Rome is Burning, Part 1


The comparisons are inevitable.

Peel away the emotion, the romanticized delusion, the pleasure-induced coma, and we are confronted with the picture of a nation dying. It's not a modern-day Grapes of Wrath story — as the mainstream media would have us see it — about the trials and tribulations of itinerant, God-fearing farm workers searching for a better life. It's not about a strident, xenophobic, hopelessly outdated few who oppose them, especially when this "opposition" is neither vocal nor few. It's not just about the U.S., especially when Europe finds itself in the same dire situation.

Yes, Rome is burning again, and the elite still don't care.

Last August at, Dan S. wrote:

The President and his Administration's failure to secure the Nation's borders will probably go down as one of biggest policy blunders and moral failures of the decade. America's southern border is being overwhelmed by violence, crime, and property destruction associated with the smuggling of drugs and human-cargo into the United States. New Mexico's Gov. Bill Richardson was forced to recently declare a 'state of emergency' in counties on the border. Of course, Mexico has suffered for centuries from spiritual darkness, corruption, crime, and poverty--the social fruits of Catholicism. Quite obviously, George Bush sees it differently. (August 14, 2005)
Historical Perspective

Libertarian writer Steven LaTulippe compares the 43rd U.S. President, George W. Bush, to Theodosius the Great. Who was Theodosius? He was a Roman emperor in the late 4th century who allowed the barbarians to settle in the Empire as a concession to mounting military losses.

The word "barbarian" comes from the ancient Greek barbaros, meaning a person with different speech and customs. The "Conan the Barbarian" sense of the word does not entirely apply to ancient Rome. But when we think of Rome falling to the barbarians, our mental image is of an invading horde of uncouth belligerents. It turns out the invasion was a lot less war-like than we are popularly led to believe.

That's what makes Rome's end so pathetic, in the truest sense of the word. Rome went out, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

In January 2004, Tulippe wrote:
Essentially, the proponents of Theodosius’ policy made three arguments. First, was that the expulsion of the Germans was simply impractical. There were too many of them already within the borders, and their deportation would involve potentially explosive conflict. Second, was the belief that the intruders would eventually succumb to the overwhelming power of Roman culture and assimilate…becoming productive Roman citizens. Third, was the belief that the importation of this new population would economically benefit an Empire which was suffering from a declining population.
They were wrong on all counts. Within 100 years, the Western Roman Empire was gone, and the Dark Ages were ushered in.

Populist columnist Frosty Wooldridge cited these statistics back in January:
From January 2000 to March 2005, a whopping 7.9 million legal and illegal immigrants settled into the United States. Over half of those immigrants arrived as illegals in that five year period.
Four of those years were the first four years of the Bush administration.
7,000 to 10,000 illegal aliens according to Time Magazine, pour across our borders every night of the year equaling 3,000,000 annually. They number over 15 to 20 million and there is no end to the line that grows by 85 million desperately poor added to the world yearly.
In his recently published book, The Fall of the Roman Empire, Oxford historian Peter Heather argues that insatiable imperial expansion combined with unfettered immigration of the Huns and the Germanic tribes were the most significant factors leading to the death of the Roman Empire.
The Romans were deeply embroiled with war in the East the Persian empire. Emperor Valens was forced to admit Gothic hordes. All went well until food supplies ran short and tempers flared. From the Gothic War until the fall of Rome, continuous pressure from the Huns forced more barbarians into the empire. Eventually, the immigrants grew more powerful than existing Roman authority.
(Heather disputes the popular theory that Rome was also in social and moral decline at the time. To believers, the social and moral decline of the West, circa the 21st century, could not be more obvious. In Scripture, the superpower of the world faces judgment before the world as a whole — Revelation 18:2.)

Time Is Not Standing Still

After Theodosius I, it took nearly 100 years for the Western Empire to finally expire. At the time of its death in 476 A.D., the Roman Empire had lasted 500 years. It had succeeded the Republic, which itself lasted 500 years. The United States, however, is a mere 230 years old. But things today are moving at a considerably more rapid pace.

