A Brief and Poetic Critique of Scientism

We come to a point in this windy road

Where Reason cannot guide, 

So lay aside the mind’s wide load,

Embracing Reason at other side.

It must be Faith above it all,

Or else, no further you go,

Without this Faith, the birds still call,

Suns still rise and moons still fall:

But how do you know that you know?

Environmental Concern for the Protestant Unconcerned

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” — Genesis 1:28

Is Creation Included in Redemption? 

Is a call to blessing restored and man’s purpose as a cultivator of the earth included in what Jesus died for? Francis Schaeffer says in his book Pollution and the Death of Man: “As Christ’s death redeems men, including their bodies, from the consequences of the Fall, so His death will redeem all nature from its evil consequences, at the time we are raised from the dead.” Scripture tells us that all of the creation cries under the weight of the curse which has been laid upon while waiting for the final redemption promised by God (Rom. 8:20-22). When Jesus comes, everything will finally be made new, and the concerns of our suffering environment will be no more. However, while we wait, we must realize that part of Christian living consists in becoming realigned with what God has first called humanity to be and to do, not by promoting an ultra spiritualistic view of salvation that speaks very little to a holistic view of man’s relation to the earth, but by instilling in man a love for what God has made. For too long in the Christian community spirituality has been emphasized at the expense of the earth. The spiritual is Gnostically focused upon neglecting the physical and, as a result, the environmental. Because God made the birds and the living creatures and planted the trees, we should be concerned when oil spills wreck their habitat and ruin the life God has given them. We should seek ways to honor God by being considerate of the animals because all things are in their existence as creatures created for the glory of God.

Humanity in Genesis

With so many environmental concerns today and an almost universal silence of conservative Christians regarding the value that God has instilled in His creation, we need to be reminded of what God has called us to do and how His image (humanity) reflects His work as Creator. In the pre-Fall narrative (Gen. 1-2), we see this happening in two poignant ways: man is a gardener put in Eden to cultivate it (Gen. 1:15), and he is the one who names the animals (Gen. 2:19). In this manner, man images God by working in step with the purpose which God has blessed him with. Man is also created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26), and that image has two distinct genders which equally reflect God (Gen. 1:27). The successive blessing of God after the sixth day of creation is a call for man to be fruitful, like the trees which grow upon the same ground he is created from, and increase himself through his children who will grow, inhabit, and rule the earth and its creatures. Man is intimately related to the rest of creation because he, like all living things, bears fruit, multiplies, and fills the earth with his kind. Like the trees, he’s created from the ground; like the animals, he’s a living creature, and yet distinctly like God, he rules over creation as God’s image bearer. Man is a distinguished image, and yet he’s connected to all things which God has made; he is designed to know God in a way that no other creature can, with tremendous responsibility for the well-being of the earth and its inhabitants. The purpose which this narrative describes raises questions about our daily life and about how we as Christians are to act as those who have been restored to what we have been made to do by the grace of Jesus Christ.

Present Ecological Problems

Just asking basic questions about the environment on an internet search engine can provide you with a list of problems ranging from the chemicals used in the mass production of food to the abuse of farm animals in the food industry, etc. Technology in this way maintains a wider spectrum of sustenance at the expense of the resources consumed. Finding out these massive yet obscure problems raises further ethical questions about the legitimacy of these practices in the sight of God and the legitimacy of Christian dependence on such practices. Questions like whether or not caring for creation is a cause that coincides with the mass consumption which modern society is dependent upon. There are severe issues with the way man uses the environment, such as deforestation, whereby land is denuded to make places to live, or the land is expended for business purpose, or it is commodified to be an expendable resource without value or replenishment. It is an honest concern to ask if trees are being replanted and whether or not animals are suffering and going extinct with new feats of progress. More immediately, when we buy out milk, do we ask if the dairy industry runs on the exploitation of cows, the ruination of their health for the sake of corporate profit? When we consider a species very close to us, do we become grieved when gorillas in the Virunga jungles are needlessly killed by poachers and violent men? Do we value their lives? Does the silence and abdication of Christians in a dying world reflect an absence of grace? While Christians fight for the right to life and rightfully oppose abortion, do they also cry out against the extinction of animal species, or the loss of land that gives men and animals a context for life? Do we implicitly accept that a rightful concern for the life of one species which justifies a total lack of concern for the rest?

