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Written by: C. W. Booth

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Who Will Save America from Her Current Distress?

I have been trying to find a way to give voice to my feelings about the present poor state of the economy. My feelings are controversial, and not exactly theological in nature, as opposed to my usual blogging themes. Nonetheless, here they are:

1) As bad as the economy is today (and with all genuine sympathy for those who are suffering the loss of their homes), your great grandparents will tell you that the present hardships are not comparable to the massive economic crisis they experienced during the Great Depression. They will tell you that they lost all their investment savings and many lost all their bank account deposits. Today’s depressed economy is not yet the disaster it was in those days. Not yet, but with hard work and a lot of deficit spending, the government is capable of making it that way.

2) This economic mess started when the Fed lowered interest rates to obscene lows. Your great grandparents will remind you that the "normal" interest rate on passbook savings (your regular bank account) was 5.25% for many decades, the Fed has blown that away. If the government wants to stimulate banks to begin lending money again, and thereby stimulate the economy, tell the Fed to raise the interest rates and let the banks begin making a profit on loans again!

3) Throughout history, no one has yet found a way to improve their financial position by massively overspending their income, so why does the new administration think that doing so now will improve the economic position of an entire country? This "largest spending package in US history" for which there is no credible repayment strategy is all but guaranteed to plunge the country deeper into debt and prolong the depression.

4) It is a sad commentary on the state of the ethics of liberal politicians when so many have been disqualified to serve on the president’s cabinet because they all participated in not paying all their due taxes (i.e. tax evasion). How can government officials expect citizens (who mostly make far less than their generous government salaries) to be enthused about "sharing the wealth" when those government officials are not honest enough or enthused enough to pay their own taxes?

So, I said it. Our present chief executive is inexperienced, and too young to remember what a real financial crisis looks like. But surely he knows that when you are running low on income the only remedy is to spend less (not more), doesn’t he?

Who will save America from her current distress? It will not be government. I am not saying that the economy is doomed, merely that eventually even the government will have to stop throwing away our money, tighten its belt, raise interest rates, and only then will the market forces naturally begin to push things back to a happier equilibrium. Or, perhaps, God has other plans in mind for our great country. After all, we find no hint of the US in Daniel’s or John’s end time prophecies, do we?

All I do know is, if we want our country to survive, we have no right to expect God to bless us unless we humbly pray and ask Him for His kind healing. "You do not have because you do not ask." (James 4:2b) It would also not hurt if during the next election we start hiring men of integrity and experience to our senior government positions.

Who will save America? God can if He desires to. But first, we must pray.

----

Feel free to post your agreement, or your disagreement. But this is how I feel about the whole unfortunate mess.

---

[Note: the above essay was originally posted as a blog entry which I wrote and put online March 7, 2009. 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 March 7, 2009 post entitled: Who Will Save America from Her Current Distress?

Begin Comment 1 from C. W. Booth:

P.S. Before anyone asks the question, "Wasn't it the bursting of the speculative housing bubble that caused this mess?" I will answer as follows:

A key factor in creating the present bad economy was when the Fed lowered interest rates to ridiculous lows to encourage borrowing for housing. Instead of stimulating the economy, the rates induced a binge of unrealistic loans, sparked real-estate speculation, which in turn artificially inflated the costs of housing all over the country. When the loans began going bad, the source of credit funds dried up (credit funds come from those who are paying off their loans), owners could not sell their houses because the buyers could not get credit (especially the speculators), and the housing market collapsed. Housing prices began to fall in line with a lack of speculator purchases. All the industries that are supported by the housing industry began failing (like construction), which in turn caused other markets to fail, like the auto industry (who can afford to buy a new car right now?).

Finally, it is also true that another major component of the failure was a relaxation of laws governing the stock market. A loophole allowed "investors" to virtually gamble via the stockmarket, which helped cause wild swings and wild losses. Those loose rules, combined with the impact of lowered interest rates, brought about much of the present problem.

Posted 3/7/2009 1:36 AM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 2

Yup, yup, yup. I've heard the stories of men waiting in a mile long bread line from those aweful days. You really think Obama is going to spend us into that kind of nightmare?

Posted 3/7/2009 11:38 AM by j

Begin Comment 3

God is sovereign.

Posted 3/8/2009 6:20 PM by w

Begin Comment 4

J wrote, "You really think Obama is going to spend us into that kind of nightmare?"

