Friday, December 19, 2014

My Legal La-La Land

The History Channel has a researcher who claims she is a genetic descendant of Christ and Mary Magdalene. When I saw her being interviewed on one of those reality-docu-drama shows, I just shook my head in disbelief. She is being taken as a serious researcher.

On a FOX News morning show in the past few mornings, the anchors were discussing a man who wishes to be a woman and has changed his name to Michelle and insists everyone call him "her."

Then I read the headlines that Planned Parenthood is giving Sex-Ed classes to tenth graders that gives them a gender-choice. And teachers are taking this seriously.

I can't help but think Uncle Sam needs to be put into a straightjacket.

Does anyone else see the madness in this? And I am not speaking about anger but about the stark, raving kind. Why are we, as a culture, demanding that everyone accept our personal craziness. If a man insists that we legally accept his inner woman-ness so he can use women's public restrooms, then scientists need to officially hang up their lab coats. For not only is God dead, but so is science.

DNA and all empiric evidence... the scientific method? Fill those test tubes with shots of vodka, drink up and toss them into your bunsen burners because there is no such thing as rational, scientific thought anymore. 

So let's go to the next logical step. What if DNA is found at a crime scene and it points to a specific person who is a woman. And the person who committed the crime self-identifies as a man? If that person has legally changed her gender, can DNA evidence be used in a court of law to incriminate the woman turned man? 

Or let's go the opposite way. What if someone believes their inner person to be a criminal, but has yet to commit a crime. Could that personal legally insist on being incarcerated without evidence because of their self-identification?

This is exactly what is happening with gender-identification. If gender is open to legal challenge, so is every other self-identification. Evidence, absolute DNA evidence, no longer legally matters.

If how we feel, how we self-identify is going to be the new normal and we must all speak in unrealities, then I might as well jump in

because, I think today I self-identify as an Ethiopian. 

If gender is about how one feels about oneself, then one's race is open for self-identifying. 

(President Obama just told the Jewish media that he is Jewish "in his soul.")

And I really feel old today. So I am an Ethiopian who should legally receiving social security. I think I shall demand that today. And tomorrow when I go to the theater, I shall self-identify as under twelve, especially if I go to a PG movie. Then I could insist that I get a cheaper ticket because I feel like a kid, right?

And I can tell you I really do not feel fat. My identity is truly very, very thin. In fact, skinny. Therefore, I am a tall, skinny and elderly Ethiopian. That is my official self-identification today. And I will demand that everyone around me, acknowledge my self- identification or I will press charges against them. Or worse, I will call them an intolerant bigot.

And since our society is insisting on living in a legal delusion, I believe in my heart that I am of royal blood and am vastly wealthy. And since I can say with great sincerity that I know I do not belong in this century, I identify more with a future world. So, who I really am is a 23rd-century, Ethiopian elderly Lord, who is tall, thin and wildly rich.

And not only can I live in this world of lunacy, America is telling me that I have a right to walk around being offended and horrified and even legally insisting that everyone else treat me as I self-identify.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


A Quiz for Seventh-day Adventists:

Which of the following Seventh-day Adventist quotes do you believe? the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out [of the worldwide church] to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This remnant announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent. This proclamation is symbolized by the three angels of Revelation 14; it coincides with the work of judgment in heaven and results in a work of repentance and reform on earth. Every believer is called to have a personal part in this worldwide witness. (GC website, Fundamental Belief # 13 Remnant and Its Mission)

[Prophecy] is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen. G. White. As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction.
(GC Website, Fundamental Belief # 18 The Gift of Prophecy)

[At His Ascension, Christ entered the heavenly sanctuary and ministers on our behalf]... In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin...The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent. 
(GC Website, Fundamental Belief # 24 Christ’s Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary)

Seventh-day Adventists Believe. . .

Copyright 1988 by the Ministerial Association General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Printed by the Review and Herald Publishing Association, pp 342-344.

Scripture predicts that a number of significant signs in the religious world will mark the time just preceding Christ's return. A great religious awakening. The book of Revelation reveals the rise of a great, worldwide religious movement before the Second Advent [declaring the 3 Angels' Message/ Everlasting Gospel]. 