Sanctification Includes Environmental Compassion 

These concerns ought to in no way be left out of our view of sanctification because Romans 8 reveals to us that all of creation is in a posture of waiting poised in anticipation of a redemption that will, in the end, include a renewal of the earth and its creatures. It is not just humanity which is made new through the forgiveness of sin, but creation also awaits its emancipation from the effects of man’s sin. Hence, while all of creation waits, we still act in faith trusting that God will give grace to our successes and failures. As acts of faith, we ought to plant gardens, clean up trash, and concern ourselves with how what we eat and the stuff we buy negatively affects God’s creation, not just as a point of mental emphasis, but as a way of life. Perhaps the right way to do this is to begin by mourning appropriately the curse of unsustainability and exploitation which the earth endures because of man’s sin (Matt. 5:4) while stepping up to take our sanctification seriously in light of the environmental concerns. God calls what He has made good and what is good is groaning because of sin. Ephesians 2:10 says: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Perhaps the best thing for conservative Christians to do is to consider that the first two chapters of  Genesis were not read originally as an argument against evolution, but were understood as a definitive record of the God who made the heavens and the earth. God is revealed in the text, and he gives His image-bearers a deeply connected called to value and serve the life of the planet including its inhabitants and resources. As those who are being conformed to Jesus’ image (Rom. 8:29), let us fulfill our calling by promoting and defending the respective life of all things by the grace of God while waiting for Him to finally come and make enslaved creatures free share in our hope of redemption.

Hallucinogenics: Informing the Reformed

It was the 1960s and change was in the air. Timothy Leary, a Harvard psychologist, suddenly called an entire generation to “Turn on, tune in, and drop out.” What did this mean and why was it happening? What was all the fuss about? Why this sudden call for radical change? Hunter S. Thompson described the 1960s in this way, “There was madness in any direction, at any hour. . . . you could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . . And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.” There was such rapid change in such a short period of time; both in culture and in politics. Anyone who knows the history is bound to ask, “what caused this madness?”

The main catalyst was a strong hallucinogenic drug called LSD; the drug that defined a generation. This drug changed the way people viewed culture, gender, politics, war, religion, oneself, and God. Many claimed it expanded the mind. An entire generation bought into the notion that this drug was the gateway into a new way of life, to a new self and a new world.

But what became of that generation? What happened to the movement that a drug helped create? What happened to the promised new world?

Thompson provides an eye-opening answer, when he said, “So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.” He goes on to explain how this great idealism destroyed a generation. “We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled that 60’s. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary’s trip. He crashed around America selling ‘consciousness expansion’ without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously… All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy peace and understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure was ours too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create… a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody… or at least some force – is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.” Here Thompson recaptures the death of an ideology. Less than 5 years later, this monumental movement died like so many before it. It is now given over to the sands of time and locked away in a grade school history book. Consciousness expansion, peace and love took its last breath at the feet of nihilism. It is as if he said, “The LSD movement is dead and you have killed it.” All that was left in its wake was failed gurus and seekers who couldn’t handle the pressure of the real world. The god at the end of the tunnel never picked up the phone. A false leader promoting an unattainable ideal with a powerfully distorting substance, drew in, blew up and throw out an entire generation, leaving them with no way to cope with the bleak realities of a normal life. Survival is all that remained.

