A Christmas Card That’s Religious?

December 14, 2007

Barbara Walters receives a Christmas card from the White House, and finds it interesting that it is religious in tone. I think, from the emphasis she gives to the word “interesting”, she probably means “nearly incomprehensible.”

Of course, what I wonder is, “Would a non-religious Christmas card even make sense?”

If that question doesn’t make sense to you, try reading it out loud, and pronouncing Christmas with a long I.

Another excellent question, that doesn’t seem to have occurred to Barbara Walters as she ponders how an agnostic might react to receiving a religious Christmas card: Why would anyone be offended that a Christmas card was religious? Wouldn’t that be sort of … expected?

What I do find “interesting” myself is that some question why a Christmas card would have a verse from the Old Testament in it. Apparently, Christmas requires a New Testament verse.

Of course, the New Testament is probably made up of about 20% Old Testament by weight, so to speak. That is, try reading the New Testament some time, and making a note of everywhere the Old Testament is quoted. You’ll be amazed how frequently the Old Testament is quoted and expounded on in the New Testament.

The only reason more people don’t realize this is because they don’t know the Old Testament well enough to recognize where it is being quoted in the New Testament.

Other appropriate Old Testament quotations for Christmas:

  • Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
  • Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
  • Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
  • Job 19:24-25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:

And many, many more.

A Smear Revisited

December 13, 2007

The Huckabee question about whether Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are bothers is still stirring up controversy. As I mentioned in my last post, Mormon doctrine does teach this. Don’t take my word for it: Any decent search engine can turn up the evidence, including from the LDS organization themselves. I posted a couple paragraphs from the LDS publication Gospel Principles (http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,11-1-13-6,00.html ) That one link is enough to settle the question, but there are others.

So when Huckabee asked the question, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers?”, any answer that equates to “No” is a lie. Of course, any answer that equates to “Yes” is a little … embarrassing.

The only good answer then equates to “Yes, but let me explain.”

The response of the LDS spokeswoman was a political answer, through and through. She avoided admitting that the answer was yes, but strongly implied that the question was a smear. She didn’t say it was wrong: she let the “smear” word imply it was false. In short, she did a careful non-denial denial of official Mormon doctrine, while claiming the question was a smear.

On the one hand, saying that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers is somewhat less significant than it sounds to Mormons, since Mormons believe that everyone alive is a spirit brother of everyone else.

On the other hand, to Christians, the doctrine is far MORE significant than it may sound at first, because it makes Jesus and Satan equal in nature and power. This flatly contradicts the well-established Bible doctrine that a) Jesus is both God and creator of everything, and b) Satan is a lesser being who was created BY God.

It’s interesting that we now have Mormon spokespeople denying a belief they hold, and calling it a smear. That raises some very good questions:

1) If Mormons actually do believe this, is it really a smear to ask if they believe this? Doesn’t smear at least imply falsehood or distortion?
2) If Mormons want to reject some of the implications of the statement, shouldn’t they at least acknowledge that the statement itself is not inherently false, and just address why it is misleading?
3) Why does an LDS spokeswoman dance around the issue without ever admitting that the question is true?
4) Why does that LDS spokeswoman say that Jesus is the son of God and Satan is the opposite, when according to Mormon doctrine, that in no way disqualifies them as “spirit brothers?”
5) Or is this comment aimed at Christians who read the statement in terms of their own Christian doctrine, never realizing that these phrases they think they understand have been completely redefined in Mormon doctrine to mean something different.
6) And if the statement was made knowing that Christians would misunderstand it, isn’t that deception?
7) And if deception, doesn’t that make Huckabee the subject of a deliberate smear?

I have to say, I was originally leaning strongly towards Romney, especially before Fred Thompson entered the race, but the demonstrated deception and misdirection on this topic alone raises the question of whether Romney’s conversion to conservatism is genuine, or just convenient.

And no, I’m not planning to vote for Huckabee. But this is a smear directed at Huckabee much more than a smear by Huckabee.

Far more significant than the question being asked is the deliberate misdirection from the LDS spokeswoman. That is, that you can ask a question which can only be answered truthfully with, “Yes,” and an LDS spokesperson ducks answering the question, makes misleading statements that imply the opposite of the truth, and accuses the questioner of a “smear.”

Oh, and if you’ve read this far, you’re a bigot. Apparently, bigotry is the only reason anyone would ever criticize or argue against Mormon beliefs.

Smear or Inconvenient Truth: Do Mormons Teach Jesus and Satan are Spirit Brothers?

December 12, 2007

So Huckabee questioned whether Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers, and some are accusing him of smearing Mormons … again.

I’ll grant that I’m not a Huckabee fan, but is this really a “smear?”

Allahpundit on hotair.com quotes an “LDS spokeswoman.”