The compression and intensity of events in the last 100 years are totally unlike pre-20th century levels. Hundreds were killed and thousands were wounded in the Battle of New Orleans, which culminated the War of 1812. It turns out America and Britain had already signed a peace treaty in Belgium two weeks earlier. The news simply had not reached the enemy combatants on the field.

In 2006, worldwide travel and communication are at unprecedented levels. Consequently, knowledge is increasing at an astounding rate never before seen. (These last few decades are often referred to as the Information Age.) Economists now argue that knowledge and innovation drive the modern economy, not the old bedrock factors of land, labor, and capital. It all means that, in the 21st century, a nation's decline can and will occur that much faster. And America's decline need not be speculation any longer; we see it happening (very quickly) before our own eyes.

Christian Citizenship

Illegal immigration, and globalization in the bigger picture, are not morally neutral issues. The lawless influx of immigrants into any nation is not something to be celebrated or rationalized by Christians, as some church leaders are doing. Spiritual separation does not mean forfeiture of earthly (national) custodianship or some kind of acquiescence. Patriotism and Christianity are not mutually exclusive, and patriotism certainly does not mean dominionism.

In April 2005, Dan S. addressed the subject in his With Christ blog:
From time-to-time, we receive comments from those who have fallen prey to what I call dispensational asceticism. These individuals have come to appreciate the unique role of the Apostle Paul and his message to the heavenly Church; however, they go too far in asserting a unitary citizenship for the Christian. This is contrary to the dual (primary and tertiary) citizenship model taught and lived by the Apostle Paul. Their hearts are in the right place; but their minds are not. This is typically the realm of soul eradication. Sadly, a few dispensationalists today even lay claim to being "super-spiritual" or "super-apostles" (2 Cor.11:5).
He continued:
The Church, the Body of Christ, holds dual citizenship. See Acts 16-23 where the Apostle Paul exercised rights under his Roman citizenship. One might ask, "If Paul believed Christians had only a heavenly citizenship, why then did Paul "interfere" in the Roman legal system? Why did he not just remain silent?" Similarly, why are the Pauline epistles filled with instruction regarding the earthly (Matt.20:30) institution of marriage? Why would the Hebrew epistle call marriage "honorable", if engaging in such an union was worldly and contrary to one's heavenly citizenship. Paul warns of those who "forbid" believers to marry (1 Tim 4:3).

...The Risen Lord does not deem the heavenly Christian’s moral influence ("salt") upon the world to be “interference.” Further, having this moral influence is not the equivalent of seeking to usher in the Millennial Kingdom--a patently false accusation.

While heavenly Christians are called to "live in the world", we are warned against spiritual warfare by fleshly means (2 Cor.10:3-5), being "entangled" by the affairs of the world (2 Tim. 2:4), adopting the "principles of the world (Col.2:8), or being a "friend of the world" (James 4:4). But nowhere are we taught to withdraw from the world. This is not Pauline. (April 10, 2005)

Rome is Burning, Part 2


Last August, Dan at remarked: "Mexico has suffered for centuries from spiritual darkness, corruption, crime, and poverty--the social fruits of Catholicism." (August 14, 2005)

Catholic leaders are noticeably among the most vocal religious opponents of U.S. immigration reform. After all, aren't the majority of the illegal aliens Catholics themselves? But this familial comparison is rather deceptive. The Catholicism of Latin America is simply not the same thing as the Catholicism encountered in Europe and the U.S. It is often a Catholicism blended with native pagan superstitions and practices (e.g. Santería). William E. Cashion II describes the typical experience of the missionary in Latin America:

Most evangelical missionaries have gone to Latin countries prepared to witness to the vast host of nominal Christians within the Roman Catholic Church or to the secular-minded that inhabit the major cities....The missionary then arrives on the field believing that he is somewhat prepared to proclaim the gospel in the new culture. Soon it becomes clear that something was overlooked during orientation. The missionary comes into contact with what seems to be an unknown religion. True, the majority of the people say that they are Catholic.

