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His Master's Voice
Copyright © 2006 - All rights retained by author
Written by: C. W. Booth


Saturday, June 03, 2006


In Pursuit of Love – Rejoicing Always

Please join with me in rejoicing over God's gift to mankind of companionship, the cessation of loneliness, and the acquisition of the responsibility to give and receive good via another. This is the 28th wedding anniversary for my wife and I.

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18)

There is no other human on this planet that I love more than my wife. She was my best friend before marriage. She is my best friend now. She was the first girl to whom I ever said, "I love you" in the romantic sense. She remains the only one I have said this to. She was the first girl I ever kissed on the lips, and remains the only one.

Our wedding vows read in part: "I will to love you. I will never divorce you." Love is not an affection so much as it is a decision, a force of the will. It is a decision to pursue a person, it is a choice to care for and defend another. It is an intentional effort to do only good to someone else, even putting their welfare ahead of one's self.

No, I have not lived up to that ideal of love, which is, I suppose, what makes it a pursuit.

Pursue love. (1 Corinthians 14:1a)



Sunday, June 04, 2006


Another Reason to Rejoice – A Baptism in the Family

This evening my son was baptized, professing and confessing his faith in Jesus as the Lord. It was my privilege to be invited by him to stand at his side as he went under the waters of baptism.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts. (Romans 6:1-12)


Thursday, June 08, 2006


Not a Miracle Nor a Hoax, Merely Photography

For those wondering about the "Spirit of American Youth" photograph from Memorial Day, May 29, 2006, several notes. The original photograph is an unretouched image. The wispy angel-like clouds just happened to be close-at-hand that day, and they were incorporated into the picture. I was using a 35mm negative film camera and scanned the resulting print into my PC.

For those who did not notice the clouds in the May 29 posting, here is the image in its original state, and a second retouched copy with the clouds outlined in white. In the second photo I also highlighted the word "sacrifices," found on the colonnade, in black.

Statue entitled: Spirit of American Youth in Normandy, France.

Original unretouched photograph.

Retouched Photograph--Statue entitled: Spirit of American Youth in Normandy, France.

Same image with clouds outlined in white line drawing to illustrate how clouds can be imagined to be angels, and, the words "sacrifices" has been highlighted in black to make it more visible.

Friday, June 09, 2006


More Erosion of Constitutional Rights by Liberal Judges

Prison Fellowship Ministries has been ordered by a U.S. District Court judge to cease ministering in Iowa, and to repay the state the money it received while under contract to Iowa for its services to inmates. Iowa signed a legal contract with Prison Fellowship Ministries having hired them to provide morals training to the inmates in an effort to improve inmate behavior and reduce the rate by which repeat criminals return to the prison system. This organization was originally started by Charles Colson.

At the core of the lawsuit are several patently flawed theories:

    • Inmates who voluntarily enroll with the Prison Fellowship program receive religious training, courses, and films not available to the non-participating inmates--this is said to be unfair to the non-participants
    • The First Amendment of the US Constitution disallows the state from paying for services and labors provided by Christians--it is argued that Prison Fellowship Ministries should not be paid for their services to the state over the past few years since they are a religious organization
    • All citizens, including inmates, have a First Amendment right to be free from being exposed to speech from people who are not from their own religion

Every Christian ought to know by now that the U.S. Constitution does not endorse the concept of "protection from religion." The Constitution originally protected religions from the state, not the state from religion. The very phrase "separation of church and state" is not in any constitutional or founding legal document (that phrase comes from a personal letter written by Thomas Jefferson and his personal opinion was not intended to be thought of as some type of de facto "law").

The full text of the entire First of the Amendments (aka: The Bill of Rights) to the US Constitution reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Phrase one does not read, "Congress shall not respect religion." It does say that Congress shall make no law which establishes a state religion of its own. In no way can Christianity ever be considered a religion established by the US Congress as the state religion. Nor does this phrase say that the state cannot make contracts with religious organizations and to pay religious organizations for their contracted services.

