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A Biblical Perspective On Collectivism

How should a faithful and obedient believer view the Collectivists in society?

This is definitely a political question, but believers are not excused from participating in politics — especially in a nations that is supposed to be based upon the principles of self-governance.  Therefore, any believer who is trying to faithfully understand and obey the Scriptures should give some consideration to this issue. After all, the desire for Socialism is a prevailing theme in modern Western politics, and Socialism is synonymous with collectivism.  So, how should believers look at the subject of the collective and the Collectivist?

Well, if we are truly guided by Scripture, then we must look at this issue through the lens of Scripture.  If we are going to do this, we might want to start by doing our best to place ourselves in the sandals of an ancient Hebrew.  After all, it was from that culture that the Scriptures came, and it was to that culture that the Scriptures were written.  Therefore, it only stands to reason that it is through the eyes of that culture that the Scriptures can be best understood.  So, what would an ancient Hebrew have to offer us in using Scripture to evaluate the idea of collectivism?

On the surface, this can be a tricky issue.  This is because Scripture most definitely does speak of people groups and nations in terms of a collective, and the ancient Hebrew would most definitely have noticed this.  The Scriptures often hold Israel — both as a people and a nation — accountable for its actions as though it were one person.  Even individual families are often treated as one person, which most certainly appears to be collectivism.  But this is a surface appearance, and it crumbles away under closer scrutiny.  When we look closely, we will find that the Scriptures inherently include something that the collectivist intentionally omits: Yahweh!

Collectivists often speaks in terms of morality, and some even give a nod to The Creator, in actual operation, the collective is amoral.  The collective is neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad,’ nor can it ever be.  This is because the collective dehumanizes the individual, which, in turn, destroys the entire notion of morality (see link for argument).  Furthermore, by dehumanizing the individual and destroying morality, the collective removes the notion of individual responsibility and accountability.  If there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ then there can be no concern for the ramifications of our actions.  Thus, the collective is, at its core, the creation of chaos, and chaos had a clear implication for the ancient Hebrew.

To the ancient Hebrew, modern collectivist theories would have represented the creation of chaos.  This is because modern collectivism goes counter to the laws which govern Creation.  Which brings us to what the Collectivist is actually trying to do when he or she describes their own version of the collective utopia.  No matter who it is, when one reads the ideas of a Collectivist, what one will find is that the Collectivist is actually describing the creation of a new reality.  They are trying to will, or speak new laws into existence.  In short, they are trying to re-create Creation.  Some have even said that they were seeking to create heaven on earth:

The teacher is engaged not simply in the training of individuals, but in the formation of the proper social life…. In this way, the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usherer-in of the true Kingdom of God.

–John Dewey

Now, this might seem a little presumptuous to a person in modern Western society, but how would have had a clear and powerful meaning to an ancient Hebrew — a meaning that would likely have the Collectivist you stoned for heresy and/or blaspheme!

Why would an ancient Hebrew want to stone a Collectivist?  Simple: an ancient Hebrew would have realized that the Collectivist’s attempt to speak things into existence and to bring about a new order out of the chaos they had created was an assertion of the Collectivist’s qualifications for claiming deity in the Ancient Middle East.  The problem for the Collectivist and modern believer alike is, Spiritually, nothing has changed from Job until now.  Which means that every Collectivist that has ever been or ever will be is actually trying to claim that they are god, and not Yahweh!  My dear Brother or Sister, if you doubt me, please look for their own words.  They are not shy about their belief that man is his own god:

“The turning point of history will be that moment man becomes aware that the only God of man is man himself.”

— Ludwig Feuerback

This brings us back to our original question:

How should a faithful believer view collectivism and the Collectivist?

Well, if we are truly sincere in our belief in and obedience to the Scriptures, the answers to this question should be simple:

A faithful believer must reject any and all forms of collectivism.

A faithful believer must maintain an agape love for the Collectivist, but he or she must never allow themselves to be yoked to such a person as they are — in essence — claiming to be their own god, which is ‘the man of lawlessness’ mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2.

It may be a tough lesson to accept, especially in our modern times, but there really is no way around this conclusion — not for a faithful and obedient believer, anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

Beware of People Trying to ‘Speak Things into Existence”

Just because we do not see something, that does not mean it does not exist. We cannot see the wind, but we know it exists because we can still sense it.  This applies to other things, as well.  It’s just that, sometimes, a thing is not so readily apparent as the wind so we have to train ourselves to look for it.  However, once we learn to look for it, we may find that we see it all around us.  This is how it is with many spiritual matters.  The ancients saw them everywhere in their daily lives, but today, we have gone blind to them.  The danger here is, while we may not care about the things of the spiritual world, this does not mean the spiritual world does not care about us.  This is why those of us who profess to believe in the Scriptures should try to learn to see the world through the eyes of the ancient Hebrews, so that we can start to see the world as they saw it, not as we have been trained to see it.  When we do this, we may find that we have been missing a great many things that are vitally important to not only understanding the Scriptures, but also to living them in our daily lives.