...Even in the United States, especially in those areas that are home to large hispanic populations, it is common to observe these unusual practices among the Catholic "faithful." Those who serve as evangelical missionaries among Roman Catholic communities wonder if they have not encountered a yet unnamed world religion.
In February, Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony in Los Angeles attracted controversy after saying he would encourage his priests to ignore any tough new immigration laws when providing aid to illegal aliens. His bluff was a publicity stunt, but a successful one nonetheless. Mahony and the Catholic Church know full well that restrictive immigration legislation is unlikely to ever pass, considering the Bush administration's rigid position on the issue, plus the fact that millions of working-class Catholic immigrants represent a potentially huge Democratic voting bloc.

Double Standard

Actually, the underlying lesson here is that the humanist elite can freely exercise a double standard when it comes to breaking the law, all the while portraying patriotic Americans and especially those intolerant fundamentalist Christians as the true enemies of the Constitution.

Mahony is, of course, only one of many to exploit issues of poverty for political capital and certainly not the last to sprinkle on Biblical references for good measure. In March, New York Senator Hillary Clinton was widely quoted condemning the now-defunct Congressional bill (H.R. 4437) designed to curb illegal immigration:
It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures. This bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself.
These remarks reflect a growing trend by the elite: using the Bible to silence critics. Political grandstanding aside, many in the U.S. realize that amnesty for illegal immigrants is not about helping the poor, but creating a subclass of Americans for the international corporations. It's a modernized version of indentured servitude that will depress the wages of legal Americans. So, really, it's about helping the rich. President Bush recently told CNN Español that the illegal immigrants are "doing jobs Americans won't do." In this day and age, that kind of political transparency is surprising.

Yet another parallel: historian Peter Heather, in his new book Fall of the Roman Empire, contends that the Roman economy was still going strong in the century leading up to its final demise.

Furthermore, the U.S. government's southern counterpart is hardly a passive observer. Mexico does not hide its desire to shed itself of undesirables and reap the economic benefits. The romanticized media view is one where illegal immigrants are entirely comprised of hard-working individuals and families who've been handed a bad break in life. But that's not the whole story. Some illegal aliens are not only trying to find a better life, they're trying to escape the law — and succeeding. Some estimate that 1 out of every 10 illegal aliens is a criminal/fugitive. Included among that number are various sexual predators and gang members, not to mention possible terrorists.


"Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there....They said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.'" (Genesis 11:1-4)

Globalization has always been about the glory of man, going all the way back to the days of Nimrod and the Tower of Babel in Genesis Chapter 11. And although God did scatter the people and break their common language, mankind has found itself, thousands of years later, in a position to put it all back together again. And man, in all his pride and vanity, could not be more delighted.

The New International Order (a term used often by Alan Keyes, among others) currently faces two major roadblocks. One is the Muslim world in the Middle East. The solution, up to this point, has entailed military engagement and threats of engagement, in addition to major pressures applied to Israel. The other roadblock is the strong Judeo-Christian tradition in the U.S. and Britain, especially its persnickety defense of national sovereignty and wariness of global governance.

So far, the solution to that roadblock has been all political but certainly no less belligerent. In July of last year, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) was ramrodded through the U.S. House of Representatives at the stroke of midnight with various House rules falling by the wayside. This came 12 years after the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which helped set in motion the events we see happening today.

The global media is doing an excellent job of playing to the emotions of readers and viewers. Not surprisingly, the news coverage on the immigration issue is going for the visceral reaction: wide-angle pictures depicting thousands upon thousands of unified immigration marchers with occasional references to small or nonexistent groups of angry and defensive counter-protesters. There are some telling but brief glimpses of demagoguery which are mostly edited for sound bite consumption.

Images of massive crowds can also evoke a far different meaning. From Nimrod's people and their Tower of Babel to the Israelites and their Golden Calf, massive assemblages of people in the Bible reveal the extent of mankind's spiritual rebellion. Man derives a kind of empowered consciousness when in great numbers. In those instances, he shuts out God. Fallen man's impulse is to seek strength in the unity of mankind rather than in the Lord. So that sinful ears would listen, God scattered His own.