The second phrase says that Congress shall make no laws which prohibit the free exercise of religion. In other words, Congress cannot tax church property, confiscate church land, forbid citizens from attending a church, or require men to keep silent about their religion. This phrase allows men to speak freely, in public, about their religion; it does not protect nor grant anyone the right to never hear about religion. It is a freedom to speak about religion, not a right to avoid being spoken to about religion.

No law shall prohibit the free exercise of religion. It is not enough that men be permitted to hold a religion privately, but men are protected in their free exercise, free speech about, and free use of religious morals in their public lives. Given that the judicial branch of our government is unwilling to abide by the US Constitution, we Christians ought to respond by using the right granted us in the last phrase of the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law.abridging the freedom of speech.[or] to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Now is the time for Christians to begin using their right to freely speak out and petition the government for a redress of the grievance that the judiciary is restricting the free exercise of religion.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Fourteen 5th and 6th Graders Go Fishing with Frankenrods

Yesterday, the Youth Pastor, myself, and several other adults took the 5th and 6th graders fishing. I said, "I'll bring the fishing poles for any child who does not have their own." Though they doubted that any one man could have a sufficient number of fishing poles on hand (which they could surrender to abuse, uh, use, by a child), in fact, I do. I call them, Frankenrods.

Having become an avid fisherman 26 years ago, the day my father-in-law took me fishing for the first time, my packrat behavior required me to save every piece of ruined fishing equipment I ever acquired. Over time, I cobbled the pieces and parts together into working fishing equipment so they might live again--I call them Frankenrods--and they look every bit the part. But live they do!! (No one is more surprised than my wife that the poles are useful, though she still believes the garage space could have been better used by, say, parking the car.)

What a great time catching and releasing!!! Every child caught and released fish with such enthusiasm that the adults worked non-stop putting worm fragments onto hooks for an hour and a half, which was when the worms fragments ran out. We then retired for a rest break in the shade and a teaching time.

Even before the break, some of the children learned some important life lessons. Some children learned that Mr. Booth is not serious when he says, "the best way to get fish to bite your worm and not let go is to put the worms in your own mouth for a minute before you use them."

One girl learned about life and death. Her bluegill had swallowed the tiny hook, and it had penetrated the gills, causing the fish to bleed profusely. She asked if I could save it. I told her the fish would die, her face fell. Then I unceremoniously pulled the hook free. She cringed. Seeking to make her feel better, I told her that the fish would not go to waste and tossed the fish back into the pond. I told her a big bass living under the dock would soon find it and consume it. She screeched, "Another fish is going to eat it? That's awful!!" Maybe next time, I'll just say, "you never know."

An interesting thing happened during the hour and a half. At the beginning of the time, all the children had been teamed with leaders and spaced all around the pond. At the end, all the kids and leaders had clumped together in one spot, fellowshipping, talking, competing, laughing, and helping each other. Christians were made for fellowship.

During the teaching time, I had the privilege of explaining how the worms with hooks in them were deceptive temptations to the fish. They looked like good things to eat, but were only meant to entice the fish to become impaled on the hook, which would trap them, and possibly even kill them, I think that same little girl cringed again. The worm and hook appeal to a fish's lust. Then I read, James 1:14-15.

But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (James 1:14-15)

Fish are not bright. Even though they had tasted near death by eating a worm with a hook in it, within a week they will forget what happened, and will give into temptation again. I once caught a 16 inch bass with four hook holes in its mouth.

After leaving the children with 1 John 1:7-10 (about how to become cleansed through confession of our sins to Christ), we gave the children bottle rods to take home. What's a bottle rod? That's a posting for a later time, but, let's just say it is the little brother to a Frankenrod.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Mystery or Mysticism

I am a reality TV junky. Of course, reality TV is not reality at all. Reality TV is actually game show TV. Play the game by the producers' rules and be the last remaining contestant on the island and win a prize. Play the racing around the world game and be the first one to cross the finish line to win a prize.

A new game show called Treasure Hunters just started, and yes, I am going to watch. This game show is all about solving riddles and secrets, something akin to a drawn out mystery movie; and when the contestant solves the final clue, he finds the "treasure."

