Saturday, August 19, 2006
Gee Ma, Do I Have To Link?
Daddy, What's a 'record'? Some kid's gonna ask, and some parent is going to feel 90-years-old at that very moment.
No help for Arnold here. I am sure she is "endorsing" this too.
Dadmanly gets it right on the recent controversial court decision.
My wife claims this headline is oxymoronic - One simply cannot be 'trapped' in such a situation.
Deconstructionist nonesense hits the Bible. Liberal theology takes another step off the cliff.
This cannot possibly be controversial - and yet, strangely, a reporter has ginned some up. In protest, opponents to the law have been stuffing their pillows with...
We all need this reminder.
Just off the top of my head - I'd say obese people are to blame for 'the obesiety epidemic.' But then, I wouldn't know anything about it, would I?
Cool pic! I wanna play.
Related Tags: recorded music, California politics, FISA courts, the devil, joke, humor, sarcasm, wisecrack
He has no "powers' - he is just a great guy with a bow-and-arrow. Back in my youth, he seemed so lame without powers he even did a stint as the size-changing Goliath in the Avengers.
But in recent decades (I really do hate being this old) they have worked to develop the character and have been pretty successful. Although, I have to say that the thing that has made him most interesting has been his series of interesting girlfriends. In a sense, his Lathario like nature is responsible for the "death" of the original Avengers - long story, but interesting.
Understandably, the tendency is to always compare him to DC's premminent bowman, Green Arrow. GA has been so successful for so long at DC that it is easy to view any other archer as a "me, too." But it should also be remembered that GA was a Batman "Me, too" when he started.
In the comparison, I think Hawkeye is at a disadvantage because of his look. GA has the classic "Robin Hood" look, which, initially, forced Marvel to make Hawkeye look very different, but I am wondering if they could not work on that now. Actually, I like the version here a great deal, save for the cowl, it's dated - it's his trademark, but it's dated. I'd be tempted to go for the hood thing that GA did back in the '80's with the same color scheme as he has now.
Hawkeye has been in team after team, he is good at it. I'm not even sure where he is at the moment with the original Avengers all broken up. Last I checked it was DNAgents, or Thunderbolts, but...
Related Tags: comics, comic art, Hawkeye, The Defenders
Friday, August 18, 2006
Looking In The Wrong Place
I was reflecting on this question the other day and I think I have come up with a hypothesis. Let's start with fact one. The church today does not talk about sin much. We talk about unhappiness, we talk about wholeness, we talk about health, but we don't talk about good, old sin. You don't hear the word much, you never hear the word depravity, and increasingly, we are not sinful, we just have "unhealthy addicitions" or "succumb to the pull of our hedonistic culture."
And yet, people know the world is not quite right, they know something is very wrong. The apostle Paul put it this way
Rom 1:20-23 - For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.We know that things should be different than they are, and so we go looking for where and why.
Catastrophic predictions like global warming prey upon that sense that God has granted us, that sense that things are not as they should be, but they do so in a way that misses the mark. You see the problem is that when we say "global warming" is where things are so wrong, we are taking the focus off of ourselves and placing it on the other. Instead of receiving God's message "I am not as I should be" we go about proclaiming "The world is not what it should be, and it's your fault." Evidence?
Thus we can acknowledge sin without confessing it. Let me repeat that - Catastrophic scenarios like global warming permit us to acknowledge sin, giving due to the that sense that things are not right, without confessing sin.
But the Apostle Paul, in his Spirit inspired wisdom, foresaw this kind of thing for he said above "Professing to be wise, they became fools,". You see it, professing the wisdom of science, we have become fools by drawing conclusions that the data simply do not support, all because we have turned our back on the actual Glory of God.
Again, this does not mean that Christians are not supposed to be environmentally aware, or that we are not to be good stewards of creation. What these means is that we need to keep our priorities straight.
You want to be an environmentally aware Christian? Don't start by buying a hydrid vehicle, start on your kness. Don't just acknowledge sin, confess it. Don't make it one of the Pharisee confessions either - about how glad you are you are more environmentally sensitive and conscious than that poor deluded Schroeder - no, make a genuine confession, allow the Holy Spirit to examine you and to guide you to the depths of your depravity, then ask that same Spirit to remove that depravity from you.
When you are done with that, if you think buying a hybrid is the single most important thing you as a Christian can do, then be my guest, but I suggest you spend more time on your knees before you do.
Related Tags: Christian environmentalism, confession, sin, depravity, global warming
Linkin Time and The Livin' Is Easy
Because there are some things your cell phone simply has to do.
I must link to this. I have so few relatives memorialized in public art.
David links to an interesting piece. I'm not sure it's that tongue-in-cheek. You know, God told Tammy Faye Baker her dog needed air conditioning in the doghouse - no really, it's in one of her books.
I want this job - seriously. Think about it - getting paid to guard against something the odds against which are enormous. Won't have to work too hard for this paycheck.
I have been on flights where people "acted odd" - from the Hindu family that tried to lay down on the floor of the galley half way across the Pacific to the gentleman with a copy of the Koran on his tray table - during takeoff - bowing to Mecca and praying out loud I've seen some stuff on aircraft in my life. I, for one, would not mind the detour.
With good reason! There is a certain sympathetic understanding on issues like homosexual ordination, but we DO NOT need to be publishing complete nutters.