The book of Daniel informs us that in the time of the end its prophecies would be unsealed (Dan. 12:4). At that time people would understand its mysteries. The unsealing took place as the 1260-year period of papal dominance came to its end with the captivity of the pope in 1798. The combination of the exile of the pope and the signs in the natural world led many Christians to study the prophecies about the events leading to the Second Advent, which resulted in a new depth of understanding of these prophecies.

The worldwide nature of this [SDA] movement is one of the clearest signs that Christ's return is drawing near. As John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ's first advent, so the Advent movement is preparing the way for His second advent—proclaiming the message of Revelation 14;6-12, God's final call to get ready for the glorious return of the Savior.     

A Resurgence of the Papacy. According to Biblical prophecy, at the end of the 1260 years the papacy would receive "a deadly wound" but it would not die. Scripture reveals that this deadly wound would heal. The papacy would experience a great renewal of influence and respect—"all the world marveled and followed the beast". Already today many view the pope as the moral leader of the world.

To a large extent, the papacy's rising influence has come as Christians have substituted traditions, human standards, and science for the authority of the Bible. In doing so, they have become vulnerable to "the lawless one," who works "with all power, signs, and lying wonders." ...Satan and his instruments will bring about a confederation of evil, symbolized by the unholy trinity of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, that will deceive the world. Only those whose guide is the Bible and who "keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" can successfully resist the overwhelming deception this confederation brings.

Decline of Religious Freedom: The revival of the papacy will affect Christianity dramatically. The religious liberty obtained at great cost, guaranteed by the separation between church and state, will erode and finally be abolished. With the support of powerful civil governments, this apostate power will attempt to force its form of worship on all people. Everyone will have to choose between loyalty to God and His commandments and loyalty to the beast and his image.

The pressure to conform will include economic coercion: "No one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." Eventually those who refuse to go along will face a death penalty. 

Ellen White's Writings

When Christ shall cease His work as mediator in man’s behalf, then this time of trouble will begin. Then the case of every soul will have been decided, and there will be no atoning blood to cleanse from sin. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 201, 1890 edition.)

And the statement that the beast with two horns “causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast” indicates that the authority of this nation is to be exercised in enforcing some observance which shall be an act of homage to the papacy. (Great Controversy, p. 442)

When Jesus ceases to plead for man, the cases of all are forever decided.... Probation closes; Christ’s intercessions cease in heaven. This time finally comes suddenly upon all, and those who have neglected to purify their souls by obeying the truth are found sleeping. (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 p. 191, 1868 version.)

What is the “image to the beast”? and how is it to be formed? The image is made by the two-horned beast, and is an image to the beast. It is also called an image of the beast. Then to learn what the image is like and how it is to be formed, we must study the characteristics of the beast itself—the papacy. In order for the United States to form an image of the beast, the religious power must so control the civil government that the authority of the state will also be employed by the [Catholic] church to accomplish her own ends.... The “image to the beast” represents that form of apostate Protestantism which will be developed when the Protestant churches shall seek the aid of the civil power for the enforcement of their dogmas. (The Great Controversy, p. 443-445, 1911 edition.)

When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result. (Great Controversy, p. 445.1)

The third angel’s warning is: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” “The beast” mentioned in this message, whose worship is enforced by the two-horned beast, is the first, or leopardlike beast of Revelation 13—the papacy. The “image to the beast” represents that form of apostate Protestantism which will be developed when the Protestant churches shall seek the aid of the civil power for the enforcement of their dogmas. The “mark of the beast” still remains to be defined.  (Great Controversy, p. 445.2)

The papacy has attempted to change the law of God....Here the papal power openly sets itself above God. ...While the worshipers of God will be especially distinguished by their regard for the fourth commandment,—since this is the sign of His creative power and the witness to His claim upon man’s reverence and homage,—the worshipers of the beast will be distinguished by their efforts to tear down the Creator’s memorial, to exalt the institution of Rome. It was in behalf of the Sunday that popery first asserted its arrogant claims; and its first resort to the power of the state was to compel the observance of Sunday as “the Lord’s day.” But the Bible points to the seventh day, and not to the first, as the Lord’s day. (Great Controversy p. 446)

