Thursday, July 2, 2015

From the Declaration of Independence

Excerpted from the Declaration of Independence. I would offer these comments:

1. Note the authority appealed to by the Congress

2. Note that lives and fortunes were surrendered, but honor itself was the only thing sacred. Let us be that honorable.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Book: Do Over by @jonacuff

Today’s book is not one I received completely free, but I think it’s worth your time anyway.

Adults spend the bulk of their waking hours at work. Well, most adults do. Some adults don’t have to for whatever reason. We’ll leave them out of this discussion. This about those who have work, want work, or will work. Jon Acuff’s book Do Over deals with how we approach work.

First, this is primarily a book about your career. It’s not an explicitly Christian book—this is not a book about finding your vocation in life through Scripture. It is a work that approaches work through the lens of wisdom and general providence. That’s fine, it’s just worth noting.

Second, Acuff’s not particularly concerned with whether or not you quit the job you have. He’s got another book about quitting your job to find the job you love. This one is about a different viewpoint: loving the job you’ve got. After all, in the current era you have to balance that need to eat with the desire to find work that seems wonderful.

Finally, Acuff’s work here is about making yourself valuable in your job and building on the experiences you have. He recognizes the modern situation, where employer and employee loyalty isn’t worth much. Instead, one has to both do the best you can in your job while also banking skills that transfer elsewhere.

Overall, Do Over is a good read. Some of it is the same job-positive platitudes you’ll get on a dozen motivational posters. The combination of the information, though, is helpful. I especially appreciate the angle taken about using all of your experience to build up for what your “career savings account” that enables your work going forward.

For me, I’m hopeful not to need too much of a “Do Over” anytime soon, but I am glad I read this book. I recommend it for anyone looking ahead into working life and wondering what approaches to take.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reveling in Falsehood: 2 Peter 2

In Summary:

Peter continues his letter with warnings of false prophets. These false prophets have come and will keep coming, just they had throughout Israel’s history. The first few verses speak of the motivation and attraction of these false teachers: sensuality, greed, and arrogance.

In discussing these false prophets, Peter mentions Balaam (from Numbers 22-24, see here, here, and here,) the talking donkey, the Flood, Noah, angels, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We are forced to select one of two options: either Peter’s citations are accurate, and so is the Old Testament, or Peter was wrong. If he’s wrong on the Old Testament, then that throws his credibility in doubt for all things.

The chapter as a whole resounds with condemnation of those who push evil. Peter recognizes that a new religion is easily corrupted. And he knows that corruption usually arises from within—whether by deceptive entrance or being deceived down the line. The trick? It starts as simple teaching that is a shade off, and then morphs into something much, much worse.

In Focus:

Turn your eyes firmly to 2 Peter 2:2. The first verse has addressed the false teachers who will arise among the church. This verse speaks to those who will follow them. In this, we see a couple of major issues:

1. The teaching that we are dealing with here is destructive heresy. I wrote, a long time ago, about calling stuff “heresy” (link) and how we should reserve that for theology that masquerades as Christian but is truly going to send someone to hell. Assuming Peter and I are on the same page here, his point supports that one can sneak into the church and push the church into heresy. He’s not talking about those who shift opinions on debatable matters like mode of baptism.

This is about those who start teaching that one does not surrender to Jesus as Lord for salvation. That can be those who think there are multiple paths or that one’s life does not have to follow the instructions of Jesus after salvation (obedience follows grace).

2. The teaching that we are dealing with ends up sounding good but brings reproach on the “way of the truth.” That could slice in a couple of directions, but the main concept here is that it becomes a self-pleasing idea. The hearers want to believe it over the truth, because it is easier to follow.

In Practice:

Practical steps to deal with heresy and false teachers? These bear constant repeating:

1. Read your own Bible. Not just a little of it, nor just for the light and fluffy moments. Read it, grow through it, and do not leave it to someone else to always tell you what it means!

2. Keep your teachers accountable. Including your pastors. It astounds me that we often want to keep our ministers more accountable for how they spend their time than how they hold to sound doctrine. We act like a one-time ordination questionnaire is all the theological exam someone needs. It’s not the case. But if you’re more worried whether your youth minister came to work at 8 or 805 than if he still believes the Bible is actually true, you’ll never notice his theological drift.

Or if you’re more concerned with the measurable effects: if your senses are more pleased by a large crowd than you are concerned with right doctrine, you are following down into trouble.

3. False teaching almost never sounds “bad” to our natural ears. It either supplies us justification for what we want, like men drawn to extreme patriarchy views, or it rolls nicely with what we’ve always heard, like some views of nationalism mixed into worship. These are harder to stop than we might think, because they sound so appealing and reasonable at the outset.

Overall, the difficulty in fighting false prophets and teachers is that they rarely start off sounding wrong. One preacherjust wants you to have a nice day, like every Friday should be, that’s all…somebody else just wants the 10 Commandments to be listened to. Then the next guy just wants you to have obedient children, and then the whole thing falls apart.

The best defense is keeping your focus on the One and Only Savior, and seeing the people God gives to help us walk with Jesus as precisely that: people.

In Nerdiness: 

Such nerd fun here: 1. Universal flood or not? Peter says…whole world.
2. Angels and judgment? There’s a boatload of differing opinions here. Suffice it to say that Peter’s point is not about the outcomes for the angels but about the reality that if God judges them, you do not escape the opportunity.
3. 2 Peter 2:8 is the source for thinking Lot was bothered by Sodom. Nothing in Genesis gives us that idea, so we either have to take Peter’s reflection as inspired or toss it.
4. Notice the idea that “instinct” leads one to be ignorant and destroyed. (V. 12). What does that do with viewpoints about natural inclinations?

5. Peter alludes to two major portions of the Old Testament: the Law and Wisdom divisions.