I do not know if he will. But he seems to have the capability and the mistaken resolve, thinking that someone can spend themself to prosperity. Hopefully, congress will come to their senses and block him.

Posted 3/8/2009 7:15 PM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 5

I agree! An 89 year old woman with dememtia said to me the other day, "If the economy is so bad why are the restaurants so full?" SHE remembers the soup lines! I also liked something Rush Limbaugh said today--our government is set up so that if the president has a bad plan, we can cause it to fail (i.e. congress). He spent quite a bit of time talking about the system of checks and balances and it made me think about it in a different light. He said we want the president to fail when he is offering a bad plan and that makes sense. (Actually we want the plan to fail. )

That's my 2 cents for the day--well maybe not, I haven't read your latest blog--I'll do that now.

Posted 3/10/2009 6:37 PM by d

Begin Comment 6

I agree with some of what you said; I don't agree with everything our President is doing. However, the last eight years under Bush brought this nation into debt, not Obama. Prior to that, Pres. Clinton had brought the economy up to good levels. Thanks to Bush, the new administration has to face the challenge of trying to save a broken economy. Not that they're doing so well; but I still don't believe in laying all the economic blame at the feet of someone who's been in office for only several months. Obama may be responsible for what happens from here on, but he certainly cannot be held responsible for the huge deficit created over the previous years.

Posted 5/14/2009 12:35 PM by m

Begin Comment 7

M wrote, "the last eight years under Bush brought this nation into debt, not Obama." To be more precise, it was the last 2 years that really did it. But to be fair, it was not Bush presidential policy that caused it. It was the Fed's policy (lowering interest rates to "stimulate" the economy), Wall Street's wild real estate speculations (driven by the Fed's foolishly low interest rates), and as we have come to learn, greedy and unethical lending practices by mortgage banks.

Now, it is true that the Bush advisors should have observed and stopped these abusive private sector practices, especially by the banks. That should be laid af the feet of the Bush administration.

What to do about it all? Let failing banks fail (the depositors are protected by the FDIC and will not lose a penny). Let failing insurance companies fail. Let failing car companies fail. In each case, they will go into bankruptcy, renegotiate their debts, fire their greedy-inept-overpaid managers, and come out the other side stronger and leaner. Look at what Chrysler did 20 years ago!

What did Obama do? Created a tax-payer's-money give away package larger than has ever been created in history and handed the money to the greedy gents who are least deserving and least able to know how to spend it properly! Then he bought a car company and fired its new CEO. Even if Obama had done nothing at all, it would have been an improvement over what he is doing. Obama is not qualified to run GM or the country. And Obama is certainly not qualified to decide which babies should live and which babies should die so science may harvest their stem cells.

Nonetheless, Christ reigns. Whatever God desires for this country, it will come about.

Posted 5/14/2009 1:04 PM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 8

I'm guessing you're pro-military...well, I'm not. I am as opposed to the deaths of children on the wrong side of unnecessary wars as I am to abortion. Most of the economic deficit we see today is a direct result of military spending: to fight a war that was not only lost, but turned the Islamic world against America in vast new numbers, and disgusted most of the rest of the world at American arrogance. Big mistake, yeah. How come we're so willing to grant Bush and his administration leniency for their mistakes, (as you yourself admitted above) but are lambasting Obama before his policies are even exercised, much less proven to fail. Maybe if Bush would have been more concerned about the greedy private practices of his own colleagues rather than spark violence that only bred more violence, we might not be in this mess.

I take it you're a Limbaugh listener who would rather take advice from someone who is married and divorced repeatedly,(which I consider wrong) cannot control his own temper, and is exceedingly racist than form your own opinions. I, for one, do not consider that man a Christian any more than Obama and cannot see why many Republicans such as yourself think so highly of him. There is a reason why only one in four of the present electoral base call themselves Republicans, with leaders like that 'representing' them.

I'm independent, by the way.

Posted 5/14/2009 1:27 PM by m

Begin Comment 9

M said, "I'm guessing you're pro-military...well, I'm not."

I am pro-Romans 13:4. God has used the military of Israel for His purposes throughout the Old Testament period. It is fine to be unhappy with war since it leads to death (just as God is unhappy with the death of every sinner--Ezekiel 18:32, 33:11), but not to be against institutions established by God.

M said, "I am as opposed to the deaths of children on the wrong side of unnecessary wars as I am to abortion."

No one likes to see children die, either from abortion or from the barrel of an AK-47 or from a poison gas attack or because they were born into the wrong sect of some religion.