Speaking of erzatz theology, it just strike me as a crying shame that such a post should have to be written.
Sobering. Relatedly interesting.
It seems to be religious abnormality day - this is just funny - and this, well, this is somehow frightening.
Somehow, I think this calls for a Hillary Clinton joke.
Related Tags: Christian ethics, Christian environmentalism, Christian nutters, odd behavior, joke, humor, sarcasm, wisecrack
They had to use an outhouse, and the little boy hated it because it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter and stank all the time. The outhouse was sitting on the bank of a creek and the boy determined that one day he would push that outhouse into the creek.
One day after a spring rain, the creek was swollen so the little boy decided today was the day to push the outhouse into the creek. So he got a large stick and started pushing. Finally, the outhouse toppled into the creek and floated away.
That night his dad told him they were going to the woodshed after supper. Knowing that meant a spanking, the little boy asked why.
The dad replied, "Someone pushed the outhouse into the creek today. It was you, wasn't it son?"
The boy answered yes. Then he thought a moment and said, "Dad, I read in school today that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and didn't get into trouble because he told the truth."
The dad replied, "Well, son, George Washington's father wasn't in the cherry tree."
Related Tags: outhouse, George Washington, joke, humor
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Why Some Churches "Grow"...
In his extremely kind acknowledgement of my post last week, Glenn Lucke is trying to continue the conversation, more with liberals and moderates than me, all I can do is extend the invitation, and please liberal and moderate readers, consider it extended. But in the comments on his originating post, Glenn asks some questions I would like to address.
Strictness maybe one factor for church growth, but I wonder what other factors are in play. Could, for example, moderate and liberal churches employ the same social science principles that the evangelical Church Growth Movement employs and see the same results? What if moderate and liberal churches had enough parking and marketed the way the CGM churches do? What if they had clean, attractive facilities and excellent child care? I wonder how much of the CGM is about applied social science and how much is the work of God. Some might say that God is working through the applied social science, but what would evangelicals say about non-evangelical and non-Christian religious organizations that grow. For example, I don't think people would consider the LDS Church to be evangelical, and probably most would say the Mormons are not Christians in the sense of historic Christian orthodoxy. But the LDS Church grows all the time.I do not have the theoretical backgoround that Glenn or his commenter do, but I have a lot of church experience and given my work on Article VI Blog I am learning quite a bit about LDS. So I think I can add some to this conversation.
Firstly, in the PC(USA), I have seen the application of "social science principles" stabilize the decline of moderate and liberal churches, but never produce the kind of explosive growth seen in mega-churches, or even the growth seen in LDS.
Which leads me to conclude that what produces the phenomena is, as is typical in these situations, a synergy of factors. Let me list some of what I see.
Product confusion. The social science stuff that Glenn talks about creates a confusion about what the "product" of the church is - is it salvation, epiphany, or a family club? In reality, it is some blend of all of them, requiring total commitment to none. In fact, a consumer based mindset is a huge part of the equation - giving people what they want, not necessarily what the church has. This leads me to the second factor.
Laissez Fair. In my experience, churches that have this kind of growth take a very "take it or leave it" attitude to the people in the church. They do not attempt to draw them in, pull them deeper, rather they lay out a set of "services" and let the "consumer" choose. "No pressure" is a phrase you hear a lot of. This often expresses itself by the opportunity for anonimity in the church.
Strong on 'reality,' weak on doctrine. Conservative or liberal, most churches that see this kind of growth are really strong on dealing with the "real life" issues the parishoners face and don't spend a lot of time on issues of doctrine. This describes LDS, in my opinion, to a "T" - their doctrine seems to shift with the wind, but they are really strong on building good families, making a living, that kind of stuff.
Confuses politics and religion Glenn describes me as "Evangelical," I think largely because I am a political conservative, but theologically I part company with much of evangelicalism. As a Presbyterian, I am almost definitionally pretty moderate theologically. Yeah, I'm Calvinist, but I actually believe I'll meet Roman Catholics in Heaven.
The "life applicaton" aspects of these high numerical growth churches leads to political statements, and the political and theological often get confused with each other. People begin to think their faith is defined by how they vote as opposed to thier faith informing how they vote.
Small, not Big Tent. These high numerical growth churches tend to be pretty homogenous, not necessarily ethnically or racially, although there is a lot of that, but socio-economically and politically they appear pretty narrow to me. Every mega-church I have ever been to, which admittedly is not tons, I have been struck by how similar everyone seems to be in viewpoint and class. There may be asians and blacks and whites, but they all seem to middle- to upper-middle class and educated to a resonable extent, or they seem to be less well educated, less well-off economically, and in that case usually pretty homogenous racially and ethnically too. The point, I guess is that there is a definable "us" to the church, and that "us-ness" is defined by something other than theology or church affiliation, at least primarily. This is also especially true in LDS.
It bothers me deeply that in all these factors that contribute to numerical growth I see nothing about truth, or the Holy Spirit, or salvation, but then maybe that is the point I am trying to make.
Related Tags: church growth, PC(USA), leberal, moderate, evangelical, factors, mega church
Back In Links
I think this qualifies as mixing politics and religion a little too much.
The wisdom continues
Among the ugliest stories I have ever read.
Yes, let's do celebrate obsessive-compulsive anti-social behavior. An apologetic for same.
I think Scotty said it best - "Cap'n, I canna change the laws of physics."