Jim Wallis's Christian humanist organization Sojourners is pleading for "compassionate" immigration reform with their chosen Biblical panacea, Leviticus 19:34:
The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Leviticus 19:34 is abused almost as much as Matthew 5:39, and it just does not tell the whole story. Their argument ignores the alien's obligations to reject their pagan gods and practices and conform to Israel's social and religious customs:
The seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. (Exodus 20:10)
In a sense, this is what the legal process of immigration is designed to accomplish: to demand assimilation and national obligation from immigrants. The real issue is not that U.S. immigration law is broken, but that it isn't being enforced.

What's worse, this common abuse of Leviticus 19:34 by humanist Christians conflates a macro issue with a micro one, with nondispensational aplomb. They confuse government responsibility with personal and private sector responsibility. This is not a surprise since all humanists wish to replace God with government. They play upon themes of Christian service and guilt by disingenuously changing the whole issue from one about immigration (national interest) to one about poverty (personal interest). Humanists make individual responsibilities into government obligations because, in their worldview, a nation does not protect the interests of her people; instead, a nation takes care of her people. Or better yet, a world government takes care of all people.

Lastly, the humanist misapplication of Leviticus 19:34 conveniently implies some kind of unbroken connection between the theocracy of ancient Israel and the Church Age that we live in today — even though "theocracy" is normally a verboten concept for the humanist.

It is also interesting when humanist Christians treat one Biblical passage as an open-and-shut case but not others, like this one, just one chapter earlier in Leviticus: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." (KJV)

The Social(ist) Gospel

"In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:2-3, KJV)

Heaven in the Bible is not a commune. It is a place where people have personal identities and personal property. On Earth, God raised up a nation (Israel) and gave it a home. A sense of national identification is part of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Families and nations are part of God's will; only sin has introduced suspicion and strife.

Many leaders in the mainline and emerging churches would like us to think that Jesus espouses socialist values. But the meek inheriting the earth in Matthew 5:5 is not referring to some kind of proletarian revolution or "Robin Hood" scenario, i.e. stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Rather, it refers to the true followers of Christ: strangers in this world but inheritors of the Millennial Kingdom.

Not Just an American Problem

The immigration issue in Europe is just as big as (if not bigger than) it is in the United States. The riots in France last fall focused world attention on the worsening tensions between disenfranchised Arab and African immigrants and the government there. Some U.S. officials now see Europe as a threat for Islamic terrorism on par with Afghanistan and other parts of the Middle East. After the July 7 London Underground bombings, one poll discovered that 1 out of 4 British Muslims sympathized with the terrorists' motives. It's about an invasion of values, not just people, much as it was in Rome 1,600 years ago.

Back in the U.S., there are reasonable solutions to illegal immigration (which is only a problem on its southern border). Syndicated columnist Victor Davis Hanson writes:
We should allow those illegal immigrants who have been living and working here for at least five years to start their citizenship process. But we should insist this be a one-time exemption rather than yet another periodic amnesty that encourages others to break the law and unfairly cut ahead in the immigration line. ("Assimilation Is the Real Debate," April 3, 2006)
On his radio show, Albert Mohler referred to this type of solution as "this much and no more." The only problem is, the elite aren't listening. They're too busy fiddling.

Further reading:

"Barbarian Invasions" (June 8, 2005) by Timothy Birdnow at The American Thinker

"A Biblical View of Illegal Immigration" (February 6, 2006) by Ron Gleason at Christianity: Doctrines and Ethics

Doctrines of Devils


"Boring" scientific/religious theories or discoveries rarely rate big headlines, but the popular media will eagerly make an exception when it comes to unmasking the purported falsehoods of the orthodox Judeo-Christian worldview, emphasis on Christian.

So, in a span of a week, we learned that Jesus, in fact, walked on ice at the Sea of Galilee because it was really cold at that time, and also that Jesus secretly told Judas to turn Him in to the authorities, so Judas didn't do anything wrong after all. (Never mind that "Satan entered Judas" in Luke 22:3, John 13:27.)

