Gluten-free Intolerant?

Here’s a fun little video to start the discussion found below…

This video is hilarious. And it really does represent a growing trend among people trying to eat healthier. There’s this thought that going gluten-free will somehow make you healthier. Gluten does not make you fat (although pastries with gluten can!). It’s a myth.

But this does not mean that all people who eat gluten-free are just ignorant foodies who’ve been duped by yet another diet trend. I want to be very clear: some people cannot eat gluten. And it’s not that they don’t like gluten. It’s not that they are just trying to be healthier. It’s that their body simply cannot digest it.

But as a result of these two types of people, there’s been this mixed community of people that eat gluten-free. Some are fad-foodies that don’t even know what gluten is (much like the other food trends: low-fat, no-carb, etc). But others have been diagnosed by real doctors, have a legitimate issue, and / or need to eat gluten free.

And what I’ve noticed is that non-gluten-free people have begun to bash the entire gluten-free community because of the “food-fad” group. And while the aim of this “bashing” is toward the fakers, I’ve also noticed that people with real dietary issues have come under fire too. Some people legitimately cannot process / digest it, and it causes all sorts of problems with their bodies. And now they have to, because of no fault of their own, eat gluten free. Why must gluten-intolerant / celiac people come under fire because some within the group are fakers?

Here’s my point: if you have been bashing the gluten-free trend, you are not only accusing the fakers; you are also being intolerant toward those who are legitimately gluten-intolerant.

For instance, my wife is highly gluten-intolerant. When we were first engaged, if she ever ate gluten, she would turn pale-white, have flu-like symptoms, and be restricted to her bed for a day or two. She spent months going to doctors, trying to figure why in the world her body would react this way. Finally, after a myriad of tests, the doctors told her to take gluten out of her diet. There was a 100% difference in just a few weeks. As a result, it’s pretty clear she has real issues with gluten. And when you make accusations that gluten-free is just a fad, you are inadvertently being insensitive to her (and others like her) real struggles. This is why I’m so passionate about this. My wife is so much better simply because she stopped eating gluten. It turns out her body just cannot and will not process gluten. Why? We really don’t know. But I know that her strength is back, her symptoms are gone, and she has a normal life (apart from being gluten-free of course) because of it.

And here’s another thing. I simply do not understand why Christians are getting all up into arms about the gluten-free stuff. What does it matter? For instance, there’s this incredibly strange article telling all gluten-free dieters that they worship a false god. And while I can appreciate that the article is aiming to expose companies looking to make a pretty penny off of the gluten-free fad, it is still lumping gluten-intolerant people into the discussion. And to make it worse, the author downplays those who legitimately suffer from gluten-intolerance: “Celiac disease affects about one percent of Americans. Even the more murky ‘gluten sensitivity’ applies, at best, to six percent of the population”. This article ends saying, “we’re just being sold products…In truth, all we’re getting is something that looks like a bagel but tastes like false hope”. Wow — gluten-free false hope (well, except for 1% of the population). Or, just maybe, there are legitimate issues that people have with this protein called gluten? I think so. 

And as a Christian, here’s my rub. There are several instances where dietary issues and the like are addressed by Paul. And in none of these instances does Paul denounce any type of diet. While Paul does admit that all food is made by God and profitable for eating (1 Cor 10:26), he also tells Christians that some won’t want to eat certain foods for various reasons, and that it’s ok for them not to (Rom 14:6)! And this means that if someone wants to eat gluten-free, let them! Just because you realize that eating gluten-free is pointless for some doesn’t mean you should dictate their diet. In fact, Paul tells us that when it comes to dietary issues like this, Christians should neither judge nor despise their brother (Rom 14:10). Besides this, does it really matter if eating gluten-free really only benefits a small percent of the population? Aren’t we all free in the Lord with regard to conscience issues? What point are we really trying to make here?

Another passage that comes to mind with this whole thing is Matthew 13:24-30. This is a passage where Christ reveals that within the church there will inevitably be fakers; some professed Christians will simply be pretending. In the passage, Christ tells a parable, comparing the church to a field of wheat mingled with weeds. What makes it more complicated is that the weeds look all too similar to the wheat. In the parable, the farmers ask each other, “should we try to pick out the weeds amongst the wheat?”. To this question, another farmer says, “No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them” (Mt 13:24-30). I find so much wisdom in this parable. If we aim for the fakers, we will do harm to genuine. This is what I find happening so much in whole gluten-free debate. I know my wife (and others) has often been offended by people’s insensitivity to her real issue, simply because they are after the foodies.