Sadly, I lack the skill to parse this headline. Was he dead when they shot him, or did they shoot him to death?
Mandatory liberatarian weight comment. Mike Huckabee, governor of Arkansas has personally lost a little over 100 pounds. Good for him. Governor, I have personally lost quite a bit more than that, and I haven't made anyone else around me do so -- GET IT! The whole world does not have my problem.
Great perspective on global warming and church.
Not much fun in the links today.
Related Tags: California, politics, global warming, blogging, sin, mathematics, creation
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Prov 3:5 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.It is a daily struggle for each of us to rest on God and not on ourselves.
But I think there may be an even harder form of trust that we as Christians have to learn - and that is to trust other Christians. Think about how scripture describes how the church is supposed to work.
1 Cor 12:5 - And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.There is much that must happen for the church, society, and the world to function, and God chooses to use us as His instruments to accomplish those many things. Part of the implications of this are that we, as individuals, cannot do everything.
Yet, there is so much that we think we should be doing. Who doesn't come away from church at some point thinking they could have preached that sermon better? What about something not so churchy? Why must every Christian do something global warming? (Well, comes the retort, can't everybody do a little - shouldn't they? I got news for you folks, if everyone changes from incandescent to flourescent light bulbs and drives hybrids, it won't help that much, assuming the doomsyaers models - that should tell you something.)
Have you ever thought about the fact that when you don't trust other Christians to do what they do, what they are better trained and more inclined to do than you, that it is actually a failure to trust in God?
1 Cor 12:6 - And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.I think it is important that as Christians, we figure our what "our jobs" are. For example, the job of a pastor is to help form Christians and Christian community. Thus, when a pastor starts taking stances on political issues for the church, despite the fact that as a private citizen he should have an opinion, he is stepping outside of his "job description."
Why is this important? Because we want the best people doing things, that's why. I learned early and with difficulty that I am not suited for vocational ministry. When I did such ministry, not good things happened. The same would be true for other people when they step outside of what they are suited to doing. A pastor is not suited to politics for any number of reasons. Likewise, a politician is not suited to do what I do, or what a pastor does.
We need to learn how not only to trust God, but to trust how God chooses to do things, and that means other of God's people. That may be the hardest lesson I know.
Related Tags: trust, God, others, Christians
Long Haired Linking Boy
If the earth is warming, the ice caps therfore metling, how in the hell can we be short of water?
Blogotional is not on this list - therfore it ain't right. -- Speaking of which - another terribly inadequate list. As a connessuer of reptilian cinema from way back, they missed of number of true classics, like Ssssssssss
Concert recommentation - seriously!
WISDOM: "I have sensed for some time that the foundational doctrine of the Bible may be the doctrine of sin."
One of the best trips of my life was driving I-80, following the transcontenential railroad. But now I need to do it this way. Way Cool!
In the grand scheme of things - do we really need to see this story or does it simple pander to those with a completely broken moral compass?
Some people need to find a new career.
More proof the MSM should not cover religion - or should at least hre genuinely religious people to do so.
This would have been fun. I've always wanted to catch a single electron in a bottle. Jim Croce should have written a song about that!
Say it ain't so! Besides, I don't think the real Superman can get drunk.
So what - I had mine first and with a much cooler paint job.
I've been to such a church. The problem it is not always intentional.
Oh, that's just filthy.
Related Tags: soldiers, heroes, thanks, global warming, water, sin, morality, travel, MSM, religion, joke, humor, wisecrack
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
The Problem With Mental Pictures...
Scientists have since expanded on this technique and use it to imagine what it looks like when, for example, two sub-atomic particles collide, even when our own observations and theories tell us that sub atomic particles are not actually billiard balls. In this case we are building a mental picture of some portion of the systems behavior to help us to understand that which is not merely unobservable, but in fact incomprehensible, at least in its whole.
Some mental pictures are simply prejudicial. Say, for example, the mental picture that I as one of God's "frozen chosen" (Presbyterian) had of a Pentecostal worship service before I ever attended one. And how many of us picture Mormon services as some sort of polygamist orgy? In the case of these mental pictures, our prejudices help define how the picture looks, taking limited facts and shaping them to our liking.
That prejudicial effect is even part of the mental picture described in the paragraph before last. Scientists use the billiard ball picture of sub-atomic interactions because they are very familiar with billiard ball interactions - they have a prejudice to seeing things that way.
Having laid this ground work I want to talk a little about prejudice and a little about the distinction between unobservable and incomprehensible. Let's start with prejudice. When Christians approach the subject of the environment, we bring with it a prejudice that man, because he is sinful, will always be a bad actor. We assume that if we do it, it is bad for the environment. The question is, is this prejudice accurate, and if it is, does it reveal all, or as in the case of the billiard ball prejudice, only part of the picture? We'll tackle the first question now and return to the second in a minute.
The actions of man upon creation cannot be assumed to be bad. Man is clearly capable of doing good, or bad, in anything he does. Thus we murder and we heal. We destroy, and we create - but are those different things. When DaVinci painted the Mona Lisa, he destroyed the paint he applied to the canvas - it became something different, it became a painting. Since we are unable to create ex nihlio I would argue that any creative act we undertake, is destructive of something else.