If you study the Ancient Near East (ANE) culture, one of those important spiritual matters you will discover is that the people of the ANE connected ability to ‘speak things into existence’ to the idea of deity.  In other words, if you could speak things into being, that was an indication that you were a god.  Well, our times and culture may have changed, but this belief has not. There are people all around us trying to ‘speak’ their own reality into existence.  And, yes, whether they realize it or not, these people are making a claim to be a god — because only the One True God can speak things into being.

So, what do I mean by ‘speaking things into existence?’  Well, the easiest place to find this is in the world of politics.  If we look there, we will find many examples.  The claim that there are more than two sexes is such an example.  There are only two sexes: male and female.  Yet, there are people who think they can create, alter or interchange this reality simply by stating they ‘identify as’ whatever ‘sex’ they define.  This is not only an attempt to speak a new reality into existence, but it is also an absurdity. (NOTE: I do not say ‘gender’ because, while the word is used to replace sex, it was not originally understood to mean sex.  The way we are using it today is a perversion of its original meaning).

Socialist economics is another example.  The idea that the government can take from producers and give to consumers in perpetuity is an attempt to speak a new reality into existence.  Just because the idea can be created, and even sounds good, this does not mean it can work — and therefore exist — in reality.  In this case, it cannot, because it violates God’s Natural Laws.  In this case, it violates the laws governing energy and entropy.  One cannot keep spending without producing.  This is just a simple fact of Natural law.  And, under Socialism, the spenders quickly out pace the producers until, sooner or later, the system collapses.  It collapses because, though it may have appeared to exist in reality, it didn’t because it can’t.  This universe simply does not work in a way that will allow something like Socialism to exist.

The simple fact of the matter here is that our society is filled with people who think they can speak (or ‘will’) a change to this world.  If we look closely and honestly enough, we may even find we do this, ourselves.  This is the essence of ‘The Man of Lawlessness‘ Paul spoke of in 2 Thessalonians 2.  As believers, we should train ourselves to watch for people who are trying to speak or will changes to God’s Created Order.  They are literally claiming to be above God.  Not only does this speak to their heart, but it speaks volumes to whatever notion or idea they are trying to speak into existence.  Believers would be wise to be very cautious in dealing with such people and more so with the ideas/changes they are trying to create.

I’ll leave you with a more timely example ripped from our daily headlines:

The attempt to do away with or erased national borders is a declaration of being a god.  So is a push for one-world government.  The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob created the nations at Babel.  Any attempt to undo this is an attempt to override God’s Will, and only a greater god can do this.  Since there is no greater god than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then this is an example of ‘The Man of Lawlessness.’  It is an attempt to speak a new reality into existence: a reality that openly defies the Will of the One True Living God.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, learn to look for those who are trying to speak things into existence.  Whether they realize it or not, they are claiming to be a god, and the spiritual world knows it.

 

The ‘Good’ NAZIs

I deliberately chose the title of this essay because of the reaction it would create in the average person.  In our society today, the average person will read the title of this essay and stop right there.  They won’t bother to read it.  They will simply allow their personal biases and preconceived notions to draw all their conclusions about what my essay is about for them.  And, sadly, they will almost certainly be wrong.  However, this does not apply to you.  If you are reading this, you have already shown yourself to be among the few people left in our society who have not been conditioned to turn away from something just because of the words used to describe it. This makes you a rare person in our world these days: a person who seeks to learn and to try to understand.  Therefore, let’s see what ‘Truth’ we can mine from the idea of the ‘good’ NAZI’s by asking a simple question:

Were there any ‘good’ NAZIs?

This is not such a simple question.  It is not simple because it depends on what we mean by ‘good.’  I am prone to suppose the average person will think that ‘good’ refers to a person who would have opposed the ideals espoused by the NAZI movement.  If so, then — by that standard of ‘good’ — it would be very difficult to image there were ‘good’ NAZI’s.  This is because membership in the NAZI Party was voluntary.  One had to be invited in to the NAZI Party or otherwise seek membership.  Either way, membership in the Party was voluntary.  This means, if a person were a NAZI, that person was — by their willing membership — embracing the principles and ideals of the Party.  Unfortunately, not even this conclusion is as clear as it should be.  This is because of another problem with our modern society: our propensity for make excuses.