I’m all for constructive critique of food fads. I myself get annoyed at all the low-fat foods I see all over the place. But I really want us, especially as Christians, to be sensitive to the real needs of gluten-intolerant people. If we aren’t sensitive to their needs, we easily compound the entire issue, and become gluten-free intolerant.

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Why are there so many Protestant denominations?

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I’ve thought over this question for quite some time. Within Evangelical Protestantism, there are myriads of denominations. There are so many, that the Catholic Church has given many spurious critiques of modern Protestantism. They argue that there is such disunity among the church that we can hardly call ourselves the true church. In fact, Catholics really do consider themselves to be the only true church!

But are numerous denominations within the evangelical church necessarily a bad thing? I really don’t think so. In fact, as opposed to the Catholic church, I think that denominations enable unity within the larger body of Christ. And I want to consider a few reasons why.

First, Protestantism, even with all of its differing denominations, agrees on the essentials (if you can’t agree on certain essentials, you would be considered unorthodox or heterodox as opposed to “evangelical”). All Protestants agree that men are saved by Christ alone through faith alone. They all agree on the Trinity. They all agree that the Bible is the Word of God. They uphold the life, death, and bodily resurrection of Christ. These (and more) are essentials that all evangelicals must hold to in order to be considered orthodox. And because of this, there is much more unity than diversity. Even with John Wesley and George Whitfield’s massive differences (and although they parted ways eventually) concerning the order of salvation, they both heartily agreed with one another on the condition for salvation — faith alone in Christ alone. This is what binds all of Protestantism together!

Second, the reason there are so many denominations is not because we simply can’t get along. Rather, the reason there are different denominations is because we all treasure the Word of God. We all agree that God has revealed himself to us by his Word (I recognize that within Protestantism, the doctrine of inerrancy, which I hold to, is debated — however, that God inspired the Bible is not argued). We have unity on the source of the scriptures — however, we do not have unity on the interpretation of certain scriptures. Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists, will all have differing views on controversial passages. For instance, while we all agree that Paul is speaking of election in Ephesians 1, we cannot all agree on the meaning and nature of election. Calvinists argue for unconditional election, Arminians argue for condition election, and others (some Arminians and Methodists) argue for corporate election. What none of us disagree on is that Ephesians 1 reveals to us God’s saving intentions for mankind — instead, what we disagree on is exactly what Paul is saying. Because of this, while there is much difference concerning specific doctrines, we have agreement on the Word of God: that the Bible is inherently divine revelation.

Third, while differing denominations can agree and have unity on essentials, we also must affirm that because we disagree on some things, it is not inherently wrong to serve in a church with which you agree. While a Methodist Church and a Baptist Church can work together to reach a community with the gospel, it could also be a challenge to work together within the same congregation (I’m not saying it’s impossible, but there are challenges — some churches are interdenominational and work together well!). Many Methodists, for example, ordain woman pastors, while many Baptist congregations see it as biblical to only ordain men pastors. It would be quite a challenge for complementarian Baptist pastors to work alongside some egalitarian Methodist pastors. The same is true when it comes to doctrinal issues. If a Prestbyterian and an Arminian Episcopal work together, how will they teach Romans 9? While they can agree that it is part of the canon, they disagree on the interpretation. For this reason, operating within a certain denomination isn’t wrongand in fact it is practically helpful to the progress of the gospel. Denominations don’t affirm disunity within Evangelicalism; actually, denominations exist because we agree on essentials, and uphold the Bible as the Word of God! 

For this reason, I am pleased when I see a fellow brother in the Lord standing on biblical convictions —  as long as they affirm essential biblical doctrines. I may disagree on certain other doctrines, and this may cause us to desire to work within differing denominations — but we can both agree on the essentials of the gospel, and that God’s Word is true.

One day we will all find out who was right. The Lord will clarify our misunderstandings, and we will worship him forever. Until then, we must stand on his Word, and wait for his coming.