The authoritative Encyclopedia of Mormonism, published in 1992, does not refer to Jesus and Satan as brothers. It speaks of Jesus as the son of God and of Satan as a fallen angel, which is a Biblical account.

A spokeswoman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Huckabee’s question is usually raised by those who wish to smear the Mormon faith rather than clarify doctrine.

”We believe, as other Christians believe and as Paul wrote, that God is the father of all,” said the spokeswoman, Kim Farah. ”That means that all beings were created by God and are his spirit children. Christ, on the other hand, was the only begotten in the flesh and we worship him as the son of God and the savior of mankind. Satan is the exact opposite of who Christ is and what he stands for.”

I realize it’s not easy being a spokesman for any organization, but the quote above is extremely misleading. The LDS publication called “Gospel Principles” (http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,11-1-13-6,00.html) states, at the beginning of Chapter 3, in the 4th paragraph:

We needed a Savior to pay for our sins and teach us how to return to our Heavenly Father. Our Father said, “Whom shall I send?” (Abraham 3:27). Two of our brothers offered to help. Our oldest brother, Jesus Christ, who was then called Jehovah, said, “Here am I, send me” (Abraham 3:27).

The next paragraph describes the first brother, Jesus Christ. The paragraph after that describes the 2nd brother, Satan.

Satan, who was called Lucifer, also came, saying, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1). Satan wanted to force us all to do his will. Under his plan, we would not be allowed to choose. He would take away the freedom of choice that our Father had given us. Satan wanted to have all the honor for our salvation.

So yes, official LDS doctrine is that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers. Yet the LDS spokeswoman says the “authoritative Encyclopedia of Mormonism” describes Jesus as the son of God, and Satan as a fallen angel, giving the distinct — and very false — impression that they believe the same thing as Christians. The spokeswoman herself describes this as “a Biblical account.”

But here’s the misleading part. When they describe Jesus as the son of God and Satan as a fallen angel, Christians understand this to put Jesus and Satan into two totally different categories: Creator and creature (created thing).

But Mormonism has redefined the doctrine of God and of angels, so the above statement does NOT contradict the Mormon doctrine that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers. Now, you would think someone who would “wish to … clarify doctrine” might clarify that. But instead, the spokeswoman leaves that false implication hanging.

Ironically, it’s the Mormon spokeswoman who needs to apologize for smearing Huckabee!

Judging from the comments at hotair.com, many of the readers believed the statement of the Mormon spokeswoman, and believe that a) Huckabee is ignorant, b) Huckabee is smearing Mormons, c) this is typical behavior of Christians, and d) Christians who criticize Mormon doctrine are bigoted.

Okay, so option a may not be so wrong. But a smear is typically a false or at least misleading statement, and that came from the Mormon spokeswoman, not the politician.

Will the spokeswoman apologize? Don’t hold your breath…..

 

Correction: Following the “LDS spokeswoman” quote back to its source, it appears the paragraph about the Encyclopedia of Mormonism came from the Associated Press itself rather than from the spokeswoman herself. This makes the LDS spokeswoman much less misleading, except that she still backs away from admitting that yes, that is official Mormon doctrine. So she’s still guilty of smearing, rather than clarifying doctrine: the exact thing she accuses others of doing by asking the question.

The Races, Presidentially

November 21, 2007

I see Huckabee has picked up a couple of endorsements lately: one from Chuck Norris, one from Ric Flair.

The Norris endorsement is one to be proud of.  Personally, I’d be more embarrassed by the Ric Flair endorsement, but I’m not a politician. Or a wrestling fan, obviously.

I’d like to like Huckabee, but I wonder sometimes if he’s just Jimmy Carter 2.0.  Jimmy Carter really sold himself as a devout Southern Baptist and a Sunday School teacher, and maybe he was all that and then some.  But he was NOT what many people thought he was when they were voting for him.  That is, voters familiar with Southern Baptist values might have anticipated a devout Southern Baptist would be strongly patriotic, staunchly anti-Communist, steadfastly pro-Israel, and stoutly pro-life.  And many conservative Christians felt comfortable voting for Carter, not realizing what his real positions would be.

Instead, he proclaimed himself to be the “Human Rights” President, but only when it came to snubbing political friends and allies.  When it came to the truly vicious regimes, it was aptly said of Carter that he “never met a dictator he didn’t like.”  In colossally foolish fashion, he co-operated at every step with the Soviets, even sending them wheat at bargain prices, effectively propping up their failing economy, and only when they invaded Afghanistan did he ever seem to realize he’d been had.  Abortion might have concerned many conservative Christians, but it never seemed to bother Carter at all.  His Israel policy was to pressure Israel and beg Palestine  He did get a diplomatic triumph at Camp David, but it was illusory at best in terms of any actual progress.

