We Gotta Stop!

We Gotta Stop!

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

If you’re reading this right now, it means you have access to electricity and internet. If you have access to those, you’re already familiar with the subject of this article. This specifically applies to Christians living in the United States, but I encourage those who don’t consider themselves religious to think about the following as well. There’s no other way to address this, so I apologize for having to write it.

“Let’s go Brandon” is everywhere: gas pumps, sporting events, social media posts, bumper stickers, etc. I thought it would die out by now, but it’s everywhere. I see it almost every day on gaming platforms, with many adopting some form of it as a username/handle. It’s become colloquial, used to “thank” the president for any less-than-ideal circumstance.

I am not a fan of our current president. If you drive, you know how much gas is right now. Afghanistan. The Russian ammo ban (and other anti-freedom measures). If you eat food, you’re already familiar with inflation’s impact on groceries. We could go on for a week, but this is a long-winded disclaimer and I need to get to the point.

No Christian should ever adopt the mentality behind the phrase at the beginning of the second paragraph. Besides the crass and hateful language it represents, it’s a sinful way to view our president. Christians are supposed to respect their government leaders (I Pt 2.17). In that passage it’s not a suggestion, it’s an order. The word τιμᾶτε (timate) is an imperative. It means “to show high regard for” someone (BDAG, τιμάω).

Paul wrote, “You should pray for rulers and for everyone who has authority. Pray for these leaders so we can lead a quiet and peaceful life…” (I Tim 2.2). Paul was under an emperor similar to our own president. God’s expectations for Christian behavior don’t change when the president is bad. We don’t have to like him, but we certainly have to respect him and pray for him.

We should not expect to live with God forever if we talk about the president the way so many others do. I get it – it’s hard. Politicization of the medical field under his administration has had a direct impact on my own quality of life. Praying for/respecting the president is not easy at all. But it wouldn’t have been easy for Christians under any of the Roman emperors in the first century, either. If they could do it, so can we. Please think about the serious impact our words have on where we spend eternity. Our first allegiance is to God. If He’s really our King, we’ll have respect for our president.

Image courtesy Flickr.
Worry Not; The Sky Is Not Falling

Worry Not; The Sky Is Not Falling

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

If you asked me to belay the fears of those worried about climate change quickly, I would do so by citing one Scripture. Granted, this would only work for a minority of people who 1) believe in God and 2) accept the Bible as His infallible revelation to humanity. Nevertheless, I would still begin with God’s words to Noah. 

“As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” (Genesis 8.22 NLT) 

If you are a person of faith, that is all you need to hear. It does not matter what computer models claim. Behind the climate change hype, one notes that, typically, politicians are trying to seize more money and control through industry regulation and carbon taxes. I realize that it feels empowering to think the task of saving the planet is yours to undertake. I imagine it gives a sense of purpose. Yet, a person of faith sees that this ability to “save the planet” exceeds his or her grasp. God told the patriarch Job that He alone could bring the sword to His creation (Job 40.15ff). 

Lastly, people of faith will likewise acknowledge that Holy Writ reveals a history of periods of extreme weather. In particular, one notes the seven years of feast and famine foreseen by the pharaoh and interpreted by Joseph via God’s Spirit (Genesis 41.29-31). That dearth of food, brought on by drought, was bad enough that it impacted even Joseph’s brothers living many miles away (Genesis 41.57-52.2). The foretold famine of Genesis 41 was not the only drought depicted in Scripture. The conditions leading to famine understood as drought, caused the patriarchs Abraham (then Abram) and Isaac and Naomi and her husband to take refuge where they could find food (Genesis 12.10; 26.1; Ruth 1.1).    

Drought was not limited to the Old Testament. For example, in Acts 11.28, the prophet Agabus foresaw a “great dearth” (KJV) that would occur during the reign of Claudius Caesar. Though people have repeatedly undertaken the challenge of disproving the veracity of Luke’s scholarship, Luke has always proven true. There were, in total, four famines noted in secular history during the reign of Claudius Caesar. One such famine centered in Judea and served as the impetus for Paul’s missionary journeys (Acts 11.29-30). At this point, hopefully, the person of faith has had his or her fears about “climate change” assuaged. But what about those who do not accept the existence of God or the inspiration of Scripture?  

