Tag Archives: idolatry

Discernment — Post by Michael J. Findley

 

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Why do good people make bad decisions? Dear friends, stop believing every spirit. Instead, test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are savage wolves. You will know them by their fruit. Grapes aren’t gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles, are they? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a rotten tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and rotten tree cannot produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into a fire. So by their fruit you will know them.
Matthew 7:15-20

Based on a friend’s recommendation, I attempted to watch a trailer of the movie The Shack. Do evangelical/fundamental Christians not understand that portraying God as a woman is sin? God does not appear to us any way we choose to imagine. That is not the God of the Bible. That is a god of our own imagination.

Then God spoke all these words:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt—from the house of slavery. You are to have no other gods as a substitute for me. You are not to craft for yourselves an idol or anything resembling what is in the skies above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water sources under the earth. You are not to bow down to them in worship of serve them, because I, the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the guilt of parents on children, to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing gracious love to the thousands of love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:1-6

This is what you are to do to them: tear down their altars, break their pillars, cut down their ritual pillars, and burn their cared idols in fire, because you are a holy people to the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 7:5-6

Understand that God is limited by His Word, His promises. God cannot lie. God cannot sin. God does not appear to us any way we want Him to. A god who does is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

In The Shack a letter is found in the mailbox after snowing with no tracks to the mailbox. The letter tells a character in the story to go to a shack.

While some people believe that God revealed Himself to His prophets in the Old Testament like this, they are mistaken. This is the method the demon chose to reveal himself to Harry Potter. It is a common method of communicating with unclean spirits.

A prophet or a diviner of dreams may arise among you, give you an omen or a miracle that takes place, and then he may tell, you, ‘Let’s follow other gods (whom you have not known) and let’s serve them.’ Even though the sign or portent comes to pass, you must not listen to the words of that prophet or that diviner of dreams. Deuteronomy 13:1-3

My people are destroyed because the lack knowledge of me. Because you rejected that knowledge, I will reject you as a priest for me. Since you forget the Law of your God, I will also forget your children. Hosea 4:6

All Scripture from the International Standard Version

Image Credit: www.theshack.movie

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Attitude — Post by Michael J. Findley

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This might just be the sin which destroys American Christianity.

This is how God’s children and the devil’s children are distinguished. No person who fails to practice righteousness and to love his brother is from God. This is the message that you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because what he was doing was evil and his brother’s actions were righteous. (1 John 3:10-12 ISV)

You have probably read this so often that you know what it says without reading it. But do you understand what John is saying?

This is probably the last letter John wrote, therefore, the last book written in the Bible. It closes with the words Little children, keep yourselves away from idols. (1 John 5:21 ISV) An idol is anything you place between yourself and God. Yes, I am certain that you already knew that.

However, John’s point is that when that idol is revealed, made manifest, exposed, we explode in rage. The first child, Cain exploded in rage when his brother’s righteousness exposed his sin. Cain walked and talked with God. He was, to use a modern comparison, a “church member.” He was “raised in the Church.” Yet what he was doing was evil.

Throughout history, great acts of evil were often initiated by the people close to God. Cain’s sins eventually led to the destruction of the entire earth with a universal flood.

God in His mercy and grace saved Noah and his family. Yet their children quickly rebelled against the Lord, corrupted His Word and built a tower which God judged.
When Moses went up to speak to God face to face on Mount Sinai, Aaron and the children of Israel built a golden calf to worship and party around.

Until they were led away into captivity in Babylon, the children of Israel continued to worship idols in high places. Jeroboam I, when he rebelled against Solomon’s son Rehoboam, built golden calves for the Northern Kingdom to worship in Dan and Bethel.

Just before he was stoned by the leaders of the Jews, Stephen pointed out that this idolatrous attitude crucified Jesus. “You stubborn people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Which of the prophets did your ancestors fail to persecute? They killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers.” (Acts 7:52-53 ISV)

Dr. John MacArthur had a conference on “Strange Fire” which pointed out how Americans do what they want without any concern for the teaching of the Word of God. This series faced a storm of criticism when it was published. The Church of the United States is filled with unbelievers who do what they want to do and are in control of worship services.