Should Christians Support the Death Penalty? Part 3: Three clarifications…

Judge-and-Jury

I have gotten into a few different conversations with people about my last post on my stance regarding the death penalty. If you missed the conversation, you can read my post here. I want to take a little more time to clarify a few things regarding my stance.

Here is a quote from my conclusion on the death penalty: “While the death penalty is just, there is a new and better way found by faith in Christ. And I’d rather restrain and incarcerate a murderer for life than sentence him to death in the hopes that he would be redeemed by faith in Christ. As a result, I certainly don’t condemn the death penalty, because it’s simply operating on principles of justice and retribution; but neither do I delight in it”. 

First, I want to clarify this: I don’t condemn the death penalty. If someone is genuinely guilty of murder, and is put to death, I cannot argue that “life for life” is wrong. But neither do I have to like it, because there is a better way found in Christ.

The Mosaic Covenant as a revelation of God’s holy standards is just and right. But there is a problem: James says that those who want to operate by this standard need to obey the entire set of rules, or they fail at them all (Js 2:10). The Mosaic Law is a pass / fail system. You either keep every command or none of them. In other words, you either be perfect in every way, or you find yourself to be a sinner deserving of death.

And Paul goes on to say that when this standard is placed on the shoulders of sinners, we all fail. The Law silences us (Rom 3:19), makes us aware of our sin (Rom 5:20), and most importantly, the Law teaches us of our need for a new way toward holiness by way of redemption in Christ (Gal 3:24). The Law reveals that we cannot be holy like God is holy. Consequently, the Law reveals that we all deserve death.

And we can be sure that when God gave the Law to Israel, he not only knew they would fail, but he also had a provision in mind for their failure. This provision was the New Covenant. It was a covenant that, instead of operating by “eye for eye”, “tooth for tooth”, it operated by grace. The New Covenant was a way to make sinners worthy of the death penalty holy as God was holy. Paul says that amazingly, God found a way to be a just God and a justifier of sinners (Rom 3:25).

My point here is that God’s response to our own guilt is not to sentence us to death, but to provide a better way to saving sinners. There’s a big difference between what is “good” and what is “better”. Justice is clearly good. But grace is better! And so if God could have justly killed us all, but instead provided a better way for redemption through Jesus, why shouldn’t Christians desire a better way for those sentenced to death? It baffles me that any justified sinner would want a convicted criminal to die under the death penalty and go to hell, considering what they’ve been forgiven of.

So, I’m not arguing that the death penalty is wrong. I’m simply saying that there is a better way found in Jesus. And as redeemed, justified sinners, we should wish to God that convicted murderers would be redeemed from their situation. And lest we think that murderers can’t be rehabilitated from their sin, there are three murderers that I can think of that did just that: Moses, David, and Paul. Have we forgotten that even a “man after God’s own heart” committed murder? God should have killed him; instead, he forgave him (2 Sam 12:13).

Second, I’m not arguing against God’s inherent ability to give and take life. God obviously has the right to take life. 1 Samuel 2:6 says that “The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up”. As the ruler of the cosmos, this is his inherent right.

And I just want us to consider this: God is the only objective Being in the universeAnd, God is the only Person who can truly judge our hearts. Why is it that God struck down Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the church, and not David for adultery, false testimony, and murder? Well, we have to assume that God new the intentions of their hearts, their repentance and faith, and made a righteous judgment.

But humans are inherently subjective. We do not judge impartially as we should (Js 2:1-13). How can we be sure that sentencing someone to death is the judgment that God himself wants? How can we be sure we aren’t overreaching our authority? I would argue that we simply cannot know. Beyond this, why does one person receive life in prison and another receive the death penalty? Research shows that when one person receives life and the other the death sentence, it “ranks” murder by a faulty system, or at worst, it is arbitrary (link). Not only this, but it traumatizes the victim’s family when one person gets the death penalty and one gets life in prison. My whole point here is that the American justice system, while it may try to be objective, is subjective. We don’t know people’s hearts, which means that only God can truly judge objectively

Third, I am not arguing that the government isn’t used by God. Paul clearly says this in Romans 13. All of this I will obviously agree with. But I just want you to notice that in Roans 13, Paul is not giving a course on politics. He is commanding believers not to rebel against the government, because God is sovereign and has allowed rulers to govern. He is not speaking with court officials. He doesn’t even say whether the death penalty is right or wrong; and he certainly doesn’t command it. This passage is inconclusive when it comes to capital punishment, mainly because Paul here is addressing Christians and how they should relate to the government: they should submit.