With Easter just around the corner, the National Geographic Society and its cable channel (jointly operated by such international media conglomerates as Fox and Sky TV, among others) are touting the restoration and translation of an ancient Gnostic manuscript (written in the Sahidic dialect of Coptic and dated between 300-400 A.D.) called the "Gospel of Judas" with two newly published books and a special television program to be aired internationally this weekend.

National Geographic has cleverly dovetailed its own effort with the increasing hype surrounding next month's Hollywood A-list adaptation (to be released by international media conglomerate Sony) of Dan Brown's bestseller The Da Vinci Code (published by international media conglomerate BMG). A summary of the theology behind The Da Vinci Code and its Gnostic underpinnings can be found in this article at Kjos Ministries.

They Believe It

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Secular media and academia appear to be less and less concerned about veiling their anti-Christian bias. While they maintain they are simply providing an objective counterpoint to established Judeo-Christian culture and thought in the West, the secular elite must know (with some sense of accomplishment) that when it comes to historical Christianity, the masses are thoroughly confused. As good stewards of humanism (secular and Christian), members of this elite are merely doing what they believe. Core to this pursuit of progressive humanism (the collective will of mankind) is the rooting out of absolutism, parochialism, and exclusivism — code words for Bible-based Christianity.

Writer, professor, and Gnostic apologist Elaine Pagels said this to the New York Times (subscription req'd) about the Gospel of Judas: "These discoveries are exploding the myth of a monolithic religion and demonstrating how diverse and fascinating the early Christian movement really was." One reviewer of The Gospel of Judas at wrote these comments (which he titled "Objectivity is the key..."):

No one is forcing The Gospel of Judas to be read or even accepted by anyone at anytime. It's publication simply reaffirms the fact that the four gospels commonly accepted into the canon are a tiny fraction of Christian literature....However, as the world changes and the internet allows for free disemination [sic] of knowledge, the "other" gospels are developing a gravity of their own....Here's to hoping that Judas' Gospel takes its rightful place among all of the others that exist outside of the limited world of the New Testament.
Writing over 1,800 years ago, Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyons and one of the early Church leaders, dismissed the Gospel of Judas as heresy:
They declare that Judas the traitor...knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.
Church and Science Fiction

"For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness." (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12)

The reemergence of Gnostic and apocryphal heresy in our modern day has met with weak opposition in many churches and seminaries, including those we would think of as conservative or evangelical. (Pastor Ken Silva at Apprising Ministries has recently been writing on contemplative prayer in the church.) Today, we find the Church under judgment, infiltrated by pragmatism on one end and New Age spirituality on the other, beset by sex scandals and the acceptance/celebration of impenitent sin. (See "judgment must begin at the house of God," 1 Peter 4:17, KJV.) Churches lacking real Scriptural teaching will find that these heretical "revelations" act as subcutaneous injections into their anemic flocks.

A simple reading of what remains of this Gospel of Judas (about 80%) yields heresies and blatant inconsistencies with Scripture, and sometimes it reads like science fiction. Certain textual quotes selected by the popular media (e.g. ''You will exceed all of them, for you will sacrifice the man that clothes me") are intended to give the general public the idea that this "gospel" is a reasonable, historical accounting, complete with Bible-ish formality.

Many news outlets are quoting the following excerpt where Jesus supposedly tells Judas, "Step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom. It is possible for you to reach it, but you will grieve a great deal." This one sounds a lot like the Serpent asking Eve, "Did God really say?" (Genesis 3:1) Or, in other words, "Here's the real scoop."

But it gets weirder. Albert Mohler points out one peculiar passage in the Gospel of Judas that you won't see quoted by the secular media:
No person of mortal birth is worthy to enter the house you have seen, for that place is reserved for the holy. Neither the sun nor the moon will rule there, nor the day, but the holy will abide there always, in the eternal realm with the holy angels. Look, I have explained to you the mysteries of the kingdom and I have taught you about the error of the stars; and . . . sent it . . . on the twelve aeons.
The Gospel of Judas speaks of the "thirteenth spirit" and "enlightened aeons." There's a lot of "heavenly" esoterica. The news media have conveniently ignored those parts and instead have focused on the scholarship and behind-the-scenes recovery of the manuscript, with disingenuous comparisons to the Dead Sea Scrolls. They know better not to address the Gospel of Judas in full because, even to a Scripturally malnourished public, it would start to look really phony and bizarre.