Some people will not watch, either because they hate game shows, or because they hate mysteries. Personally, I have a hard time not knowing something. Hidden things drive me crazy. I have to find the answer. I tape record magicians and watch their tricks frame-by-frame in order to solve the mystery of the trick. While I dislike not knowing, I revel in digging out the truth.

Houdini, the master of professional illusionism and secrets, also had a hatred. He hated spiritualism. Spiritualism is the scripturally prohibited practice of talking to the dead. Conmen claim to contact the dead so as to be paid by the bereaved. Near the end of his life, Houdini would dedicate entire segments of his performances to educating the public as to how con artists faked these apparent dialogues with the departed.

Some Christians hate mysteries as much as Houdini hated spiritualists. These mystery hating believers have convinced themselves that there are no mysteries regarding God that they cannot know. So they decide that through Bible study and mysticism every detail regarding God, His nature, His plans, His motives, and His thoughts may become known. Such men are but a short stones throw away from the heresy of Gnosticism.

God is in many ways a mystery to us. We do not know everything about His motives or why He does what He does.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

God actually goes out of His way (or perhaps it is more proper to say, out of man's way) to do things (good things and devastating things) which will ensure we humans cannot predict the outcome of events or understand the next step in His plans for mankind.

In the day of prosperity be happy, But in the day of adversity consider-- God has made the one as well as the other So that man will not discover anything that will be after him. (Ecclesiastes 7:14)

Job thought he had the answer to the mysteries of why God had allowed him to be struck with numerous adversities. Yet, in the end Job confesses to God:

"Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. . Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:3b, 42:6)

And being a genuine prophet of the Most High God is no assurance that you will even understand your own prophecies, much less the secret motives or the secret timing of the Lord. God even kept a mystery the timing of the coming of the Christ and the identity of the Christ from the Old Covenant prophets who wrote the very prophecies predicting His coming--and this God did even though the prophets begged Him to reveal the mystery to them.

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10-12).

Mysticism is simply not a means of knowing more about God than God has revealed in His Word. Understandably, Christians want emotional experiences by which to validate their faith. They want to say, "Oh, I had this wonderful experience or emotion, and it must be the touch of God. Therefore, my faith is stronger and now I have these new insights, insights which no one else has, and I know some new secret things about God."

And from these emotional experiences, they begin to cobble together a philosophy or a theology which is beyond that revealed in Scripture--that is to say, philosophies and theologies that are not actually found in the Bible. Emotions do have their place in the Christian's life, since emotions give us the energy to convert the Word of God into actions-of-love in service to God and others. Mysticism serves only to inflate one's own ego and endangers the heart into being misled and misdirected away from full dependence on the Word as the source of genuine spiritual knowledge.

Faith is validated not in experiences nor in emotion. Faith is validated in the hearing and believing of God's Word. The only people who will believe in Christ, whose faith will be "validated," are those who will believe simply because Christ is preached by Moses and the other prophets. Faith is not validated by emotional experiences.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.

Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.' "But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.'

And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father's house--for I have five brothers--in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'

But he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!' But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.' (Luke 16:19-31)

Even though I hate not knowing the answers to mysteries, I will gladly concede that I will never know, nor can ever know, the secret things which God has decreed that He will not give to us. Therefore, I will view with discernment and skepticism such preaching of men as: "This is the one thing that most glorifies God," or, "God is only motivated by pleasure for He is a hedonist in His heart of hearts," or, "This is the formula for knowing God's secret will and exact plan for your life."

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law." (Deuteronomy 29:29)


Thursday, June 22, 2006


A Doctrine Literally Taken From the Lips of a Demon

On numerous Christian websites I have read the unthinkable, the unimaginable. Seeking to explain their postmodern view of the genuine nature of God's heart, but being unable to find Scripture sufficient to prove their view, web authors have resorted to quoting a demon (a fictional demon to be sure, but a demon nonetheless). And not merely quoting the demon, but quoting the demon with authority and as the sole source for describing this new "true" postmodern nature of God.

"[God,] he's a hedonist at heart."