M said, " Most of the economic deficit we see today is a direct result of military spending"

This has been shown time and again in the mainstream news to be an urban myth. Military spending, especially in years of peace, comes nowhere close to welfare spending, and does not cause deficit spending. Even if the military were totally shut down, it would not solve deficit spending by a country mile.

M said, "to fight a war that was not only lost, but turned the Islamic world against America in vast new numbers, and disgusted most of the rest of the world at American arrogance. Big mistake, yeah."

Actually, the Islamic world began turning on us right after WWII when we backed the formation of the present state of Israel. Tensions had become increasingly worse with each year (remember the Jimmy Carter days when our embassy was besieged and the ambassadors held hostage?). Clinton brought 9-11 on us when he bombed the Arab aspirin factory during the Monica scandal--that senseless act of brutality and civilian deaths brought the hatred of the entire Arab world down on our heads, not just the Muslims. 9-11 was planned for 2 years before it was carried out, do the math, the planning was begun in the midst of the Clinton years. You must know that it is has become a tenet of Islamic faith that Israel and all her supporters must be militarily destroyed, do you not?

M said, "How come we're so willing to grant Bush and his administration leniency for their mistakes,"

I don't. But I also cannot blame him for things that Carter and Clinton did, or that the Democratic controlled congress did in the last 2 years of his term.

M said, "but are lambasting Obama before his policies are even exercised, much less proven to fail."

Just as I do not need to see if a pro-abortion policy will "succeed" in lowering the birth rate to be against the policy, much of what I object to with regard to Obama's policies represent moral failure on his part. Spending more deficit money in the history of all world governments, and being proud of it, in a foolish attempt to spend America to greater prosperity is immoral. America is already the most prosperous land in the world. The greed of certain businesses that led to the financial correction we experienced was overdue (note: I am very sympathetic toward those who lost houses and jobs as this has come to roost in my own family). Yet, the downturn is nowhere as bad as it was in past administrations and did not warrant 700 billion dollars in bailouts or the state seizing AIG and GM.

Remember: Obama is the least experienced president this country has ever elected. He was a junior senator!!!!

M said, "I take it you're a Limbaugh listener"

Incorrect. Though some years ago I did listen to him a few times and found him funny. He was clearly an entertainer, not a politician. Rush is not someone to take too seriously.

M said, "[you] would rather take advice from someone who is married and divorced repeatedly,(which I consider wrong) cannot control his own temper, and is exceedingly racist than form your own opinions."

That is a mistaken accusation.

M said, "I, for one, do not consider that man a Christian any more than Obama "

I agree.

M said, "[I ] cannot see why many Republicans such as yourself think so highly of [Limbaugh]. "

I don't think that highly of him. Another mistaken accusation.

M, when we are called into heaven, all this will not matter. Here on earth, it seems like a big deal. But, whatever else you do, cast your votes with a view toward Christ's kingdom and how He would have us behave. We may disagree on what that looks like, but our consciences will be clear before Him who saved us.

Blessings to you.

Posted 5/18/2009 9:44 AM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 10

Even though you claim "all this will not matter", then why do you so strongly defend almost every aspect of one political party over another?

If what you say is true about Clinton "bringing the entire Arab world on our heads" and causing 9/11, then surely America will have far greater repercussions in store from the rage fostered by Bush when he stormed in and bombed an entire country.(Not to mention the disdain that countries who are normally our allies have for the inflated opinions of Americans.)Yet, if such a tragedy does occur again, I'm sure the entire Republican party will rise against Obama and blame him for not torturing enough Islamic prisoners- never remembering that the last such tragedy was attributed to a former President who supposedly 'caused it'.Oh, and whoever heard of wars that don't cost billions of dollars? So, it doesn't matter if billions get thrown away on war, it only matter when billions are thrown away on welfare programs? (By the way, I do feel welfare programs are way misused and overused as well.) Somehow, it seems, whether it's economics, moral issues, or foreign policies, you are attributing almost everything to the fault of ONE party. That's preposterous. If the Democratic party is so bad, then why do they get voted in? Why is America in this dilemma when Republicans have led most of the last 20 years? Why are increasing amounts of moderate Christians disgusted at their choice political party's attitudes, and most of my radical-right Christian friends shock me with their 'bomb all the idiots, torture the prisoners, WE ARE THE POWER" mentality, as well as their use of derogatory terms for the Mexicans, the Chinese, well- everybody who's not American and doesn't worship Bush. I take it you are not as radical as some, and I appreciate that, for I feel many Christians today are doing more harm than good with their blind acceptance of everything one party does and their obvious hatred for everything another party does. Wrongdoing is happening on both sides of the board.

