The spiritual legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr

By Joel J. Miller

In the fall of 1956, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech and asked his audience to imagine that the Apostle Paul had penned an epistle to American Christians just as he had done nineteen hundred years before to believers in Rome, Galatia, and Colossae.

What would he say? Since the apostle usually wrote to encourage and convict, what faults might he seek to correct?

According to the imaginary letter that King presented, Paul took particular offense at disunity in the church, including racial division. “You have a white church and you have a Negro church,” he said. “How can such a division exist in the true Body of Christ?” Such divisions are “against everything that the Christian religion stands for.”

One need only consult Paul’s real epistles—Romans, Galatians, and Colossians—to see what King is getting at. Consider this from Colossians 3:9-11: “[Y]ou have put off the old self with its practices and put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.”

Basic Christian doctrine teaches that humans are made in the image and likeness of God. We are all living icons of Christ. While that image was defaced in the Fall and damaged by sin, it is still a fact of our nature, and in Christ this image is “being renewed,” as Paul said.

Communion with both God and our fellow man was sundered in the Fall. Fratricide followed our expulsion from the Garden, and every kind of hatred and division came with it. But as our nature is restored, our communion is reestablished with God as well as man. Ethnic distinctions need no longer divide because “Christ is all, and in all.”

Racism is “against everything that the Christian religion stands for,” as King said, because the Christian faith is about elevating man’s fallen nature and restoring divine and human communion. But racism refuses to see the image of God in another. “The segregator relegates the segregated to the status of a thing,” said King, “rather than elevate him to the status of a person.” The racist does not see Christ in all, only in himself, and it is a false Christ. As a result, the racist misses the grace and goodness that God gives because it manifests in people and communities he spurns.

Martin Luther King Jr. taught one basic fact: that we should esteem all of God’s children regardless of color, that we should honor God’s image wherever and in whomever we find it. As we uphold King’s memory today we should view his task as incomplete as long as we devalue, obscure, or ignore the image in others.

If we cannot see Christ in all, then we will not see Christ at all. King said as much in his close of Paul’s imaginary letter to American Christians: “As John says, ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8). He who loves is a participant in the being of God. He who hates does not know God.”

Advertisements

What does the Bible teach about warfare?

Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about warfare in general. Actually, it says quite a lot. The words “war” and “battle” are found over 350 times in the Old Testament. We find God commanding war many times. In 2 Samuel 22:35, David says the Lord taught him to fight. In Joshua 3:9-10, God commands Joshua to conquer the Canaanites. In Exodus 15:3, God is called “a warrior” after defeating the Egyptian army. In many places in Scripture, the Lord uses warfare as an instrument of judgment against sinful nations (e.g., Numbers 31:1-24).

What we learn from such passages is that war is necessary at times. When the Philistines took up arms against Israel in 1 Samuel 17:1, Israel had to either fight a necessary war or capitulate to the enemy. The same was true in 1938 when the Germans marched into Austria. While war is terrible, there is nothing inherently evil with it per se. In a fallen world, war is inevitable (Luke 21:9-10).

However, the Bible does not condone war indiscriminately. Most of the scriptures we’ve cited so far have dealt with Israel in the Old Testament. To establish Israel in the Promised Land, war was necessary. At the same time, God used Israel militarily to judge the idolatrous nations of Canaan (Deuteronomy 18:12).

We need to make a clear distinction between a holy war and a just war. A true holy war is one specifically commanded by God to Old Testament Israel. The commands to do battle in the Old Testament were for a particular group of people for a particular time, for a particular purpose. That purpose has been accomplished, and no one can claim a “holy war” today.

The Christian’s battle is spiritual (Ephesians 6:12; 2 Corinthians 10:4). This means, among other things, that God’s people do not use physical means to coerce people into God’s Kingdom. However, does the Christian emphasis on a spiritual war mean that physical warfare between nations is always avoidable? Do we allow aggression to go unchecked? Should we ignore hostility and injustice? No, there is a place today for a just war.

A just (or justified) war is one that is waged on behalf of justice. The goal of a just war is peace. Romans 13:1-5 gives us the God-ordained role of government in society:

1) to govern with authority from God (v1-2)
2) to praise the good in society (v4)
3) to punish the evildoer in society (v4)
4) to bear the sword and execute wrath against wrongdoers (v4)

Just like the shepherd’s job is to protect the sheep from wolves, it’s the government’s job to protect its citizens from aggression.