Well, let’s play devil’s advocate. The late comedian, George Carlin, had a great point about “saving the planet” within one of his stand-up routines for those embracing evolutionary dogma. He mentioned that the planet has allegedly been here for billions of years by evolutionary timetables. In comparison, humans have supposedly only been here for a couple of hundred thousand years. Even then, humanity has only engaged in heavy industrialization for about 200 years. Yet, species of flora and fauna have come and gone whether “we” have done anything or not. Carlin says that nature takes care of itself.1 (By the way, Christians agree somewhat with this sentiment since we accept that Christ sustains His creation—Colossians 1.15-17; Hebrews 1.3.) 

Meanwhile, the evidence touted by academics promoting today’s climate change hysteria points to such things as more significant amounts of greenhouse gases in earth’s remote past “before man.” (These scientists said that our current greenhouse gases, purported to be thanks to human activity, now matchedwhat they observed in that distant past.) 

Other factors impacting weather and climate have nothing to do with man. For example, thanks to volcanic activity, our world entered a mini-ice age persisting for several centuries, despite the birth of industrialization, into the late nineteenth century.3 And there are likewise such factors as orbital changes (i.e., Milankovitch cycles) and sunspot activity influencing the weather. Regarding the impact of sunspots, scientists note the Maunder minimum that persisted for over twenty years between the latter seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It added bitterness to the already cold mini-ice age.4 

The weather is going to change. It always has and always will. Though the climate is different from weather, one notes climate is the weather record over a protracted period. And when was the last time your weatherman gave you an accurate weather forecast for a month into the future? Of course, they cannot do that, can they? No, they are constantly observing the computer models and giving you their best guess from their resources’ data. A forecast can drastically change within a day. 

Computer programmers have a mantra as old as modern computing: “Garbage in, garbage out.” In other words, a program is only as good as the data entered into it. Therefore, if you have bias, the results of your programming will reflect that bias. Those crying “climate change” benefit from computer modeling that paints an apocalyptic future picture. Fear is a great motivator. Unscrupulous people will use unfounded fear to get you to go along with the message they are peddling. 

Does this absolve us of our role as God’s caretakers (Genesis 1.26-28)? No, we ought to be good stewards. Therefore, we accept as a principle what Paul said of man’s stewardship of the Gospel: God must find us faithful (1 Corinthians 4.2). If God has given us stewardship of the planet, we ought not to pollute or abuse it. The Dust Bowl and Georgia’s Providence Canyon reveal what happens from poor farming practices that rob the earth of the protective soil: severe erosion. In like manner, belching industrial smokestacks and burning fires wreak havoc on the lungs of the asthmatic. Without rushing headlong into a hysteria that ultimately doubts God’s power or fails to accept His promise, we can grasp these truths. 

I will close as I began, with those words God spoke in the presence of Noah to all of humanity. 

“As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” (Genesis 8.22 NLT) 

Sources Consulted 

1 Carlin, George. “‘Saving the Planet,’ by George Carlin.” Wheelersburg Local School District, Wheelersburg Local School District, www.wheelersburg.net/Downloads/GeorgeCarlin.pdf

2 Freedman, Andrew. “The Last Time CO2 Was This High, Humans Didn’t Exist.” Climate Central, Climate Central, 3 May 2013, www.climatecentral.org/news/the-last-time-co2-was-this-high-humans-didnt-exist-15938

3 Parry, Wynne. “Volcanoes May Have Sparked Little Ice Age.” LiveScience, Future US, Inc., 30 Jan. 2012, www.livescience.com/18205-ice-age-volcanoes-sea-ice.html

4 “Maunder Minimum.” Edited by Erik Gregersen, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 25 Feb. 2011, www.britannica.com/science/Maunder-minimum

We Need A Break

We Need A Break

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

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Gary Pollard

Being well-informed is an essential part of remaining free. Without an understanding – from reliable sources – of what’s going on in the world, we make ourselves vulnerable to deception. That said, it’s my humble opinion that we need a news detox/vacation. 

