Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday, Long Friday

I'm Swedish-born. I'm a typical American, in the historical sense of the word, being that I'm a foreign-born person who immigrated to America.

In Sweden, public holidays make up a large part of the substantial volume of vacation-days that all workers get. A Swedish-American living in Sweden has this to say on the subject: A number of the holidays tend to be religious ones, probably owing to a trifecta of circumstances: Sweden's Lutheran history, the apparent lack of fundamentalist Christianity such as what began in the USA in response to liberal interpretations around the 1900s, and the lack of any historical documents asserting a "separation of church and state." Today being Good Friday, I was reminded of the Swedish term for the same day:

Long Friday.

Owing to spending my first 7 years of life in Sweden, and learning to read, write and speak fluently in that language first, Long Friday was the name for the day that I was first introduced to as a child.

After moving to the US, I encountered the name "Good Friday," and I recall being perplexed as to how it could have been good. I knew that Jesus had been tortured and then died a painful death on that day, so it seemed unlikely that it was a good day for Him. In contrast, for Him it must have been a long day, that could not have ended too soon, what with the excruciating pain (incidentally, that word in English comes from the Latin ex crucis, or "from the Cross") that must have made the minutes drag on and on...

As a child, I think I did not understand the full message of the Cross. I knew the story, and to be honest I don't remember at what point I knew that He died for us, and it wasn't until 2010 that I know for sure that I 'fully' understood what that meant, in the sense of the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement. Now, as a more mature believer, I understand why Good Friday was good. It was a good day for us. Because of what happened on Good Friday -- the Crucifixion of God Himself, charged with the sin of blasphemy, to which we all guilty because of our rebellion -- we are able to be forgiven of our sins and treated as though we lived Jesus' life, after He was treated as if He'd lived ours. This great exchange is the Good News. God has offered us forgiveness.

Now I see how it could have been a good day. Though it was the lowest point for the Creator's dignity, a perfect being being so dishonored, yet it was a glorious day all the same because through His death He won His great victory, purchasing for Himself all those who would humble themselves and throw their crowns at His feet, proclaiming Him as their Lord. And for those who will do so, that day was the Greatest Day. Without Good Friday, there would be no Good News. There would be no salvation. We would all die in our sins and there would be no hope for us. (1 Corinthians 15:18-19)

Here's the bottom line:

It was a Long Friday for Jesus Christ, who saw the plan through to the end despite the ignominy of it.

It was a Good Friday for us, because through His blood, we are forgiven of our sins (Ephesians 1:7)

A poignant comparison, because now we eagerly await an eternity with Him, which will be both good and long. Therefore remember the past, and look to the future, this Easter holiday.

Song: This Man, by Jeremy Camp

~ Rak Chazak

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Theological Lyrics Thursday: Friel-Proof Christian Music

Hello Internet,

12 days after starting blogging, my post entitled The Wretched Podcast is the most popular, due largely to Elizabeth Prata's encouragement from a blog post on her website, In that post, I made mention of Todd Friel's radio program, and used it to springboard into a discussion of song-lyrics in Christian music and the danger of judging it by how it sounds rather than what it says. 

The idea hit me that I could present a few songs once a week, as a regular upload, to encourage any potential readers to check out songs that can offer them not just a good listen but also theologically meaty lyrics, to help us grow in our walk and remain 'heavenly minded.'

Since I can't limit myself to just one, here's what I'll do today--I'll make three categories:

1. Doctrinal Exposition -- this song emphasizes an important Biblical doctrine of some kind.
2. Good Idea -- this song delievers a message consistent with, or derived from, the Bible but isn't necessarily phrased in doctrinal language; less explicit, essentially.
3. Mostly Air -- this song may or may not have some redeeming qualities, but will be mostly fluff, with little or nothing to distinguish it as exclusively Christian music, and would be best avoided. However, in most cases you can get away with listening to it as long as it doesn't make up the vast bulk of your music library. 
Here comes the first batch:

Doctrinal Exposition: Children of God, by Third Day

+3 Brownie Points for having the singer look like the stereotypical 'Anglican' Jesus we see in paintings.