What then is the change of the Sabbath, but the sign, or mark, of the authority of the Roman Church—“the mark of the beast”? The Roman Church has not relinquished her claim to supremacy; and when the world and the Protestant churches accept a sabbath of her creating, while they reject the Bible Sabbath, they virtually admit this assumption. They may claim the authority of tradition and of the Fathers for the change; but in so doing they ignore the very principle which separates them from Rome—that “the Bible, and the Bible only, is the religion of Protestants.” The papist can see that they are deceiving themselves, willingly closing their eyes to the facts in the case. As the movement for Sunday enforcement gains favor, he rejoices, feeling assured that it will eventually bring the whole Protestant world under the banner of Rome.  But in the very act of enforcing a religious duty by secular power, the churches would themselves form an image to the beast; hence the enforcement of Sundaykeeping in the United States would be an enforcement of the worship of the beast and his image. (Great Controversy p. 448) 

But when Sunday observance shall be enforced by law, and the world shall be enlightened concerning the obligation of the true Sabbath, then whoever shall transgress the command of God, to obey a precept which has no higher authority than that of Rome, will thereby honor popery above God. He is paying homage to Rome and to the power which enforces the institution ordained by Rome. He is worshiping the beast and his image. As men then reject the institution which God has declared to be the sign of His authority, and honor in its stead that which Rome has chosen as the token of her supremacy, they will thereby accept the sign of allegiance to Rome—“the mark of the beast.” And it is not until the issue is thus plainly set before the people, and they are brought to choose between the commandments of God and the commandments of men, that those who continue in transgression will receive “the mark of the beast.” (Great Controversy p. 449)

Seventh-day Adventists Believe. . .

The Spirit of Prophecy in the Seventh-day Adventist Church

The gift of prophecy was active in the ministry of Ellen G. White, one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She has given inspired instruction for God's people living during the time of the end... From 1844, when she was 17, until 1915—the year of her death—she had more than 2, 000 visions. 

To claim to be a prophetess is something that I have never done. If others call me by that name, I have no controversy with them. But my work has covered so many lines that I can not call myself other than a messenger." (Seventh-day Adventists Believe p. 225)

[E]very human being's loyalty to God will be tested by the Sabbath command placed in the midst of the Decalogue. Scripture reveals that before the Second Advent the whole world will be divided into two classes: those who are loyal and "keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus,' and those who worship "the beast and his image." At that time God's truth will be magnified before the world and it will be clear to all that the obedient observance of the seventh-day Sabbath of Scripture gives evidence of loyalty to the Creator. (Seventh-day Adventists Believe p. 257)

It is the proclamation of the message of Revelation 14:6-12 in connection with the everlasting gospel that accomplishes this work of restoring and magnifying the law. And it is the proclaiming of this message that is the mission of God's church at the time of the Second Advent. 

The wording of the summons to worship the Creator, "Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water," is a direct reference to the fourth commandment of God's eternal law. Its inclusion in this final warning confirms God's special concern to have His widely forgotten Sabbath restored before the Second Advent.

The delivering of this message will precipitate a conflict that will involve the whole world. The central issue will be obedience to God's law and the observance of the Sabbath. In the face of this conflict everyone must decide whether to keep God's commandments or those of men. This message will produce a people who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Those who reject it will eventually receive the mark of the beast.

To successfully accomplish this mission of magnifying God's law and honoring His neglected Sabbath, God's people must set a consistent, loving example of Sabbathkeeping. (
Seventh-day Adventists Believe pp. 263-264.)

Church Manual

"...[W]hen, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren assembled from all parts of the field is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered. Never should a laborer regard as a virtue the persistent maintenance of his position of independence, contrary to the decision of the general body.” (Ellen White, Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 9, p. 260. Church Manual p. 31.)

 Baptismal Vow (p. 44)

6. Do you accept the Ten Commandments as a transcript of the character of God and a revelation of His will? Is it your purpose by the power of the indwelling Christ to keep this law, including the fourth commandment, which requires the observance of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath of the Lord and the memorial of Creation?

8. Do you accept the biblical teaching of spiritual gifts and believe that the gift of prophecy is one of the identifying marks of the remnant church? 

11. Do you know and understand the fundamental Bible principles as taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Do you purpose, by the grace of God, to fulfill His will by ordering your life in harmony with these principles?

13. Do you accept and believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the remnant church of Bible prophecy and that people of every nation, race, and language are invited and accepted into its fellowship? 