The first time I heard someone tell me that they went to praise services but would not attend or even listen to sermons I told him that his attitude was not that of a believer in Christ Jesus. Since then, I have found this to be a common attitude. Paul told Timothy to Preach the Word, be instant in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. (I Timothy 4:12 MKJV)

Paul also told the Romans that without preaching there was no salvation. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without preaching? (Romans 10:14 MKJV)

Read this blog carefully. What have we set up in our hearts as an idol between us and the Lord Jesus Christ. What are you unwilling to give up to serve Him?

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Phinehas

[Picture on page 30]

Aaron’s son Eleazer married one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers’ households of the Levites according to their families. Exodus 6:25

Aaron died before crossing the Jordan and entering the Promised Land. His son, Eleazar, was High Priest during that crossing. His son, Phinehas, was a leader of Israel at that time. Just after the death of Aaron, Balaam advised Balak, the King of the Midianites, on a strategy to destroy Israel when the Lord refused to curse Israel for Balaam’s sake. The Midianites were also children of Abraham through Keturah. Balaam advised Balak to take Midianite women to seduce Israelite men into idolatry. At first the seduction was successful.

So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the Lord was angry against Israel. The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.” So Moses said to the judges of Israel, each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal of Peor. Numbers 25:1-5

The Lord Himself intervened in this sin. The people repented. But Balak would not give up.

Then behold, one of the sons of Israel come and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting. When Phinehas the son Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the congregation and took a spear in his hand, and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman, through the body. So the plague on the sons of Israel was checked. Those who died by the plague were 24,000. Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Phinehas the son Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy amon them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give him My covenant of peace; and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel.'” Numbers 5:7-13

We should be aware that a spear is not the nearly useless primitive weapon depicted by modern secular humanists. The spear is found in every culture all over the world, on every continent and in every tribe. It was the primary offensive weapon of the Babylonians, the Persians, Alexander the Great and the Greeks and the Romans. It is used with a powerful overhand thrust which can penetrate armor. Spears are at least 10 feet long and can be 3 times that. It does not have to be reloaded and can continue to inflict damage as long as the person wielding it has strength. Phinehas used the spear as a priest exercising the judgment of God. The Lord had already commanded that those engaged in this sin should be executed.

Soon after the sin of Baal Peor, Phinehas goes to war with an elite unit under the command of Moses against Midian.

Moses sent them, a thousand from each tribe, to the war, and Phinehas the son Eleazar the priest, to the war with them, and the holy vessels and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand. So they made war against Midian, just as the Lord had commanded Moses, and they killed every male. Numbers 31:5-7

With most people, this is the end of the historical record of Phinehas. After Joshua dismissed the sons of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh, these tribes build a heap of stones. Phinehas is sent at the head of a delegation to investigate this possible idolatry. Finding that this was not a case of idolatry, he brings back a good report to Joshua and the rest of the tribes.

Phinehas leads the children of Israel one more time after the death of Joshua, his father Eleazar and the rest of their generation. Modern Christians rarely mention the lengthy account of the Levite’s concubine who was raped by Benjaminites until she died. The few that do mention it notice that it occurs near the end of the book of Judges, so they assume that this occurs just before the time of Samuel. This great sin actually occurred soon after the death of Joshua.

The sons of Israel inquired of the Lord (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, and Phinehas the son Eleazar, Aaron’s son stood before it to minister in those days), saying, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?” And the Lord said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.”

While there is some disagreement as to the exact numbers, it seems that over 80,000 Israelites died during this time of judgment. The life and ministry of Phinehas is that of blessing by God for judging sin by killing the sinner.

Christianity in America is overrun by the belief that “no one can judge what I do.” People call themselves Christians while committing sins condemned by Word of God.

How can we reconcile our selfish lifestyles with God’s command to destroy idolatry?