The cultural elite understand that few will take the time, or care, to scratch beneath the surface. An unsettling axiom and a sign of the times.

The Elephant in the Room


On Tuesday evening, various media outlets in the U.S. scrambled to cover the arrest of a Homeland Security official caught in an internet sex sting, just one of many currently undergoing operations. Hours before, the news was dominated by the lurid and heartbreaking tale of Justin Berry, the teenage victim of internet pornography who testified before a Congressional committee, urging lawmakers into action.

Many of the statistics offered on pornography (multi-billion dollar industry, tens of thousands of predators, etc.) were indeed startling. Suffice it to say, pornography — aided and abetted by the internet like never before — is so pandemic it might be next to impossible now to find an individual not affected by it in some way or another.

Most of us have seen the "Just say no to drugs" public service advertisements (PSAs). Yet we know that pornography is just as addictive as drugs, if not more so; it is just as spiritually destructive, if not more so. Pornography use is psychologically debilitating and socially crippling, but compared to drug use, its effects are so much more easily masked — especially to its users. We know that pornography is the documented gateway to so-called alternative lifestyles, sexual crimes, murder, illegal drugs, witchcraft, you name it. But when it comes to public opposition to pornography these days, the silence from mainstream quarters is deafening.*

Popular media is only angered/alarmed by the "illegal" forms of pornography because in fact so much of the revenue of these large corporations comes from mainstreamed pornography — or at least what would've been deemed as such 50 years ago. The general public is already sick with small doses of pornographic poison given under different labels. Many go on to larger doses. The public and the media refuse to see the connection.

Because so many churches have fallen prey to the damage wrought by pornography, they say little about it — as if fear of hypocrisy were some kind of excuse for lack of conviction. The demonic genie is out of the bottle. Pandora's Box has been smashed open. Meanwhile, church leaders waffle and offer platitudes like "sin is sin," which is an egregious misinterpretation of the Scriptural truth that Sin (with a capital "S") separates all men from God. Sin (with a capital "S") gives birth to innumerable sins (lowercase "s") of varying qualities and degrees. Just as the symptoms of a disease are not equal, sins (lowercase "s") do not all have equal destructive weight/consequences — spiritually, mentally, or physically. The Bible makes a distinction for sexual sin in 1 Corinthians Chapter 6:

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
You won't hear a reasonable unbeliever make the absurd and irrational contention that murder is somehow no worse than telling a "white" lie.

While the world is shocked and pretends not to understand how we got to this point of societal decay, Christians should know better. Believers have emboldened the enemy's plans by getting too close to the world. In a rush to counter the problem, some have overreacted by dismissing their grandparents' perceived prudery ("repression") by putting Christian labels onto man-centered, sexually oriented material (or putting man-centered, sexually oriented labels onto Christian material — see an example from Slice of Laodicea). It's the equivalent to the case of a parent buying beers (or who knows what) for their child's party and saying, "If they're gonna do it, they're gonna do it in my house."

But the Old Man (i.e. the old sin nature) isn't buying it — he wants the world, and he'll take it free of the phony labels, thank you. Carnal Christians are being fed a steady diet of worldliness plus some Christianese messages of self-love ("happy-talk"). Result: utterly defenseless whelps left to the devices of a raging lion.

*Once fierce voices of opposition, like the feminists and fundamentalists, appear to have been muted. Some younger feminists today embrace, even promote, pornography.

The River


From Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi (1883):

The face of the water, in time, became a wonderful book—a book that was a dead language to the uneducated passenger, but which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered them with a voice. And it was not a book to be read once and thrown aside, for it had a new story to tell every day. Throughout the long twelve hundred miles there was never a page that was void of interest, never one that you could leave unread without loss, never one that you would want to skip, thinking you could find higher enjoyment in some other thing. There never was so wonderful a book written by man; never one whose interest was so absorbing, so unflagging, so sparkingly renewed with every re-perusal....