A person so disposed might read my last paragraph and immediately object by arguing that a German may have been invited to join the Party and agreed to do so for fear of what might happen to them if they refused.  Or they might object by saying that, just because a person joined the NAZI Party, that didn’t mean they agreed with everything for which the Party stood.  An excuse maker might argue that a person would seek membership in the NAZI Party for the financial or political benefits that came with membership.  But does fear or a desire for personal gain excuse a person from willingly joining their name to something thought to be as evil as the NAZI Party?  There were plenty of people who refused to have anything to do with the Party and they lost their lives in the process.  Which leads us to the question of whether or not a person who joins the NAZI Party out of fear can be ‘good’ while others were killed because they expressed moral objections to the Party and the things it represented?  Put another way, is a coward just as ‘good’ as the person who dies for their beliefs? Or, can a person who joins for financial or personal gain be ‘good’ when others lost everything they owned for opposing the NAZI Party?  Once again, either way we look at these questions, we come back to what we mean by the word, ‘good.’

Think about the notion of ‘good’ for a moment.  If you were in Germany in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, and you hated the Jews, believed in the master race and German supremacy and were loyal to Adolf Hitler, then you would have made a ‘good’ NAZI.  In such case, ‘good’ would mean that you did the things the Party demanded of its members.  Therefore, one could argue that, in 1930’s and 40’s Germany, all NAZI’s were ‘good’ people.  At the same time, if you found yourself in the NAZI Party, but you hated Hitler, secretly helped the Jews and thought the idea of a super race was ludicrous, then it would be difficult to see how you could possibly be considered a ‘good’ NAZI — at least, not from the Party’s point of view.  Therefore, it could just as easily be argued that no one who opposed the NAZI Party was ‘good.’  Thus, the natural conclusion from all of this is that ‘good’ would seem to be a relative term that has a close association to how well a person’s behavior conforms to a given set of beliefs.

Now, before I go any further, I want to ask you to indulge me in a quick caveat:

As a believer, right and wrong are defined by God’s Word.  Through the Scriptures, God has given us His commandments, his laws, His ordinances, His decrees, His judgments and His determinations.  Thus, ‘good’ would refer to the person who accepts God’s definition of right and does there best to live accordingly.  Now, please, understand that I am well aware of the passage where Jesus says none is ‘good’ but the Father, and that no human can be ‘good’ in the sense of perfectly obeying all of God’s ordinances from birth until death.  I am going to ask you to accept that I am not trying to make a theological point about ‘good,’ but rather, I am trying to make a practical point about how to apply the notion of ‘good’ in the life of a believer.  Therefore, if you will allow me this indulgence, let’s agree for the moment that a believer should understand that ‘good’ is linked to everything God has decreed as ‘right’ or moral.

So, if  we are all OK with this, then let us ask ourselves once again:

Was there such a thing as a ‘good’ NAZI?

For me, B3A, and by my understanding of the Scriptures, I am forced to decide that, no, it was impossible to be a ‘good’ NAZI — at least, not from the point of view of God’s law.

So, of what use is any of this to us, today?  Well, let’s apply our discussion to some more modern issues and see if it helps us see them in a different light.

Well, what if I told you that my answer to a question hinged on the meaning of what the word, ‘is,’ is?  Would Bill Clinton’s infamous answer to a question posed to him during his impeachment process suddenly take on any new connotations for you?  Perhaps not.  If you are among the few who will read this far, then you may well have understood that President Clinton was being purposely deceptive in his answer and, if you knew he was being deceptive, then you might have also realized that deception while under oath or abut legal matters is against God’s moral code.  Therefore, we can conclude that Clinton’s intentions at that moment were not ‘good.’  But what about those who are less obvious about their intentions?  How does the question about the ‘good’ NAZI help believers be more discerning of the world?

Let me answer by asking this question: what does ‘America’ mean to you?  Certainly, ‘America’ means different things to different people, even to the men and women who built this nation.  However, nearly all of the founders would have said that ‘America’ stood for things such as individual rights and liberty, the rule of law, freedom of worship and of conscience and the right to pursue a moral and virtuous life.  But what about today?  When you hear someone talk about ‘America’ today, are they talking about these same things, or do they have a different understanding of what ‘America’ means?  Once again, this can be difficult to determine, but much more crucial to understand than the average person will ever realize. To those who call themselves ‘Progressives,’ ‘America’ means a nation much closer to the model of Communist Russia.  We know this because the founding fathers of the Progressive movement said so — clearly — and because modern Progressives have proudly and publicly embraced those founding fathers of the Progressive movement.  They use the same words, but they mean entirely different things by them.  So, can Progressives be ‘good’ Americans?

