Hymnus Deo

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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Leftist Consumerism #2

Our local Barnes and Noble stores have Starbucks Coffee shops in them, and as a coffee addict, I’ve been known to get a cup of coffee or two while perusing the shelves. It has increasingly been a struggle, however, as I’ve become aware of Starbucks’ involvement in some less than honorable social practices. Starbucks, I've learned, is notoriously sympathetic to the extreme Left. The newspapers they sell are leftist in their ideology. Starbucks has been known to support gay pride parades and other aspects of the homosexual agenda. And chances are slim that, among the CD’s they sell in their stores, you’ll find Handel’s Messiah or contemporary Christian artists like Third Day. Artists known for their anti-Christian lyrics, like Dave Matthews, however, are there in abundance.

But, knowing all of this, I was still surprised to discover the messages they’ve been printing on their cups and the ideas they were promoting through them. How, as a reader, I have never read what’s on the cup of coffee they give you, I don’t know.

My co-worker had stopped by Starbucks on the way to work the other morning, and she had bought latte’s for both of us. And so the day was starting well until I read this:

The Way I See It # 247

Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.

- Bill Scheel, Starbucks customer from London, Ontario. He describes himself as a “modern day nobody.”

I was surprised. I couldn’t believe that Starbucks would be so brazen in publishing an attack on Christianity like this. And if I were Mr. Scheel, I personally wouldn’t want my ignorance spread throughout the world like this. To assume that faith in God is contrary to being consistently cognitive is to reveal a lack of knowledge of the Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition. Many have come to faith in Christ simply because of the historical evidence and Christianity’s logical coherence. In fact, Christianity is a religion built on the verity of historical claims. And to assume that we have the ability to inside ourselves apart from God to overcome difficulties is to assert quite a bit of over self-confidence, which many a dead humanist could testify against, could they communicate with us.

My co-worker was as shocked as I was, so we were intrigued to find the quote on her cup:

The Way I See It # 250

In reality, hell is not such an intention of God as it is an invention of man. God is love and people are precious. Authentic truth is not so much taught or learned as it is remembered. Somewhere in your pre-incarnate consciousness you were loved absolutely because you were. Loved absolutely, and in reality, you still are! Remember who you are!

- Bishop Carlton Pearson
Author, speaker, spiritual leader and recording artist

I’ve heard of Pearson before, but knew nothing about him. According to his website, he is promoting a “gospel of inclusion”, which is just a modern way of saying that all those passages in the Scripture that teach a literal Hell to which all the unrepentant will be sent when they die are simply untrue. Historically this has been called Universalism, and historic Christianity has, for the most part, rejected it as heresy. In fact, Pearson’s website notes that his viewpoint on Hell has been deemed by his Pentecostal colleagues to be heretical.

Pearson seems to have other errors besides this one, as indicated by this quote from his website:

" Since we came from God, we are made of the same substance as Divinity. "

Yet Scripture says Adam was a created being, made of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). And while God gave Adam life, to say that we, who are descended from Adam, are made of the same substance as Divinity, is to claim something contradicted by Scripture. God repeatedly sets himself apart from man throughout Scripture as a unique being and reminds us that we aren’t Him, but are rather created by Him. This statement instead sounds like the sort of statement one finds in Eastern philosophy, the kind that Pearson seems so intent on merging with Christianity, as he understands (or misunderstands) it.

I have a hard time understanding how one can say hell is “an invention of man” when God clearly teaches us this through His word. And if truth isn’t taught, then why does Pearson bother to teach? And what “pre-incarnate consciousness” is he talking about? This is something that is nowhere found in Scripture. There is no “pre-incarnate consciousness”. Eastern philosophy teaches this; Christianity does not.

But this is clever on the part of Starbucks. Find a guy wearing a clerical shirt who calls himself a Bishop and masquerades as a Christian minister and put a quote by him that clearly contradicts Christian teaching on your cups.