Let me tell you a little about myself. My husband and I were raised in a very strict religious setting where political discussions simply did not take place. Any political leanings of any kind were harshly condemned, and people were forbidden to vote. So, when my husband and I left this group, we came into the political fray with absolutely NO previous bias. My husband is an avid scholar, studies American history, church history, amd ANY history, and is one of the most sensible and intelligent people I know. He reads and studies extensively about these political discussions, ESPECIALLY listening to both sides of an argument, which is something very few people do. And we have reached the conclusion that there is no "Christian" party, that many of the so-called moral fronts of Republicans have is a sham, and that even though the Democrats have many things to disagree with, the Republicans have things to match. For instance, how can the "God determines death" argument be used for abortion, but ignored for war, torture, and capital punishment? And how can the economic crisis be blamed solely on social programs when it seems that mainstream modern Christians are the ones who live in extravagant wealth, waste, and totally unScriptural materialism? Coming from the background I do, I was expecting bad attitudes and hate mantras from non-Christians, but I was certainly unprepared for the extremely judgmental and harsh words spoken by Christians. I wonder whatever happened to the 'love your enemies' message that Christ preached. I see more compassion in many of my unbelieving, far-left friends than in many Christian people who will preach proud sermons but do little to aid the poor and suffering.

As I said, I clearly disagree with many Democratic policies, but unless I see a vastly more-Christlike approach by so-called Christian supporters of the Republican party, I certainly couldn't at this point endorse the Republican party with any more enthusiasm!

Maybe I should not react as quickly as I do when I see a post such as yours, but it awakens a sort of revulsion within me when I see the 'we can do no wrong' and 'they can do no right' mentality so often displayed in political opinions. Worldly kingdoms are exactly that- worldly. If we Christians were half as zealous at trying to generate souls for the kingdom as we are at trying to generate votes for political parties, a lot more things would be done that really matter in eternity.

Posted 5/18/2009 11:33 AM by m

Begin Comment 11

Hi again, M. I will give you a very very little of my own background. My father grew up dirt poor, literally scavenging coal from train tracks (that fell from the tender cars in those days) to sell on the corner to feed he and his mother (she disliked working, to say the least). To give himself a regular income for he and his mother, he entered the army just as they were sending troops to Korea. He detests war, but he went. I am certain he is proud of his role in keeping half of Korea free, but he refuses to talk about it at all.

My mother grew up in orphanages. She married my Dad while both were in their teens. He took the dregs of jobs to survive and built a household. No government assistance, no complaining. I grew up in what is today called "the lower middle class." I delivered newspapers on my own route by age 10 to help feed the family.

My folks never once offered a political opinion. They voted each election, but never said for whom.

Only at my salvation in my teens did I consider the ethics / morality of politics (both my parents were saved on the same day I was--Praise the Lord!). With no bias or inborn background, I cobbled together an understanding that all things, including my politics, must give sway to Christ's kingdom. There is no Christian party, and almost all politicians are inherently liars. Yet, even though so many are hypocrites, I have voted for whatever politician "claims" he will work most closely for those issues that side with the morality that Christ preached. Governments are under God's command to pursue justice for the poor and safety for the population. I have split my vote often enough when one politician or another is superior to (or inferior to) his / her party.

As to the "harshness" of Christian comments, this is something I have heard all my life from the unsaved. Even if one offers, in the most winsome, softest, kindest, and most loving tone and verbiage possible, that all men are sinners and need the love of the Savior, they are condemned as harsh and rude for "calling someone a sinner!!!!" I am not often moved by such accusations, since, without the truth that all men and women are lost sinners, none would be saved. It is an offensive truth, but it is also a loving one.

Similarly, in politics, Christians will call one individual (sometimes a party) a sinner for sponsoring abortion, or for killing innocent aspirin factory workers, or for rendering a ruling that no person in the state may pray in public in the name of Jesus, and all of a sudden that Christian is a monster for his harsh comments. So be it. Sin is sin, and to call it sin always was, and always will be, condemned as offensive and harsh by the ungodly.