As a believer, I trust you have heard the warning that there will be those who are suddenly destroyed while they are in the very process of declaring peace and prosperity.  I suspect that warning is the Biblical equivalent of what I am trying to explain.  In fact, it is the very passage that inspired this essay.  How could God destroy a people that was experiencing prosperity because they had achieved peace?  After all, Scripture commands us to seek peace, and it promises that there will be blessings for those who make peace.  So, if there is prosperity in the land because of peace, then why would God destroy the nation?  Could it be because the people of that nation have a different notion of ‘peace and prosperity” than God’s?

You see, there are many people who speak the same language you and I speak.  They even use the same words.  They say they believe in the same things and want the same things as us — but they don’t!  In reality, these people have very different ideas of what ‘America’ means, and they want very different things.  To them, ‘good’ means something entirely different from what a believer should think is ‘good.’  These people are ‘good’ NAZI’s in the sense that they embrace and advance their concepts, but they are anything but ‘good’ according to God’s Word.  Believers can know this because these people replace evil for good (see Isaiah 5:20-21).   Just imagine what might happen if this nation were to embrace people whose ideology of peace and prosperity is based on the practice of murder, theft and slavery and who force the whole nation to worship them as gods.  If you know the history of the NAZI Party, you may realize that this is exactly what the Party did to the German People in the late 1930’s, and the Party called is peace and prosperity.  Look what happened to Germany after they turned away from God’s idea of ‘good.’  Now, ask yourself, what will God do to America if we follow down that same path?

 

‘Richard’ on Abortion

IF you read this blog, and you do not read The Road To Concord, then the following post is going to be a little out of context for you.  For this, I apologize.  If you would like to catch up, go to TRTC and search for ‘Richard’ and read the posts that come up in the results.

To Steve’s Listeners;

Richard has done it again, and — once more — I cannot sit and remain silent why this… ‘individual’ maligns the righteous while claiming to be the only one holding the moral high ground.  This time, the subject is abortion: specifically, ‘Richard’s’ twisting of Scripture to infer that God is neutral on the subject.

It started this time in a Face Book thread where ‘Richard’ accused me of ‘cherry-picking’ Scriptures to support my positions.  ‘Richard’ replied to a comment I made by saying:

Richard Marx Joe, you have no moral ground to stand on supporting the evil that you do. Just as many who have come before you to hate and oppress, you pick verses from The Bible to justify your hate and evil instead of using the holy word to do good and follow the teachings of Jesus. Also Joe, Terry Redding is lying. I never said that God is all for abortion. In fact I told Terry that no one hates abortion more than I do.

Later, while talking to another of Steve’s listeners, ‘Richard’ said this:

Richard Marx Terry, I quoted Exodus 21. It says that if you cause a pregnant woman to lose her baby it’s only murder if the woman dies. This law doesn’t seem to treat the death of the unborn person as a murder. Only if the mother dies is murder suggested. There is no law in the Bible that forbids a woman to abort her child. I’m NOT saying that means abortion is allowed by God in general at all but you and I aren’t God. He may permit it in some situations or he may not in any situation. You and I and everyone can interpret what we think God wants but there is no clear answers in the Bible. Only interpretation.

And ‘Richard’ accuses me of cherry-picking and twisting Scripture!?  Well, dear reader, let us have a look at what this passage of Scripture really says:

Exodus 21:22-26  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

22 “If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that [a]she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband [b]may demand of him, and he shall pay [c]as the judges decide. 23 But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, [d]bruise for bruise.

Exodus 21:22-26  Amplified Bible (AMP)

22 “If men fight with each other and injure a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely [and the baby lives], yet there is no further injury, the one who hurt her must be punished with a fine [paid] to the woman’s husband, as much as the judges decide. 23 But if there is any further injury, then you shall require [as a penalty] life for life, 24 [a]eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

When we take the time to go look up the Lord’s Word, we find that Exodus 21:22-23 does not say what ‘Richard’ claims it says at all.  In fact, it says, if the baby is killed, the person who caused the baby’s death must pay with their life — just as if they had killed an adult.  In other words, Scripture treats even the accidental killing of an unborn child as murder.

Now, for those who know ‘Richard,’ there are two things to take away from this:

1 — Always check everything ‘Richard’ says.  In every case I have done so, I have found that ‘Richard’ has been…  Well, shall we be generous and say, ‘Less than honest?’