And I’m not arguing against violence involved in war, or violence done through self-defense or by necessary measure. But this is all deadly violence done necessarily, and beyond that, swiftly. But in America, it takes years, sometimes decades, to finally send a guilty murderer to the chair. The justice system in America is wrought with appeals and long court processes that arguably do more harm than good, both to the murderer, and also to the victim’s family. Rather than spending this time toward recovery, the family is left to spend arduous amounts of effort and time in court. And there are billions of dollars sunk into this process. Many organizations (even non-Christians organizations) have argued that if we distribute that money to rehabilitation for the murderer, and recovery for the victim’s family, that it would do far more good (link). I’m not arguing that the death penalty can’t be used by God (he is sovereign after all), I just think that our system of doing things could arguably be better.

For me, when it comes to the death penalty in America, I do not prefer it, and if I were to be asked about it by a state representative, I’d tell them my opinion. But I certainly don’t want to start a revolution either. Nonetheless, the better option for a criminal is redemption, rehabilitation, and recovery for the family of the victim.

Hopefully this helps clarify things.

 

W.E.B. Du Bois on the Oppression of American Racism

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I have a certain animosity for racism, which still seems to be present in America. But, I have never experienced what it feels like for someone to hate me for being a certain color. W.E.B. Du Bois does, and explains the issue well.

In his hailed book, The Souls of Black FolkDu Bois (1868-1963) compares being black and American to having two souls that are irreconcilable. One soul, the American, is accepted. And yet, the other, the black soul, is despised. For this reason, the American black man is always at odds even with himself.

Du Bois says that in this existence, the black man has “no true self-consciousness, but only lets himself see through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder…

The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife — this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible to be both a Negro and American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, with out having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face”. (pp 7-8)

I pray that this is not still true today, but I fear it may be. I cannot imagine the toil that young African-Americans felt by this oppression from others. It was an oppression that split one’s self into two parts, forever irreconcilable.

Should Christians Support the Death Penalty? Part 2: My Answer…

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I wrote a post the other day on two theologians’ perspectives on the death sentence. Al Mohler says that based on Genesis 9:6, we should support it. However, Roger Olson, a theologian, heartily disagrees, believing that the death sentence is something that is never a necessary measure.

What are we to think of these things? After having thought over this for quite a bit, I want to give my answer (this is a complicated issue, so this post is longer than usual).

First, I do find an ongoing principle of retribution in Genesis 9:6. However, I’m not sure I see a command of the death sentence. The verse does lay down a principle of blood for blood, much like eye for eye, tooth for tooth found in the Mosaic Law. At the very least, this passage is espousing civil law enforcement.

Nevertheless, the death penalty clearly is communicated and supported in the Mosaic Law. Exodus 21:22-25 advocates tooth for a tooth, eye for eye. So, under the circumstance that a person takes someone’s life, their life should be taken as a result (Exod 21:12). There are numerous other circumstances in which a person would be sentenced to death: for kidnapping (Exod 21:16), for blasphemy and idolatry (Exod 22:20, Lev 24:16), for rebellion against parents (Deut 21:20-21), rape and homosexuality (Deut 22:25, Lev 20:13), etc (for a whole list, follow this link).

More than this, within the Mosaic Law, God saw some sins as more meritorious of death over others. For sins which were unintentional, the people of Israel could give an offering to God for which their sins would be atoned (Lev 4). However, intentional, or high-handed sins deserved death (Num 15:29-30). The point here is that some sins were covered by an offering, while intentional or deliberate sins merited being “cut off from the people” (Num 15:30). 

What we can gather generally from this is that the death sentence as a mode of operation is not sinful. In fact, it is just. If the Mosaic Law was a revelation of the holy character of God, than the death sentence can’t be wrong.