So many Seventh-day Adventists no longer believe much of what their prophetess Ellen White wrote and taught. They do not believe the fundamentals of the SDA Church. Do you? Take the test and see if you really are, deep down, a Seventh-day Adventist. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


"Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise , when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'

 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions."    Luke 14:27-33


I'll never forget it. 

I was in high school going to Dallas Junior Academy, a Seventh-day Adventists church school. At a youth camp religious retreat on Friday night a pastor gave a fiery--but relevant--sermon. The music, tailor-made for the 1970's youth, had been emotional. The altar call to come give your life to Christ had been short when one of the cool kids went up front. 

It was a very impactful moment for the rest of the teenagers, as well as the adults.

Soon many more of the cool kids, known to have been involved in both promiscuous relationships and occasional drug use, went to the front of the out-of-doors picnic area to dedicate their lives to Christ.  

They all cried, I cried. I thanked the Lord for this moment. It was a miracle.

I was on supernatural wings until school started again on Monday. Those kids would be different now. Their lives will begin to change and the school will become a little piece of heaven.

Then, at lunch, those same kids began to talk to each other and the rest of us who had watched them. They mocked their spiritual experience and brushed it off as if it had been stupid. I was aghast. Hurt for them, hurt for God. But it taught me a lesson.

The Lord wants us to really think about becoming a disciple, not just have an experience that takes us to the altar of a church on an emotional whim. Jesus said we are to calmly, rationally think about what it means and the sacrifice we must make to be a follower of His.

It takes time to count the cost.

One can have an experience of God's love and an emotional supernatural understanding of the gospel in a moment. Christ can show us our sins and we can truly repent and determine to turn from our sins in one short evening. Yet Christ says that once we begin plowing we are not to look back. We need to take a few minutes to think about it. 

Becoming a disciple of Christ is life changing. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Self-Refuting Doctrine of Sola Fide by Teresa Beem

Sometimes I forget actual people read this. I pretend others read it just as a child I pretended all the dolls I lined up on my bed were listening to me teach them. 
I tend to write in a tone as if my only audience is me. And my tone can be unemotional because I already know my heart and it's seems wordy to write out how sincere my heart is--since I can feel it myself. If I write with a calculated emotional tone, I am sorry. Believe me, I have enormous love for anyone who might take the time to read my blog. Wow. Thank you. 


Protestants teach that a person is saved by grace, through faith alone (sola fide)

Before I write anything else I need to give you the working definition of the doctrine of sola fide for this post:
Sola Fide: A person is justified by God's grace, through faith alone and that means that the person has entered a covenant with God, through the atoning blood of His Son Christ Jesus, which gives the believer eternal security that he or she will live with God in heaven.

Some, if not most, American Evangelicals teach that you can't be a true Christian without embracing the doctrine of sola fide. But I have heard the following type of statements often over the last decade:

A Seventh-day Adventist: 
"The remnant (true believers in these last days) are those who keep the Ten Commandments. The fourth commandment requires that we keep Sabbath holy. If you aren't keeping the correct Sabbath holy, you cannot be obeying God."

A Southern Baptist Sunday School Teacher:
"Every born-again believer must know the date he was saved. If he doesn't, I have to guess whether he was saved or not."

Assemblies of God Choir Director:
"Ya haven't spoken in tongues? (hummm) Well, you can join our choir on the contingency that ya let us know when you become a full member of God's family by being baptized with the Holy Spirit. Until then, well, we'll be prayin' for ya."

A Member of the Reformed Church:
"I am sorry, I am just very concerned for your soul because you haven't accepted the Bible truth of Limited Atonement and Predestination."

A Pentecostal:
"According to Romans 8:16, my spirit is not bearing witness to me that your spirit is a child of God. You just keep studying scripture, honey."

An Evangelical Minister to His Congregation:
"A true Christian is required to believe in the inerrancy of scripture and sola scriptura."

A Non-Denominational Friend:
"All who claim to be Bible-believing Christians must believe in once-saved-always-saved. If you don't, you're a heretic."

Adventist Online: 
"No true Christian can accept the doctrine of an everlasting hell."

Calvinist Online:
"No true Christian rejects the doctrine of an everlasting hell."