2 — When ‘Richard’ claims the Name of Christ, or worse, when he accuses those of us standing on the solid ground of God’s Word of being aligned with Satan, ask yourself this question:

Which one of the people involved is twisting or misusing God’s Word?

If you will check for yourself, I suspect you will find that it is seldom (if ever) the person ‘Richard’ is accusing.

Clearly, ‘Richard’ has intentionally twisted the Lord’s Word (again).  I am not going to allow for the possibility that he did not understand this passage.  I will not allow for it because he cited it, then misrepresented it by changing what the Scripture actually says.  This is an intentional act.  Furthermore, ‘Richard’ has repeatedly refused correction; choosing instead to rely on his own word rather than that of the Lord’s.  This is why I cannot allow that ‘Richard’ is mistaken: because his actions have shown clear intent over the entire time I’ve known him.  Therefore, his actions represent his fruit, and we are commanded to discern according to the fruit of others (mind you: not to judge the heart — but the person’s actions).  In this case, ‘Richard’s’ actions have a clear purpose:

1 — To deceive by twisting Scripture (so as)

2 — To defend abortion

3 — While making it appear that he holds the moral high ground and all those who object to him  are the ones acting against God’s Word.

Believers, we are called to defend the Truth.  We do this by stating what God calls righteous as fact and by speaking out against what God calls unrighteous.  We are also told to do this with an agape love for all.  This means we speak the Truth and denounce what is false boldly and firmly and without moving — even if it means we are martyred.  But we do so without hate, or condemnation in our hearts.  Nor do we seek to deceive or use force to get others to accept the Truth.  We must never trample the free will of other people.  No!  Again, we plant ourselves like a tree beside a stream and we refuse to move.

Jeremiah 17:8  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

“For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.

The Lord will do the rest.  After all, does His Word not say He will fight for us?  Then why would we ever seek to take the sword from His hand?

Exodus 14:14  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

14 The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”

Believers, remember that all those who try to convince you to trust in and rely on government are trying to get you to worship a beast (Daniel is clearly told that beasts represent earthly kingdoms or governments).  And that all who seek to use the government to force you to do their will are living by the sword.  And all those who would twist the Truth or seek to deceive to get their way are liars.  None of this is of the Lord, therefore, believers should not join themselves to any of it.  Again, just stand in the Truth — God’s Truth — and trust in Him and Him alone!

Psalm 1  Amplified Bible (AMP)

Book One

The Righteous and the Wicked Contrasted.

[a]Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of [b]scoffers (ridiculers).

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.

And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].


The wicked [those who live in disobedience to God’s law] are not so,
But they are like the chaff [worthless and without substance] which the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand [unpunished] in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord knows and fully approves the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked shall perish.

ADDITIONAL READING: THE SCRIPTURES AND ABORTION

What does the Bible say about abortion?  CARM

What does the Bible say about abortion?  Got Questions?

Is abortion murder?

Abortion and the Early Church

UNDERSTANDING SCRIPTURE: The ‘Middle Ground’ Of The New Covenant

In my first post of this three-part series, I discussed my belief that Scripture does not condemn, but neither does it advocate for society which bases its focus on the individual.  In both the New and Old Testaments, Scripture stresses relationships and community — even to the point of treating large groups corporately.  However, in my second post, I explain why I do not believe Scripture endorses the modern notion of the collective.  In fact, I believe Scripture actually condemns our modern notion of the collective.  On the surface, I can understand how anyone reading along may be confused by now.  After all, I appear to be contradicting myself.  But I have also made mention of the fact that I believe Scripture allows for and even anticipates a third possibility: that of what I call a ‘middle ground’ between a communal-based and an individual-based society.  Furthermore, I believe — whether they were aware of it or not — our Founding Fathers actually lived squarely within this middle ground.  If I may, I’d like to see if I can’t wrap this whole discussion up by explaining what I mean by ‘middle ground.’  I just beg the reader’s patience, as this may take a bit of explaining.

First, I would like the reader to understand that I do not put the authors of “Misreading Scripture Through Western Eyes” on a pedestal.  I do not put any human on a pedestal.  That position is for the Lord and the Lord alone.  At the same time, however, the authors do make many valid points, and it would be wise for any believer to give them consideration.  It is for this reason I recommended this book, and it is upon the points made in this book that I intend this and my previous two posts are to be understood.  Personally, I do not care whether a person reads “Misreading Scripture Through Western Eyes,” or they read another book that explains how serious misunderstandings can result from reading Western values into Scripture.  All I care about is, if anyone who was born and raised in the West seeks to understand Scripture — on its terms — that they start by making themselves aware of how Western culture can lead to distorted understandings of the original intent of many Scriptural passages.

