Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Nature of Man

     As a rule, the presence of good and evil in a person's character and where they fit in is a struggle to determine, especially when looking at it from a secular point of view.  As a result, there are many different versions of human nature, and they all depend on a person's point of view.  There are many hypotheses, but only one truth, and it stands forever.

     I'll make this short, and hopefully not go off on a tangent.  I've been reading To Kill A Mockingbird lately for school, and it paints a very clear message of good versus evil.  The version of human nature in To Kill A Mockingbird is that man is both good and evil, and there is a constant struggle between the two.  

     Now, the constant battle between good and evil within a person is very real.  We all have a conscience, and we all have sin.  But where do they belong?  Which one is innate, and which one is influential?  In Mockingbird, goodness is innate, and evil is merely the influence that often rules out goodness (Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, etc. are all innocent figures destroyed by the evil of Maycomb society).  

     To Kill A Mockingbird is not the only example of this point of view by a long shot.  Books such as Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein, and A Picture of Dorian Gray are also examples of this viewpoint, among many, many others.  In fact, the version of human nature that holds that good is innate and evil is influential is the most widely accepted belief in our society.  However, it's not necessarily true.  

     This belief is very humanistic.  It basically states that man is good by nature, and if someone does something evil, it's not their fault -- it's society's fault, or it's this other person's fault, or it's because of the darned potion that I took.  I have seen how most humanists think that Christianity's view of human nature diverts the blame onto someone else, but it seems to be the other way around.  Christianity holds that sin is innate (we are all born into sin), and all the goodness man is capable of comes from God and God alone.  Our sin can only be blamed on us and our nature, and our capacity for goodness is attributed only to our Creator and King.  

     So no, we are not pure-hearted people marred by the evil of the world -- more like the world is marred by the evil of man.  But because God is the Fountain of holiness, we are able to do good things in spite of our sinful nature.  You see, God is the ultimate hipster -- He loved and was good before it was cool, and because of this, we naturally mainstream humans can follow His lead.  But don't be confused.  We can act after/do things that please God, but we aren't capable of adopting His nature fully.  

     Yes, we are all innately evil, but that does in no way excuse acting on our wickedness, and denying the abilities we have been blessed with by our almighty Creator.  Your do-gooding doesn't matter to God once you are His, but to act on/appeal to your sinful nature is to be a bad example of Christ-likeness to others.  We as Christians don't do good to please God, we do righteous things to be true witnesses of the character of God -- this being who can make a foul person righteous.  So, make disciples of all the nations, be loving, do righteous acts so that you may honour your Lord and Savior, as is His will.  

Godspeed, my friends,
Abigail E.

Friday, March 15, 2013

URGENT: John McCain and the Civil Air Patrol

     The Civil Air Patrol is an Air Force auxiliary, specialising in search and rescue.  They go way back, and are one of our country's best-kept secrets, which explains very well why very few people have ever so much as heard of it.  My brothers have been with the Civil Air Patrol Cadet program for about a year.  The Cadet program not only teaches young people the customs and courtesies of the military including other military things that I don't understand, but it also teaches the cadets such merits as leadership, self-discipline, respect, character, among others.  In just a year of being in the CAP Cadet program, my brothers have undergone marked changes -- how they interact with other people, react to stress, and the list goes on and on and on.  

     Time for some history.  During WWII, the CAP was the only reason Germany did not bombard U.S. soil to nothing.  When asked why the mission to strike U.S. soil was aborted, the General in charge of the mission told Hitler, "It was those damn red and blue planes!"  
     In 2001, the CAP were the first given permission to fly planes after the terrorist strikes on 9/11.  The aerial footage you see of the Twin Towers post-strike were taken by the CAP.  
     In 2012 alone, the CAP was responsible for saving the lives of 37 people, which is even below their yearly average.  

     Now, on March 14, 2013, Senator McCain (R, AZ) proposed an amendment to cut funding for the CAP roughly in half, even though the funding for it was pitiable in the first place.  The cuts he is proposing are dramatic, and potentially devastating for the CAP and thus U.S. homeland security if passed.  Now, his reason is that the rest of the military is underfunded.  This is a reasonable concern, but why cut another branch that is underfunded as it is, especially one that is so proactive and practical as the Civil Air Patrol?  