But thus you shall do to them; you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim (totem poles) and burn their graven images with fire. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 7:5, 6

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Book Review of The Shallows, What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr

Men’s minds and thinking are getting shallower all the time, but it’s wrong to blame that on the Internet. Many things are just as powerful as the Internet in changing our lives and our thought patterns. Rock music, television, video games and addiction (alcoholism) still play a greater role in “shallowing” the mind than the Internet. The human brain works the same way it has since Adam. The Internet is a minor cultural change compared to the Civil War in the American South, Concentration Camps for Jews, the ten plagues in Egypt and the decimation of Native American culture by Europeans.

(Note that all quotes below are from Carr’s book unless otherwise stated.)

Sabrina’s “workaholic” Linus Larrabee shouts, “My life makes your life possible!” “And I resent that!” playboy younger brother David shouts back. “So do I!” Linus retorts. This popped into my head as I read the repeated descriptions of the deep readers and contemplative thinkers. Nathaniel Hawthorne lay back and experienced nature for hours. Trains and busy working people disturbed him. The “shallow thinkers” Carr brings up are productive people, people with jobs. They have always paid for the lives of these deep thinkers.

Deep thinkers may not be playboys. They still need to be supported to lie in the grass listening to the breeze. Artists and writers from ancient times had patrons or they starved to death. Today their support still comes from those who can handle the world’s distractions. I say this as an artist and writer forced into the distraction of working or helping my husband work to pay bills and buy books like The Shallows.

Carr’s concept of “deep reading” sounds like Eastern Mysticism, opening the mind to everything, rather than reading as the Scriptures teach, “to know wisdom and understanding,” “comparing Scripture with Scripture.” If you can’t lose yourself in a long book you don’t learn properly? Then why does he reduce the Nathaniel Hawthorne tale of his Sleepy Hollow reverie to “snippets?”

Carr quotes wicked men as praiseworthy examples. Emerson, Freud, Nietszche and Marx are just a few of his favorite secularists. Studies are automatically authoritative. In our book Antidisestablishmentarianism we include this: “Dennis Prager, anthropologist and historian, laments the unthinking reliance on pseudo-science in today’s society. ‘In much of the West, the well-educated have been taught to believe they can know nothing and they can draw no independent conclusions about truth, unless they cite a study and “experts” have affirmed it. “Studies show” is to the modern secular college graduate what “Scripture says” is to the religious fundamentalist.'” (Prager quote from “Breastfeeding as a Religion,” World Net Daily, wnd.com, posted November 11, 2003 1:00 am Eastern.)

Carr’s “facts” are lies or skewed into lies. Plato’s Phaedrus strongly supports oral tradition. Theuth and Thamus illustrate oral versus written traditions. “Unlike the orator Socrates, Plato was a writer, and while we can assume that he shared Socrates’ worry that reading might substitute for remembering, leading to a loss of inner depth, it’s also clear that he recognized the advantages that the written word had over the spoken one.” Carr twists it to say Plato is supporting writing over oral tradition.

Plato knew of the honored Spartan tradition that their laws had to be memorized. “Plutarch, in his discourse on the life of Lycurgus and his rule in ancient Greece, expresses the belief that oral tradition is a way of making the law more firmly fixed in the mind.

“None of his laws were put into writing by Lycurgus, indeed, one of the so-called ‘rhetras’ forbids it. For he thought that if the most important and binding principles which conduce to the prosperity and virtue of a city were implanted in the habits and training of its citizens, they would remain unchanged and secure, having a stronger bond than compulsion in the fixed purposes imparted to the young by education, which performs the office of a law-giver for every one of them.”

Carr says Plato’s Republic opposes the oral tradition. “In a famous and revealing passage at the end of the Republic, … Plato has Socrates go out of his way to attack ‘poetry,’ declaring that he would ban poets from his perfect state.” Book Ten of Plato’s Republic starts off by saying that he wanted to banish the type of poetry that did not support his state. His goal was to rewrite the religious and imitative literature. Plato wanted absolute regulation of content, not the banishment of the oral tradition, as stated in Book II. “Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers of fiction (which includes the Poets) …and we will desire mothers and nurses to tell their children the authorized ones only.”