A Southern Baptist scholar, Ph.D in Theology:
"A Christian must accept sola fide, period, or he isn't saved."

These were Protestants who insisted that nothing, nothing can be added to our faith to secure our justification and salvation. Faith plus anything equal a works-righteousness that will place a person in hell. 

Yet, each Evangelical denomination, in reality, adds correct theology to faith in Christ. One added correct theology on Sabbath-keeping and obeying the Ten Commandments. Another a born-again date, or talking in tongues, predestination, everlasting hell. Each Protestant denomination holds fast to certain theology required to be a true, Bible-believing Christian. And even the idea of the requirement of being a Bible-believer is adding something to faith alone.

These responses have always proven to me that sola fide may be believed on a theoretical, ideological level, but not on a practical, functional one. A living faith is never truly alone, St. James said so. And Protestants' demand that all Christians believe in the doctrine of Righteousness by Faith Alone is adding to faith alone just as the above list of additions Christians insist be believed in order to be true Christians. 

Think about this:

If one believes that faith alone is all that is needed for justification, then insisting that the doctrine of sola fide (faith alone) be believed is adding to the simple conviction of faith alone. Not only must you believe in Christ but you then are obligated to believe in the doctrine of sola fide.

For Evangelicals to require that Christians must believe in the doctrine of sola fide in order to be saved is self-refuting theology, an internal contradiction. And so it must be because it is not Biblical. 

The inerrant, infallible written Word of God does talk one time about faith alone. Here it is in James 2: 24. 
You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Punishment for a Believer's Intentional and Unintentional Sins.

But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12: 45-48
A multitude of people were listening to Christ tell a parable of a master who is away for his own wedding and in his absence, he places his servant in charge. The servant is warned to keep watch and be ready ("keep your lamps burning"), because his master will unexpectedly return from the wedding banquet and knock at his door. Then he will enter and judge the servant's performance as keeper of the household. Jesus is telling His disciples that faithful servants will be ready for the return of their master by their obedience.

This parable is obviously the Second Coming of Christ and the Judgment, because He says to those listening, 
You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him....Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 
Those are the rewards of the faithful servants. 

Next, Jesus says the words cited in the first passage at the top. This warns His followers about the eternal judgment of the unfaithful, wicked servant who thinks his master is delaying his return, so he starts a drunken party and beats the other servants. That wicked manager will be given this judgment:
He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. 
That is very graphic language. The place of the unbelievers is usually thought of as hell. So the wicked servant will be torn apart and we can assume cast into hell.

Notice that Christ distinguishes unfaithful servants  from the unbeliever. Their end will be the same, but He doesn't call them unbelievers, He calls them servants. In judgment, the unfaithful servants will be given the same eternal punishment as the unbeliever. 

Now, scholars differ on how to interpret the next passage. 
That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 
Is Christ speaking of the same unfaithful servant here who is cut in half? Or is this another servant?  

If this is the same servant, he is both cut into many pieces and beaten with many blows. That is awkward. Why would Christ punish them with cutting them up and also blows? Sounds as if this is a different servant. This one was aware of what he was supposed to do, but failed to do it. He may not have been beating other servants, but did not obey his master. So this second servant who fails to obey his master will be severely punished at his eternal judgment. 

A third servant's judgment is brought up. This one is different in that he wasn't aware of what he was supposed to do. He wasn't being deliberately disobedient.

But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.
The culpability seems to decrease the severity of punishment, but it does not totally excuse him. Perhaps there was some negligence on the part of the servant for not inquiring about his duties. 

Jesus is judging His servants on a sliding scale of obedience with those servants who willfully, flagrantly disobey given the worst punishment. Those who did not know the instructions are still given punishment but only light blows. 

Protestant theology would interpret Jesus' parable as saying that all three of these servants are faithless and their verdict is eternal punishment, but of differing degrees. Most Protestant theology gives the ignorant servant no hope of heaven only mercy in everlasting damnation.  

There is no mainstream Protestant church that would allow for a punishment of the servant's disobedience and then an entering into heaven. 

However, the text could naturally be interpreted to mean that the first wicked servant was sent to hell while the other two were sent for a temporary punishment that would be over. It would have an end and then what? 

