<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/platform.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d3510346\x26blogName\x3dBlogcorner+preacher\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttps://bcpreacher.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttps://bcpreacher.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d2859078888796720289', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>
RSS feed for Blogcorner Preacher
          CONTACT    |      ABOUT     |      SEARCH     |      RECENT POSTS     |      ARCHIVES     |      RELIGION     |      BoG    |      DECABLOG    |     
2.27.2007    |    "The Judaization of Jerusalem"
Now there's an odd phrase. Being old-fashioned, I always thought that Jerusalem started as a "Jewish" city: The City of David. As in King David. As in the unifier of Israel and Judah, around 1000 BCE. Jerusalem is where David's son Solomon built the first temple. For this reason alone the city has been central to the Jewish people ever since.

The phrase, from a United Nations functionary, is part of a complaint against there being any Jews in the Middle East. This is reported on by Anne Bayefsky at NRO with the only slightly exaggerated headline, "Jews Seek Racial Domination!". The Cliff's Notes version: The United Nations is an organization dedicated to completing the task of genocide. This time, by accusing the Jewish people of genocide because, among other things, Israel has built a wall to keep terrorists out. The money quotation from the UN functionary:
"The Wall being built in East Jerusalem is an instrument of social engineering designed to achieve the Judaization of Jerusalem…"
Perhaps "genocide" is too extreme. Yet this word routinely pops up when the "human rights" brigades start their goose-stepping.

[As an aside, it seems that whenever you see soldiers goose-stepping, as in, say, Iran's armed forces, you can bet your bottom dollar that they are in the service of a totalitarian regime.]

From Ms. Bayefsky's article, a sample:
The primary tool of the U.N.’s point-man for whipping up modern-day anti-Semitism is to pillory the Jew as racist extraordinaire. Israel is the evil equivalent to apartheid South Africa. Referring to apartheid 24 times in his report, he proclaims: “Israel’s laws and practices in the OPT certainly resemble aspects of apartheid.” He fails to mention, predictably, that one-fifth of Israel’s population is Arab — citizens who vote and hold seats in the Israeli parliament — while Arab countries are Judenrein. And Israel is the apartheid state?
I am pleased that someone else has noticed that when the Arabs scream about those racist Jews, they themselves are not troubled by having Jews living among them. For the simple reason that, with very limited exception, after the creation of Israel in 1948, Jews were kicked out of their ancestral homes in Arab nations, or left before being kicked out. Or killed.

I wonder if those Jews, and their descendants, can sue for a "right of return" in the various Arab lands that kicked them out? If memory serves, approximately the same number of Jews left Arab lands as Arabs left what became Israel. But, when it comes to Jews, who's counting?

From a Christian perspective, it is essential that all of Zion be in-gathered into what is the modern state of Israel. And within Israel, Jerusalem, the place of our Lord's Passion, death, and resurrection. Not to mention that Jesus was a lineal descendant of King David.

Finally, the care and keeping of the Jews is a holy task for Christians. They are our brothers, and we must be ever mindful that "he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalm 121:4).

Labels: ,

2.26.2007    |    Something in common?
There is a lengthy review at WSJ.com of Dinesh D'Souza's new book, "The Enemy at Home." The reviewer takes D'Souza to task for "going native" in his treatment of Islamic terrorists.

This isn't about the former enfant terrible of Dartmouth straying from the path of PC-buster. It's about the broader thesis that both D'Souza, in his book, and the reviewer, allude to: the notion that those who fear God, and do His will, have much in common. Whether they are Jews, Christians, or Muslims. And that, conversely, the godless sinners and their culture of idolatrous sin are equally the enemies of all three faiths.

There are doubtless more than a few Christian fundamentalists who might agree. Who can forget certain Protestant preachers, who will be nameless, who claimed that 9/11 was caused by our sinfulness? This stupidity hurt us, "us" being the community of believers who don't quite see God as taking this kind of vengeance. Baptists is Baptists, after all...

By way of example, from the review:
Mr. D'Souza says, for example, that he would rather go to a baseball game or have a drink with Michael Moore than with the grand mufti of Egypt (is this another lame stab at humor?), but that when it comes to "core beliefs," he feels closer to "the dignified fellow in the long robe and prayer beads than to the slovenly fellow with the baseball cap."
Core beliefs, indeed. If one focuses solely on the Scriptural requirements for obedience to God and His commandments, then, yes, from outward appearances all three of the faiths do share certain moral prescriptives.