In truth, the passenger who could not read this book saw nothing but all manner of pretty pictures in it painted by the sun and shaded by the clouds, whereas to the trained eye these were not pictures at all, but the grimmest and most dead-earnest of reading-matter.
American writer Mark Twain's enduring love and respect for the Mississippi River are on full display in this passage from his classic memoir.

But the vivid descriptions above could also capture the extraordinary differences in Biblical interpretation between born-again believers and unregenerate men, no matter their Christian labels or credentials.

An unsaved individual with an entire lifetime spent accumulating a comprehensive knowledge of the Scriptures will still stumble over the most basic Godly insights grasped by regenerate believers.

In his first epistle to the church in Corinth (Chapter 2), the Apostle Paul wrote about this supernatural difference:
6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.
7 No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.
8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
9 However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"—
10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
Born From Above

A Time of Testing


God called Lot out of Sodom before its destruction because he was the one righteous man in a very wicked city. (Genesis Ch. 19) But Lot and his family's lives were so bound up in that place, psychologically and materially, that extrication did not come without righteous payment, in the form of painful loss and humiliation. Many, if not most, believers today find themselves in the same position, enmeshed in a world gone over the edge.

The sky hasn't fallen, but the Bible says some will know when it's about to, and others won't (or won't want to know).

In Matthew Chapter 12, Jesus said:

39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.
40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Earthquakes are notoriously unpredictable. In some cases, scientists have discovered — in hindsight — that clues to a quake were always there, and they were just looking in the wrong place. Regarding the last days, however, God's Word tells Christians where to look.

The Apostle Paul warned that, before the return of Christ, there would be a great "falling away," (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, KJV) or apostasy*. Contrast these words with the many contemporary claims of "revival" and the church growth movement. Rather, the true Body of Christ is being called unto the Lord, and this is causing rifts everywhere.

The spiritual struggles are visible at all levels, from the day-to-day lives of Christian men and women — lives assaulted, frustrated, and often compromised by sensuality, worldliness,and doctrinal dissolution — to the fomenting division between cultural, humanist Christians and the much smaller group of Bible-believing ones. Those rising tensions in Christian circles parallel the tensions of the world at large, where a very rich, oblivious, and spiritually bereft West finds itself in a desperate entanglement with a galvanized and motivated East.

We find ourselves in troubled times. Jesus said that, "in a time of testing," those of nominal faith will fall away (Luke 8:13) — the separating of the wheat and the tares.

In his current series on the principal figures in the Book of Judges, Pastor David Legge of the Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, presents Samson as emblematic of the modern lukewarm Christian. (You can read or listen to the sermon here.) This type of Christian — or stage in a believer's life — is characterized by a focus on God through the corrupting and narcissistic prism of the self, "through a glass darkly." (1 Corinthians 13:12)

God disciplines the men and women who truly belong to Him (see Proverbs 3:11-12). Pastor Legge says, "When God...isn't permitted to rule in our lives, He overrules and He works His will out regardless of our decisions." The formidably blessed Samson pursued the path of self-interest and worldliness so far, it took imprisonment and the loss of his eyes to set him back on the right path. Lot and Samson are examples of God's own who suffer the consequences of getting too close to this world.

Likewise, for some Christians today, authentic separation results in very dramatic, life-or-death situations, such as the persecution of believers in places like Afghanistan and China. (The recent case of Abdul Rahman is a well-publicized example.). In the West, where issues of morality and doctrine and lifestyle trigger division, the choices are deceptively subtler. Western Christians, without the threat of persecution or death hanging over them, are deceived into thinking the world is not so bad after all.

Whatever circumstances believers find themselves in, separation from this world is a continuous learning process not without some sacrifice, pain, or loss. A time of testing finds real believers turning to and seeking solace in the blessed hope of our Lord's imminent return. Conversely, it also finds the the nominal church seeking hope through a vain embrace of the world.

*One major prophetic forerunner being the establishment of the Catholic Church. Many centuries later, today's apostasy (ecumenical, one world religion) is similarly disguised in sheep's clothing.

Christian, Interrupted