In fact, we learn that if God is to remain holy, he must punish and separate himself from sin (Is 59:2). And in the Old Testament, if Israel was to be a holy nation, they had to align themselves with God’s holy character as revealed in the Mosaic Law. And, if Israel should disobey, they would suffer the consequences — i.e. being cut off. This is why the idea behind the death sentence was to “purge the evil from your midst” (Deut 17:7); i.e., be holy by removing the evil person.

And we find that Israel did suffer the consequences for their sin. We learn from the prophets that most of Israel committed sin deserving of death (Jer 2-3). They practiced idolatry and immorality, even sacrificing their children to false gods. As a result, everyone was worthy of being sentenced to death. And for that, they were exiled and enslaved to pagan nations.

But what we must also consider is that the Mosaic law, and the exile of Israel, is not the end of the story. While Israel bound themselves to God by this covenant, God knew it was an inferior covenant, because the law only hindered their holiness. Paul tells us that the law was unable to free Israel from sin (Acts 13:39). Paul further clarifies that the covenant was inferior not because of the law itself, but because of the sinfulness of man (Rom 7). 

For this reason, rather than destroying Israel (and all humanity for that matter), God chose a better new covenant (Jer 31, Ezek 36). He decided to make another covenant that would not only atone for the peoples’ sin permanently (Heb 10:1-14), but also enable them to be holy unto God (Jer 31:33). And, God did this by sentencing Jesus to death on our behalf. Jesus took the death sentence that all Israel, and indeed all humanity, deserved (Gal 3:13).

Here’s where my opinion on the death sentence comes in: by sentencing Jesus to death, considering him accursed, God dealt with the need for the death sentence found in the Mosaic Law.

Practically, this means two things. First, this means that the kingdom of God’s beloved Son is a totally different realm wherein lies the forgiveness of criminals and murderers deserving of wrath, because Jesus absorbed God’s wrath in himself. For this reason, Christians should live out the economy of Christ, and give grace where wrath and justice would otherwise be deserved. Jesus says this himself:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also…You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

Christians should live differently. Rather than distributing justice or vengeance, we should give grace. Why? Because we are forgiven of our own travesties against God. And, if we were to be dealt justice, we would also deserve death! So, Christians should be for the forgiveness and repentance of criminals through Christ.

However, and secondly, the government does not operate by these principles. The economy of the kingdom of Christ is a foreign thing for them. And, if it is just for God to sentence sinners to death, it’s not unjust for the government to sentence guilty murderers to death (I’m not considering whether any given justice system is fair or corrupt; I’m just considering whether the death sentence itself is valid).

What this means, to me at least, is that I can’t fault the government for working on principles of justice. Life for life is certainly a just thing. But, I also can’t gloat in the face of the death penalty. Rather than being glad that criminals are put to death, as a Christian, I mourn for them. And, rather than scorning their evil, I am reminded of my own evil.

This is obviously a hard issue. But, I guess my answer toward the death penalty would be this: While the death penalty is just, there is a new and better way found by faith in Christ. And I’d rather restrain and incarcerate a murderer for life than sentence him to death in the hopes that he would be redeemed by faith in Christ. As a result, I certainly don’t condemn the death penalty, because it’s simply operating on principles of justice and retribution; but neither do I delight in it. And I personally wouldn’t be able to execute anyone without violating my conscience. What I prefer is governmental restraint toward criminals (i.e. incarceration and rehabilitation), and deadly violence when needed.

I’ll end with a quote by Scot McKnight on this issue: “the system of grace taught by Jesus deconstructs the system of justice by taking it to an entirely new level. Not the level of offense and punishment, but the level of offense and punishment-with-redemption. Perhaps time and efforts on our part will lead [a convicted murderer] to the sort of honesty before God that discovers that God’s redemptive work can make murderers anew. The Apostle Paul is a good example” (link).

Indeed, Paul is one of the greatest examples of this!

**I wrote a follow-up to this post, and you can read that here

 

Should Christians Support the Death Penalty? Two Perspectives…

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This post comes after the “botched” execution of a death-row inmate in Oklahoma on April 29th, which, instead of quickly killing him, gave him a long and painful death resulting from a heart attack (source). 

This story has inevitably led to questions as to the legitimacy of the death sentence. Should Christians support the death sentence? This is such a controversial issue, which is why I will leave this question up to two theologians that I respect.