     This amendment will be put to vote on March 18, 2013.  Before then, we need to get the word out and make sure it does not get passed.  I should not be shocked that this story is not in the news (considering how few people even know about the CAP), but I am.  No one is reporting -- not even FOX, which some may consider very right-wing.  I am very shocked, and so very disappointed that McCain is getting away with this.  

     This is no small ordeal, so share the living crap out of this essay!  There need to be voices for the Civil Air Patrol, and so far, there are precious few.  Do something, even if it's just an e-mail to a senator, and newscaster, or sharing this.  Even if you don't share this post, I'd like to see the story itself go around.  John McCain must be held accountable for undermining such a vital homeland defense program.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What Is Christianity Anyway?

     There are many "versions" of Christianity out there.  Just for the sake of my readers' sanity, however, I'll only focus on the three biggies:  Christianity as a Philosophy, Religion, or Relationship.

     Christianity can be either one depending on where you place your values, but when done right, it's all at the same time.  I used to argue with vehemence that Christianity is a relationship, and that's all.  Others will argue vehemently that it is a religion.  And then there are those who will argue that Christianity is a philosophy.  Just to muddy the waters, I've come to present another opinion: that Christianity is (d) all of the above.  

     A:  Christianity as a philosophy.  When you grow up with it, but only go so far as to accept the beliefs.  You can spend your whole life believing yourself to be a Christian simply because you can argue to Christianity's defense, get a college degree in Christian philosophy, attend a seminary, etc., but your heart can still be devoid of the Holy Spirit.  This is the reason we have those progressive Atheists that used to be pastors.  They found out that the Christian walk is hard, and the philosophy was the only thing that kept them involved in the Church, but had no faith that gave them endurance, no religion to live, and no relationship to assure them that the struggle was worth it.  

     B:  Christianity as a religion.  When a person blindly follows Christianity, and the only qualification as a Christian is that their parents are Christians, and they grew up in the Church.  When a person has Christianity as only a religion, they exclude the crucial relationship with God, the faith that keeps them rooted in Christ, and the philosophy that allows them to share it.  In short:  they take it for granted. 

     Side note/Sweeping generalisation:  The religious and philosophical aspects often go hand-in-hand, but one with religion and good reasoning can go their whole life and not even give a thought to their relationship with Christ.  Taking only those two can potentially make one very self-righteous, and make one think that they are lacking nothing, or may have had a false conversion at some point and thought that was it.  God can come to someone, and the person can respond, but that is not the same as the Holy Spirit entering and dwelling in the person's heart.  Be careful with how you balance your religiosity and philosophicality (that's a new word).  

     C:  Christianity as a relationship.  This is the purest facet of Christianity.  A person's relationship with God is the only facet that remains forever, regardless of the circumstances.  Once you belong to God, you're His forever.  This is the foundation on which all other facets should be built.  The other facets can't be sustained forever without the fundamental relationship, but a person has that relationship with their Savior even if they lose faith, can't convince an Atheist, and/or fail to be fruitful.  The relationship is what gives one the desire to learn the philosophy and live the religion.

     D:  All of the above.  This is when one finds that steady, middle ground, where they have that fundamental relationship with Christ, are well-reasoned and able to stand against the secular tide, and are fruitful and consistent in the Walk.   This is difficult as all get-out, and it's easy to deviate from one facet or another.

     I have a testimonial for y'all.  I'm sure many of my Facebook/Twitter friends are aware of a run-in I had with some Atheists on Twitter over Thanksgiving Break.  There, they were heavily challenging and criticising my beliefs, and I ended up getting all logical/philosophical with them, and was forced to abandon talking about my relationship and faith because they didn't think they were valid reasons for the stand I took.  It certainly made me think of things I hadn't before, but it left me feeling exceedingly drained, spiritually and emotionally, because I overworked that philosophical muscle and neglected all the others.

     No wonder those who only rely on the philosophy alone bail!  It's exhausting!!  It took a lot of prayer and consolation before I recovered, and I learnt something of infinite value:  You can't argue someone into a conversion, but it is a quick and easy way to make someone extremely jaundiced against Christianity.  Argument is not evangelism, and it took a kick in the pants for me to realise that.  So, be careful with how you present the Gospel.  We are called to share the Gospel, but how you do so it is crucial.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Slavery in the Bible

     In the Bible, there are 7 different kinds of slavery. They go as follows:

  1. Servant:  A hireling, as in Leviticus 19.  Servants were wage slaves -- someone else hired them to complete certain tasks, but were not owned by their masters.In modern terms: A servant. 
  2. Indenture:  Contractor (Deuteronomy 15) -- A servant who is bound for a specific period of time to a particular master in exchange for money.  (In modern terms: an apprentice)
  3. Servile: A debtor (Proverbs 22) -- One who contracts to borrow money or goods for a time, but pays repays the debt in a timely.  Modern equivalent: the receiver of a land loan.
  4. Bondsman: Restitor (Exodus 32) -- one who has stolen and is required to pay the owner; make restitution.  Modern equivalent: community service man.
  5. Vassal: Peasant yeoman (Deuteronomy 20) -- one who lives on a large estate and agrees to work for the landlord in exchange for free housing and garden plot.  Modern equivalent: Host houses.
  6. Doulas: Covenantally bound (Exodus  21) -- volunteer who decides to serve a master for life in a covenantal relationship.  Example:  Samwise Gamgee.
  7. Chattel: Property (Leviticus 25). Prisoners of war and certain criminals; did not loose all freedom.  The had the option of redemption during the Year of Jubilee. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

On Inner-Societal "Warfare" and Cultural Godlessness

     In our day and age, there seems to be an increasing number of inner-societal conflicts -- the war on women, racial wars, religious wars, etc.  It seems ridiculous that we are so prone to self-pity as well as self-righteousness that we would declare war -- or imagine a war -- on so many things.  

     Although many inner-societal wars are real and heated, most of them are ridiculous, because a lot of these inner-societal "wars" are, indeed, make-believe battles designed to further the cause of a given group of desperate people with no other hope of success except to give others something to be angry about.  This "War on Women," for instance, is an imaginary war of that Democrats use to antagonise Republicans.  If there is a "War on Women" it's being waged by a group of finger-pointing Democrats.  The hypocrisy of America is off the charts.

     I think politicians, for the most part, are too smart for their own good.  They know that giving the rabble something to be angry about is all they need to get what they want; what they fail to do is give us something worthwhile to root for.  Our problem as citizens is our tendency to fall for their tricks.  We don't need something to fight for --- all we need is something to fight against, because we're all short-tempered, impatient, hot-headed, item-grabbing conflict seekers that will join any fictional fight as long as it's announced from a podium.  

     I'm definitely not trying to cut down and hate on my countrymen, but I do think we seriously need to get our act together.  I love America.  I think God has blessed America with longevity.  But we are abandoning the Judeo-Christian principles upon which our constitution was founded.  When God is ignored in a culture, the culture fails.  The reason the Roman Empire got any foothold was because it was originally driven by Judeo-Christian leaders (think about it: the Roman Empire really began to gain momentum soon after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ).  Also, the Roman Empire fell because it's leaders had accepted paganism and debauchery with open arms, and abandoned the beliefs of their predecessors.  

     Okay, let's change gears for a second.  First, think about all the pro-gay movements: a new gay senator in Maryland, homosexual marriage legalised in nine states, country-wide support for homosexuality, etc...  We have sunken to a new low as a country, and it is being seen as progress.  I'm sure Satan sees this as progress.

     Now think about the widespread drug use.  Marijuana has been legalised for abuse in more states than ever (about 11 states?  I'm not sure), and many people support the decriminalisation of it.  I wonder how many people realise how convenient this decision is for the government, though.  Think of how easy it is for pot to ruin a person's life; cause them to lose their job, all their money...  

     Conspiracy theory time!  

     Besides being extremely unhealthy, pot helps raise unemployment, putting more people on welfare, and in turn giving more power to the government.  THUS, the legalisation of marijuana gives the people more superficial freedom (the key word here is "superficial"), but it's really a convenient, covert way of taking power from the people and giving it to the government.

     I know it's too late to campaign against Obama, but is this what we want?  Is the legalisation of gay marriage and pot worth the moral deficit we're up to the ears in?  Please, please pray for our country.  And be proactive in society.  The Church needs to step up to the plate, stop being apologetic for our existence, and simply overcome our fears.  I think we've been so bashed by our culture that we've become afraid of it.  We're closet-Christians, and we're failing to live out the Great Commission because of our reticence.  The reason the government sees the need to put in place welfare systems is that the Church gradually surrendered its duties as a charity to the government, and now we're paying the price.  

     So rise up, children of the Lord!  The majesty of God is too great to not share!  We need to go into the world, not shy from it as I've tried to do.  The world needs to hear the gospel, and we've withheld it in our fear.