With that said, I must also stress that I am writing about my take on several narrow aspects of what I learned as I started to take off my Western glasses and put on those of the Biblical perspective.  By the very nature of my discussion, I have to leave a great deal unsaid.  This is why I started by suggesting “Misreading Scripture Through Western Eyes:” so that those who are interested in doing so would have a starting place for learning more.  For example: this book explains how the culture that produced the Scriptures was communal/corporate–orientated.  And, as such, it was controlled by external forces.  By this I mean a system of honor and shame.  In communal societies, honor and shame are not quite the same thing as the way many of us in the West think of them.  They serve as the ‘conscience’ of the individual.  Whereas, in individual-focused societies, that controlling force is found within each person.  It is what we call our conscience.  Now, I have  Sociology degree, and have a minor interest in psychology and the study of human cultures throughout history, so I was aware of these things, but I had never thought to apply them in my study of Scripture.  The book in question explains them in great detail, as well as how they can seriously alter the way people within each type of society — communal or individualistic — react in different situations.  Well, it can also change the way we might should be looking at what Scripture is trying to teach us.  When we move the un-spoken understanding that ‘you’ means the reader and allow that ‘you’ might mean the community, some important changes happen to the way we read and understand the Lord’s Word (I do not wish to discuss these changes here, I just want the reader to be aware that they are real and can lead to serious misunderstandings).

OK, now, the nations and peoples in Scripture all had communal societies, which means they were based on a system of law where an individual’s behavior was dictated by an external system based on honor and shame (hence, ‘communal’).  As hard as it may be for many of us in the West to believe, it is very possible that an individual within such a society could do things we in the West would consider immoral without feeling any sense of guilt.  They might even violate the laws of their culture without feeling guilty for having done so.  For people in these sort of societies, so long as they operated within the laws of the enforcing system — honor and shame — their is no need to feel guilty for anything they do.  The problem here for those of us in the West is that this ‘fluid‘ notion of a ‘law‘ conflicts with the way we tend to think of ‘laws.’  This is because we in the West do not understand the role of honor and shame in these type of societies (which is why we do not understand Muslim honor killings). In short, what we in the West might consider a violation of a society’s laws might well be considered proper within that society if it was necessary to help people keep their honor.  Paul actually makes mention of something like this when he explains that, before his conversion, he was ‘blameless before the law.’  Technically, Paul had been murdering people (i.e. Christians), but the honor and shame system in place at that time excused these actions as they were considered necessary to restoring the honor of the Pharisees, Judea and the Lord.  Again, this is a complicated subject that most of us in the West will find foreign, which is why I keep stressing people to consider reading the  book, “Misreading Scripture Through Western Eyes.”

On the other hand, in a society that stresses the individual, such as the West, the force that controls an individual’s behavior is internal (hence ‘individualistic’).  For us, a ‘law’ is more of a black-or-white thing.  There is no consideration of honor or shame to make and action ‘fluid:‘ either a person has broken it or they haven’t.   Assuming that the vast majority of my readers are Westerners, I hope that this point is clear enough that I do not need to expand on it any more than this.  I also hope that — by now — those who have been reading this series will have a better understanding of what I mean by a ‘communal’ and ‘individualistic’ society.  If so, then it is finally time to explain the middle ground, and more importantly, how I think Scripture actually anticipates it.

Before Christ came to establish the New Covenant, believers lived under a communal system of external control enforced by the notion of honor ans shame.  However, years before Christ came, the prophet, Jeremiah, had spoken this prophecy:

Jeremiah 31:31-34  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

There is sooo much in this passage for believers; soon I will write a post unpacking what it means to me.  But, for now, I call the reader’s attention to the words I colored in red.  God, through His prophet, says there will come a day when He will no longer keep His laws outside of the individual’s heart, but He will put them inside the heart of every person.  If we read with Biblical eyes, this can be understood as God promising to change the heart of Israel* from a communal-based (external) to an individually-based (internal) system of control.  But here is the key: Scripture may well prophecy that God will move the force that places restrictions on what we do and do not do from outside of us to within us, but nowhere in His Word does the Lord change His focus on relationships and communities!  This means there must be a middle ground: a system where members of a community are guided by an internal sense of right and wrong, yet they still focus on the needs of their family, community and nation.  If you know the culture, then you will know that this is the exact type of society our Founders had, which is why I say — whether they knew it or not — they were already occupying this middle ground.**

If the reader has followed me so far, I believe I can tie everything together now.  At least, I am going to try.