Even after the 1960s wave, there were still others who ran decades after to catch these moving waters in the hope of experiencing the once ‘great’ wave. It seems that for every generation of psychedelic, Neo-hippies there is a guru who is willing to propagate these drugs to a sub-culture who have already bought in. These gurus pump out the same New Age, Neo-Shaman, mysticism as their forefathers did, with rhetoric and pseudoscience included. They promise enlightenment. They claim hallucinogenic drugs are the catalyst to economic creativity and provide metaphysical insights. Got emotional problems such as depression, or alcoholism? Then look no further than to what the snake oil salesman tells you. “This is the wonder drug and cure-all. The one stop shop for all you have ever wanted or needed. It carries with it the power to create dreams and destroy your psychological nightmares. Come step right up and turn on, drink in and be blown out of this universal to another dimension where you will meet aliens that will tell you secret knowledge hidden long ago, and it is available for you now for only $10 a hit.”

What does the Christian worldview have to say concerning this kind of drug use and the ideology that comes with it? It claims the same thing that one of its own gurus professed, “They are all wired into a survival trip now… [leaving in it’s wake] a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers” and a failed promise that through this drug one could expand ones mind and come to a knowledge of god. This is a failed ideology that is subjecting one’s mind to an unquestioning faith, it is crippling the user’s will by not preparing them for the hardships of life in the real world and it is robbing them of any hope in anything. It offers only a temporary door of escape that never solves the need to escape. After all is said and done, the trip is over and the seeker is in a worse condition than before. All he has is a bunch of distorted memories of things that never really happened. The ideology is like the drug, they both deceive.

Does the Bible have a word in season for all of those who survived the 60s? What about a word for the new generation that is looking into psychedelics? Yes in many ways.

The word the Bible uses in this context is Pharmakeia meaning: 1. Magic arts, witchcraft. 2. The use or the ministering of drugs. A Sorcerer is one who mixes up drug-based incantations. This has a ‘drugging’ effect on the religious devotee, inducing them to think they have been enlightened or have obtained special god-like abilities.

Paul states in Gal. 5:19-21, that sorcery is a work of the flesh and reminds the Galatians the fate of those who practice such things when he says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” The book of Revelation says that those who practice sorcery have “their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death (Rev. 21:8).”

Another way the Bible gives light to the issue of using psychedelic drugs is when it talks about “drunkenness”. Drunkenness is referring to intoxication. To intoxicate means, “to excite or stupefied by alcohol or a drug especially to the point where physical and mental control is markedly diminished.” Though it is referring to alcohol first and foremost, it applies theologically to any substance that produces intoxication. Paul in the same passage in Galatians condemns drunkenness too and warns them that they will not inherit the kingdom of God either. Paul also says, “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor. 6:9-10).”

Another reason that goes hand in hand with this topic is the command throughout the Bible to be sober minded. The call to sobriety is a call to be self-controlled both in mind and body. Paul says it this way, “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation 1 Thess. 5:8).” Instead of running off to follow a guru who offers a revelation in a drug, Christians are called to prepare their minds for action, to be sober-minded, and to set their hope fully on the grace that will be brought to them at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13). Christians are also called to be sober-minded and watchful for good reason because the Christian’s adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter.5:8).

Thirdly, one of the plainest arguments against any Christian partaking of hallucinogenic drugs is that they are illegal to consume. Usually these drugs carry with them an ideology that is against authorities. The Christian on the other hand is called to submit to governing authority because God has placed them over him for his protection (Romans 131-5; 1 Peter ‪2:13-16; Titus 3:1-2).

The final reason Christians are called to abstain from these drugs and those like is because of the nature of the Christian’s calling as a Christian. The Christian is not his own, but has been bought with a price. Paul says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2).” The Christian lives to glorify God and enjoy him. The Christian also is to have nothing to do with pagan practices. Paul says, “What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?” For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you (2 Corinthians. ‪6:15-17).”