Seventh-day Adventists would respond, "annihilation." But that is an interpretation most Christians reject. That is a additional punishment that would create injustice. After all, the person unaware of having sinned would be mildly punished and an additional payment for their crimes of obliteration would follow. That adds too much to the text.

Catholics have what I consider the best and most loving interpretation of this passage because we believe Christ taught purgatory. I will not go into the other scriptural references Catholics use to back up the theology of Purgatory. We will concentrate on this parable. 

Christ is clear here, sins that are not repented of will be punished. Even those who are God's servants. No one gets a "get out of punishment free" card when he sins. We must repent. Then Christ mercifully applies the atonement to the servant and he is cleansed of all unrighteousness. 

This is true of both intentional and unintentional sins. Even sins a believer is not aware of will be punished. However, the verdict for the uninformed who sins is not damnation. Jesus tells us that their punishment is light and temporal, and then a  servant of God will enter heaven. 

Praise God that there is another way. Purgatory. If one has lived this life as God's servant but has failed Him in some respects-- perhaps having been disobedient or lazy--but one's works have not shown utter hatred for God by dismissing Him and hurting His other servants, one may end up in purgatory and not hell. That person's faith will save them but as St. Paul wrote, "as through fire." (1 Cor. 3: 5)

If anyone read these passages as a Protestant, the best a unfaithful or ignorant servant can hope for is degrees of suffering in hell. Jesus provided another way to cleanse a believer of all unrighteousness and to make him clean and spotless as His Bride. Purgatory will make  the believer able to stand in front of a Holy God. 

Can the text be interpreted another way than Catholic, of course. But I have yet to come across a Protestant interpretation of this passage that works with other passages of scripture or the character of Christ. 

I am so thankful for the mercy of Purgatory. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Tragic Misunderstanding

General Stone was a very heroic man who had served his country and his family. His son John, from early on, seemed to be everything his father was not: utterly narcissistic, self-destructive and self-absorbed. John's lifestyle for years was drunkenness followed by drug binges until at a fairly young age he found himself with complete liver failure and in need of blood transfusions.

Faced with death, John felt he needed to repair his relationship with the general. His father not only forgave his son, but gave him his own perfect liver and his blood which saved his son's life. Of course, the gift killed General Stone. John was utterly thankful for his father's sacrifice of the gift of his own life.

His heartbroken mother told John that his father loved him and didn't condemn him but that he should go and do not drink and take drugs any more.

This irritated John. Why was mom always trying to interfere with his relationship with His dad? He showed his mother the legal medical form in which his dad signed over his liver and blood to his son.

"I am the legal recipient of my dad's gift. Look." He held out the paper to his mother for her perusal, "There is no judgment on me, no strings attached, no expectation of personal growth or change in behavior. Dad knew what I did and gave me his liver and blood unconditionally."

Mother looked worried. To her, it seemed he was being rather cavalier about her husband's life and supreme sacrifice for him and his sins. 

"But John! That gift wasn't carte blanche to continue living a life of drunkenness and drug use!" 

"Any attempt on my part," began John confidently, "to now merit dad's gift by some type of good behavior would, in fact, annul his unmerited, free gift! Dad would be furious if I now tried to earn his gift back. Dad doesn't want me to pay him back! That would make his gift a vulgarity—like it would be my 'salary' for my actions from here on out."

For a few second the woman looked at her son in shock, unable to speak.

"Uh…b…but," she finally stuttered, "but if you just go out and waste this precious gift? Is that why dad gave you his own life? So that you could go on taking drugs and living in continual drunkenness?"

"Did I say that? Did you hear those words come out of my mouth? Who said I was going to waste it? You misrepresenting what I am saying! I am just saying that dad's gift never in any way implied that I was supposed to get better and stop drinking or doing drugs."

The mother's expression did not change. 

"Dad knew I needed this liver to survive. Yes, I lived badly, but come on! There was zero reason for him to give it to anyone living a healthy life. So therefore it is because I was wicked that he gave it to me! 

"But don't you want to at least try and be better? For dad?"

"Try?" John huffed with exasperation, "Are you saying, mother, that I must merit my father's gift? You really don't get it." He sighed with impatience and began again with more control, "Dad wouldn't want me to try and live better. It should come easily now and it would make to no benefit it I worked to now prove I am worthy of the gift. If I work to be good now, then I am trying to pay off my dad for his gift. I already have dad's liver. His heroism is in me and that is enough to make me a hero no matter what I do."