This quote "[God,] he's a hedonist at heart." is made by the demonic character, Screwtape, on page 101 from the work of fiction called, The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis, 1982 edition.

In some instances, the web authors are so sloppy (or deceptive?) that they say, "C.S. Lewis writes that 'God is a hedonist at heart.' " instead of giving the proper attribution to the fictional demon, Screwtape. Do they find that crediting a demon from a work of fiction would be embarrassing as a source for doctrine and theology? I certainly hope so.

Anyone who asserts that God is a hedonist, and so teaches others, but relies on fictional comments by fictional demons as their proof text has conducted himself in a false and improper fashion, perhaps even misleading the children of God. Giving God a label (hedonist) which God does not give to Himself in the Scriptures, and using fictional sources as reason to so label God, is literally the embodiment of one who introduces "ignorant speculations" as if they were biblical doctrine, which results in quarrels and wrangling over words in the church.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. . But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels (2 Timothy 2:15, 23)

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. (James 3:1)

As Lewis himself wrote in the preface, found in the 1961 paperback edition of the book The Screwtape Letters, the text which the demons speak and write is not based on Scriptural theology or diligent biblical study. Rather, Lewis states he relied on a "less creditable" source for learning what demons would have said, "My heart--I need no other's--showeth me the wickedness of the ungodly." (C.S. Lewis)

In his 1941 preface, Lewis makes these helpful comments: "Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar. Not everything that Screwtape says should be assumed to be true even from his own angle."

If one is inclined to introduce a speculative doctrine, such as 'God is a hedonist,' he had best be prepared to quote such a thing from God's own Word. Relying on the words of a demon, even a fictional demon, for the foundation of a new theology is just as Paul told Timothy some men would do: create ignorant and foolish speculations that produce quarrels.

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, (1 Timothy 4:1)


For more biblical investigation as to whether God is truly a hedonist or not, you are invited to read the article
"Is God a Hedonist?" located on my web site.

[Note: the above essay was originally posted as a blog entry which I wrote and put online June 22, 2006. As such, it was subject to public commentary as is customary with blogging. As a practical matter, I normally delete the comments entered on the blog site when building this essay archive. If you wish to read the comments posted by others about the essays, you are invited to go online, read them, or post your own comments.

However, on a few occasions the comments and perhaps my own responses to the comments are so core to understanding the essay, or the implications of the essay, that I have chosen to incorporate them, as I have done below.]

Comments to the June 22, 2006 post entitled: A Doctrine Literally Taken from the Lips of a Demon

Begin Comment 1:

Didnt Piper write a book promoting Christian hedonism? I never read it and only heard about it recently.....

Comment Posted 6/22/2006 at 9:57 PM by MC_Shann


Begin Comment 2:

Yes, Dr. John Piper invented the philosophy and phrase called "Christian Hedonisn" in 1986, and the philosophy permeates all his writings. C.S. Lewis defined "hedonism" quite differently than Dr. Piper, as Lewis believed that lawful pleasures were glimpses of God's glory but that no one should ask God for more pleasure and no one should pursue pleasure (Lewis said pursuing pleasure was greedy). Finally, Lewis believed that obedience was a higher form of worship than experiencing pleasure.

By contrast Piper instructs that the highest priority in life is to pursue pleasure in God, to pursue one's pleasure with all one's strength. Piper writes that his definition of hedonism is the equivalent of the modern and common dictionary meaning of the word, "a devotion to pleasure," even saying that pleasure is his goal in worship.

The driver behind my blog was to say that when someone says that "God is a hedonist" because he read that expression in a book, he must understand and admit who the speaker is in the book. Secondarily, one must also know precisely what the definition of the word "hedonist" is from the perspective of the writer. As of yet, I have not seen a systematic theology that defines the attributes of God which also names hedonist as being part of His nature, much less the principle part.

For a contrast between Lewis' and Piper's definitions of hedonism, you are invited to read
Answers 1 and 33 from FAQs on Christian Hedonism.