So am I suggesting, as Evangelicals often do, that we should boycott Starbucks or Barnes and Noble? No, not exactly. History has proven that boycotts accomplish little. Evangelical Christians from the ‘80’s through today have tried to power corporations into submission through boycotts, and it has proven largely ineffective. I’m not saying that you as an individual might not want to take your business elsewhere. As I said, it’s a struggle for me. I do regard the two companies as different, however. With Barnes and Noble, the increase of purchases of books and magazines that promote a more Biblical worldview might cause B & N to increase the prominence of better books on displays and on shelves. Ron Paul’s book might just make it onto the “In the Media” display, for instance. With Starbucks, however, it’s different. There’s no such thing as Christian coffee. They don’t provide a better choice when it comes to newspapers, and I doubt they’ll be sponsoring majoring Christian events any time soon. And while I like a lot of the music they sell, and wouldn’t have a problem buying it (somewhere else, that is), they are promoting a worldview that is the problem. You the consumer have to make your own decision on these things.

There is a bigger issue here, though. How do we as Christians change society? It isn’t through boycotts. As Paul spoke of the Jews, “For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Romans 2:24). And the same is true today. If those who aren’t God’s people speak ill of God, it is because of a failure on the part of God’s people. If we fail to worship God properly, if we fail to give him the glory and praise He is due, if we fail to show love and mercy as he does, and if we fail to live holy lives, then we will continue to fail to influence society for the better. If, however, we begin to do these things, God will honor our deeds, and blogs like this one won’t need to be written any more.

Leftist Consumerism #1

A friend of mine gave me a Barnes and Noble gift card a couple of weeks back that’s been burning a hole in my pocket, so I got the notion in my head yesterday that I needed to use it to buy Ron Paul’s book, A Foreign Policy of Freedom. I was surprised when looking on the B & N website, however, to find that they didn’t have any in stock. This is a major Republican presidential candidate for the ’08 election who has published a book this year, and they didn’t have it in stock. How strange. “Could it be that they sold all their copies immediately upon Paul’s win in the debate last week?” I thought to myself. There’s no way of knowing, I guess.

So I visited Amazon.com out of curiosity. Not only did they not have any listed in stock, they didn’t even show they could order new copies. And so the story gets weirder.

I was going to be out near one of the local B & N’s, so I thought I’d stop by and see if they had any of them. And sure enough, back in the corner in the “Politics” section they had two copies.

But what surprised me the most met me as I was walking up to the checkout. It was a display table in the middle of the aisle marked “In the Media” (which it was quite literally. But I digress). And what was on that table? Obama? Yes. Hillary? Of course. Ron Paul? Noticeably absent.

Is this how you spell the word “bias”?

If you want to buy the book, you can get it here. They’re actually interested in selling it, and I imagine they won’t have to special order it for you.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ron Paul, the GOP's black sheep

I was amazed this evening as I was watching Hannity & Colmes at how quickly Sean Hannity dismissed Ron Paul’s decisive win at the GOP debate the other night. Anybody have any ideas why so-called conservatives are so quick to dismiss Paul? Is it because these so-called conservatives are really about big-spending and centralism and Paul isn’t?

For those of you familiar with the Constitution Party, you might find the comments on their website about Paul interesting.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Pick your method of indoctrination

ABC Family, that cable station that barely shows anything suitable for a family to watch, has showed The Sound of Music several times over the past couple of days. Aside from the songs carrying some seriously humanistic messages (“I have confidence in me”, “Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good”) I like the movie. I blame it on repeated watchings through middle and high school chorus classes. Just don’t tell any of my male friends that I like it, okay?

It’s rather interesting timing, coinciding with the beginning of the government school year as it has. Did somebody mention fascism? Oh, right, I did. Good thing we don’t deal with that in the U.S. today. (That’s sarcasm, folks.) In case anyone was wondering, the Von Trapp children were homeschooled. (That’s not sarcasm.)