Here's what's good about the song: 

It emphasizes the doctrine of adoption -- the brief clip at the beginning emphasizes that point. The Bible says in Ephesians 1:5 that through Jesus Christ we (those who are saved) have been adopted as children of God into His family. Romans 8:14 says that "all who are led by the [Holy] Spirit are children of God." So the message is more than just sentimental, but an important Biblical truth to recognize. That's the great strength of Third Day's song. Extra credit is awarded for the manifold references to us being redeemed, the fact that we are "free from the judgment that we deserve," the implicit references to the Trinity through reference to the Father and the Son, and the correct identification of believers as Saints -- "we are the Saints, we are the Children, we've been redeemed, we've been forgiven," a bridge chorus that shows up later in the song.
In an age of deception and misinformation about who the Saints are, and who is a child of God, this song does a great service by emphasizing that both of these terms refer to believers in Jesus Christ, in contrast to Roman Catholic teaching that Saints are an elite, exclusive class of believers who have died and now answer prayers directed to them, and the false worldly misunderstanding that everyone on earth is a child of God, when in fact unbelievers are referred to as "children of wrath." (Ephesians 2:3)

Good Idea: Blessings, by Laura Story

Here's what's good about the song:

It questions the mentality that says that God will make life into a cake-walk for every believer. It directly challenges the 'every day a Friday' attitude that expects Christians to be happy all the time and everything hunky-dory for them. It repeatedly questions, in several clever ways, whether the seemingly bad things in life may in fact be "blessings in disguise," reminding us that "this is not our home," and suggesting in one verse that "we doubt your goodness, we doubt your love, as if every promise from your word is not enough." This challenges us to be careful to not lose faith when prayers are not immediately answered with the relief we seek. It points the listener away from their material circumstance and refocuses them on God's promises. This is not 'your best life now.' Our best life is a future life after death, promised to us by God, for those who persevere in faith through the trials of life. (James 1:3) (Hebrews 6:12)
Take-away verse:
What if my greatest disappointments, and the aching of this life, is a revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy?

Mostly Air: 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman (has redeeming qualities)

There are many songs out there that aren't terribly BAD, they're just not full of theology. In this case, I've chosen one of the better ones; I have this one in my library and I'm not worse off for it.

The main message of this song can be boiled down to a single verse: no matter what happens, praise the Lord continually without giving up. Hey, that's a great message. But if you remember my suggestion in the article The Wretched Podcast, if you remove the brief shout of "Jesus!" at the end of the song, then this song can be sung by Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Roman Catholics; and when even the monotheistic versions of Hinduism can appropriate it, it means that it's not a remarkable song--it isn't distinctively Christian.

Now don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean the song is taboo, or terrible. But if you were trying to casually witness to someone on Facebook, and were going to use a song out of these three that I've given today, to give to someone in one of the religions I mentioned above, then you would do well to choose the first one in the list. This one can be fine to listen to to worship God, but be wary of the cumulative effect that many such songs can have on your personal theology.

The most theologically distinctive the song gets is the single line, "
You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger." It implies, but doesn't exactly scream "Jesus," so be wary of getting watered down. 

As long as you're cautious, you can listen to music with watered-down lyrics, or shall I say, with a low doctrine-to-verse quotient? But when you're setting priorities, do your best to seek out songs with a more complete message than just "worship God."

Tune in next week for a second installment and three (or two, depending on how you're reading this) more songs!

~ Rak Chazak

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Passover: A Shared Holiday, With Different Interpreted Messages for Jews and Christians

Some people crave chocolate. It's their "guilty pleasure." 

Political Similarities between conservative Jews and Christians

Metaphorically speaking, for me that's reading conservative blog satire. The news is depressing enough as it is, so getting the big picture, without having to try to guess what the television is telling you that's true and what's false, together with a healthy dose of humor to mock the outrageousness of the situation, is something I recommend for all conservatives, and all Christians.

And some of the best conservative satire I've found on the Internet is the product of one man: Daniel Greenfield, a NYC-dwelling Orthodox Jewish guy who writes more in a day than many people talk. Far from only producing satire, however, Greenfield's blog turns out amazingly profound commentaries on just about every aspect of national and global politics. Prodigious, that is the word to describe him.

Why'd I emphasize that he was Orthodox Jewish? Because the nature of our worldviews is such that for a true-believing Christian and a true-believing Jew, that aspect is the "only" aspect of our beliefs which diverges. In nearly everything else that can be imagined, our political beliefs are almost perfectly aligned. Consequently, it's enjoyable to read what he writes because I very rarely find things to disagree with him on, and am able to learn a lot from his insights about history and politics, without having to question his interpretation, as much as with other sources.

Incidentally, I put "only" in quotes, because to minimize the theological differences between modern Judaism and Biblical Christianity would be a monumental oversight, since these beliefs are in no way casual preferences of those that choose them, and their implications are massively profound with eternal consequences. From a theological point of view, I look at Orthodox Judaism and think "so close, yet so far away." In a purely political perspective, however, we're nearly identical. 