Again, we make no attempt to justify war in general. There is no way to mitigate the horror and tragedy that war brings. But we do recognize that, at times, war can be justified. We list the following six guidelines to bring war under the rule of justice:

1) There must be a just cause. Bringing aggression, injustice, and genocide to a stop would promote righteousness and therefore be a just cause.

2) There must be just intention. The goal is peace and safety for all involved. The desire for ideological supremacy, geographical expansion, or economic gain does not justify a war.

3) War must be the last resort after all other methods to resolve the conflict have failed.

4) There must be a formal declaration of war. This shows that it is the government taking action on behalf of its citizenry.

5) Proportionate means are used. Weaponry and use of force must be limited to what is necessary to repel the attack and prevent future aggression. Unlimited war is wrong.

6) Noncombatant immunity. Individuals not actively involved in the conflict, including POWs and casualties, should be immune from attack.

So, what about the war against the terrorists in Iraq? We believe that it is a just war insofar as the United States and its allies are protecting its citizens and following the six guidelines, above. May we be faithful to pray for our country’s leaders and for true wisdom in these dangerous times (1 Timothy 2:1-2). And may the Lord quickly fulfill His promise to bring to an end all war forever (Isaiah 2:1-4).

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/war-Iraq-just.html#ixzz3SkXbN9et

What is Christadelphianism? What do Christadelphians believe?

Question: “What is Christadelphianism, and what do Christadelphians believe?”

I asked myself this recently while speaking with a lady at work, who testified that she had come across this “interesting” belief system in an acquaintance of hers. In short, Christadelphians deny the deity of Christ, the reality of Satan, and the immortality of souls. Their doctrine has departed from the sound testimony a plain reading of the Bible gives and, if followed, is spiritual poison. I later did some digging for a solid, biblically-based article explaining Christadelphianism, and came up with an excellent example from http://www.gotquestions.org. They have kindly allowed people to reproduce their articles on external websites, with proper attribution, as given below:

Answer: The Christadelphian sect was founded in 1838 by John Thomas, a London-born physician-turned-Bible teacher. Like the founders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and Christian Scientists, Thomas believed he alone had found the truth of real Christianity. One wonders how these men could “study” the Bible and come to the conclusion that God would leave humanity floundering in the darkness of error and apostasy for 1800 years, only to finally reveal Himself to one man. Nevertheless, that is what John Thomas taught.

Christadelphianism teaches the same two lies as literally every cult and false religion: it denies the deity of Jesus Christ and preaches a works-based salvation. Regarding the deity of Christ, Christadelphianism teaches that Jesus was more than a man, but less than God. According to A. Hayward, in Great News for the World, p. 41, Jesus was a created being with “strength of character to right some of the most appalling wrongs of his time.” Christadelphians teach that Jesus had a sinful nature and he, too, needed salvation from sin, that he was not pre-existent and did not come into existence until he was born in Bethlehem. The Bible declares that Jesus was sinless. He “committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22); “in him is no sin” (1 John 3:5); He “had no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21); He was “tempted in every way… yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). That Jesus was pre-existent is also evident from such passages as John 1, where He (the Word) was “in the beginning with God” (v. 2) and that all things that were created “were created through him” (v. 3) and that “he became flesh and dwelt among us” (v. 14). Denying that Jesus is the second Person of the Trinity is another universal characteristic of cults.

The second universally taught lie is that of salvation by works. The Christadelphians believe that faith in Christ is the beginning point, but salvation is by no means completed there. While they do claim to teach “salvation by grace,” that claim is buried beneath a landslide of demands for works righteousness. Salvation to the Christadelphians is a process, is not given at the point of faith in Christ, is dependent upon “belief in the covenants,” good works and baptism. Salvation, they believe, is the gift of God, but only bestowed on those whose works merit it. The Bible clearly teaches that “all our righteousness is as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), that works cannot save us, and that no one can keep even the smallest part of the law. “For whoever shall keep the whole Law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). But “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us…” (Galatians 3:10). The Law, works, and personal righteousness are powerless to save us. Only faith in Christ and His perfect sacrifice on the cross can save us (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; John 3:16). We are saved by faith alone, in Christ alone. “For He has made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). If, as the Christadelphians teach, we must merit our salvation through our own efforts, then Christ died in vain (Galatians 2:21), and the free gift described in Ephesians 2:8-9 is not free at all.