There is no Christian party, but there are men and women who sponsor legislation that is more ethical and moral than others. They get my vote. Just as when I was a child, I did not want them to give me welfare money, I want them to create just and moral legislation as their priority.

Again, this matters now, but one day only Christ will rule, and He will do so with a rod of iron, and peace and justice will prevail.

Blessings to you M.

C. W. Booth

Posted 5/18/2009 7:05 PM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 12

Friends who call anyone even leaning toward the left 'sinners'(because of their political views, NOT because they are unconverted) or call illegal immigrants 'bastards.'? Who said the British are 'ignorant' and have certain objects up their @*$#? Who don't hesitate to call African-Americans and Mexicans "niggers' and "beaners". I was NOT talking about respectful views on what people consider the truth. I was talking about believers using language toward their 'liberal targets' I wouldn't even feel comfortable repeating here; the kind who think it would be ridiculous to even think a 'liberal' could be saved, much less try witnessing to them! Obviously you are not one of these, and I respect you for that. But in my circle of Republican acquaintances- most of them "Christians", you would be a minority. Those like you that I can dialogue with respectfully I highly admire.

Thank you- it was interesting speaking with you.

Posted 5/19/2009 10:45 PM by m

Begin Comment 13

Sinners may be called sinners only because of those elements of their visible behavior that we can observe and compare to those specific Scriptures which also label the same observable elements as sins (against God's morals).

Political views are often NOT sins. Who would be against helping the poor? Or who would consider it a sin to want peace?

Some political views are inherently sinful. Abortion for the purpose of harvesting stem cells--sinful. Making it illegal to pray in public in the name of Jesus but acceptable to pray in the name of Allah--sinful.

M, feel free to drop in anytime.

Posted 5/20/2009 10:04 AM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment 14

I was watching a news magazine-style program the other night. They mentioned that the entire economic meltdown started, including the mortgage disaster, when the the government quietly lifted bans on "stock derivatives." Stock derivatives were largely responsible for the first stock market crash that led to the Great Depression, and were made illegal.

In the final days of the Clinton administration the government legalized stock derivatives again. Stock derivatives are nothing more than legalized betting on which stocks will go up or down without ever having to buy the stocks involved. Bill Clinton signed the bill into law. Smart move.

Clinton's rebirth of the derivatives led to our present financial recession. Clinton signed the bill, but Bush took the fall.

Posted 9/4/2009 2:08 PM by C. W. Booth - reply

 

 

Monday, March 09, 2009

Slicing and Dicing Babies for a "Good Cause"

This blog essay will be short, blunt, and to many readers, crass. Today, President Obama signed an executive order allowing and funding human babies to be sliced and diced for stem cell research.

"Oh no he did not!" cry many of his supporters. Then they add, "He is simply allowing tax funds to be spent on embryonic stem cell research. What can be wrong with that?"

Our previous chief executive, President Bush, understood. He funded stem cell research, but only on stem cells that were obtained from sources other than from slicing and dicing live babies. Bush banned spending public funds on stem cells obtained from the killing of live babies. Private researchers (not using public tax money) always did use embryonic stem cells in their research.

Embryonic stem cells are not a special kind of stem cell. "Embryonic" describes where the stem cell came from.

"Embryonic stem cell" is a euphemism for the process of harvesting the stem cells from fertilized human embryos that have grown to a certain young age. "Harvesting" is itself a euphemism that means slicing and dicing a very young human to extract those precious human stem cells.

For those who do not know what the words mean:

Those words, embryo and fetus, are just scientific lingo to describe living, growing, human babies that have not yet had their first birthday.

What a horrible and obnoxious thought that my tax dollars are now being used to fund the slaughter of human babies so their stem cells can be used in laboratory experiments. Thanks ever so much Mr. Obama. This is NOT change I can believe in. And even though you "can" do this, you should not.

---

[Note: the above essay was originally posted as a blog entry which I wrote and put online March 9, 2009. 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 March 9, 2009 post entitled: Slicing and Dicing Babies for a "Good Cause"

Begin Comment from C. W. Booth:

I should have asked this of every reader: When you see the words "embryonic stem cells," replace them in your mind with "stem cells taken from killed not-yet-born babies."

Those children, who died to provide their stem cells to experimentation, can be honored, if even a little, if we remember that their lives were sacrificed just for that reason. It does not make it any more "right" to kill those children, but at least they can be remembered.

Posted 3/9/2009 9:48 PM by C. W. Booth - reply

End Comment

Begin Comment from Commenter Two

You're not surprised at this, are you?