Southern Seminary leader Al Mohler affirms that the death penalty, being rooted in the Noahic Covenant, should be supported. “The death penalty was explicitly grounded in the fact that God made every individual human being in his own image”. This is very true. Every human is made in the image of God, and therefore, should not be killed. A murderer is found not only taking a life, but defacing the very image of God. Mohler also affirms that “in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul instructs Christians that the government ‘does not bear the sword in vain.’ Indeed, in this case the magistrate ‘is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the evildoer’ [Romans 13:4]”. In other words, God himself uses human government to punish those who murder, which implies capital punishment.

Mohler then considers the justice system in America as corrupt in some cases (I heartily agree), and that not all cases of murder should lead to the death sentence. He also says that in a just legal system, all peoples, not just the rich, should get a fair trial (again, agreed). Mohler concludes that “Christian thinking about the death penalty must begin with the fact that the Bible envisions a society in which capital punishment for murder is sometimes necessary, but should be exceedingly rare”. You can read the rest of the article here: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/05/01/why-christians-should-support-the-death-penalty/

Another theologian that I like disagrees with Mohler, however. Theologian and seminary teacher Roger Olson takes exception with Mohler based on the fact that America is not built (it maybe at one time was, but it is no longer, I suppose) on Biblical principles. He says, “Mohler seems to believe that IF the Bible calls for something American government should practice it. That’s a huge leap off the pages of the Old Testament to modern, secular government”. I actually agree with this point, though I don’t like where Olson takes it. Mohler assumes that America should run on biblical principles, which Olson rightly asserts could lead to the mindset that America should be a “‘Christian Reconstructionist’s theocracy”. Should Christians want a type of postmillennial Christianized society? I agree with Olson in saying , “no”. Nor should we ever expect that–in fact that Bible makes it clear that the culture all throughout the world will only digress.

Olson takes the argument too far however in saying, “the Old Testament ‘clearly calls for’ many things—including capital punishment for a broad range of offenses including adolescent rebellion against parents. Certainly for idolatry. Does Mohler think we, as a whole society, should then expand the death penalty for all the offenses for which it is called for in the Old Testament? I doubt it…”. I don’t like this because Olson is now comparing Mosaic law with the Noahic Covenant which came before that. The Mosaic Law applied only to the nation of Israel, while the Noahic mandate applied to everyone. Shouldn’t this delineation be made? I think so. Noah was not an Israelite, nor was Israel even in existence when he was alive — so why should we compare the Mosaic Law with this command? There should be a distinction. 

I will agree however that we really should probe these issues further than Mohler did in his post. And I agree that Olson raises good questions here: should we expect America to run off of biblical principles? If so, which ones? And which ones shouldn’t we enforce? Which ones have been fulfilled in Christ? Which ones still stand today? Is capital punishment still applicable today? Besides this, can we trust a secular society to administer just death sentences? Perhaps Mohler could have pressed the issues a bit more.

Olson concludes his argument, saying, “the fact is that capital punishment is never necessary which is the main reason ethical people, including Christians, should oppose it. Deadly force should never be used when it is not necessary. Capital punishment is absolutely never necessary”. I can appreciate Olson’s point here. Deadly force is often times necessary; self-defense, war, et al. But, in his mind, the death-sentence is not one of those “necessary” forces. You can read the rest of his article here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2014/05/my-response-to-al-mohlers-defense-of-the-death-penalty/

We should think long over these issues, and really consider what the Bible has to say. We also need to make clear qualified distinctions between Old Testament laws that are fulfilled in Christ (Mt 5:17) and laws that still apply in any given context. I have to say, I was not thrilled with Al Mohler’s lack of scriptural insight concerning these issues. But, neither was I thrilled with Olson’s lack of clarity on exactly when deadly force is necessary with criminals, and exactly what the purpose of the civil government is. Clearly the government yields the sword — if not to kill, then in what way? Either way, we need to be immersed in scripture when thinking over these things.

Finally, as Christians, we should always have a filter when we look at criminals. As much as they deserve death, so do we. And none of us are too far to be washed by the blood of Jesus.