First, Scripture places a great deal of focus on the importance of relationships.  It starts with our families, but more than that, our extended families.  Then it goes to our communities, and, for those of us in the US, it would go next to our Counties, then our State and — finally — our Nation.  Scripture teaches us we have a duty to all of these people.  The founders knew this and, if we look, we will find they wrote about it.  At the same time, however, the founders had the internal control promised by Jeremiah.  They had consciences, which means they also had aspects of what can rightly be described as an individual-focused society.  The thing is, at least for them, they still retained the vestiges of honor and shame.  In fact, when Jefferson wrote “the pursuit of happiness,” it is most likely he was referring to a Christian term for pursuing a virtuous life (happiness being understood as the same thing Paul called ‘joy.’).  As a result, the founders had the best of both worlds: they had the internal system of control, but they still understood their duties to the people around them.  This system, being based in what I believe is Scriptural grounding, works, and it works for that very reason — it is based in God’s Word.  Unfortunately, the Founders made provisions for decay in our internal controls, but they didn’t provide any protection against decal in the communal and most important aspects of their formula for liberty.

This bring us to why our society is falling apart.  First, the collective never works because — at its foundation — the modern notion of collectivism is based in men pretending they are gods.  True, under Moses, God set up a communal system for society, but He was the Law-Giver.  God stipulated what was and was not moral.  Under modern collectivism, men do this, and not even the whole of society, but always a few people who have managed to seize control.  So, from the perspective of the Scriptures, the modern notion of the collective is nothing more than the result of people trying to assert themselves as gods.

Then there is the problem of ‘post modernism.’  Here is where I think my understanding of communal and individual based societies can help us understand things the most.  Over time, America has lost its communal nature.  We have been losing it for decades, but it really started to accelerate in the mid-1960’s, when we officially kicked God out of our society.  Since then, we have walked away from any notion of responsibility toward our families, our community, and now, even our nation.  At the same time, we have been moving more and more toward a self-centered society.  We even have a generation called the ‘Me’ generation.  This has resulted in a hyper sense of ‘individualism.’  Remember, in a communal society, if an individual acts immorally, honor and shame will eventually catch up to them.  This is because the ultimate control over individual action is external to them.  It resides within the whole of the community.  But what happens to an individualistic society that looses its anchor for it internal controls?  What happens when a society recognizes the individual’s sense of conscience, but has no foundation by which to anchor the individual conscience?  Well, we need but look around to see where this leads.  We get people who literally believe they can control reality simply by willing it to be the way they want.  This is the direct result of the post-modern notion that there is no objective reality.  Well, if there is no objective reality, then an individual’s conscience will allow a person to do whatever they wish and, if there is no external control, the end result will be anarchy.  Luckily, this anarchy usually doesn’t last long because tyrants love to use wide-spread lawlessness to seize control of nations.  People seek security, so, all ta person has to do is promise to restore order and the masses will sing the praises of their new master as they willingly put on their new chains.

If you stayed with me through all three of these posts, I hope I gave you some idea of how I am starting to see and understand the world.  This is all a work in progress for me, so I beg your forgiveness if there are areas upon which I still need to expand.  I will do so, as I work through things in more detail.  But, for me, I can no longer separate my understandings from Scriptural teachings, which means I have to work out how the whole of God’s Word manifest Itself in our material world.  This is no easy task, and I do not expect to ever have more than a fuzzy picture, but then, that is why I call this blog, “As Through Glass” (a variation of Paul’s line, ‘we see in a mirror.’)

 

  • * Believers should note that God is the one who divided Israel and Judah, and who first referred to the northern tribes as Israel and the southern as Judah.   Believers should also take care to note that Jeremiah’s prophecy applies to Israel and not Judah, and that, at this time, Israel had already been ‘lost into the nations.’ 
  • ** Believers should be aware –whether they accept it or not — there are a great many who believe that the Lord’s prophecies promising Ephraim (often used to refer to all of Israel — the northern tribes) a land of rest filled with milk and honey is America, and that our founders are descendants of Ephraim and the lost tribes.  Several of the founders even (including Franklin) referred to America as ‘New Israel.’  I only mention this so that the reader will be aware of it.

 

MY WITNESS: Why I Abandoned The Road to Concord

To Those of You Who Come Over from ‘The Road to Concord,’ Welcome:

I posted an abbreviated explanation for why I abandoned ‘The Road to Concord’ on TRTC, but I thought a more in-depth explanation might be in order — especially for those who chose to follow me here.