Comment Posted 6/23/2006 at 10:07 AM by C. W. Booth


Friday, June 23, 2006


Another Doctrine from a Demon: All Natural Pleasure is From God

This post is a continuation of the blog posted on June 22, 2006, entitled A Doctrine Literally Taken From the Lips of a Demon.

C.S. Lewis himself cautioned that the words he puts into the mouths of his fictional demons may or may not be true, so his readers are well advised to treat them as lies. Demonic lies, albeit from a fictional demon.

Yet, some writers insist on crediting Lewis with the beliefs proffered by his demonic creations. One such "doctrine" that the demon character, Screwtape, advances in the book, The Screwtape Letters, is that all pleasure in its natural state is from God and must be twisted or perverted before it becomes evil.

"We [demons] always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable. … Everything has to be twisted before its any use to us. We fight under cruel disadvantages. Nothing is naturally on our side." Screwtape--the fictional demon (quotes from pages 41 and 102 of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis)

This is plainly wrong from a biblical perspective. Even in Eden, the most innocent time and place in which man has ever existed, Eve discovered that not all "natural" pleasures were acceptable to God. After all, what is more natural than eating fruit from a fruit tree?

"but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die." … When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:3 and 6)

Consider the fruit of the grape. It has been used to make a natural drink for untold generations. And it naturally ferments into an alcoholic beverage. And when one drinks of this natural beverage, one can naturally become quite intoxicated. Yet, drunkenness is a sin before God (Ephesians 5:18).

Sex between a man and a woman is very natural. Yet, participating in this natural activity with random strangers is a sin condemned by God (Matthew 15:19).

The lie of the demon is this: pleasures, all pleasures, are good until they are in some way corrupted from their natural state. The demon is wrong. It is not whether pleasures are "natural" or "unnatural" which make them sinful. Many pleasures in their natural state are sinful (eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, drinking wine to the point of intoxication, having sex with strangers).

Rather, the truth is that pleasure results from actions. Our actions can be good or evil and still result in pleasure for us.

The moral difference between a sinful pleasurable action and a righteous pleasurable action is whether we are obedient to God's commandments. Although sex is a natural human function in which any human body is capable of engaging, we are commanded to exercise self-control and not participate in this natural activity until we are married. Is denying self or implementing self-control natural?

Drinking alcohol is natural enough, yet, we are commanded by God to employ supernatural discipline over our natural bodies so as to not drink enough to become intoxicated or to lose control of our mental and spiritual faculties.

The idea that all pleasures in their natural state are good and from God is a lie, a demonic lie. Sin is pleasurable, but sin is not from God. Some pleasures in their natural state are always sins, and rarely does any pleasure have to be twisted into something unnatural in order for it to invite sin. Sin is not the result of twisting a pleasure, sin is the result of lusting for natural pleasures of the kind which have been forbidden by explicit commandment from God.

It is very unnatural to exercise self control and avoid participating in natural deeds of the flesh. Yet, God is supernatural and the Spirit He has given us as our Helper is not of this nature or this world of flesh. We are obligated not to consider whether something is pleasurable or not, but rather, to discern whether it is permitted by God's commandments or not.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15)


To read more about the non-fiction philosophy of pleasure about which C.S. Lewis wrote, you may be interested in reading Answer 33 of Frequently Asked Questions about Christian Hedonism and also the Final Answer in the FAQs on Christian Hedonism.

[Note: the above essay was originally posted as a blog entry which I wrote and put online June 23, 2006. As such, it was subject to public commentary as is customary with blogging. As a practical matter, I normally delete the comments entered on the blog site when building this essay archive. If you wish to read the comments posted by others about the essays, you are invited to go online, read them, or post your own comments.

However, on a few occasions the comments and perhaps my own responses to the comments are so core to understanding the essay, or the implications of the essay, that I have chosen to incorporate them, as I have done below.]

Comments to the June 23, 2006 post entitled: Another Doctrine from a Demon: All Natural Pleasure is from God

Begin Comment 1:

Pleasure and delight can only be proper when put in the context of the totality of Shalom (Peace). Shalom has to do with the totality of well being ( See Brown-Drivers-Briggs.) Our first parents delight and pleasure in the forbidden fruit was not conducive to their or our ultimate Shalom, ie- well being.....

