The Tale Of Two Women

The Tale Of Two Women

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

“O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” (1 Samuel 1.11 NASB1995) 

These are Hannah’s words uttered approximately 3,100 years ago. Barren, she cried to the Lord for a son. Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, loved her dearly. But Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, would oppress Hannah because she had born children for Elkanah while Hannah had not. Moreover, Peninnah was jealous of Hannah because she knew Elkanah loved Hannah more despite her barrenness.  

The priest, Eli, mistook Hannah for a drunkard and rebuked her. Hannah assured Eli she was not drunk but earnest in her pleas to the Lord. She said she was pouring out her soul before the Lord. Eli told her to depart in peace, that the Lord would grant her petition. And Hannah went her way, no longer sorrowful but filled with faith. 

In a short time, Hannah became pregnant and bore Samuel, so named because the boy resulted from the request she made of the Lord. True to her vow, Hannah took her son Samuel to the Tabernacle in Shiloh after weaning him. He would be given to Eli to live his life in service to God.  

Fast forward now to the twenty-first century. A worldly woman stumbles upon an article written by Politico. She laments when she hears about a leak from the Supreme Court regarding a possible decision about Mississippi’s abortion law banning abortion after fifteen weeks. The leaked document suggests that the Supreme Court upholds the abortion restriction and overturns the precedents of both Roe and Casey

“They are overturning Roe,” she screams. “How can they do that? Abortion is my right! Why do these politicians, these men, think they can tell me what I can do with my body? How can they intrude on my liberty?” The woman, whose name is unknown to us, calls her Representative and her Senator voicing her displeasure. “It is time to pack the Supreme Court! Limit the tenures of the Justices! The Supreme Court should not hold so much power.” She confers with her like-minded friends, some of whom are biological men who self-identify as women, and goes to the park to protest even though there has been no official pronouncement. Yet, the rumor of this decision has aroused her ire, and she will not rest until obtaining her justice.     

I cannot help but think of all of the world’s Hannahs when I turn on the news and watch recent events. Though I wish that this was abortion’s end, I know not to get my hopes up. The second woman marching in the streets has nothing she must worry about. If the leak is accurate, the Supreme Court is only giving the power regarding abortion back to the States and the people. Nothing more. It seems evident that those States expanding abortion to the third trimester, like New York, will not be limiting the procedure. And I can foresee a booming “abortion tourism” conveying those poor, subjugated women in “backward States” to bastions of “progressiveness,” where doctors will kill the unborn infants even a day before they would otherwise be born.  

Meanwhile, hundreds of Hannahs cry out to God for just one child. One child to love, nurture, and give back to God. There are hundreds of Hannahs filled with natural affection, but who will never have that opportunity to extend those deep-seated feelings because of disease or circumstance. I grieve because hundreds of Hannahs are barren, while the unnamed woman can slaughter a perfectly healthy child growing in her womb in the name of her so-called healthcare and feel no guilt.  

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, not “womb-possessing person’s day.” It is a day to celebrate the women who stepped up and made a lasting difference. I am thankful to God for having my own Hannah. She reared my siblings and me to love the Lord and serve Him during all the days of our lives. Moreover, she is our embodiment of King Lemuel’s mother (cf. Proverbs 31). We call her blessed! It may be that you feel the same for your mother too. If so, rejoice and celebrate her godly influence. 

According to UN statistics, we live in a world comprised of roughly 49.6 percent females. So, undoubtedly, you will encounter at least one woman today. I hope she is like Hannah and not the alternative. But even if she is not, love her with the kind of love modeled before you by your own Hannah. Pray that God will soften her heart and open her eyes so that she may see the truth about His wondrous creation, no matter how small (Psalm 139.13-16).  

Stop Kicking

Stop Kicking

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

The stats are in, and depression and suicide rates are up. For example, 7.8% of all U.S. adults experienced one episode of major depression within the last year. Suicide rates nationally have been up by 30% since 2000, with the most significant surge coming over the last decade.1 Naturally, the pandemic gets its share of the blame for a part of these trends, but can it explain it all?  