I still believe in Natural law, as did our Founders.  But our Founders understood Natural Law as John Locke understood it, not Thomas Hobbs.  Our modern world seems to have lost track of this fact, but there is a huge difference between the two.  Locke recognized and subordinated himself to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (as did all those who believed as he did), whereas Hobbs rejected the notion of a Creator and recognized man as his own god (as did all those who believed as he did).

For those who do not already know this, John Locke was a devout Christian.  He even wrote a line-by-line commentary on “The Book of Romans.”  It is in “Romans” that Locke — as those before him — found the source code for his understanding of Natural Law.  This source code is echoed throughout the Old and New Testament, but it is most clearly defined in “The Book of Job.”  Either way, for Locke and all those who aligned with his thinking, the source of all rights and law is and always will be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Hobbs, on the other hand, reject the God of Abraham.  If one knows the references, even the title of Hobbs’ best known work, “Leviathan,” is a statement of defiance and rebellion against The Creator.  In both ancient religious belief as well as those in the Scriptures, the Leviathan, or sea monster, is seen as a metaphor for chaos and lawlessness.  To the ancient world, whoever can tame the Leviathan and bring order is god.  Those who align themselves with Hobbs and his line of thinking are — whether they consciously realize it or not — declaring themselves to be, or at least vying to become god(s) by claiming they alone can bring order from chaos. This is just one of the many ‘shadows’ of the Spirit world reflected in our world that go unnoticed by those who do not see the world through a Scriptural lens.

Anyway, long-story-short, the American Founders followed Locke’s version of Natural Law and subordinated themselves to and sought the aid and approval of its Author.  In return, they were given a new nation; a nation that may very well be connected to Biblical prophecies concerning Ephraim and Manasseh.  On the other hand, those who followed Hobbs rejected the Creator and — eventually — they murdered thousands, including small children.  They also destroyed France and a large part of Europe in the process.  If one knows Scripture, then one knows that which builds up and gives life and freedom and lives according to the law is of the Spirit of God, while that which tears down, kills and destroys and which lives lawlessly is of the adversary (i.e. Satan).  Spiritually, this is the difference between the American and French Revolutions: the American Revolution was of God, the French was not.  The Spiritual lessons and ramifications remain with us to this day, but only those who seek to see with Spiritual eyes can see them.

Well, I have been starting to see all of this more and more clearly.  I see how the events of this world are connected to and driven by the things mentioned in Scripture, and how the Spirit world is reflected in the events of this one.  I do not claim to be able to see a sharp image of the True picture hidden behind the fog, but the shadows have been taking a much cleaner, much more coherent shape for me.  The end result is that I could no longer continue trying to explain things in what one might call ‘secular’ terms — especially when I know that the driving forces behind everything that happens in this world is not of this natural world.  For months now, I have been feeling compelled to write without holding back.  To include my faith and the way it has opened my eyes.  This compulsion simply will not let me continue as I was writing before — not any more.  If I try, I know the fire within will consume me.

Therefore, I am going to do as I feel I am being lead to do: I am going to share my personal views on this world as I have come to understand them.  Where my faith shapes my understanding, I will say so.  Where it is my personal intellect, I will say that as well.  But, either way, I will no longer remain silent about the role my faith plays in my understanding of this world, nor will I continue to silence myself for the sake of not offending those who do not believe.  This is all the more important when I consider the fact that Scripture tells us this world will find everything that is of God to be offensive.  In fact, it is this teaching in Scripture that has helped me make the move from TRTC to As Through Glass.  If I share something I know is of and from God and it offends another, then I have a good indication as to which side of the Spiritual divide that person may be.  In a similar way, I realized that the division we are seeing in our society are not really about Left and Right, or black and white, but about those who align themselves with God and those who have rejected Him.  Knowing this, and knowing that God will condemn those who see danger and do not try to warn others, I knew I could no longer try to walk the neutral middle.  I had to publicly declare my Spiritual allegiance in this world and the Spiritual world, and I had to do my best to edify and warn those who would listen.

Therefore, from this point forward, when I write, I will write for the Lord.  I will share the full extent of my understanding, and explain why it is I have come to my position.  I will also be open and honest about those things I do not know or understand — which will be often, because there is far more that I do not know than I do.  So, I will share my personal story, and my perspective with whomever may find my posts.  Then I will simply leave the reader to make up his or her own mind as to what they make of what I have shared.  After all, it is not my place to make anyone see anything a certain way.  That is the job of the Holy Spirit, and I do not wish to tread on His Authority — not even out f innocent accident.

Peace be with you,

B3A