Today, I want to try my best to make a few theological points using Mr. Greenfield's recent blog post about Passover.


Analysis of From Slavery to Freedom, by Daniel Greenfield

Greenfield's main points from the article:

It's possible to be enslaved without being physically bound. Slavery of the mind leaves a man physically free to act but limited by his mental enslavement to only do the things which please his taskmasters. He thinks he is free but he isn't.
Passover does not simply remind the Jews that they escaped slavery at one time in the past, but it embodies the realization that freedom from slavery was and is a continual journey. I would add that this hearkens to the theme of the book of Judges, that after being delivered, a new generation would rise up, forget God, and be turned over to judgment. The famous Reagan quote, that 'freedom must be fought for and defended by each generation,' also applies.
Pharaoh did not have to be simply defeated, but discredited. That is what the 10 Plagues accomplished. They showed that Pharaoh was not God, but only God was God. 
"Ritual is the gateway to a state of mind. A ritual of freedom only succeeds when it invokes a state of mental freedom. Otherwise it is a rite, a practice, a habit whose codes may help some future generation unlock its meaning, but which means little today." 
 As a Jew, Daniel Greenfield says that Passover is a journey; it's a beginning and an end but the Jews are always in the middle.  In him saying this, I perceive a nascent understanding that there is 'unfinished business' in the celebration of the Hebrew holidays. I suspect that Daniel may have a future united Jerusalem led by free Jews in mind. I acknowledge that that day is coming, but Passover is pointing to something even greater than that.

Amazing Continuity

Let me elaborate on that ending note. I've had the privilege to speak with some Orthodox Jewish guys at my university, and I've gotten the impression that it is a common belief among Jews that they are awaiting a political salvation. They, like their forefathers, the Pharisees (often seen as the bad guys in the Gospel, though Jesus' criticism of them was not for their theology--in Matthew 23 He says "the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore do what they tell you," (Matthew 23:2-3) rather, His criticism of them was for their hypocrisy and their addition of man-made interpretations on top of the Law (Matthew 15:8-9)(Isaiah 29:13)), do not accept the Suffering Servant as their savior because they aren't looking for Him. They're looking for a political leader who will rebuild the Temple and restore Jerusalem. (incidentally, the passage about the 'suffering servant' is interpreted by Orthodox Jews to refer to Israel)

As Solomon said, "there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Judaism has not evolved. Not only are the Jews remarkable for their preservation of ancient manuscripts, and the preservation of their lineages and culture, but also in their commitment to the faith of their fathers. We Christians today are by and large met with Jews who are essentially the same as the Jews which Peter and the other Apostles encountered in the book of Acts, and which Jesus walked with and spoke to in the Gospels.

It's truly fascinating.

At the same time, as a Christian I am grieved somewhat by the thought that my Jewish friends are setting their sights too low. What is offered to them is more than just a kingdom, but eternal life and God Himself. How I wish that they would see this.

The Missing Pieces

It's such an eerie thing to listen to someone talk about something and come so close to figuring everything out, when you know what the finished puzzle looks like. I yearn for these Orthodox Jewish guys to put all the pieces together and see the whole picture.

No one who understands the nature of beliefs that are exclusive and contain promises of reward and judgment would be offended by the expressed desire by someone with such a belief that they (the first person) would come to know 'the truth.' Of course it can strike you as insulting because it supposes that what you believe is wrong, but it's genuine, whether their belief is true or not. 

I’ve always said, you know, that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize.  I don’t respect that at all.  If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that, well, it’s not really worth telling them because it would make it socially awkward . . . How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?  How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?  I mean, if I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you.  And this is more important than that . ~ Penn Jilette, outspoken atheist
Of course I believe your theology is wrong. Otherwise we wouldn't call ourselves different names. But I won't be afraid to speak on this issue, even if you'll dislike me for it, Daniel -- and it's 'cause I love ya. :)

The Passover clearly points to Christ. It symbolizes the necessary covering of the blood of a sacrifice that is necessary for us to escape God's judgment (Hebrews 9:22) (Leviticus 17:11). It foreshadowed the later institution of formal sacrifices which temporarily covered the sins of the faithful and prefigured a coming perfect sacrifice.