Now let's talk about the difference between unobservable and incomprehensible. The weather is observable, but I will argue it is incomprehensible. Anybody can go outside and see what the weather is, and if a lot of somebody's do that and tell each other what they see, we can even observe the weather on a global scale - But does that mean we comprehend it? To the extent that we can record our observation and read them, yes, but that we understand why there is a thunderstorm in Utah and a drought in Mississippi, no we do not comprehend. Oh, to be sure, we form mental pictures of what is going on in the weather, even mathematical ones, but they are incomplete, they only tell part of the story, as the billiard ball picture for sub-atomic collision.
The problem is when the prejudicial meets the incomprehensible. Our prejudices often want to portray the incomprehensible as the comprehensible. So, my prejudices gave authority to the mental images I have, they attempt to portray the part of the picture I hold as reality. And that is where we get into trouble.
When it comes to something like global warming, we all want to make sure we do not "destroy the planet." I would argue that there is a prejudice that says we are even capable of doing so that gives our partial pictures of the weather an authority they do not deserve. We are prejudiced to thinking we are even capable of destroying the world. It's God's world, not ours. We can alter it, we can bend it, but only He can ultimately destroy it. Our sinful nature prejudices us into believeing we have more power than we really do.
The basic core of being a Christian is giving up to God - putting Him on His throne, making our lives His and this world His. When we do that, the question ceases to be preventing destruction and starts to be how best to shape the world.
We need to know our prejudices and we need to know the difference between the observable and the incomprehensible. Do you?
Related Tags: environment, global warming, Christianity, Christian environmentalism, Christian perspectives on the environment, observation, comprehension, prejudice
It Was A Very Good Link
Holy Coast is looking at the erosion of term limits. In my experience, I'm not convinced they are the answer - they empower bureaucrats who are even less accountable than the elected officials. If we cannot come up with a way to limit bureaucratic power, I'm inclined to let them erode.
Gee, I would call this success, or at least well on the road to it.
Cool fun timewaster However, as The Corner notes when they link to it - a bit too useful?
Is this before or after the flight?
"Road rage" I understand, but McDonald's rage? The food's not that good.
Because some things just need to be known. Check the pop-up link. Is this the ultimate victory of marketing over product?
Do it so I can sleep vertically, then I'll be impressed.
Wait, I know - have them read the NYTimes?
The battle is not against faith, but against ignorance.Cute catchphrase, but not quite - when I am as sure of evolution as I am of God, then we'll talk.
If it wasn;t for the fact that I am already seriously ugly, I might fiddle with this. (HT: pomomusings)
Snakes on the toilet.
Related Tags: theocracy, term limits, obesity, infomercials, evolution, science eduction, joke, humor, wisecrack
Monday, August 14, 2006
A Depressing Thought
Which set me to thinking. The Roman church chased power to the point of corruption, the Reformation occurred. The Reformation lead inexoriably to democracy and the traditional Protestant denominations gained power through that, again to the point of corruption. From that rose the movement we now know as Evangelicalism, and again the corruption rears its ugly head.
Seems like there's a cycle here, doesn't it? That's depressing enough, but here is the really depressing thought: If we worship a redemptive God, why do we keep making new churches, movements, etc. - instead of redeeming the existing ones?
Are we missing the point?
Related Tags: reformation, evangelicalism, corruption, church, power
Manic Monday Links
You know, it seems like the church fights over trivia and covers up real serious genuine problems. This seem slike a problem we really ought to be discussing. Any takers?
Our hero goes European.
This should be funny - but it's fear mongering at its worst. Just because toxics of various sorts are present, it does not mean an individual will experience toxic effects.
It does not surprise me this story is from Sewden.
Scientists struggle over credit and research money - the definition of "planet" is scondary.
Looking for nothing to do? This one has an explanation!
It's almost funny.
There has got to be a horror movie in this somewhere.
This I need to see. My parents made me go to bed during the original.
Related Tags: photoshop, journalism, church fraud, toxicity, fear mongering, priorities, moon walk, joke, humor, sarcasm
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Links Be A Lady Tonight
Repeat after me...Pets ARE NOT people...Pets are not children...Pets ARE NOT people...
Look Ma - I can fly!
Why Europe is a wodnerful place to visit, but not live.
STOP everything, cease development, let the poor, nomadic, semi-agricultural peoples of the world stay that way, for the sake of the plants and animals. What's wrong with this picture?
Looks like the President is already thinking about when his term is over.
Always look on the bright side of life... You know, they did not operate THAT long, and how many lives do you think they saved? Sheesh.
I think Rebecca is baiting me here. We've added the "Fish-Cam" to the side-bar.
Why it pays to check out those your lease to.
Yet another reason to stay away form the otherwise lovely city of Edinburgh in August.
Related Tags: pollution, environment, coercion, salmon, pets, joke, humor
Sermons and Lessons
William Dewitt Hyde - President of Bowdoin College 1885-1917; born Winchendon, Mass., September 23, 1858; graduated Harvard University, 1879; received the degree of D.D. from Harvard, and LL.D. from Syracuse; author of "Practical Ethics," "Social Theology," "Practical Idealism," "The Evolution of a College Student," "God's Education of Man," "The Art of Optimism," etc.
"For envy the chief priests had delivered him up." - Mark 15 10.
"Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests and said unto them, 'What will ye give me and I will deliver him unto you?' And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him." - Matt. 26: 14-16.