  • We need a detox because virtually all information sources pander to their political audiences. 
  • We need a detox because most reports are negative, defamatory, or otherwise divisive. 
  • We need a detox because it’s caused many to determine a person’s value by their opinions on current issues. 
  • We need a detox because it’s increasingly affecting our churches. 
  • We need a detox because God expects us to love people (Phil 2.3-4; Gal 6.10; I Cor 13.4-7). Being constantly bombarded with reasons to dislike others doesn’t help. 
  • We need a detox because there’s so much more to life than politics and negativity. It’s much harder to appreciate or recognize positivity if we’ve overdosed on current events. 
  • We need a detox because constant exposure has not done anything good for our mental health. 

Please don’t see this as a suggestion to live under a rock. That helps no one. Instead, see it as an opportunity to step back, cool off, and recalibrate how we view other people. It simply cannot hurt society to have more patience, compassion, and empathy! 

Freedom Fighter And Traitor

Freedom Fighter And Traitor

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

In the following fictional scenario, an unnamed extremist country has defeated the United States of America (work with me, there’s a point to this). They established a puppet government and required survivors to pay exorbitant, unreasonable taxes. The country has dealt with oppression under their rule for long enough that rebellions start to take place, but aren’t very successful. 

Some are desperate enough (or simply weren’t patriotic to begin with) to work for the state controlled by the enemy. Worse, their job is to force an already oppressed people to pay tributes they can’t afford. The enemy has killed too many Americans. The enemy has humiliated the country – once the global power – in ways that may never be reversed. Any American working for the enemy is a traitor. 

Imagine we have two different individuals in this dystopia: one is a freedom fighter, dedicated to overthrowing the enemy, the other is a traitor (and fair game for the freedom fighters). Both of them somehow find God, follow His word, and end up working together in a congregation of dedicated followers. The freedom fighter would kill the traitor, except for something that changed his mind forever: Jesus. The traitor would abuse and absolutely ruin his own people before Jesus. 

If this seems far-fetched, consider that two of Jesus’ disciples were Matthew (a tax collector for the Romans and a traitor in the eyes of Jewish people) and Simon the Zealot (a freedom fighter sworn to kill people like Matthew). Their political and social views were radically different, but Jesus brought adjustments to their world views that changed them forever. They were no longer a freedom fighter and tax collector, but followers of Jesus (see Acts 1.12-14). 

While there aren’t likely too many Christians with national animosity at that level, we aren’t strangers to the political division that affects every aspect of our lives. You may have even seen it play out in your church. We have focused too much on politics! 

Many with good intentions (that includes me) have even said something like, “We should be able to get along, Republican and Democrat, if we’re in the same church.” That’s technically true, but misses the point. 

We are not republicans or democrats (or any other political party, for those outside of the States). Our identity is not tied to a political party. We are Christians. Our leader is Jesus, our country is Heaven, our flag is His church. Yes, we live in our own countries and must be good citizens (Romans 13). Yes, we’re going to have differing viewpoints on social issues. 

We have to stop blurring the line between our political parties and our faith! On both sides of the political aisle is immorality and incompetence. Christianity is beautiful because it shifts our primary allegiance and focus to God, not government. It’s a new allegiance that allowed former traitors and freedom fighters to work together for a greater cause! 

If someone asks us to describe our world view and our first thought is political preference, we’re wrong. We will only have unity and peace when God is our common king. We can say that He is already, but our actions confirm or deny that claim. If God is our king, we will be good citizens (Romans 13.1-7). If God is our king, we will love each other deeply (I Peter 1.22). If God is our king, our morality/worldview/outlook will come from His word and not from our preferred political party (principle found in I Peter 1.14-19; Romans 14; Acts 1.13; John 18.36). I struggle with this. Many of us do. We have to be Christians before anything else, and remember that our primary allegiance is to God! 

Should Christians “Go Galt?” 

Should Christians “Go Galt?” 

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

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Brent Pollard

Christian monasticism arose within the fourth century AD. The proponents of monasticism felt they were able to live holier lives in isolation. There are still monasteries around today, but the movement is not nearly as popular as it used to be. I think all but a few introverts would enjoy the idea of spartan monasticism today. Besides, monasticism is antithetical to Christian teaching since it is hard to be salt and light to the world, secreting yourself away from where you can influence others (Matthew 5.13-16). But, oh, are we not vexed (oppressed) like Lot living in Sodom? (2 Peter 2.7-8) We are. And that is why we sometimes fantasize about living in a genuine, Christian community. 