I had forgotten the repeated line of Herr Zeller, Hitler’s lackey – “Nothing has changed in Austria.” Shades of Animal Farm. Orwell certainly knew what he was talking about.

You know the sad thing about channels like ABC Family? They might show a good movie occasionally like The Sound of Music. But if I had a family, I couldn’t let them watch the channel simply because of the commercials. I don’t feel so good about watching them myself.

“I must have done something good” – or was that, “I must have done some supererogatory works”? You know, the Roman Catholic theme is beginning to become clear…

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Scriptural Speculations 3: The Heavenly Boaz

When one comes to a conviction that the Eucharist plays a more central role in the worship of the church than is typically practiced in Evangelicalism, it’s amazing how frequent one finds bread and wine together throughout Scripture. In a singles’ group I’ve been attending on Sunday evenings, we recently finished up a study of the Book of Ruth. But the relationship of the following verse to the Eucharist didn’t occur to me until the other day:

And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. (Ruth 2:14)

In the context, Ruth has gone to glean in Boaz’s field in order to provide for herself and Naomi. After working through the morning, the workers have broken for lunch. Boaz wasn’t required to provide for her lunch too, only to allow her to glean after his field hands. But he not only tells her not to go to any other field to glean (2:8-9), but he also calls her to sit and feast among his servants, in essence treating her better than her status as a poor person of the land would dictate. The similarity with James’s instructions on loving one’s neighbor (James 1:27 – 2:17, as well as other verses in James’s epistle), not to mention Jesus parable of the wedding feast (Luke 14:7-11) should not go unnoticed.

But in addition to this is the appearance of bread and wine in the passage. When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, we shouldn’t suppose that he was starting all over with elements that had never been seen in the history of Israel before. God not only foreordained the appearance of these things in the history of Israel, but allowed them to appear in the Hebrew Scriptures for all to see.

The last phrase in the verse also signals us to Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand (Mt. 14:13-21; Mk. 6:30-44; Lk. 9:10-17; Jn. 6:1-13) and the feeding of the four thousand (Mt. 15:32-38; Mk. 8:1-10). The fact that the crowds, like Ruth, are described as being “satisfied”, as well as the comment that in each case there was food left over, suggests not only that the Gospel writers were intending to point out the parallel with Ruth’s situation, but that God Himself intended the similarities.

We might also note the number of baskets of food left in each case. In the feeding of the five thousand, there were twelve baskets left, no doubt pointing to the twelve tribes of Israel. In the feeding of the four thousand, there were seven baskets left, no doubt pointing to the seven day week God had instituted in the creation, and specifically to the Sabbath rest God had given to the world and which he had especially given to Israel. Incidentally (or Providentially), when one adds the one ephah of barley that Ruth gleaned in ch. 2 (vs. 17) with the six “measures” (presumably also ephahs, as the word describing the measurement is absent in the Hebrew) of barley that Boaz gives her in ch. 3 (vs. 15), we find that Ruth gains seven measures of barley from Boaz.

“But there is no wine at the feeding of the five thousand, or at the feeding of the four thousand,” you might be thinking. True enough, and that’s why Jesus’ discourse on being the bread of Heaven (John 6:22-71) is so important. This takes place the day after Jesus fed the five thousand (Jn. 6:22). Jesus criticizes the people for seeking Him only because he fed them and not because He can give them eternal life. But most significant for our discussion is that Jesus, toward the end of his discourse, tells the people that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have eternal life (Jn. 6:53-56). In that our Lord referred to the cup as his blood in the institution of the Supper, we can be assured that his words here are meant not only to point back to Old Testament passages like the one we find in Ruth, but also forward to his institution of the Supper.

As Boaz became the bridegroom of Ruth, so Jesus came as the Bridegroom of his New Israel (also in John, 3:29). And just as Boaz called Ruth to feast with him, so our Boaz calls us to feast with Him.