The book relies on the shallowness of gleaning opinions from others without testing them by researching in the work itself. Carr didn’t seek out the real meaning of the discussions in the Republic and Phaedrus for himself. This would be almost comical if it weren’t for his repeated emphasis on deep thinking and reading.

Carr talks about the cool serenity of library stacks, but we went to a college where the stacks were closed and the frustrations of getting the right books were endless. Open stacks are still time consuming if the book in the card catalog isn’t on the shelf. Leisure reading and research reading are very different. Long novels like War and Peace and Bleak House and technically difficult works like Einstein and Infield’s The Evolution of Physics are worth the time to read cover to cover. But the library is confining and the Internet is liberating when there is time pressure.

Carr loses the struggle to define determinism because he is thoroughly deterministic in his approach to the studies, the experiments, and the use of what he condemns (superficial research and study) to prove his point. He mentions a couple of histories of societies making technology choices, but, “Although individuals and communities may make very different decisions about which tools they use, that doesn’t mean that as a species we’ve had much control over the path or pace of technological progress.”

How dare he say the brains of London cabbies won’t be as interesting if they start using GPS? That thinking isn’t much different from withholding medicine and clothing from jungle tribes. They’ll be “less interesting” for anthropologists to study. “Anthropologists are often faced with situations where members of the tribe they are studying die on a regular basis from easily curable diseases. But administering medicine may be the first step toward the loss of a culture. Many tribes actually express desire to become more technological. Anthropologists usually pressure them not to do so. One Brazilian indigenous tribal chief, after hearing such a recommendation, is quoted saying, ‘Do they think we like not having any clothes? It may be the way of our ancestors, but the bugs bother us…’ Should tribes like these be exposed to the modern world? There are no easy answers.” (Quoted from BBC online, updated April 10, 2002, in our book Antidisestablishmentarianism.)

E-books already outsell paper books on Amazon.com, and have for over a year. The Kindle is easy to read, keeps your place, allows written comments and highlighting. It’s a “real book.” Many small and medium conventional publishers are out of business. Only publishing giants and specialty “boutique” publishers can sustain the costs of producing paper books. The minimal costs of e-books will force this trend to continue.

Carr even quotes Psalm 115:3-8, a description of the deadness and powerlessness of idols, and warps it to fit his thesis about “technology’s numbing effect. It’s an ancient idea, one that was given perhaps its most eloquent and ominous expression by the Old Testament psalmist.” The creation of idols didn’t just “amplify and in turn numb the most intimate, the most human, of our natural capacities — those for reason, perception, memory, and emotion.” This is blasphemy. How can he equate the deadly sin of idolatry with the mere loss of “natural capacities”? He does this because he’s a secularist. (The passage is included here) “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not. They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” ( KJV)

Placing of scientific journals online does not narrow the scope of research and scholarship, which has always built on past scholarship. An article from 2005 need not cite one from 1945. That research was incorporated into, for example, a 1960 article. Further study, experimentation and research would occur by 1960, or more recently.

At one time many libraries had that 1945 issue, interlibrary loan privileges or microfilm. Libraries today rely on online research, which requires membership fees, payment by the article or both. Some of these charges are prohibitive to keep paying and paying for every article an author wishes he could study and reference. Newer articles are more readily available, often free or cheap, and easier to find.

We have been bombarded with distractions and choices and sensory overloads for centuries. It was happening before the Internet, before Gutenberg, before Plato. It’s up to us to filter.

Nicholas Carr pays tribute to the Scriptures by calling Psalm 115:3-8 a “most eloquent and ominous expression.” Hear then, more of the Scriptures and judge whether Carr has any conception of how eloquent the Word of God can be, and how little he understands about how it should shape our thinking. (The following quotes are from the King James Version)

Ecclesiastes 1:8-11: “All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.”

Ecclesiastes 12:11-14: “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.  And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

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