"And the whole multitude of them arose and led him unto Pilate, and they began to accuse him, saying, 'We found this fellow perverting the nation and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ, a king.'" - Luke 23: 1, 2.
"And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified." - Mark 15: 15.
THE SINS THAT CRUCIFIED JESUS
These four texts give consecutively the sins that were immediately responsible for the crucifixion of our Lord.
These self-same sins, envy, avarice, slander, and servility, are most common in our midst today. Who is there among us that can plead "not guilty" to each of these four charges which the record brings against the crucifiers of our Lord? Yet the prevalence of these sins detracts nothing from their heinous and deadly character. The fact that these so common sins are the sins of Christ's murderers ought to deepen our abhorrence of them. The fact that, whenever we are envious, or avaricious; whenever we give currency to scandal, or yield to the pressure of evil influence, we are joining the company of these abhorred chief priests and elders; of the odious Judas and the detested Pilate, ought to make us more on our guard against them.
The first and chief of the sins that led to Christ's death was envy. "For envy the chief priests delivered him up."
The chief priests were the prime movers. The rest were but tools in their hands. Power and privilege and influence of all kinds, and especially ecclesiastical power and privilege and influence, have always been found dangerous gifts to trust in frail human hands. Insolence and arrogance, perversion and abuse, have almost invariably sprung from long-continued ecclesiastical authority, whether among Jews or Christians, Catholics or Protestants, Episcopalians or Congregationalists. The chief priests formed a pontifical clique, an ecclesiastical ring. The control of the temple was in their hands. They bestowed the patronage. Out of the expenses connected with the observance of a system of religious rites which they had made more and more elaborate and costly, they took their commissions. They had been looked up to with unquestioning reverence all their lives by the unlettered multitude. They had always had the satisfaction of running things their own way; and without knowing when or how they had come, as men generally do in such cases, to identify their own way with God?s way.
Their reasoning was simple, if not sound. "This," they said, "is a divinely ordered system of worship; we are the divinely established administrators of it. Therefore, our views and notions about religious matters are God's purposes and plans. Therefore, it is God's will that whoever opposes us should be put out of the way." If this reasoning is not satisfactory to a dispassionate observer, it no doubt was all-conclusive to these chief priests, who had centuries of tradition behind them and an abundance of conceit within them. In every age since then, and in cases before our eyes to-day, men, without a tenth part of the excuse for it, have found, and are still finding, just such reasoning amply satisfactory. The line between self-deception and hypocrisy is a very shadowy one; and we should never bring a charge of the latter unless we have given due allowance to every indication of the possible presence of the former. Had nothing happened to disturb them, no doubt these chief priests and scribes would have gone down to history with quite as much of a halo about their memories as has attached to the average priest and bishop and prelate and secretary of religious boards and moderator of church assemblies the world over.
In their day, however, something did come to pass. From despised Nazareth, out of provincial Galilee, there came a teacher, a preacher, a healer of disease, a forgiver of sins, a king of men, the Son of God. In the name of His Heavenly Father, he cleared the temple of dove-sellers and money-changers, lie substituted prayer for merchandise as a condition of acceptance with the Temple's God. Lie taught plain, honest-hearted, men, and poor, humble women, that God was their Father, and that He listened more willingly to their own heartfelt stammerings of penitence and devotion than to the pompous rites and elaborate ceremonies which the chief priests celebrated in the temple. He told repentant publicans and sinners that forgiveness was not to be purchased from a reluctant tyrant, of whom the heartless and mercenary priests were the vice-regents, but was to be gratefully received in humble trust as the free gift of a loving Father, of whom He Himself was the anointed messenger and faithful witness and true Son.
The chief priests saw that He was superseding them. The common people were hearing Him gladly; and in proportion as they followed Him the spell of obsequious reverence with which they had regarded the long-robed priests and broad-phylacteried Pharisees was broken. For this cause they envied Him, and "for envy delivered Him up." In this the chief priests were not sinners above men in similar position always and everywhere. Can you tell me of a single church reform, either in doctrine or policy that did not have to meet opposition from this very source? A healthy conservatism is indispensable to safe and sure advance. Conservatives are as conscientious in their obstruction of new movements as progressive spirits are in pushing forward new views and measures. Yet when we have, made all allowance for the conscientious distrust of innovation which is constitutional to many minds; while we rejoice that every new movement has to run the gantlet of honest opposition; still we are compelled to recognize the fact that the dread, on the part of somebody or other, of being superseded, the reluctance to give up the relative importance and prominence and leadership which they have previously held, invariably comes in and gives to every controversy about religious matters that personal bitterness which renders such controversies so deplorable. Even in the local church, when there ought to be the closest love and fellowship, it is often found to be almost impossible to advocate seriously a new measure of any sort without meeting an outcropping of this same malicious envy which crucified our Lord.
How, then, shall we guard against this most deadly of sins, in ourselves? We must make sure whenever we support a side that we are seeking, with a single eye, the highest good of the universal or the local church, or of the community interested in the question. We must make sure that we are willing to have our views, and even ourselves with them, displaced by better measures and more efficient men if such there shall prove to be. Thus only can there be the fullest and fairest discussion of every proposed change of doctrine. Thus each side of the question can be fully, fairly, candidly, forcibly set forth. Thus will truth ultimately triumph, and no injury be done. Let us remember that to have part or lot in any controversy on one side or the other in the spirit of envy, because somebody else, with some other doctrine, is gaining more favor than we with ours, is to take our place in the verdict of history and before the judgment-seat of God by the side of the men who for envy put to death our Lord.
