pop up continually on every electronic device we own.
It is everywhere…absolutely everywhere.
It is mind numbing.
But it is the messaging that we need to concern ourselves with, because the messages are the truth claims that bend our hearts and our souls…that seek to pull us into its mold.
And when the media becomes controlled by a worldview that is contrary to a biblical worldview, its ubiquitous presence can overwhelm us with false messages, both direct and indirect, blatant and subtle, conscious and unconscious.
This is the case that we face today with blue media. It seeks to squeeze us into its worldview mold. And, unfortunately, it is doing just that because along with its overwhelming presence, we have an increasing weakness in our faith in God and belief in moral absolutes. When these two are coupled together, you have a prescription for a culture that can be easily swayed by a single viral video or a few headlines or the right news anchor commentary. We have become a nation that is rootless, blown to and fro with every wind of teaching. And that teaching, or messaging, is coming primarily through blue media.
Have you been surprised by the rapid change of moral values in this nation? Are you surprised by way the Federal Government gets away with burying us under a debt of a hundred trillion dollars, or lawlessly thumbs its nose at the U.S. Constitution, or rules against the religious freedom of business owners, yet it remains completely unchallenged? Are you surprised that certain politicians can get away with things for which others would be thrown out or put in jail? Are you surprised when certain events get blown into superheated controversies and others are buried? Look no further than blue media and blue journalism.
For the Christian, we need to be cautious in several areas.
Number one, we need to make sure that we don’t allow this to destroy our hope or our joy or our faith, or any other of the Christian characteristics that mark us as a disciple of Christ.
Second, we need to recognize the danger that a blue media presents to us personally and to our families. I’m not in the prescribing business, but it would be wise to consider a survey of what your family and your children are consuming and how much. One of the most dangerous modern inventions for Christian families are private ear buds.
And third, we need the encouragement of each other. The overwhelming presence and influence of a blue media and the modern world is more than you or I are able to handle by ourselves. We need to be obedient to the Lord and gather together with other believers for prayer, for contemplation, for encouragement, for edification.
There is a huge remnant in the land. Be encouraged by the faithfulness of the Lord. We remain for such a time as this!