Other unbiblical beliefs of the Christadelphians include the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force; man does not have an immortal soul; Satan is not a personal being, but merely a synonym for any adversary; death is unconsciousness or annihilation; and heaven and hell are myths. Rather than restoring true Christianity, the Christadelphians deny the basic doctrines clearly outlined in the Bible and, as such, are like all false religions – a lie from the father of lies, Satan, who “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/Christadelphianism.html#ixzz3DjNOWCzM

The Lord brought the following verse to mind as I was tidying up this article ready for publication, emphasizing the need to defend and proclaim sound doctrine:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
(2 Timothy 2:15)

Until next time, Lord willing.

Naomi

God Incomprehensible

I followed along with this beautifully written article by Joe M., looking up verses in the Geneva Bible from 1599 as it has excellent study notes. Both Joe’s article and this translation of the Bible are recommended as encouragers to faith.

The Geneva Bible is the version that William Shakespeare quotes from hundreds of times in his plays. It was the first Bible taken to America, brought over on the Mayflower…it is the Bible upon which early America and its government was founded. It was so accurate and popular that, a half century later, when the King James Bible came out…it retained more than 90% of the exact wording of the Geneva Bible.

For more insights into the history of the Geneva Bible (dubbed by some as the “forgotten translation”, though at one point in history it was more popular than the King James version) kindly see:
http://genevabible.com/history.php

Learning the Way of Wisdom

Incomprehensible

While we must recognize that God ought to be more highly regarded, we can never think too highly of God for our limited cognition will never fully comprehend the vast greatness and majesty of the Most High God. The nature of God Himself is inexplicable and mysterious (Romans 11:33). His name is kept secret (Judges 13:18) and there are aspects of the Godhead that will remain beyond comprehension and without explanation in this lifetime (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Yet Christians strive to know God. Is such a goal even achievable? Can the incomprehensible God be known? These are good questions, but not the right questions. If the question is, “Can one know with exactness the full nature of God?” then the answer is, “no.” If the question is, “Can one know the true God on an experiential plane?” then the answer is “yes.” We cannot know all that there is to…

View original post 670 more words

Letting go of worry – Christian book review

I have found the following book a real comfort in helping to overcome anxiety biblically: “Letting go of worry, God’s plan for finding peace and contentment.” Sometimes we simply need a little help applying our faith to every day issues.

Below is a review from Dr Mintle’s site on this beautiful little book:

Dr. Linda Mintle confesses that for years she believed worry was an inevitable by-product of our modern, busy lives. But as she explored God’s Word for guidance, she discovered that worry isn’t supposed to be managed. It’s supposed to be released completely.

Through personal and biblical examples, Mintle reveals reasons and ways for readers to rethink their core beliefs as they surrender worry to God and discover:
· the spiritual roots of worry
· what to do when anxious thoughts arise
· how to have peace about their health, job, money, and relationships
· practical ways to cultivate a truly worry-free life
· the biblical secret to lasting contentment

With godly instruction, Scriptures for meditation, and the hope of a renewed perspective, readers can let go of worry and embrace a transformed life of peace, forgiveness, and faith.

Radiometric dating – the other side of the story

I thought readers of this blog might be interested in the other side of the story for radiometric dating.

Radiometric dating is often used to “prove” rocks are millions of years old. Once you understand the basic science, however, you can see how wrong assumptions lead to incorrect dates.

Most people think that radioactive dating has proven the earth is billions of years old. Yet this view is based on a misunderstanding of how radiometric dating works.

Article 1 (given below) explains how scientists observe unstable atoms changing into stable atoms in the present.
Article 2 explains how scientists run into problems when they make assumptions about what happened in the unobserved past.
Article 3 attempts to make sense of the patterns we observe in the world around us.

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v4/n3/radiometric-dating
http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v4/n4/assumptions
http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v5/n1/patterns

Interesting assumptions that are made in radiometric dating:

1. The original number of unstable atoms can be known. Scientists assume how many unstable (parent) atoms existed at the beginning based on how many parent and daughter atoms are left today.