The second of the sins that crucified Jesus was money-loving. "Then one of the twelve called Judas Iscariot went unto the chief-priests and said unto them, 'What will ye give me and I will deliver him unto you?' And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him."
Now we all recognize that money, as it is the symbol of the universal product of human toil, is, in itself, a good. And if money is good, then money-getting and money-making are most worthy objects of human ambition and endeavor. Money-loving, however, is a very different thing from money-making and money-getting. Every honest laborer is a money-getter; every upright merchant is a money-maker. But only knaves and misers are money-lovers. Love is personal. Persons alone are worthy of being the objects of our love. When a man cares more for money than for men; when he will sacrifice the human welfare of others or himself for the sake of money, then he becomes a money-lover, and joins the company of Judas. And the money-lovers of our day are just as guilty, just as murderous, just as odious as was ever Judas Iscariot. As John Ruskin has well said: "We do great injustice to Iscariot in thinking him wicked above all common wickedness. He was only a common money-lover, and like all money-lovers the world over, didn't understand Christ; couldn't make out the worth of Him, or the meaning of Him. Now this is the money-lover's idea the world over. He does not hate Christ, but can not understand Him, does not care for Him, sees no good in that benevolent business; makes his own little job out of it come what will."
Do you ask who are the money-loving Judases of our day? They are, as has been said, the men who in any way whatsoever are sacrificing human welfare to their own love of gain. Honest work and honest trade, besides contributing to the gain of tile workman or tradesman, also contributes an equivalent to the welfare of other men and women. Any form of work or trade which fails to benefit others as well as yourself has the Judas brand upon it. The kinds of work and trade that bear this brand are various. For instance, take the plumber, who, to gain an extra profit for himself, does defective work; and months afterward, a child of the unsuspecting family that comes to occupy the house, pays the penalty with its innocent young life. Is that money-loving plumber less a murderer than the money-loving Judas? A workman in a foundry finds a gap as large as a man's hand in a casting destined for an important place in an ocean steamer. I could name the shop where this was done. The workman takes a piece of cold iron, heats it and hammers it into the gap, smooths over the surface and thereby saves the thousand dollars it would cost to reject the piece and cast a new one. This very hour some ocean steamer, I know not whether passenger or freight, is carrying human lives on such security as that wedge of iron can give to that faulty casting. If ever disaster shall bring the passengers and crew of that vessel to a watery grave, will the money-loving foreman, who ordered that thing done to save expense, be less a murderer than the money-loving Judas? A merchant adulterates his groceries or his drugs and sells them as genuine. And some poor invalid, on the margin of life, fails to get the nutriment or remedial effect expected. Is that merchant less guilty than Judas? An employer of labor screws down the wages of his workmen to the lowest notch, in order that his company's dividends may be ten or twelve per cent.; and from lack of healthful tenements, from inability to provide sufficiently nourishing food, and competent care and nursing, the families of his workmen show an abnormal death-rate. What is the difference between the policy of that employer and the policy of Judas? "In asmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." There are factories and stores in our large cities where no girl can gain promotion, or gain a decent livelihood save at the cost of what is more precious to her than life. Think you the stockholders and agents and overseers of such concerns are anywise better than the betrayer of our Lord?
To take but a single instance more. In nearly every large town of these United States there are men engaged in a traffic which involves as its direct consequence, as some compute, sixty thousand deaths a year, to say nothing of the untold shame and degradation and misery and wo which follows in the train of that murderous traffic. The principle at the bottom of this busines -? that which makes men cling to it so fondly, is not that liquor-sellers love to bring wo and poverty and disease and death upon their fellows - not that - but simply the fact that liquor-selling happens to be the way in which a certain class of men find that, with least expenditure of hard labor, they can get the greatest money returns. It is not the love of liquor, strong as that is; it is the infinitely stronger, infinitely more murderous and heartless love of money that makes the liquor traffic so hard to exterminate.
Instances might be multiplied indefinitely. The betrayals and murders and robberies that go on in this land every year due to this Judas motive of money-loving are countless in number. Only the recording angel can trace the subtle workings of this murderous principle, and assign to you and me whatever share of responsibility our dishonesty, our selfishness, our avarice, our money-loving lays upon us.
Let us, then, realize the worth of money; let us be as diligent as may be in all honest efforts to earn and save it. But may we be careful that no piece of silver goes into our pockets which directly or indirectly represents unnecessary privation or want or injury or disability to any fellow man. As we would shun the remorse and condemnation that befell Judas, may we be free ourselves from all complicity with business schemes in which the gain to ourselves is based on a corresponding loss or injury to others.
The third sin which contributed to our Lord's crucifixion was slander. "And the whole multitude of them arose and led him unto Pilate, and they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king."