Jews would disagree with that latter part, about the perfect sacrifice. But I'd like to offer these passages for consideration:

"Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams." (1 Samuel 15:22)
"What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats." (Isaiah 1:11)
"For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6)
"To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice." (Proverbs 21:3)

I decided not to include the passages which warn of judgment when the Israelites had gone astray, lest the rebuttal be offered that the verses above do not refer to sacrifices at all times. To my knowledge, the ones I've selected do.

God doesn't want sacrifices. I suppose that the Jewish explanation for why sacrifices are not now offered is because there is no Temple. I want to tell you that the real reason that sacrifices are not needed any longer is because Jesus Christ has been offered up, "once for all," (Hebrews 7:27) for all people who will take Him as their substitute--their scape-goat, if you will.

Daniel speaks an ironic truth when he says, "[ritual] is a rite, a practice, a habit whose codes may help some future generation unlock its meaning, but which means little today."  He doesn't realize how right he is. The Jewish holidays were given for a purpose. Their practice became habit and its true meaning has been lost, but looking back, a willing spirit can see the scarlet thread running through history, connecting the memorials with that which they commemorate and prefigure. Daniel doesn't understand that he himself is included in the group of those who are not fully free but only ritually free. Like he said, "ritual is the gateway to a state of mind." I would say that the Jewish rituals are meant to point toward something greater and more profound than themselves.

Until the understanding dawns on any given Jew, individually, that the meaning of all their rituals and holy days is to point toward a Messiah who will not only give them an everlasting kingdom--that's just the icing on the cake--but who will save them from their sins and reconcile them to their heavenly Father, the Passover will remain a journey that they remain perpetually stuck in the middle of, unable to come to the end and find rest.

Hebrews 10:
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:1-18)
My prayer is that my Jewish brothers through Adam, whom I love dearly, would have their eyes and hearts opened so that they may also be my brothers in Christ. 

~ Rak Chazak

In the News: Proposition 8 and DOMA Head to SCOTUS This Week

A landmark moment in time may come without a landmark ruling.

Proposition 8 is a law in California that bans gay marriage, in conflict with the State's supreme court that ruled that the state could grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

DOMA, the Defense-of-Marriage-Act, is a federal law signed by Bill Clinton in the '90s. 

The major news outlets are pretty much all saying the same thing: the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States, for future reference) is likely to avoid making a broad ruling, since neither case directly asks the question, 'is it Constitutional or unConstitutional to ban same-sex marriage?'

I'm placing a 'bet' on how the week's cases will turn out. Here's my prediction:

PROP 8: Thrown Out

The SCOTUS will likely throw out the Proposition 8 case on the basis that the plaintiffs do not have "standing" to bring the suit. 

What does this mean? This website explains the issue of standing with a number of examples. As best as I can summarize my understanding of it, it seems that for you to bring suit against someone before the SCOTUS, you have to be able to prove that you a) are actually affected by the law/governmental action in question, or b) are indeed a person whom the government would sue for noncompliance if the law were to go into effect.

Apparently, the case may get thrown out because the plaintiffs are not directly affected by the federal district court's ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.

The end result of this is that the lower courts' decisions would stand, rendering Prop 8 ineffective within California, and thus gay marriage would continue within that State. 

However, this would have no impact on any other State, or the nation as a whole, only CA

DOMA: Struck Down

The SCOTUS may very well rule that DOMA is unconstitutional. I don't have a lot of faith in the Court after the Obamacare "guess it was a tax after all, guys" decision that was split along ideological lines. I think DOMA will be struck down in the same way. It will be 4-5 with Kennedy casting his lot with the liberal activist judges once again.

But this will only decide whether the FEDERAL government can ban gay marriage.

This would be a loss for whichever side is on the losing end, for sure. But if it is struck down, it will only mean that the US government can't ban gay marriage in all the States. It would not give the Federal government the power to compel States to adopt gay marriage--that's the other side of the coin. If the government has the power to compel, then it has the power to ban. So if the power to ban is struck down, then so is the power to compel.

What's left is the question of whether individual States can ban gay marriage.

Based on the reasonable guess that the SCOTUS will not use Prop 8 to decide that issue, it seems that the same-sex marriage 'debate' will remain unresolved even after this week is over.

~ Rak Chazak

Monday, March 25, 2013

Campus Frivolity for Christ

My college campus has had a chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ Cru for about 4 years. It served as a launching-pad for me to investigate specific theological issues, when I was coming out of my period of questioning in 2010. Consequently, I have a generally fond view of the campus group and considered myself a member, though I slowly began to attend less as I learned how to acquire good spiritual 'food' on my own.