That is a rather funny fantasy, though. Christians do have this community. It is called the ecclesia (the assembly or church). Early Christians availed themselves of it by meeting DAILY for worship and fellowship (Acts 2.46-47). We often use economic rationale to justify limiting our assemblies to a maximum of about four gatherings a week. But did our Christian forebearers not have to work? Did these brethren lack familial responsibilities? We must agree that they learned to make time for what was important to them. These earliest Christians truly embodied the command to seek God’s righteousness and Kingdom first (Matthew 6.33). 

However, “Going Galt” is a different concept entirely. The term comes from a dystopian novel by Ayn Rand in the same vein as George Orwell’s 1984. Rand’s book, entitled Atlas Shrugged, presents a mysterious man named John Galt who seeks to persuade those producers exploited by a heavy-handed government to withdraw to seclusion to deprive said government, termed “looters,” from continuing to use them. Ultimately, these “strikers” (striking from participation in said society) desire to establish a new capitalistic society founded on Galt’s philosophies, concepts like individualism and reason. It was a flop in its time but has since become popular among the politically conservative and libertarian.  

A person choosing to “Go Galt” in 2021 would move to an area where they can find political kinship with the existing population. In other words, to co-opt our current colorful political nomenclature, someone voting “red” would move from his “blue” majority state to one matching his voting preferences. “Going Galt” would also mean ditching businesses that have become overtly political in their messaging. A recent example of this would be the avoidance of the Coca-Cola Company for embracing critical race theory. As the current bogeyman is socialism, the idea of those advocating “Going Galt” is to deprive champions of socialism of the material needed to advance the political ideology further. Essentially, you cut off their access to taxpayers and lower their profit margins. 

Peter referred to the Old Law as being a burden no one could keep (Acts 15.10). In many ways, trying to isolate ourselves from others as Christians or “Go Galt” morally would prove an equally arduous task. It is easy to highlight a particular product to avoid, but the said product’s producer likely makes many other products that we may not escape. Or, if you have a 401(k), your mutual fund may buy into stock in the company you wish to punish. You would have to do your research. I do appreciate the idea. The problem, as always, is one of execution and consistency. 

As we often say, “We are in the world but not of it” (cf. John 17.15-18). Jesus said the only way we could avoid these types of problems would be for God to take us out of this world. However, that is not practical since He is sending us out into that world with the Gospel (cf. Matthew 28.19-20; Mark16.15-16). Ultimately, choosing where to live and work or the products one buys, as long as no one supports immorality, falls under the umbrella of Christian liberty (cf.  1 Corinthians 6.12; 10.23;8.1ff; Romans 14.1ff). I may have a problem with the direction that the Walt Disney Company has gone, but I cannot condemn you for subscribing to Disney Plus so you can watch “baby Yoda.” Disney Plus isn’t something like pornography, even if parents need to be mindful of the secular humanistic and evolutionary concepts found in Disney programming today. 

The most excellent solution for those contemplating something akin to monasticism or “Going Galt” is to lose yourself in the local church.  Seek opportunities for fellowship with your brothers and sisters. In so doing, not only do you find needed support, but you can find those to help shoulder your burdens as you help to shoulder theirs (Galatians 6.2,10). The church, after all, is one of those heavenly places where our blessings may be found (Ephesians 1.3).   

CHRIST AND CANCEL CULTURE

CHRIST AND CANCEL CULTURE

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

pollard

Neal Pollard

IF CHRIST CHAMPIONED CANCEL CULTURE…

  • The Samaritan woman stayed washed up.
  • The Prodigal Son is stuck in the pig pen.
  • Zaccheus is still up a tree.
  • Peter is still casting nets, not using His keys and feeding His sheep.
  • James and John, the sons of thunder, are all wet.
  • Saul of Tarsus kept holding coats and chasing down Christians.
  • Thomas drowned in his doubt.
  • The thief on the cross is hung out to dry.
  • John Mark might as well have stayed AWOL.
  • Hebrews 11, what with Noah (the drunk), Abraham (the liar), Moses (the murderer), Rahab (the harlot), etc., is never written.
  • At least five of the seven churches of Asia are in the dark.
  • All humanity is hopeless (Rom. 3:23).
  • He is neither faithful nor just (1 John 1:9). 
  • He never would have died on the cross (1 Tim. 2:6).