It may be unfair to compare Huckabee to Carter, but it seems clear that he doesn’t exactly mind raising taxes, or growing the size of government.  He’s conservative compared to Guliani, but he doesn’t seem to be a fiscal conservative.

I do like Fred Thompson, although liking him may not be enough.  But he’s the only one who seems able to explain/defend/persuade his policy so far.  Frankly, if Bush were able to communicate as well as Fred Thompson, his approval ratings would probably be in the high 50’s right now.

Mitt Romney seems to be an excellent manager and businessman, and a decent politician.  But he seems too slick and plastic to be genuine, which is why I don’t say he’s more than a decent politician.  If he were really good, he’d seem more sincere.  Can anyone really pin down what exactly Mitt Romney believes?  Beside believing he should be President?

Guliani, on the other hand, is someone I really shouldn’t like at all.  He epitomizes New York, complete with arrogance, ruthlessness, ambition, and two failed marriages.  These are not selling points for most of America.  Plus, he’s by far the most liberal candidate in the Republican race.

But he did do outstanding work in making New York City a place worth living in, cleaning up much of the mob as a federal prosecutor, and you absolutely have to give him credit for being honest about where he stands.  Besides, anyone who would hand back a check for$75 million from a Saudi prince rather than accept a lecture about how perhaps 9/11 was really our fault earns HUGE points in my book.

That was one of the central problems with Jimmy Carter: you never felt like he was proud of our country, but more that he felt the need to apologize for it.   Carter would have taken the check and promised to start a new program to educate us about our faults as a nation.  Guliani was a better man than to crawl that way.

I’m personally still undecided which candidate to vote for (It’s still early, folks!) , but whoever it is will not be ashamed of who he is, or of the country he is asking to vote him into office.

And it sure won’t be another Jimmy Carter, the worst president of the 20th century.  But I’m repeating myself….

Happy Thanksgiving

November 21, 2007

I always love the Thanksgiving holiday, because it’s probably the most Christian holiday of the year.  You might think the most Christian holidays of the year would be Christmas and Easter, but they were originally pagan ritual days that the Catholics of the distant past tried to infuse with Christian meaning.  Of course, in modern times, the pagan meanings are the obscure ones and the Christian meanings are the ones recognized by everyone.  Still, no one set out to create Christmas and Easter as holidays: they just took over some pagan holidays and “re-interpreted” them.  Kind of gives them a designed-by-committee feel.

Thanksgiving is a simple holiday, but a sincere one.  Just a day to recognize the blessings we enjoy, and give thanks to God for them.

Thanksgiving is an essential part of the Christian’s life of the heart.  We’re told, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

We don’t always come to Thanksgiving with the feeling that things are going great and that we have so much to be thankful for.  Many times, I’ve had bad times or misfortunes to happen uncomfortably close to the Thanksgiving holiday.  But we’re not told to be thankful to God in every good thing.  We’re told to be thankful in every thing.

Sometimes, we look at our problems and worries, and giving thanks is the last thing on our minds.  But beyond whatever is on our hearts and minds at that moment, we still have good things happening to us and for us.  But it’s when things are not going so great that we really most need to be thankful.

All too often, when our health is bad, we forget to be thankful for our families.  Or when finances are squeezing us, we forget about the blessings of friends, or good health, or the promise of better times in the future.  And sometimes when nothing seems to be going well, we forget to be thankful that we still have hope for tomorrow, and that many of our worst problems are actually temporary.

May this Thanksgiving remind all believers to be thankful to God.

Two thoughts from Scripture to end on:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. — James 1:17

 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift — 2 Cor 9:15

Openness

October 12, 2007

One of these days, I need to compare and contrast Priesthood, Protestantism, and Baptists for openness with Windows, Unix, and Linux, and of course, mystery religions, Greek philosophy, and science.  Just think, if I can work in some references to politics, race, and sexual preferences, I can offend everybody at once.

Or at least, all 3 of the people who one day read the post….

Did Ann Coulter stir it up again?

October 12, 2007

Not exactly.

What Ann said.

Reading the interview, it looks like Donny Deutsch pushed as hard as he could to get Ann to say something really controversial, and the best he could get was that Ann thinks all Jews should be Christians, and that she compared a Jew becoming a Christian as being “perfected”.

Which is why I think that it’s not Ann Coulter who “stirred up” this latest controversy, but Donny Deutsch who pushed her to say why she thought Jews should be Christians, then called it “hateful” and “anti-Semitic”.

News flash: All Christians believe Jews should become Christians. Also Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, “Jehovah Witnesses”, Mormons, and Muslims. In fact, the push to convert everybody is a little thing often called the “Great Commission”.