So should Christian’s support the death sentence? I’ll let you examine Mohler’s and Olson’s arguments. It’s a question I’m still trying answer.

Sin runs deep, but Christ runs deeper

I had to take a stab on a Mike Huckabee video that surfaced recently on Facebook. After the senseless carnage that occurred on Friday, many were asking questions, looking for answers, and trying to make sense of it all. Many tried to “tell us so” when it came to gun control policies, and others tried to call foul on Obama’s abortion policies after his tear-filled speech on the senseless death of children. For some good blogs on the utter tactlessness of that, go to Doug Wilson’s post, “That will soon be enough”, HERE.

But for now, I want to look at Huckabee’s comment on those who asked, “where is God?”. I like Huckabee’s passion. I like that he is outspoken about his love for Jesus. But this video is just wrong. I mean, wrong.

Go ahead and click on this link to watch it HERE, and then read commentary below on it:

Here in this video, Mike tries to answer the question, “where was God when Lanza shot all these children?”. What a question to answer! I mean, what a GOOD question for unbelievers and believers alike to ask! It’s not a shallow question. It’s a DEEP question. It’s one that needs meditation, thought, sensitivity, and biblical consideration. Huckabee did none of this when he answered the WHY of this question. What did Huckabee say? He said, “America, you have removed God from your society, and therefore, it’s your fault”. Huh. Well that sucks. It’s my fault. And of course Huckabee says it’s not just about prayer and all that stuff. No, it’s everything you’ve been doing to remove God from your life, society, AND schools. Oh ok, so not JUST schools, but everything. Thanks. But listen to the answer behind the answer…

What Huckabee is saying is that if we had a Christianized society, this horrible sin would be taken care of. It would have never happened! I mean really? If every person said “yes” to Jesus in the work place, in the schools, in their homes, Lanza would’ve never done this. More than that, SIN as we know it would stop affecting our society. Really? No murder? No crime? No stealing? And of course…no mass shootings…But is that true? Well, no.

I mean, come on Huckabee. As a Christian, you know that sin runs much deeper than that. Even Jesus rebuked that mindset in Matthew 15:19, saying that “out of the HEART proceeds every evil…”. Sure, I agree that our society has largely rejected Christ. Yep. No question. But our sin does not proceed forth from our upbringing. Our sin does not proceed from society’s influences on us. I mean yes, it helps us sin. Pornography is available to lustful teenagers. Drugs are available to lazy pot smokers. But is that the MAIN issue? NO. Our sin proceeds forth from the HEART. Our sin runs much deeper than the influences of our society.

So, I am not happy with Huckabee’s answer here. Sure, I agree. America as a whole has said no to Jesus. Yes, abortion runs rampant. Yes, sexual promiscuity is all over the place. But America is that way because of our hearts. The issue goes much deeper than you’d like to admit here.

And luckily, Christ is not one to give up on the core of the human heart. No, he goes much deeper. Christ goes into the depths. Christ goes into the crevices of our hearts and makes us new. Sin runs deep, but Christ runs deeper. There is no place that Christ cannot go. In fact, in describing salvation, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, that when we are saved, we are made a completely new creation (in the GK, a new species). We are newly reborn, with new hearts, new desires, and a new refreshed desire for God.

So what’s the answer, Huckabee? Is it a Christianized society? Well, that’d be nice. But it can’t start there. Societies don’t save anyone. Christ saves. He alone saves. Not prayer in schools, not Bible reading — Jesus alone saves. So, Huckabee, think again before you point the finger.

As John Piper said in a recent post about the shootings (full post HERE),

“the murders of Newtown are a warning to me — and you. Not a warning to see our schools as defenseless, but to see our souls as depraved. To see our need for a Savior. To humble ourselves in repentance for the God-diminishing bitterness of our hearts. To turn to Christ in desperate need, and to treasure his forgiveness, his transforming, and his friendship”.

Why did this happen? Sin. Our hearts are evil. We are to our core, evil. Now I don’t claim to have a drawn out answer as to where God was. I know God to be sovereign, and I know that he knows all things. I also know that he weaves even the worst of events into good (Rom 8:28). But Huckabee’s answer was just not deep enough, because sin runs deeper. But thank God that Christ goes even deeper into the depths.