For the Christian there is no high wave that breaks and rolls back. There is only the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day (Proverbs 4.18). There is no survival trip of permanent cripples, but the Spirit of the Lord and his freedom (1 Corinthians. 3:17-18). There are no failed seekers, but for those who knock the door will be open. The light promised at the end of the tunnel doesn’t fade, but now the Christian sees “in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).” For those who want to know themselves, they must know God, and to know God they must know Christ. Let the Christian not make idols out of the created world but let them follow Christ, the only one who keeps every promise he makes.

 

Stand Firm: Holding to Christian Convictions in a Culture of Moral Decay

Staying up to date with the news can sometimes be discouraging for Christians. Personally, I find myself grimacing every time I electronically flip through the newsfeed in the mornings, preparing for what I’m going to be baffled at next. It’s challenging to read about parents abusing their own toddlers, murderers, gang violence, wars, conflicts, corrupt politicians, and the thousands of other issues in the world today. It’s in these times that it’s important to trust God above what we, as fallen humans, believe what he should be doing. As a Christian, a verse that continually reminds and encourages me amidst the confusion of our day is John 16:33.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

It’s becoming more and more abundantly clear that true believers in Christ who stand fast upon God’s holy, unchanging word and character, will soon be facing far more of these persecutions and tribulations that the Bible talks about, especially in the United States. One of the hottest topics of the day facing believers everywhere is the LGBT movement (or, more specifically, the LGBTTQQIAAP movement, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, and pansexual). Throughout the past few years, the number of participants and support for the gay movement has exploded. Recently, my father had the opportunity to preach the gospel to marchers at the 2018 Gay Pride Parade in Indianapolis, where thousands of people, organizations, and churches all gathered for over two hours to express their support for the movement in an event filled with debauchery and sin. Also in recent news is the story of Russel Berger, the CrossFit lead Knowledge Officer, being fired over his comments about the LGBT movement. Speaking of a local gym declining to host an LGBT workout for “Pride Month,” Russel Berger stated the following via Twitter.

“As someone who personally believes that “pride” is a sin, I’d like to personally encourage Crossfitinfiltrate for standing by their convictions and refusing to host an @indypride workout. The intolerance of the LGBTQ ideology toward any alternative views is mind-boggling.”   

Shortly thereafter, Berger’s employment was terminated with CrossFit and the following statement was stated by CrossFit’s CEO in an interview with Buzzfeed (warning:quote contains graphic language)

“He needs to take a big dose of ‘shut the f* up’ and hide out for awhile. It’s sad. We do so much good work with such pure hearts — to have some zealot in his off-time do something this stupid, we’re all upset. The whole company is upset. This changes his standing with us. What that looks like, I don’t know. It’s so unfortunate.”

This is just one of the several recent cases of Christians facing persecution for standing firm on their Scriptural convictions. It is blatantly evident how much the culture has shifted in just several years to where your job can be terminated for simply stating your beliefs. This brings me to my next point, what should we, as Christians holding fast to Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) be doing in this situation? And also, what is much of the Christian church doing about it now? As to the latter, the answer to this question is somewhat depressing. Much of the church has gone completely silent on the homosexuality issue, and worse than that, thousands of so-called Conservative churches have expressed their total support for the LGBT movement. Take for example, the Conference being held in St. Louis, Missouri, called Revoice 2018. This conference is gaining massive traction and the very first thing on their website, as to their conference’s mission, is this.

“Supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality” (http://revoice.us)

The conference also features breakout sections, some of which are titled as follows:

JOURNEY TO EMBRACE: A CONVERSATION ON EMPOWERING THE CHURCH TO EMBRACE THE LGBT+ COMMUNITY IN FRESH WAYS

REDEEMING QUEER CULTURE: AN ADVENTURE

BUILDING JUSTICE BRIDGES: HOW A MISSIOLOGICAL APPROACH SHIFTS OUR POSTURE AND REACHES LGBT PEOPLE (http://revoice.us)