John Piper and the Christain hedonists have rightly pointed us to how we can lawfully enjoy all God has given us to enjoy, in contrast to the strains of Neo-Platonism that still infect Christ's church.. Their shortcoming is in the narrowness of that focus. A broader focus on Shalom puts pleasure and delight in their lawful place.

In Creation Shalom was established (.. and God saw that it was very good...). In the fall Shalom was broken. In redemption Shalom is being restored. In the consummation Shalom will be fully realized and pleasure and delight will fall in their proper place. And of course underlying all is the fundamental and primary goal of glory of God...

Sola Deo Gloria! OMGP

Comment Posted 6/28/2006 at 11:45 AM by oldmangrandpa


Begin Comment 2:

Oldmangrandpa posted this comment: "John Piper and the Christain hedonists have rightly pointed us to how we can lawfully enjoy all God has given us to enjoy, in contrast to the strains of Neo-Platonism that still infect Christ's church.. Their shortcoming is in the narrowness of that focus. A broader focus on Shalom puts pleasure and delight in their lawful place."

It is lovely to see Christians struggling with the truths of Scripture. Christianity is a thinking religion, requiring deep Bible investigation and a lifetime of personal study. Though we do not always agree on the conclusions each other draws, the discussion itself is conducive to unity of the Spirit and unity of the Word.

I would probably hold that the comment above, on John Piper and Christian Hedonists, does not quite adequately describe the philosophy. Christian Hedonism does not merely "point" men toward how to enjoy what God has provided, but rather, Christian Hedonism requires all men to make the "pursuit of pleasure" their highest priority in life. The attainment of pleasure through worship, for example, is the goal of all things done and of every act of virtue. Christian Hedonism, as John Piper has written, is the pursuit of pleasure with all one's might.

By contrast, I do not believe that the pursuit of getting pleasure from God is our highest priority or the goal of worship. I believe that giving love, and the pursuit of giving love with all our might, is our God-commanded highest priority and foremost goal. Because hedonism's directive on attaining personal pleasure overshadow's Christ's directive for us to give love, I find the philosophy does not accomplish putting "pleasure and delight in their lawful place," but rather that it puts pleasure and delight onto an unlawfully superior throne in our lives.

Again, not everyone agrees with that assessment, but I do offer it as a cautionary expression of faith, especially if one intends to require this philosophy of others.

Comment Posted 6/29/2006 at 8:39 AM by C. W. Booth

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


The Sum of All Scriptures (Part 1 of an ongoing series of posts on love)

If a person were to sum up the play Hamlet in but one word, it might be appropriate to use the word "revenge." To sum up the Ken Sande book The Peacemakers an appropriate single word might be "reconciliation."

Similarly, Scripture sums itself up in but one word.

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?". And He said to him, " 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:36-39)

…and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself". Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:9b-10)

Love, giving it as opposed to receiving it, is the summation of all that the prophets wrote. And when one does give love (first to God and then to others) he has fulfilled the intent and requirements of the law.

One cannot love God unless he believes that God exists. One cannot love God until he has repented in faith and cried out to Christ, "Save me Lord, for I am a sinner!"

And love is what salvation is all about. Even the love that Christ gave to us when He bled and died and rose again. All those prophecies in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah, the suffering Messiah, and the redemption of man, all those prophecies about sacrifice can be summed up in one word, love.

    • The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
    • By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
    • In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
    • Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
    • No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:8-12)

Love God, and, love your neighbors. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets. Love, the sum of all Scriptures.



Friday, June 30, 2006


Love -- In Deed (Part 2 of an ongoing series of posts on love)

The sum of all Scriptures and all prophecies is: "give love." God lavished love on us in so very many ways. Our single greatest obligation is to give love back to God with all our might (Deuteronomy 6:5, Mark 12:28-33). Our second greatest obligation is to love others.

Yet, so few in the world know what love is, or means. They think love is the emotion of affection. That is not a biblical answer, for God has defined love for us in His Word.