But there is also a "core" difference: Jews and Christians worship a God who has acted in human history, and who has chosen (some) of His people to carry His torch. Our God is both imminent and transcendent. Muslims, on the other hand, worship an always-remote god called Allah. Allah issues commands. Period.

According to Muslims, one of Allah's commands is to convert everyone to submit to him, Allah. In different words, to become a Muslim. What's left are arguments between and among "moderate" and "conservative" Muslims as to how best to accomplish the desired end state of Islam. Hence it isn't a question of objectives; it is a question of means.

Christians, too, are told to "baptize all the nations." The Great Commission, for which Christians have struggled and died for over the centuries. But which we now know must be done with no coercion. Freedom of conscience, in other words.

And this is the gulf that will always divide Islam from Judaism and Christianity.

Labels: ,

2.23.2007    |    Salute the Flag
One of my pet peeves in churches has always been the presence of flags. Usually two -- an American flag, and a denominational or "Christian" flag (shown here). I have learned to ignore these flags, and simply accept that this is what the congregation as a whole wishes.

So, what are you, John Luke, some sort of commie pinko hippy? No; I consider myself a patriot. But my first identity remains as a follower of Jesus Christ. And I am always, always, mindful of Jesus' words in John 18:36: "My kingdom is not of this world." Repeat slowly: My kingdom is not of this world. Flags are, at best, symbols of this world; mere things to which we pledge our loyalty.

And yet, any who have followed the (American) flag desecration battles knows, that flags all too easily become objects of worship in their own right. And, hence, for a Christian, idolatrous. Flags as symbols are fine, but there is a time and a place for them. Church is not such a place; meeting for worship in the Son's name is not such a time.

It violates what should be the first principal for our lives: give glory to God, and none other. Yes, Romans 13:1-7 instructs us to obey earthly authority, and, of course, pay our taxes, under the presumption "there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." But Romans 13 may have been a redaction of Paul's epistle in order to appease the Roman authorities. And there must always be the underlying assumption that if a government does not conform to God's will, then it is our duty to resist it.

Whether Romans 13:1-7 is a first-century politically correct redaction, or truly Spirit-informed scripture, Jesus' words must hold pride of place for us. And we must not confuse flags with what they stand for. Nor should we have such pagan symbols in our churches.


2.19.2007    |    Humility
The Episcopal Church, withering away in terms of numbers of members in this country, is part of the world-wide Anglican Communion, whose spiritual leader is the Archbishop of Canterbury, currently Rowan Williams. The American branch abandoned a certain fealty to Scripture when it not just tolerated, but celebrated, the ordination of a practicing homosexual as a bishop. But, hey, what's Scripture when compared to self actualization and being who you want to be?

Regardless of one's stand on homosexuality, you can't square a circle. Put differently, you can't sustain two mutually exclusive beliefs at the same time. If one is to be a Christian, there are those annoying Scripture verses that condemn homosexual behavior in the strongest possible terms.

Note that all-important word, "behavior." God loves all of us, regardless of our sinful natures. At the same time, God hates the sins we commit. Homosexual behavior is sinful, do the math...We are not entitled to simply ignore inconvenient or politically incorrect Scripture.

Put differently: you don't have to agree with Scripture's black-letter meaning, but you also should not call yourself a Christian if you do not.

Here is where otherwise well-meaning (or, perhaps agenda-driven) Episcopalians want to have it both ways. And, as a result, are seeing more faithful (to Scripture) parishes split, and, in a reversal of historic roles, attach themselves to African churches. You see, the United States has become a missionary field for Scripturally-based African, especially Nigerian, churches.

At the same time, with the elevation of a dedicated liberal, and a woman at that, to be presiding bishop of the American branch, some conservative bishops have had enough. From this AP story, they've even gone to the length of refusing to take communion with the liberals:
Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, who has called the acceptance of gay relationships a "satanic attack" on the church and who now leads a rival network formed by conservative Anglicans in the U.S.

On Friday, Akinola led seven conservative archbishops in refusing to take communion with [TEC Presiding Bishop] Jefferts Schori.
Well, perhaps Archbiship Akinola is over the top with that "satanic attack" business. And, perhaps, he has not shown what Rowan Williams properly has called "humility." Further, any Christian who refuses to take communion with another he regards as a sinner (clearly Akinola's brief) is, at best, a hypocrite.

As Rowan Williams said, "There is one thing that a bishop should say to another bishop -- 'That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great savior.'" Jesus, as usual set the standard, and it is relayed in this story from the Gospel of John, chapter 8:
7So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her...