That is not to say that God “winks” at ignorance (Acts 17:30), indulges willful sin (Rom. 6:1-2; Heb. 10:26ff), or encourages walking in darkness (1 John 1:6ff). But, God is the God of the second (third, fourth, etc.) chance. He is perfectly patient (2 Pet. 3:9) and fully forgiving (Heb. 7:25). Perhaps our world is open to the Christ of the Bible now more than ever! 

Do Not Gloat 

Do Not Gloat 

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

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Brent Pollard

A politically conservative thought leader died on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. Not even an hour had elapsed from when the news was broken on his ground-breaking radio show by his widow that some of the most hateful comments began appearing on social media. As one who listened to his show periodically, I can attest that I never heard him utter any of the types of hateful speech of which Wikipedia readers and contributors accused him. Most of those hating him did so because of his powerful influence against their political ideology.  

The political Left viewed him as a Svengali that would brainwash millions if allowed to remain on the radio. Thus, rather than defeat him in the arena of ideas, they chose to slander him. The fascist propagandist Goebbels once said, “Repeat a lie often enough, and it becomes the truth.” Those who never listened to him genuinely believe he was an ugly, divisive person. Thus, the deceased will have a mixed legacy depending upon whether someone took the time to listen to what he said. He will either be one to whom people said, “ditto,” or, as the Huffington Post put it, the “Bigoted King Of Talk Radio.”  

Now, the purpose of this post has nothing to do with politics or even the deceased. It has to do with the visceral reaction created by the news of the radio talker’s passing. As one who tends to soak up the room’s emotional atmosphere, I found myself negatively impacted by the unadulterated hatred. I was disappointed yet again by my fellowman. However, it was also a moment of introspection. Do I understand that God created this person in His image, just like me? (Genesis 1.26-27) If so, even if I vehemently disagreed with him, should I find even a modicum of the rationale necessary to express glee?  

Paul wrote that we must all appear before Christ’s judgment seat. And after stating this truth, Paul immediately added, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men…” (2 Corinthians 5.10-11a). Of what do we persuade men? We convince them to accept the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. We recall Jesus’ final marching orders to us to take the Gospel to every nation and creature (Matthew 28.19-20; Mark 16.15-16). We know our time on earth is short (Psalm 90.10 & 12; James 4.14). Time is being allowed to continue to give men everywhere an opportunity to repent (2 Peter 3.8-10). Once God’s longsuffering has ended, nothing remains for the disobedient other than flaming fire and vengeance (2 Thessalonians 1.6-12). 

We would all do well to recall the words of Solomon in Proverbs 24.17-18: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them” (NIV). Yes, God is aware of the feelings of our hearts. We must give an accounting of ourselves to Him. How terrible it would be if He found in our heart love only for those with whom we felt comfortable associating. John reminds us that our love must extend to our brother if we love God. Otherwise, we are a liar (1 John 4.20). Let us allow love to replace hatred, the Gospel’s utterance to replace vitriolic expressions, and a prayer for our enemy’s salvation supersede our schadenfreude at his downfall.   

Division

Division

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

In this volatile political climate, many Christians face some uncomfortable dilemmas. Is party line a salvation issue? How do we handle seemingly irreconcilable differences? What do we do going forward?
 
Rather than delving into those questions, I’d like to focus on the attitude of the early church, which faced internal division–Jew/Gentile controversies like in Acts 15, opinions over cultural matters as seen in I Corinthians 8 and Romans 14, and external pressures.
 
In keeping with the spirit of the early church, let’s focus on the following list.
 
  1. We must focus on and grow our own spiritual culture, independent of our earthly nationality (while observing Romans 13).
  2. We must be faithful Christians who value being righteous, no matter the cost.
  3. We must manage our concerns and worries by spending MORE time with each other and developing our faith.
  4. We may need to see ourselves less as Americans and more as Christians. If we remember that our kingdom is the church first, we will be far more united.
  5. Be awesome citizens. When outsiders hear about us, it should be that we never cause trouble, we are loyal to each other, we are selfless, we help people, we have strong families, we rely on each other, we are pleasant to be around, we are dedicated to our faith, and we love people who treat us poorly.
  6. We must remember that priority number one is heaven. Everything else is second.
  7. We must avoid talking or posting on social media about non-salvation issues that can and do create division or offense, out of courtesy and respect for each other (Romans 14.1-4; 13ff).
 