Love is a philosophy that guides us into deliberate and thoughtful action. In fact, it would be proper to think of biblical love as intentionally doing deeds that benefit others.

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. (1 John 3:18)

By contrast, to leave love behind is to cease doing deeds that benefit others. This is taught to us in Revelation 2:4-5 when the Lord tells the church at Ephesus that they have left their first love because they have stopped doing the deeds they used to do for one another when they were first saved. To effectively repent, to return to their first love, they must do again the deeds they did during the zeal of their original conversion.

'But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first.' (Revelation 2:4-5a)

Some have plaintively argued that deeds (including the deeds of obedience to Christ's commandments) are not the essence of love, but rather the result of love, meaning the result of affection. This is incorrect. One can love one's enemy, doing good deeds for them--going the extra mile for them (Matthew 5:43), praying for them (Matthew 5:44), giving them food and water (Proverbs 25:21)--even though one has no real affection for them.

To be certain, the Scriptures are defining love itself, not the result of love, when they say, "And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it." (2 John 1:6) Love is a philosophy of intentionally generating and executing good deeds for the welfare and benefit of another, even an enemy.

The love we are to show is agape love, fellowship love in Christ. Vine's, the ecclesiastical dictionary, states it this way in part:

"Christian love has God for its primary object, and expresses itself first of all in implicit obedience to His commandments. … Self-will ... self-pleasing is the negation of love to God. Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward men generally, is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered. Love seeks the welfare of all…works no ill to any".

At no time does love become an excuse to stop obeying Christ's commandments. Love is obeying Christ. As Vine's points out, love is not a feeling or emotion, it is a set of actions. Actions which sometimes violate our "natural inclinations". But ultimately, love seeks to bring all men to obedience in Christ through the Scriptures. This may take on many approaches, methods, and individual styles.

Since love is a philosophy of obeying God and intentionally thinking-up and choosing actions of good will to benefit others, it is staggering to the imagination to apply this knowledge, this definition, to the passage: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." (Deuteronomy 6:6)

We are to love God with all our heart, soul, and might. We are to intentionally think of deeds by which to benefit God, and to do so with all our might. I can think of much, I can imagine much that I might be able to do in loving service to Him and for Him. Please Lord, forgive me for my lack of follow-through, my lack of faith, my lack of true love.


[Note: the above essay was originally posted as a blog entry which I wrote and put online June 30, 2006. As such, it was subject to public commentary as is customary with blogging. As a practical matter, I normally delete the comments entered on the blog site when building this essay archive. If you wish to read the comments posted by others about the essays, you are invited to go online, read them, or post your own comments.

However, on a few occasions the comments and perhaps my own responses to the comments are so core to understanding the essay, or the implications of the essay, that I have chosen to incorporate them, as I have done below.]


Comments to the June 30, 2006 post entitled: Love -- In Deed (Part 2 of an ongoing series of posts on love)

Begin Comment 1:

[Paragraph One of Comment One deleted as it is contains comments of a personal nature and not germane to the discussion.]

Your second to the last paragraph is a mindful of truth. My question though, should the word "philosphy" be instead "command"? Yet, the word "philosphy" is a much better sounding word to those in the world of discussion. I guess it really depends on the audience including those that God is softening the ears on. Years ago, I was much more into the intellectual side of things in defense but God has put less of those people around me to reach out to. I tend to deal more with applications in life. I have mellowed out in that way, yet still very much enjoy posts such as yours. God has us each as tools to use to reach different harvests! Praise God you are out there! You have a nice mix of intellect and scripture with application!

Comment Posted 7/1/2006 at 12:23 AM by Whatisfaith


Begin Comment 2:

Thank you for your gracious comments. Your observation about love being a command more than it being a philosophy is a good one. I might have been more proper if I had called it a mind-set along with it being a command. In either case, it is a way of life, being loving, which we are commanded to adopt. So this philosophy, this mind-set, this way of life, this pursuit of love is our obligation by edict from God. It is not a one time event, but a life long pursuit.


C. W. Booth

Comment Posted 7/1/2006 at 9:08 PM by C. W. Booth

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