9And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
The message? All are welcome at Jesus' table. But they must go and sin no more. This is the part that today's Episcopal liberals simply don't accept.


2.06.2007    |    " the rest of mankind as well"
Ah, Richard Cohen. One of my favorite liberal columnists. While I usually disagree with him on political and philosophical grounds, every now and again he comes up with something right. No, not right as in conservative; but as in correct, even though it grates to admit it.

In his column today he reminds us that anti-Semitism is not a club to be used on any and everyone who criticizes Israel. As Cohen has done, on several occasions. But, for writing the following, all is forgiven:
At times, I [Cohen] have written coldly and provocatively about Israel, maybe once or twice in anger. This, in turn, has angered some readers who knew what I was thinking but not what I was feeling -- that, at bottom, I had a strong emotional attachment to Israel. It is a country whose survival is not only important for the Jewish people but for the rest of mankind as well. I can enumerate many reasons why I support Israel -- it's a legitimate state, a real democracy, etc. But it is also where Jews went to escape the killers; to ignore that is to extinguish the twin lights of morality and memory and leave the world even darker than it now is.
Anyone who opens a bible, whether a Tanach or a Christian bible, can read the story of how the Jews were chosen to keep God in the world. One may choose to believe, or not, the stories, and the history of the Jews. But there can be no mistaking that the moral grounding for our society is to be found in the pages that also tell the history of the Jews. And, that Israel today is the home for the remnant of Israel. The remnant that the rest of the world did not destroy.

Two things might be argued. First, other religions have come up with very similar rules for moral conduct. "Thou shalt not murder" comes to mind. Second, many Christians throughout history were taught by their priests and pastors that Christianity had superceded Judaism, that the Jews were no longer God's chosen people.

Neither of these things changes the essential truth that annoys many anti-Semites: for better or for worse, Western society uses the specific morality given to the Jews by God and recorded in scripture. That morality is tempered, for believing Christians, by God's son who died for all of our sins. As for those who confess neither Judaism nor Christianity, we Christians would like to invite them in. Whether they join us or not, the truth remains the truth -- it is not conditioned on time, place, or culture.

Jesus, when he walked among us, reminded us that until all passes away, until, that is, the end of the world, God's law remains in force (Matthew 5:18). And that is the law given to, and preserved by, the Jews.


2.03.2007    |    The triumph of humility
Although it's been a while since I considered myself Roman Catholic, some things about that faith, both good, and not so good, linger. One of the good things is the liturgical calendar, with its varied events, great, and small, observed by the Christian church.

Yesterday, February 2nd was the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, or, in the Anglican tradition, Candlemas. It's not the sort of thing you might find mentioned in a Baptist church; we're not big on the liturgical calendar, you might say. But there is a mighty lesson in the Presentation, and the one-line summary might be: the triumph of humility.

This is yet another of those "stumbling blocks" for those who expect, nay, demand, that their kings be mighty in appearance. That their messiah be clothed in the finest robes, head annointed with the most expensive oils, live in the most lavish palaces, and be served by legions of adoring disciples.

The reality is, of course, just the opposite. Jesus of Nazareth, fully God, chose to be born in the most humble of circumstances, to parents he knew would, in humility, nurture him as an infant. Not a lot of finery, just the poverty of a Jewish family living under brutal Roman occupation.

This is the lesson, for any Christians who believe that it is pomp and circumstance, together with the finest things that money can buy on this earth, that would mark our spiritual ruler. To God go all glory, because, in the person of Jesus, He knew us in our fallen, poorest form.

A contradiction? Yes. And, a mystery. But it should ever remind us, whenever we start to believe that we've got all the answers, or that we, somehow, rule the world with our earthly powers. We don't. He does.

| technorati tag | |


2.02.2007    |    "you knit me together in my mother's womb"
The Psalmist knows the source of each and every person: God. From the beginning; before, even, our beginnings in out mothers' wombs. Psalm 139:13-17
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
In different terms, what does this mean for those who claim that an abortion is, somehow, a matter of our "choice?" It means that they are denying that God has created us all, in his image, and that that creation was known to God from the very beginning of time.

Or, if they are not denying God's work in our creation, then they are denying God directly, and saying, in effect, "I don't care about God's will; I only care about my choice."

It is a child, not a "choice." And it is God's child first and foremost. As are we all.

| technorati tag | |


About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.