Now the mother was utterly confused. "But what kind of son are you that you would neglect so great a salvation from your father!"

"How dare you suggest that my father wants me to work at being righteous on my own without him!"

"Of course not! You have your dad's blood flowing through you and me to help you? Why would you suggest you are on your own?Where does love fit in all of this, son? Don't you love your father even more now and aren't you more thankful to him for his gift?"

"Of course!" Now John was thinking his mother was just stupid. "But dad's gift was written in forensic, academic language rather than  love. This was a legal agreement between dad and me and truly mother, it is best if you stay out. I had a personal relationship with dad and I knew him as well…. no, obviously even better than you. I 'got' dad. Evidently, you didn't."

"What's the difference if the contract was one of love or legal? This is your dad! And he expected that you would grow up and change your life if he gave his life for you!"

"I am not saying I am going out and drinking and doing drugs anymore. I probably won't. But it won't be because dad gave me a gift expecting it," John shrugged.

Mrs. Stone took a deep breath. "I am speaking practically and you are speaking subtle theoretical differences in his meaning. Both roads end up in exactly the same place? You not ruining your life. Why did you put me through all this psycho-babble!"

"It is not psycho-babble, mom. If you think I was supposed to earn his liver and blood by my behavior….then you didn't know my dad. In fact I don't think you were ever even married to dad. I will have nothing more to do with you for you are saying false things about my father. In fact I think you are a whore—a whore of Babylon."

Mrs. Stone was stunned by that verbal blow.

John, in general, cleaned up his life and no longer took drugs or drank heavily. But he never forgave nor reconciled with his mother. He felt that even though he did sober up, he would never, ever allow into his thoughts that he had struggled to do it. He could never trust his mother, in fact, he claimed to have exposed her as a fake because her attitude about behaving. Works and good behavior to merit Dad's gift was her thing.

And of course, that was never the mother's intent. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I am including the full context of Luke 11: 49-51, which is the topic of this post:
Now when He had spoken, a Pharisee asked Him to have lunch with him; and He went in, and reclined at the table. When the Pharisee saw it, he was surprised that He had not first ceremonially washed before the meal. But the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places. Woe to you! For you are like concealed tombs, and the people who walk overthem are unaware of it." One of the lawyers said to Him in reply, "Teacher, when You say this, You insult us too." But He said, "Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. So you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs. For this reason also the wisdom of God said, 'I will send to them prophets
and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.'
 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering." When He left there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile and to question Him closely on many subjects, plotting against Him to catch Him in something He might say.

What hit me this morning as I read those words was a great big question mark. Why would God, who said that a son should not be punished for the sins of his father, say such a thing? God would not contradict Himself, so there must be something here I am not seeing. Israel's Pharisees, scribes and lawyers must be culpable themselves, in some way, of the death of the prophets since the beginning of mankind. And Abel's murder occurred millennia before the nation of Israel! How is this possible that Christ could charge the entire generation of Israelites with the slaughter of the prophets that began in Genesis and culminated with the death of Zechariah more than five hundred years before?

And also notice that the entire generation is blamed, not just the leadership. The Lord is giving judgement on a corporate crime. When Jerusalem was sacked (in that generation) Christ's judgment was enforced. 

Wow. Gives one pause. 

My thoughts are going in this direction, but I am surely open to being wrong. I think it is possible that in the beginning, Israel was less culpable for her idolatry. For she had been a slave among the heathens for four hundred years. As the centuries past, despite being sent prophet after prophet warning Israel to repent and turn from her sin, their corporate hearts became calloused and finally hardened against God. It was a slow rot and with willful stubbornness, Israel ignored the Torah and the warnings. Their generation had become utterly indifferent and unresponsive to the call of God. Love of self had replaced love of God or their fellow man. 

The demons who enticed Cain to kill Abel, were growing stronger with each generation that accepted them. Those same demons enticed the murders of all the prophets that God sent. And those sons of Satan were present and accepted by many of Israel. When Christ appeared, it was made clear who corporate Israel had chosen and it was not God. Thus this made Israel fully liable because they could see and understand their history. Notice that our Lord specifically said they had built the tombs of the prophets to honor them--so they understood that the prophets were martyred. Yet they refused to stop the martyrdom. 