2. The rate of change was constant. Scientists assume that radioactive atoms have changed throughout time, ignoring the impact of Creation or changes during Noah’s Flood.

3. The daughter atoms were all produced by radioactive decay. Scientists assume that no outside forces, such as flowing groundwater, contaminated the sample.

I found reading through the above very interesting and convicting (I had to refresh my memory of high school chemistry!), backing up the trustworthiness of the Bible.

I hope you find it interesting too.

Did Jesus have a wife? No.

Reports today of the authenticity of a fragment of the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” which was originally unveiled in 2012 by the Harvard Divinity School professor Karen L. King, are sure to cause a rash of news stories and opinion pieces on whether Jesus was married. So here’s my answer: No.

Before I talk about the reasons why almost every New Testament scholar believes that Jesus was unmarried, let me say that my faith does not rise or fall on whether Jesus was married. The Christian faith is not based on Jesus’s celibacy, but on the Incarnation and the Resurrection. In short, a married man healing the sick, stilling storms and raising the dead is just as impressive as an unmarried man doing so. More to the point, if a married man himself rises from the dead after being in a tomb for three days, I would be following him. Married or unmarried, Jesus is still the Son of God.

Also, before I talk about the reasons scholars believe that he was almost certainly single, I should point out that the manuscript in question was written long after the canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were written. The fragment is most likely from the fourth to the eighth century. By contrast, the earliest Gospel, Mark, was written in AD 75, only 40 years after Jesus’s time on earth. The fragment in question, at its earliest, was written three hundred years after the canonical Gospels. In general, it’s better to rely on sources closer to the actual events, particularly, as in the case of Mark, when there were people still alive who had known Jesus, and could presumably have corrected any inaccuracies in Mark’s text. Three hundred years later, people take many more liberties with he story.

Overall, it’s more likely that Jesus was unmarried. How do we know this? Here’s what I say in my new book, Jesus: A Pilgrimage:

Now, it is almost certain that Jesus was celibate. How do we know this? For one thing, the Gospels talk about Jesus’s mother and “brothers and sisters” several times, so if he had a wife it would be odd not to mention her. In his magisterial book A Marginal Jew, John Meier, a professor of New Testament at Notre Dame, and scholar of the “historical Jesus,” suggests that being unmarried was seen as undesirable for most rabbis of the time, and even though Jesus is not technically a rabbi, it would have been strange for the Gospel writers to concoct a story that he was celibate if he was in fact married. The Gospels’ silence about a wife and children likely means that Jesus had neither.

What are some possible reasons for Jesus’s remaining unmarried? He may have intuited that once he started his ministry it would be short or even meet a disastrous end. As a Jew, knew the fate of other prophets. Jesus may have foreseen the difficulty of caring for a family while being an itinerant preacher. Or perhaps his celibacy was another manifestation of his single-hearted commitment to God. After sifting through the facts, Meier lands on the last reason: “The position that Jesus remained celibate on religious grounds [is] the more probable hypothesis.”

Other theories, where Mary Magdalene is proposed as Jesus’s wife, are also rather far-fetched. Most women and women disciples in the New Testament are referred to, by the convention of their time, as “the wife of” or “the mother of.” In a patriarchal world, they were most often identified through their associations with either a husband or a son (or sons). So we read of women like “Mary, the wife of Clopas” and “Joanna, the wife of Chusa.” Consequently, it is more likely that if Mary Magdalene were married to Jesus she would be called not “Mary of Magdala,” but “Mary, the wife of Jesus.”

Also, in terms of the Passion narratives, which Christians will read during Holy Week, the Gospels place several important women at the scene of Jesus’s death, at foot of the Cross. The Gospel of John, written in roughly AD 100, reports the following women as present at the Crucifixion: “his [Jesus’s] mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene.” An even earlier Gospel, Matthew, written around AD 85, says that there were “many women,” and then lists those the Gospel writer considers important: “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.” Were Jesus married, not mentioning “the wife of Jesus” in either the stories of the Crucifixion or the Resurrection would be odd indeed.

Nearly every scholar believes that Jesus was unmarried. So do I. As I said, my faith does not rest on his being unmarried–but my reason tells me that he was.

From: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-james-martin-sj/did-jesus-have-a-wife-no_b_5125355.html
By Reverend James Martin, S.J.