I humbly suggest it does not. These problems stem from more than being cooped up in houses and having routines upset. People are more dissatisfied. A poll conducted in 2020 found only 14% of the respondents were happy. 2020 was the first time the percentage dipped so low since the General Social Survey started tracking those numbers in 1972. 2 

Let us consider all the changes ushered in since Y2K. First, social media was born and has brought considerable changes to the culture and how we disseminate information. Who had heard of Twitter in 2005? Trick question. Twitter wasn’t even a thing in 2005. Though there was a Facebook (2004), it still limited who could use its platform. I could not waste my time watching cute cat videos in 2004. YouTube did not roll out user-submitted video streaming until 2005. 

And let us not forget the technological advancements this millennium has witnessed. For example, Steve Jobs’ iPhone gave us “an app for that” in 2007. In 2008, Google gave us the open-source Android OS for smartphones. What kind of internet speeds did you enjoy over a decade ago? AOL was still around in the early 2000s, having people call in over their telephone lines accessing blazing internet speeds allowed by their 56k modems. (Obvious sarcasm there.) It was only a minority that had access to broadband internet in 2005. And can you remember the early 2000s when you started hearing all those businesses you patronized talk about checking out their website?  

How about the state of politics and civil discourse since 2000? “Not my President!” That slogan began in 2016 with protesting against the outcome of the election, isn’t that correct? But, no, people were saying that about President Bush, too, after the whole hanging-chads debacle in the 2000 election. And oh, what noise in the “streets!” Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, Antifa, Black Lives Matter, MAGA, and Proud Boys. In some respects, we’ve regressed to the tumultuous Vietnam War era of the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

Now, I am aware that correlation is not causation. However, I think that the one wishing to connect the dots can demonstrate how all these things we have mentioned have stoked the fires of depression and discontent. The fake perfection of social media makes people think they are unattractive and have unfulfilled lives. The disinformation and propaganda of the internet arouse our righteous ire against our enemies, foreign and predominantly domestic. And the technology puts all this information in our hands nigh instantaneously. Then, we can easily share our misery or righteous indignation with everyone around us. 

The question is, how do you respond to all of this? I advise you not to react like a particular man from Turkey’s Mersin province when the contagion of Christianity began turning his world upside down. His zeal caused him to persecute the Christian sect. He was willing to dedicate his entire life to Christianity’s eradication, traveling even a great distance to ferret out its adherents living among the populace of a province that was not even his home. Finally, on that fateful road to Damascus, Jesus appeared to this man and made a profound statement. “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26.14 NASB1995).  

What is a goad? There was a time when cattlemen moved their livestock by poking them with a sharpened stick. That sharpened stick was a goad. So, if our man from Turkey, Saul of Tarsus, was like one of God’s cattle on a thousand hills (cf. Psalm 50.10), he was stubborn. Rather than accept the direction of his master’s prodding, he pushed back against the sharpened stick, injuring himself. That is what self-righteousness does. A person can be a crusader for many things, some of which seem very important, but when he runs contrary to the will of God, he only causes self-harm.  

Polls show that the United States has effectively “democratized” Christianity. In other words, nebulous “spirituality” is up while “organized religion” is down. People think they can “swipe right or left” as they do with a dating app when engaging with God. This mindset was becoming ensconced even before COVID-19. I would add that governmental regulation to close our assembly halls during the pandemic and our well-intentioned compliance with them enabled the creation of a “virtual faith” among some of our members. The result is that people have lost the sense of community and purpose that the church provides.Hence, people are depressed and dissatisfied. 

Now that fear has subsided, and SARS-CoV-2 is not the killer it once was, thanks to treatment regimens borne amid fiery trials and this virus reaching an endemic state, things are opening back up to pre-pandemic conditions. And people are ecstatic to be returning to a semblance of normalcy. Yet, something is still inexplicably missing. Young people particularly notice it. There is an empty void even with involvement in social issues or opportunities to contribute to a good cause.  