In the fall 2011, and spring and fall semester of 2012, I attended the first meetings of the semester in the hopes of getting to network with other Christians and to hear some good expository teaching.

To my dismay, I found the group's leaders had decided that we would play silly games instead. One year they separated into teams and had a race to see who could wrap a person up with toilet paper to make them look like a mummy the fastest. Another year they put stickers on your back with the names of fictional characters and you had to ask people questions to find out who you were, so you could find your partner (Belle and the Beast, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, Timon and Puumba). Another year they had a scavenger hunt where the goal was to take pictures of your team at various landmarks on campus.

One of these times, I asked one of the student leaders why they weren't having a normal meeting. (One with worship music in the beginning, a speaker presenting a message, and closing with a prayer and more worship music, that was the typical flow of a meeting. And copious amounts of time before and after the meeting for people to simply talk to each other.) The response was that the games were supposed to make things interesting and be "for fun, and to let people have a chance to get to know each other." 

Call me crazy, but I think the best way for people to get to know each other is by talking, not by being separated by an arbitrary game that hinders your ability to interact with others, and has questionable or nonexistent spiritual application.

What upset me was that I was coming because I wanted Cru, not a silly game. It definitely seemed to me that the leaders had decided to sell themselves out just to be exciting and interesting. The problem was that by doing this, they accomplished the opposite. When people come to a Christian event, they want to experience Christian things. When you give them kindergarten-level meet-and-greet entertainment, they get bored.

At least I did. Maybe I'm the only one. But the fall-off from 80-110 attendees the first week to 20-40 the third week would seem to suggest otherwise.

You have one shot to get people interested in your group, and what do you do? Do you behave in a manner completely different from the way you usually do? Some church and para-church organizations seem to think that. I don't follow that logic.

People go to Church to experience Church. They don't go to experience 6th-grade Phys Ed. When they go expecting to learn about Christ, and you give them nothing of spiritual value whatsoever, you do them a huge disservice.

I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with this quotation I found on Elizabeth Prata's blog, which is apparently original to another writer.

"These relentless overtures to make the church more hip or more culturally savvy are in themselves a danger to any church. They downgrade the gospel, make people seek excitements as vehicles for their silliness and pander after entertainment instead of seeking Christ as a Savior for their sins. These excitements are a judgement to any church. Believers come seeking for bread and to be fed and you offer them stones! Oh brood of vipers, and you call yourselves Christ-ian (Christ-like)!"
Source link:
Referring link:

It really grieves me to see such a focus on "entertainment" rather than Christian teaching. I really do prefer the latter. Don't make me jump through hula hoops or hold hands with people and run in a circle. That's not what I'm there for. Your insistence on giving that to me as the only option is insulting to my intelligence and my attention span. Let me decide if I want to stay or go. Don't try to trick people into thinking Church is fun by acting like dorks because you think that's the stuff they like. -- And when I phrase it that way, can you see how it's insulting to the people you're supposedly trying to draw in?

That's my criticism of the Cru faction on my campus, but it's equally applicable to any church which behaves the same way.

P.S. After going to the first meetings in 2012, I didn't attend again for the rest of the semester. I'm now no longer involved in Cru. So you can take a wild guess whether "fun and games" made me want to come back.

~ Rak Chazak

Snow-Day In the Mid-Atlantic

This is why I don't watch the news. It lets me be surprised. I had no idea a snow storm was coming. Now I'm thrilled that I get one more day to work on my Genetics assignment.

I took some pictures. But as usually happens when I have a slow morning, I did turn on the t.v. All I have at the place where I'm staying is broadcast, which limits me to choosing ABC, NBC or CBS, which is a lot like choosing between a badger, a lemming and a koala for a guard dog. I clicked over to CBS and whattya know, there was some fun religious controversy on the agenda.

*  *  *  *

Yea, can anything good come out of Jersey? (John 1:46 reference, there) As it turns out, not only was an ethnocentric nationalist religion founded there in 1913, but it also happens that America doesn't only breed faux-Christian cults, but Islamic ones as well.

Wiki: Moorish Science Temple of America

The Moorish Nationals are a minor religion numbering in the tens of thousands just 100 years after  the founding, but it just recently made news because several members are 'claiming property' that doesn't belong to them, under the auspices of it belonging to them because they are the original settlers of America and therefore are sovereign and not obliged to obey US laws.

Sounds very familiar. This also sounded familiar: the CBS hosts all sang in united chorus that "this is just an unrepresentative sect" of a much larger belief system, where "the majority of people do not commit fraud or engage in criminal activity." (closely paraphrased by memory. I don't know where to find the interview clip this early after air-time).