The sin of slander, you observe, is the one of which the multitude were guilty. Slander is the weapon of the ignoble rabble who have not influence or power enough to stand up by themselves and strike an open blow on their own responsibility. Just so today, the meanest feature about malicious gossip and scandal is that it is sure to be the work of some one who is sheltered behind his or her insignificance. The scandal-monger does the devil's retail business. Scandal consists of putting a grain of truth with a bushel of surmises, inferences, misinterpretations and innuendoes and peddling the product as unquestioned fact. In the case before us, the grain of truth was that Jesus had announced a spiritual kingdom. That He meant a temporal kingdom was at best an inexcusable misunderstanding; that He was a rival of Caesar was nonsense; that He forbade to give tribute to Caesar was the exact opposite of the truth, and that He perverted the nation was a downright lie. We detest and abominate that lying, yelling rabble that thronged the Judgment Hall of Pilate with cries of "Crucify him, Crucify him." But have we never repeated an uninvestigated charge? Have we never put a bad interpretation on conduct which yet was susceptible of honorable interpretation? Have we never, as a man was being condemned unheard, added our voices to the clamor? have we never whispered behind a person's back what we would not have had the courage to say to his face? Have we never allowed our prejudices to color our interpretations of another's conduct? It is to be hoped that we are not. But if we have, then let us remember that those acts of ours are precisely on a level with the slanderous accusations of this mob that clamored for the crucifixion of our Lord. And let us in the future beware how we lend our lips to slanderous accusations which reduce us to a level with these most detestable of our Lord?s murderers.
In the fourth place, to crown the whole, we have Pilate's servility. "And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified."
Pilate did not want to do it; he had resorted to every device; he had left no stone unturned by which he might avoid this unjust act. But he was willing to content the people, and so he yielded. And so, notwithstanding his real love of justice, and his abhorrence and shrinking from the injustice of this deed, he did it; and his name has gone down to all ages as one who sanctioned and authorized that central crime of history.
And he likewise is the type of the sinners of our own day. Nineteen-twentieths of all the sins committed today are done in just the way that Pilate committed this. A young man does not willfully and deliberately ruin his health and reputation arid fortune and character in drink and dissipation. He first gets entangled with a company, or, as he says, "gets into a crowd," "goes with a set of fellows," and, willing to please them, he takes step after step, reluctantly and in secret unwillingness, on the downward road that leads to death. A man does not willingly become a defaulter and a thief: but he gets drawn into extravagant ways of living, and willing to keep up his standing with a fashionable circle, willing to gratify the pride and vanity of his own family, reluctantly and unwillingly he takes the secret steps that ultimately lead to exposure, ruin and disgrace.
A man does not willingly and deliberately pass all his days without an open, full wholesouled committal of his ways unto the Lord, and find himself at last face to face with a neglected, injured, unknown and untrusted God. No man sits down and with full and deliberate intent does that. How then comes it about that in so many cases the thing is done? The reason is that you are associated at home, in business and in society, with men and women who know you pretty thoroughly. They know your weak points, just as well as this multitude knew the vulnerable points in Pilate's record. To come out squarely and openly on the Lord's side, would surprise them; would make talk; perhaps provoke criticism and in general stir up the comfortable relation in which you now stand to them. They might think you were setting yourself up as an example for them. Your act might be a silent condemnation of their indifference. It might set them to serious thinking. For the time being, at least, the relations between yourself and them would not be so easygoing and comfortable and sympathetic as they now are. And willing to content them and leave these things undisturbed, you go on risking your own soul, and placing yourself side by side with Pilate, who for no deeper reason and with no more malicious intention became partner in the crucifixion of the Lord.
It is precisely the same willingness to content somebody else which made Pilate deliver up Jesus to be scourged and crucified, that causes vast multitudes of men and women here in our midst and everywhere today, to deliver over the Church of Christ to languish and suffer, and perhaps to die, for the lack of that hearty, thorough, whole-souled support which, in their secret hearts, they feel and know they ought to give it.
I suspect there is scarcely a man or woman among us who has not at some time or other been guilty of one or all of these very sins which contributed to the crucifixion of our Lord. This I do know; that if there is a soul today who is above these very sins, it is because the grace of God has lifted you and is still holding you above them. Between the ranks of the crucifiers and the followers of Jesus there is no middle ground. "He that is not with me is against me," says Jesus. I know enough of human nature to say that if there is a soul today that has not repented of his sinfulness, made confession and received the grace of Christ, he is not only capable of each and all these sins, but is yielding to them day after day. If there is one of the profest followers of Christ, whose hold on Christ has weakened, whose communion with Him has become less deep and full and constant, I know that he is finding these sins creeping back into his life to mar and defile it. From these very sins that crucified our Lord, nothing short of the constant presence and power of the Spirit of Christ Himself can keep us.
If this study of the sins that crucified our Lord brings home to you and me an unsuspected depth of sinfulness within our hearts; if it classes us with men whose names we have been wont to speak with bated breath, nevertheless let us not despair. For you and me, who have done these very things unto our Lord in doing them to our fellow men; for us, as for those whose envy and avarice and slander and servility were directed against His person, He prays: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Not only will Christ pardon these deep-seated, daily sins of ours, but he will give us power to rise above them. As has been said, there is no other way given among men whereby our human hearts can rise above these easily besetting sins except that of letting the love of Christ lift us up out of them.