Whether one attributes Blaise Pascal or Augustine with the credit for first articulating the existence of a “God-shaped hole” within us, it indeed exists. Per Jesus’ statement about unclean spirits, we know evil fills an empty void (Matthew 12.43-45). If not “evil,” per se, definitely self (cf. Romans 1.25). If people continue in their self-righteousness and ignore the gentle prodding of the Savior through His Word, they will continue injuring themselves, feeling depressed and dissatisfied. Yes, they kick against the goads. It is time to stop kicking and move forward in the direction He intends.   

Sources Cited 

1    Ronsisvalle, Dr. Mike. “Dr. Ronsisvalle: Depression among All Age Groups Is Swelling; Treatment Is the Best Solution.” Florida Today, Florida Today, 26 Apr. 2022, www.floridatoday.com/story/life/wellness/2022/04/26/professional-treatment-can-save-loved-ones-mental-health-issues/7413927001/.  

2  Associated Press. “Americans Are the Unhappiest They’ve Been in 50 Years, Poll Finds.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 16 June 2020, www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/americans-are-unhappiest-they-ve-been-50-years-poll-finds-n1231153.  

3  Dallas, Kelsey. “The State of Faith.” Deseret News, Deseret News, 22 Mar. 2022, www.deseret.com/faith/2022/3/21/22981634/the-state-of-faith-american-religion-research-marist-poll.   

Our Cosmic Mudball

Our Cosmic Mudball

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

Happy Earth Day! Yes, fifty-two years ago, the annual event created by peace activist John McConnel began. McConnel intended that we observe Earth Day on March 21 in connection with the vernal equinox. But instead, the academics and bureaucrats from the United Nations who got behind and promoted the annual observance chose April 22, which happened to coincide with the birthday of Vladimir Lenin.  

McConnel, a Pentecostal, hoped that more Christians would get involved with Earth Day, finding inspiration in God’s declaration that he had made the earth for humanity (cf. Psalm 115.16). McConnel felt that March 21 was a more natural date and less likely to be politicized. However, he admits that Earth Day has become politicized, alienating Christians and conservatives.1 

This year’s Earth Day theme is “Invest In Our Planet.” In addition to the alarmist hype that our time to “fix” things is short, you’ll note the following: “This is the moment to change it all — the business climate, the political climate, and how we take action on climate. Now is the time for the unstoppable courage to preserve and protect our health, our families, our livelihoods… together, we must Invest In Our Planet.”2 

So, when did fighting pollution and conserving our natural resources become about changing business and politics? Those usurping the Earth Day idea from McConnel prove his point about its politicization. However, I will not write another lengthy post about climate change but refer you to an article posted on this blog on January 7, 2022, “Worry Not; The Sky Is Not Falling.” 

In the meantime, as you hear people talk about our terrestrial home today, I wish to remind you of our eternal one. We are told not to love this world or the things therein since they will be destroyed (1 John 2.15-17). And while that doesn’t excuse us from being good stewards of the planet, it can be unhealthy to become so invested in a cosmic mudball that will only one day melt with fervent heat (2 Peter 3.10). Set your mind on things above (Colossians 3.2). 

Jesus is coming. He promised to prepare His followers a dwelling place (John 14.1-3). With that promise is the one of His return. It is certain. Note the testimony of the angels at Jesus’ ascension that our Lord will return one day in the same way He left us (Acts 1.11). Our task is to prepare for that great day since we know not the day or the hour (Matthew 25.13). Are you ready? 

Sources Cited 

1 Sparks, Nicole, and Darrin J Rodgers. “John McConnell, Jr. and the Pentecostal Origins of Earth Day.” Assemblies of God Heritage Magazine, Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, ifphc.org/-/media/FPHC/Heritage-Magazine/2010.pdf

2 “Earth Day 2022: Invest in Our Planet™.” Earth Day, EarthDay.org, 21 Apr. 2022, www.earthday.org/earth-day-2022/

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.