If these are the things we worry about and focus on, no political division or any other heartburn-inducing unpleasantness can affect us. Besides being happier, we’ll be a stronger church!
THE IMPERATIVES OF ROMANS 15

THE IMPERATIVES OF ROMANS 15

Monday’s Column: “Neal At The Cross”

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Neal Pollard

When examining a passage that we need to put into practice, one of the most important things we can do is to find the imperatives in that passage. For example, the Great Commission in Matthew 28 contains one imperative–“make disciples” (19).  Two participles tell us how to do that: “baptizing” and “teaching” (19-20). Another example is Ephesians 5:18-21. There is a double imperative here: “Do not be drunk with wine” (18), but “be filled with the Spirit” (18). How do you obey the command to be filled with the Spirit? There are five ways, according to Paul. You are filled with the Spirit by “speaking,” “singing,” “making melody,” “giving thanks,” and “being subject to one another.” 

In his closing appeal to the Romans, Paul is concerned about how church members are treating each other. There are apparent struggles among them over their diverse religious past. Paul pictures this as those “weak in faith” (14:1)  and those who are “strong” (15:1). The strong is also called one who has faith (14:2). Apparently, God not only expects that congregations will have both categories of Christians, but He expects us to successfully work through situations that arise out of this fact. 

Apparently, one of the most damaging ways we handle such differences is by “judging” one another (14:3-4,10,13). The way Paul uses that word here means to “pass an unfavorable judgment upon, criticize, find fault with, and condemn” (BDAG 567). The issues in their circumstance were things like eating meets offered to idols and observing special days (14:5-6). Those things seem strange, even trivial, to us today. But the church in every generation has their own petty problems to negotiate, things that are struggles of faith nonetheless (14:16-23). This clash of convictions and maturity levels must be successfully met and overcome. How?

That’s where we turn to Romans 15. Paul gives two imperatives that are at the heart of negotiating the prickly situations like those we are facing right now. They are “please your neighbor” (15:2) and “accept one another” (15:7). Those two commands can be the hardest thing to do when we disagree with how our brother (or sister) handles a matter, especially matters without clearcut instruction. To “please” is to accommodate others by meeting their needs and sacrificing self-interest. None of us wants to do that, but if you are strong (15:1) it’s what you do. It’s what Jesus did (15:3)! To “accept one another” is best defined by contrasting it with its opposite, which in this context is to “regard with contempt” (14:3). That’s reflected in a sinful attitude, dismissing, disdaining, judging, and looking down on. 

Think about the difference when one obeys or disobeys these two God-given commands. If our mentality is to “please” and “accept,” how does that affect our relationship with those drawing different conclusions in matters of judgment? If we choose to please ourselves and reject our spiritual family based on their different conclusions, where do we wind up? According to Paul, it’s not a good place (14:12,15). 

I have yet to hear of a congregation without at least “two sides” in negotiating all that’s involved in reacting to the current pandemic. Everything from masks to isolating versus assembling to rational versus irrational fear gets dragged into the conversation. It’s easy to dig our trenches deeper and draw our lines bolder. What is to govern us in these tedious, perilous times? At the heart of it all, we must obey our Lord’s instruction. “Please your neighbor for his good, to his edification” (15:2) and “accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God” (15:7).  Never lose sight of this! 

 

 

Those Who Call Evil Good and Good Evil 

Those Who Call Evil Good and Good Evil 

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

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Brent Pollard

Isaiah 5 is an interesting chapter. Isaiah tells the people how they’ve corrupted God’s vineyard (1-7). Isaiah then outlines Judah’s corruption (8-23). Lastly, Isaiah prophesizes that a foreign nation will punish Judah for her sins (24-30). As Isaiah speaks of Judah’s sins, he includes Judah’s political class in the middle section. It is hard not to think about how many of these sins given for Judah rings true for the United States today. 