Amidst this massive culture shift,  the pressure is higher than ever before to conform to the world by simply “accepting” people’s differences. When you stand on Scripture which states that homosexuality is a sin, are labeled a bigot or a “zealot.” We’ve reached the point where you can even lose your source of income, as stated earlier. Amidst these challenges, the church is called to be a light in a world of darkness. We know that homosexuality is a sin. We can clearly this in passages such as Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6 which state:

“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” – Romans 1:26-27

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

The only ways that it is possible to claim that homosexuality is not a sin would be to:

1) Rip several pages of Scripture out of your Bible

2) Heretically, claim that God’s law and character changes over time

3) Terribly eisegete (impose your own preferences onto the text of Scripture) many passages blatantly clear in Scripture

Though homosexuality is a sin, it is possible to have homosexual desires and still be a genuine Christian. Many would erroneously posit that it is impossible for someone to be a Christian and have homosexual thoughts because God created us man and woman, sexual beings designed for the opposite sex. However, we are fallen beings in a fallen world.  Thus it is possible for someone to be a Christian and have sinful desires for the similar sex. Nevertheless, if it is possible for people to struggle with homosexuality, as I strongly believe it is, that fact alone doesn’t justify the celebration of our sinfulness. Simply because you struggle with your sexuality, by no means corresponds to you having the right to openly celebrate your sin. Take the so-called “ Pride Month,” or even the Revoice 2018 conference, where countless numbers of practicing homosexuals will be given the illusion of salvation when in fact, there is none for unrepentant sinners. Often we hear the phrase, “I’m a gay Christian.” How ridiculous! When is the last time you have  someone has approached you and introduced themselves as a “adulterous Christian,” or a “ murdering Christian?” You would think them preposterous. It is ludicrous to celebrate, or even identify ourselves with the very things that word of God says we should be growing to hate. There are things that Scripture states clearly are sins, and just because you have thoughts of lust, anger, greed, selfishness, or pride, by no means justifies celebrating or adapting yourself to those sins. Are there people that struggle with homosexuality? Absolutely. Does the simple fact of their being within us justify us rejoicing in them? Paul puts it very simply in his letter to the Colossians.

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. – Colossians 1:21-23 (italics mine).

What we can gather from this beautiful passage of Scripture is that we all once were slaves to sin. We all were once held captive by sin with no hope of salvation apart from the mighty work of the Holy Spirit. However, now that God has transformed us through the work of his son and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are now being sanctified daily to be made more into the image of his son Jesus.  The verb tense of the word were in the above passage is extremely vital to note. It does not say that we still are alienated and hostile to God, but that we were alienated and hostile to God. The mark of a true Christian is to be growing in sanctification and to be continually bearing fruit by putting our sin and flesh to death as the Word of God says many different times. Finally, I am not saying that people do not struggle with homosexual thoughts and behavior. However, what I am saying is that the open celebration of sin at events like the Gay Pride Parade, Pride Month, and the Revoice 2018 Conference are undoubtedly evil. The evidence of true belief is sanctification, and a true “Gay Christian,” would daily wake up and kill his or her flesh by taking it to God, not by idolizing it and putting that very sin on a platform. This is where we as a church need to stand firm. Not a single person is beyond saving through the finished work of Jesus Christ, and faith does not come apart from hearing the Gospel. Yes we need to be loving these people, but true love does not look like letting people continue on in their sin which leads them to hell. True love looks like bringing the Gospel into the conversation,telling them that they are in sin, and, apart from Christ, headed for an eternity apart from their Creator. No Christian is perfect, and none besides Christ himself ever will be. We all struggle with our own sins, be it pride, lust, jealousy, deceit or whatever. However, by seeing ourselves growing to hate our sin, not relishing in it, we can know that we are truly saved. So I encourage you to stand fast during these hard times where you may be labeled as a bigot: lose your job, or even your life eventually, solely by looking to Christ, our ultimate and true example. Show love, not by conforming to the things of this world, but by being bold and showing the world what a true Christian looks like. Not on our own power, but by his alone.