So, I was reminded this morning that corporate judgment does happen. Be careful what group to whom you give your loyalty. And that the sins of that group can literally pile up over generations. Be repentant as a group! Change your ways and be righteous as a people of God.

We today who have not just the history of Israel's rejection of the prophets but the history of Christ and His Church before us, Christians today will be even more culpable of wrong for we see so clearly what it is and how much it cost to destroy sin. As it is recorded in Hebrews 2:3, "How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?"  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Adventists Women's Ordination and Unity

I sat in the pew of an Episcopal Church one Sunday morning some years back, when a bishop of local renown came in to do clean up with very disturbed parishioners. He had recently 

returned from a conference where the Episcopal Church had voted to begin ordaining homosexual clergy. The members were on the verge of splitting over the decision.

I was visiting,  observing with some interest. In the bishop's homily, he stressed that at this critical time in the church the most important thing was for everyone to stay calm and remained unified. It was the dark forces that were trying to split the church. He urged that this issue was not important enough to cause disunity. He  gently shamed and humorously mocked the listeners who were not on board for homosexual clergy. It was subtle, but those paying attention noticed how he claimed his side as Biblical and "after all" we all want to be like Jesus: being accepting, loving, non-judgmental, eating with sinners.

What was most remarkable was his admonishment to the crowd to persevere with the church no matter what, even if you vehemently believe what the bishops did was against God.

"It is vital that we stay unified."

Internally, I chuckled with amusement. 

Stay unified? Of course this is going to split the church.

Americanism is seeped with the idea of individual religious freedom. How can a Episcopalian bishop, born from the family of the Anglican Church who broke with the Catholic Church, seriously suggest that if one has a moral disagreement with one's church that unity should prevail over personal conscience?

Yesterday, I heard a similar argument coming out of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. There was recently a committee of church leaders discussing what the church should do about women's ordination. 

"It's not a big deal if a woman is ordained, don't make it an issue that you will break with the church." 

Don't be naive. Of course this issue is going to split the church. Look at history, people have left their church and started a new one over a lot less.

"Women's ordination is not a given doctrine like the Sabbath. Let's not forget what is important here."

These types of comments have come from many a mouth, about many a theological dispute, in various denominations and it simply means that the person thinks they know what is important in God's eyes better than others.

Some people have viewed indulgences as so sinful that it was worth breaking with the church. Others the sacrifice of the mass, or baby baptism, or racism, or what day you rest on. For some Adventists to say that women's ordination should not be important to other Seventh-day Adventists is betraying a great deal of arrogance and is a stealthy swipe against their neighbor's conscience.

I have watched a little of the SDA reactions and the responses mirror those of all
denominations in the throws of theological battles. There is a call for unity as if unity were all of a sudden important for their church. As if unity were a priority for Protestants.

Does a Seventh-day Adventist that is convicted the Bible clearly forbids a woman to be ordained submit their conscience to the church? That is not a popular mindset among Protestants. It is interesting to watch yet another church reach out and use unity to intimidate or at the least pressure people to remain in their denomination. Especially when they use the authority of their leaders in such a Catholic way. "We know best, your reading of scripture is wrong. Have faith in your church's leadership."

If a Christian promotes unity above personal conscience as ultimate authority, then he needs to go back and be a Catholic. Protestants have a hard time swallowing the unity plea when their denomination was founded upon a series of splits over these types of issues.

Protestants need to rethink the importance of unity. What is a grave enough matter to split the body of Christ? When is it more important for a house to stay undivided? Time we look into this before a crisis.

There was a house built upon a rock and the rains came and the house stood. There was a house built upon thousands of tiny little broken up rocks. And when the rains came, the house fell.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Photos of Saints

Newly discovered 1905 photo of Ellen G. White at age 77.
Courtesy of Jacqueline Leslie Trott-Bally via Ron Graybill

Ellen doesn't look very happy, does she? Let's look at photos of other people of God who were Ellen's contemporaries.

While some of these other people of God don't seem particularly happy, they certainly don't look upset. They have a peace about them, unlike Ellen. 
Here is the face of a saint much closer to our time. Look at the love of Jesus in her face.