Axios, not a news organization friendly to President Trump, hence “progressive,” wrote an article exposing the “relationship” between Representative Eric Swalwell and a Chinese spy named Fang Fang (aka Christina Fang). Fang began “associating” with Swalwell while he was just a city councilman in Dublin, California. Fang raised money for Swalwell’s campaigns for Congressional office. The question raised by those alarmed by Swalwell’s association with Fang, who left the country in 2015 after coming under investigation, is what information, if any, was leaked to China. Despite Swalwell’s assertion that it was not a “romantic” relationship, it is interesting to note that Swalwell’s brother and father likewise maintained social media connections with Fang until the story from Axios broke.  

Swalwell spoke to Politico and blamed President Trump for the Axios story. He says that the only crime committed was that someone leaked information to Axios. Swalwell is silent about whether he had a sexual relationship with the known Mata-Hari-type spy. As one commenter stated during a national talk show, though, it seems unlikely Fang would have “wasted four years drilling a dry hole” (an idiom from the oil industry). When money is involved, there is typically the expectation of something to be given in return. At least one news outlet, since the Axios story broke, has noted how “pro-China” Swalwell has been during his Congressional career. 

One of the signs of Judah’s corruption given in verse 23 was justifying bribery. Note that passage: “…Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!” (NASB) I do not mean to single Swalwell out. Nor do I wish to sound that only those sharing his political affiliation are capable of sin. The problem may well be how Christians view our democratic process. We continuously turn a blind eye to our political class because we are not a theocracy. Hence, we feel that we should stress their secular leadership qualities rather than their moral character. 

The older I become, the more I feel inclined to accept the judgment of brother David Lipscomb about the Christian’s political involvement. For those unfamiliar with brother Lipscomb’s view, he stated that since we are citizens of God’s kingdom, we do not involve ourselves in political affairs. Concerning voting, brother Lipscomb said that we don’t know the will of God concerning who the winner of a contest should be. Thus, to vote against the candidate that God has chosen to fulfill His purpose is to vote against God’s will. It is a complex subject falling within the realm of judgment rather than doctrine, however. While Paul shows us that one may utilize his citizenship rights (Acts 16.35-39;25.11), he did not live in a republic, as do we. Rome had already become imperial. Therefore, Paul was subject to the whims of an authoritarian leader. 

Thomas Jefferson famously stated that he feared that God’s justice could not sleep forever. The context of Jefferson’s words was the institution of slavery. Whether the American Civil War was of God or not, it took bloodshed to deal with an injustice ignored by our Founding Fathers. We might use Jefferson’s words out of their context, though, to warn that our God’s justice will not sleep forever when it comes to our rampant immorality from the ordinary citizen to those in leadership. In many respects, we have become a people who call good, evil, and evil, good.  Woe to us, indeed.  

Sources Consulted 

Allen-Ebrahimian, Bethany, and Zach  Dorfman. “Exclusive: How a Suspected Chinese Spy Gained Access to California Politics.” Axios, Axios Media, 8 Dec. 2020, www.axios.com/china-spy-california-politicians-9d2dfb99-f839-4e00-8bd8-59dec0daf589.html

Bresnahan, John. “Rep. Swalwell Says Trump Criticism behind Spy Story.” POLITICO, POLITICO, 10 Dec. 2020,www.politico.com/news/2020/12/08/swalwell-trump-criticism-spy-story-443845

Steinbuch, Yaron, and Mark Moore. “Swalwell Mum on Sex with China Spy, but Family Remains Facebook Friends with Honeytrap.” New York Post, New York Post, 9 Dec. 2020, nypost.com/2020/12/09/rep-swalwell-wont-say-if-he-had-sex-with-chinese-spy/

Moore, Mark. “Eric Swalwell’s Brother, Dad Finally Unfriend Chinese Spy Christine Fang.” New York Post, New York Post, 10 Dec. 2020, nypost.com/2020/12/10/eric-swalwells-brother-dad-unfriend-chinese-spy-fang-fang/

Gertz, Bill. “Security Questions Raised about Swalwell and China.” The Washington Times, The Washington Times, 9 Dec. 2020,www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/dec/9/eric-swalwells-china-views-raise-security-question/