Posted 3/10/2009 1:51 AM by n

End Comment

 

Begin Reply from C. W. Booth

N wrote, "You're not surprised at this, are you?"

One one level, no, I am not surprised. Obama said during his campaign that he did not care about the lives of babies who had not grown beyond being embryos, so in one sense his action does not surprise me.

On another level I am shocked, surprised, and saddened that there are people who only value human life as spare parts or research material.

Further, I had hoped that given Obama's alleged great education and intellect he would see that spending public money to kill babies for research was repugnant. But I guess education and intellect do not give anyone moral insight or spiritual understanding. Obama wants to be guided by human science, not the ideology that has been bestowed on humankind by an all wise and all powerful Creator. How sad for him, and how sad for us.

Perhaps in four more years, as a nation, we will come to our senses and vote wisely instead of selfishly. That would be a happy surprise.

Posted 3/10/2009 9:54 AM by C. W. Booth - reply

Begin Comment from Commenter Three

I would like to give you TEN eProps!!!!!!! You should send this to The Star--I know they won't print it but someone will have to read it, maybe that one someone will think twice about where they stand on this issue. Thank you for writing this--I'm going to make copies. Am I allowed to do that?

Posted 3/10/2009 6:45 PM by d

Begin Comment from Commenter Four

With the swipe of a pen Obama has turned all tax paying Pro-Life advocates in to versions of Josef Mengele

Posted 3/10/2009 10:42 PM by MC

Begin Reply by C. W. Booth to Commenter Four

D, you are very kind. Yes, you may make as many copies as you like. Get the word out.

MC, yes, it is all just so wrong. Two years to congressional elections, four until presidential.

Posted 3/11/2009 12:39 PM by C. W. Booth - reply

End of Comment

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some Reasons Why I Am Not a Mystic

In Christianity some believers classify themselves as mystics, while others do not. What is a Christian mystic? Mysticism holds that the spiritual world is perceptible through the ordinary five senses and through an indefinable sixth sense, a form of sensing through one’s gut feelings.

Mysticism is at the heart of comments such as, "In church today, the Lord actually put His hand on my shoulder to reassure me that my faith is firm--it was such a strong and warm touch." Another familiar form of mysticism is found in the comment, "Today I actually heard the Lord speak to me and He said that I should not go hiking at the park because of the danger of a rock fall." Perhaps the most common form of mysticism is seen in the statement, "I was praying and felt the presence of the Lord lift me up in an indescribable rush of bliss and love."

Do such experiences actually occur, or is the one relating the episode hearing things, feeling things, or sensing things that did not transpire? Only God really knows, so speculation is pointless. A better question is, "How does God ordinarily communicate with us?" And, are we obedient to this more common form of His communication?

Scripture, I believe, holds the gospel of salvation, the test of faith, and all commandments necessary for living a godly life here on Earth. He spent many centuries, many human lives, and placed much emphasis on this written Word from Himself to ourselves. Scripture are the thoughts of His mind communicated to us via the written page. This is our primary source of instruction about God and from God.

Mysticism, badly applied, tends to overturn the Word of God. For example, how often have you heard someone say, "God gave me a word about you…" only to have this word turn out to be wrong, inapplicable, or erroneous? Taking a gut feeling or a sensing and turning it into a prophecy is the biggest abuse of mysticism, and mystics. One famous church leader and scholar wrote that he fully understands that half of the prophecies from his own church are in error, yet, he finds this high success ratio encouraging instead of tearing his suit jacket in grief and taking the actions required by Scripture when a prophet gives a false prophecy.

I guess I am not a mystic because I have yet to find any form of mysticism as reliable as the Word of God. But just where do these false prophecies of mysticism originate? God’s reliable Word tells us very bluntly.

Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. (Jeremiah 14:14)

'But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.' "You may say in your heart, 'How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' "When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of [that false prophet]. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)

 

 

 

Monday, March 30, 2009

Endurance of the Saints

Faith is believing in Christ without ever having seen Him with your own natural eyes (Hebrews 11:1). Endurance of the faith is that quality of belief which grows stronger over time through the catalyst of trials and pain (James 1:2-3). As one holds to faith in Christ even though trials, pain, hardships, stresses, and suffering increase, this endurance leads to ever stronger faith. Those who are the elect of God will endure (Matthew 10:22).