Christ is able to save to the uttermost. From even these deeply ingrained traits of character and lines of habitual conduct, He can rescue us. Do you doubt it? Do you ask how? Let us take these very sins one by one:
First, envy. Do you find it difficult, at times impossible, to look on your neighbor who is richer than yourself, who has an easier time, who is more popular, more beautiful, who is a better housekeeper, who excels you in your particular line of business, your profession, your art, your music; who has opportunities thrown in his way which you have struggled all your life to secure in vain?do you, I say, find it difficult to repress the feeling of envy that arises spontaneously at the thought of this more favored one? The love of Christ will lift you clear above all that. He will teach you that a man can have nothing really and lastingly good unless God gives it to Him. He will fill your mind and heart and hands with thoughts and deeds of loving service to Him, which, with the talents, the opportunities, the means, and the accomplishments you already have, you can perform, and in which and for which you can, day by day, receive His approval and enjoy His fellowship and love. Entering heartily and self-forgetfully into this service for Christ and with Christ, you will consider yourself the most highly favored of mankind. You will be only thankful if others can perform this same Christian service in a more effective manner and in a wider sphere. And for all who have not learned this blessed secret of doing whatever their hands find to do contentedly, humbly and cheerfully for Christ's sake - for all such, whether they be above you or below you in outward advantages and accomplishments you can have nothing but pity and sorrow to think that with all their opportunities they are missing the one thing which can give to life, under any conditions, a real joy and satisfaction. As John the Baptist said of Jesus, you will gladly say of every one who can do more and better work in any line than yourself, "He must increase and I must decrease." And your joy will be just as great in the total good accomplished as though your part in producing it was greater, and your honor connected with it more generally recognized.
Secondly, money-loving; avarice. Do you find yourself tempted to put the question, "What will it pay?" "How much can I make out of it?" above the question, "How will this bargain affect my fellow man?" Do you find yourself making trades where you would not willingly yourself take the consequences which these trades bring on the men you trade with? Do you find a tendency to treat your debtor, your workman, your servant, as you would not willingly be treated yourself, if you were in debt, if you were earning wages by the daily labor of your hands? Has this habit of getting as much out of everybody and giving as little back as possible so become a habit with you that you never think of the privation, the suffering, the disappointment your dealing brings to others? The love of the Christ, who gave, not His money alone, but His very life for men; the love of the Christ to whom all, even the lowliest, the least deserving, the most wayward, are still brethren and sisters, to be blest, and helped, and loved, and saved; this love of Christ, really coming into your heart and taking possession of your life, will take out of you all that is accurst in the thirst for gold; and at the same time it will leave you thrifty, industrious and economical; and protect you from future poverty and want quite as effectively as these close-fisted, avaricious ways which you have come to regard as your only safeguard. In the face of all temptations to do wrong for the money it will bring, you will be able to say with Peter, "Thy silver perish with thee."
Thirdly. Is it the habit of running from house to house with the wretched tale of some fellow creature's misdoings, real or fancied, that likens you to these murderers of Jesus?! Is that little member about the use of which James gives us so many warnings, the one which leads you most frequently into unchristlike conduct? If so, then your fault is one of the most difficult of all to cure. Yet even from malicious gossip and scandal, the grace of Christ can keep you. Let the pity and compassion of Him who said to the convicted woman, "Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more" - let the broad, human sympathy of Him who found even publicans and harlots more congenial to His spirit than their censorious and self-righteous accusers, once gain complete admission to your breast, and you will find it as impossible to speak harshly of a brother's sin or a sister's fall, to find satisfaction in discussing iniquity, as it is now seemingly impossible to avoid it. You will still see with sorrow the evil and sin there is in human hearts and lives. When called upon to act with reference to a man who has done wrong, you will not ignore his misdeeds; when it is necessary to reprove directly, or to warn those interested indirectly, of a bad man?s character, you will not hesitate to do it. But from out a heart in which Christ is present at the time, no unnecessary word of fault-finding or ill-willed gossip can ever pass.
Fourthly, compliance and servility. Are you accustomed to think what this, that, and the other one will say about you; how they will feel toward you; what possibly they may do to you before you make up your mind what to do in any given case? In other words, are you the slave of your associates? Let the life of Him, who, when advised to alter his course for fear that Herod might kill Him, replied: ,"Go and say to that fox, behold I cast out devils and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I am perfected. Howbeit I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following"; let the spirit of Him who drove out the sellers of doves and overthrew the tables of the money-changers in the temple, not deigning to give answer to the chief priests who asked by what authority He acted; let the majestic calmness of Him who would not in the slightest respect explain away his lofty claims before the Roman procurator who was to decide between release and crucifixion; let this manly independence that Christ displayed once get hold of you, and this excessive regard for what folks will say and think about you will in¬stantly vanish.
To all who are disposed to criticize you after you have decided to take a given course, because God calls you that way, you will be able to say with Paul: "With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you or of man?s judgment. He that judgeth me is God."
Thus for each and all of these sins, the grace of Christ can pardon us, and from them His spirit can preserve us.
In view of the presence of these same sinful tendencies within us; in view of the prevalence of these very evils in our midst today; in view of our Lord's words: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me," shall we not, with deeper contrition and more heartfelt confession of our sins, betake ourselves to Christ for His forgiveness and His saving power; that both now and in the great day when the men of every age and every nation shall be assembled before the judgment-seat of God, we may be found, not in the company of the traitor Judas, the envious Caiaphas, the malignant Annas, the slanderous rabble and the servile Pilate; but may ours be the blessed fellowship in Christ with the impetuous but repentant Peter, the faithful Marys, and the loving John.
Related Tags: William Dewitt Hyde, THE SINS THAT CRUCIFIED JESUS, sermon, lesson