But we see here that Ann’s comments are being proclaimed an “outrage.” Why? Because if all Jews became Christians, there would be less diversity in the world in terms of religion. And to modern liberals, “diversity” is far more important than any religion, or than the concept of truth itself.

Note that Ann, sharp as she normally is, walked right into this. Diversity was brought up by the host when he tried to argue that Ann’s perfect world would be less diverse, and Ann defended against this accusation by saying that diversity of race and nationality were more common in many megachurches than in the more liberal cities in blue states.

But Ann, as a Christian, is not a believer in diversity of religion, therefore she’s intolerant.

Of course, that radical Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”

So here’s the bottom line: To Donny Deutsch and others, “diversity” of religion is a more important value than the Christian faith, and refusal to agree with that is intolerant.

P.S. The perfection thing: Perfection in the Bible most often means “completion” or “fullness” or “maturity”, not “flawlessness”. For example,

2 Chron 8:16, “… until it was finished. So the house of the LORD was perfected”.

Acts 23:15 “… enquire something more perfectly” If perfect means flawless, then more perfectly means more flawlessly, which doesn’t make sense. If perfect means complete, then “enquire … more completely” makes sense.

It’s not just the Bible, though. In the Preamble to the Constitution, one goal is “to form a more perfect union”. A more flawless union? Doesn’t make sense. A more complete or full union? Makes a lot of sense.

So in this sense, when Jesus dies on the cross, he fulfills the Law’s demands for a sacrifice on sin, as well as prophecies of the Messiah, thereby “perfecting” the Law. As in Matt 5:17, “I am not come to destroy [the law], but to fulfil”. Which is almost certainly what Ann Coulter meant about “perfecting” Jews who become Christians. They become believers in a faith that has been perfected by Jesus Christ. Col 2:10, “And ye are complete in him…” (I could find lots more verses, but this is not a tutorial, just a brief explanation)

That might sound like political spin, but it was fairly basic Christian doctrine long before Ann Coulter’s first book.

Here again

October 12, 2007

Okay, so maybe I won’t post here every day.

Religous Right and Rudy Republican Rift

October 8, 2007

I see via Hot Air that the New York Times is concerned that the religious right might be fracturing over Rudy Giuliani. It may be more accurate to say they’ve been impatiently waiting for it to happen, since it fits their notion of the religious right in general as ignorant and intolerant types. The incident prompting this expectation was James Dobson saying that Rudy was unacceptable to him as a Republican candidate, and that he and those who agreed with him would rather create a third party and nominate a pro-life candidate than vote for Rudy.

I’m always touched by the New York Times showing such solicitation for us backwards types. Other than that, I’m not too concerned, for multiple reasons.

First, Dobson is hardly a “kingmaker.” So his opposition is not exactly the Crack of Doom for the Republican party in general or Rudy Giuliani in particular.

Second, while Dobson is pushing the envelope with talk of creating a third-party just to avoid compromising on a Giuliani candidacy, he does have a valid point. It’s basic politics: if you want someone’s vote, you need to pay attention to the issues that concern him.

There are those in the Republican party who are almost giddy to have a candidate that is relatively liberal — pro-abortion, anti-gun, pro-gay marriage, etc. They think these positions will help him do well in blue states, while the red states will vote for him because anything is better than the presumptive Democrat, Hillary.

And if the religious conservatives, or social cons, don’t like it: well, that’s too bad. What are they gonna do, vote for Hillary?

Then they read this about Dobson, and the poll that suggests the religious right is at least open to the idea of a third party that will nominate a true conservative, and they are outraged. Several commenters at Hot Air are calling the religious right stupid for even considering it.

I half-way agree. A split party would basically give the nomination to the Democrats, and we can’t afford that. That’s the half I agree with.

The half I disagree with is this: There are two sides to this story. If the Republicans split because half of them push a candidate the other half finds unacceptable, it’s just as much the fault of those who tried to ram “their” candidate down the others’ throats as it is the fault of those who refuse to accept the candidate.

That is, you could just as easily blame those who are pushing Rudy, knowing that significant chunks of the party, their putative allies, are less than pleased with him.

Of course, this kind of issue is exactly what the whole candidacy process is about. Eventually, there will be a Republican candidate, and everyone will rally around him. But whoever that candidate is, he’ll have to give both sides reason to unite behind him.

Reset

October 8, 2007

When I started this blog, I said I wouldn’t be stressed about necessarily updating it every day.  Of course, my last post was over six months ago, which was slightly overdoing the non-stressing part of updating the blog.

Let’s see if I can find a happy medium (in the non-spiritualist sense of the word, obviously) …  There’s a lot going on in the world, and I’m sure there are a lot of people waiting breathlessly for my opinion on all of it.

Hmmm.  Where’s the sarcasm tag in this thing?