If endurance requires a sign from God, other than the sign of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection as recorded in Scripture, then can it be said that this is faith at all (Matthew 12:39-40)? If belief requires the sign of seeing a literal vision of Jesus, is that faith (John 20:29)? If belief requires hearing the audible voice of the Lord, is that faith (John 16:10)?

Depending upon visions of seeing and hearing the Lord so as to have sufficient belief to endure to the end is mysticism. This is faith in mysticism, faith in experience, and should not be imagined to be faith in Christ. But faith should not be in mysticism itself, nor in the experiences of mysticism, but in Jesus alone

At its worst, mysticism erodes the faith of the saints by requiring certain experiences or feelings as a sign of true faith and worship; without such experiences mysticism calls that person’s faith into question. For example, one mystic wrote, "We are transported (perhaps only for seconds) above the reasoning work of the mind and we experience feeling without reference to logical or practical implications. This is what keeps worship from being ‘in vain’." (John Piper, Chapter 3, Desiring God). That nicely describes the worst of what it means to have faith in mysticism.

Words like "transported…above the reasoning work of the mind" and "experience feeling without reference to logical or practical implications" are the very things which erode faith and belittle reliance on the Word of God, and undermine the work of Christ which the Word describes. For the Word of God is to be studied with the mind (Acts 17:11), for the Words are eternal (Luke 21:33), in them are the words of life and salvation (John 5:24, 6:68), and by hearing them one can come to saving faith (Romans 10:17). How can one study without engaging his mind or his reasoning? How can one understand if what he experiences has no logic to it? Faith, like worship, requires the believer to think clearly, to reason logically, and to speak in an organized and distinct manner, else is it neither worship nor is it edifying (1 Corinthians 14:2-33). Where ever in the Bible does God ask anyone to turn off his mind and to cease thinking so as to exercise faith or to engage in worship? Rather, God calls us to reason with Him so as to come to full faith (Isaiah 1:18).

Mysticism requires the signs of supernatural hearing, supernatural seeing, and supernatural experience to validate "faith." Yet, it is this very requirement of supernatural validation that nullifies faith and corrupts endurance. Perseverance will not come through mysticism or via supernatural experiences and feelings, but from overcoming trials via full confidence in the God you cannot now see or presently hear with your eyes or ears.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

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[Note: the above essay was originally posted as a blog entry which I wrote and put online March 30, 2009. 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 March 30, 2009 post entitled: Endurance of the Saints

Begin Comment 1 from Commenter One:

Quoting from your blog, "For example, one mystic wrote, 'We are transported (perhaps only for seconds) above the reasoning work of the mind and we experience feeling without reference to logical or practical implications. This is what keeps worship from being ‘in vain’.' (John Piper, Chapter 3, Desiring God). That nicely describes the worst of what it means to have faith in mysticism."

One of the comments that has helped me understand where John Piper was coming from was his comment in his book Fight for Joy when he said we must "measure our hearts by the standard of Christian Hedonism." And now you have quoted him as saying we measure whether our worship is in vain or not by whether it is transported above the reasoning of the mind. Yes, he is a mystic. But that does not mean he is not saved.

Posted 3/30/2009 11:02 AM by j

Reply from C. W. Booth to Commenter One

Some points: First, no one is saying John Piper is not saved. Piper is a mystic, and as such, he sets up tests of faith that are beyond the tests established in Scripture. The consequences of setting up tests of faith that are not in the Bible is that the answers to the tests must be those that are also not in the Bible. For example, Jesus called it "vain worship" when the Pharisees replaced His true commandments of the Word with their made-up rules. The Pharisees did this because they were not true believers. John Piper missed this point and created his own test of "vain worship," which he requires to be the ability to acheive a brainless emotional euphoria. Similarly, he sets up his Christian Hedonism as the standard of measure for a man's heart, something that the Word of God alone is able to do, for Scripture alone can divide joint and marrow, spirit and soul.

Second, the only test of salvific faith of which I am aware is "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test." (2 Corinthians 13:5-6). There is only one question in the test, "Do you have faith that Jesus Christ is in you?" No "amount" of faith is defined. Either faith is present, or it is not. If you examine yourself and find faith in Christ as Savior is present, you pass. If your faith is in something or someone else, you fail. Too simple a test? That is what people have said about salvation itself for thousands of years, and so some have added more requirements and preconditions to salvation than what God actually requires.

Posted 3/30/2009 12:36 PM by C. W. Booth - reply

 

 


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