I think we've heard that before. Lawbreakers belonging to a religion aren't representative of that religion as a whole? How do we know that? Short answer: we don't. The way to know that would involve learning their religious doctrines and evaluating whether their actions match up with their beliefs. If their beliefs don't teach disregard for US law, then these guys are just nutters who don't represent anybody else, true. But if their beliefs do teach that, then these guys ARE representative of their religion, and it should urge greater caution and scrutiny of that 'faith.'

The Moorish Science cult actually preceded the Nation of Islam by almost two decades. Incidentally, that was founded in Detroit. 

Malcolm X was in the Nation of Islam. He was interviewed once by Alex Haley, the man who wrote Roots
"Thoughtful white people know they are inferior to Black people." ~ Malcolm X
I don't have the energy to show how very racist these ethno-cults derived from Islam and marketed toward dispossessed African Americans are. But that quote and the links provided should give you a starting point for understanding the same.

Wait, just one more. Do you know what the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) is? It's like the ACLU. It's a left-leaning (to describe it in the most generous terms) organization, which operates in the realm of law. Whereas the ACLU brings suit, the SPLC pronounces groups to be "hate organizations." It happens to consider the Family Research Council a hate group. So it's ironic that the SPLC would keep a record of statements made by the now-leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan. The following is from the wikipedia article:
"Jews have been conclusively linked to the greatest criminal endeavor ever undertaken against an entire race of people ... the black African Holocaust.
Who are the slumlords in the Black community? The so-called Jews ... Who is it sucking our blood in the Black community? A white imposter Arab and a white imposter Jew." ~ Louis Farrakhan 
*  *  *  *
How come religious cults always end up spewing anti-semitism? Now, I'm not a Jew by ancestry (wouldn't that be a surprise!), but I happen to love the Jewish people, because I've read Genesis, Exodus and Revelation. That's, honestly, all you need to know, at a minimum, to realize that God really loves these guys. And if you want to hate something or someone that God loves, ehhh...that's your prerogative, know what I'm saying? I'll stick to making wise choices.

Snow-Day pictures from Undisclosed Location 1: 

 ^ View from the front door.

^ View from the back.

It's funny, this is only the second time I've seen snow all winter. The snow storms that have kept plowing through and slamming the Northeast have all gone above the Mason-Dixon Line, and we've been conveniently missed by every single one. And even now, the Northeast is STILL going to get hit by this storm. A lot of people up there are either feeling really happy, or really really bummed.

~ Rak Chazak

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Blog Posting Styles

This is sort of a rationale to explain how the posts will appear on this blog, because of my personal circumstance.

I'm a graduating senior at a university, spring break is just coming to a close and assignment due dates are encroaching. I've found myself to be a lot busier during the week this semester than I've ever been before. I found myself thinking, I wonder if this is what it's like for people in the real world, with jobs? :) But that's the background.

Consequently, I can't make predictions about when I'll have free time. So for the time being, I can definitively state that my posts to this blog won't be on a continuous basis (e.g. daily or every two days), and I can't say for sure what time of week (e.g. Friday) to expect new uploads. Instead, what I can say is that I'll try my best to upload a certain number of posts every week. Sort of how I've done over the last few days.

This method is more of a "posting surge," where I have some time to myself (real or imagined), and take the time to churn out several separate articles in a row, within a short period of time. This equates to a week's worth of daily content, it's just all uploaded at once because I'm unreliably creative--and unstressed.

So that's what you can expect. There will be more posts, I just can't say when. And if you stop by weekly, you should be able to find something new and interesting.

Thanks for reading! And I do hope you got something out of it, too.

~ Rak Chazak

Categories of American Conservatism

There's a reason why terms like 'conservative' and 'liberal' sometimes serve to confuse political discussions. It's because those words are adjectives -- another word for adjective is a "noun modifier." In other words, nothing is conservative or liberal in and of itself, but with respect to something that can be conserved or loosened. Let's look at the terms:

Conserve: to conserve, restrain, hold back, maintain, preserve, hold fast to, etc.

Liberally: profusely; Liberate: to loosen, set free, relinquish control over, etc.

From what I remember, the Founders made a distinction between the concepts of "freedom" and "liberty." The short summary is this: total individual freedom, a 'state of nature,' is not true freedom at all because it's unstable. The strong eventually conquer the weak and impose their own rules. By contrast, liberty is freedom with some minimal, reasonable restrictions on the individual, that makes society safe for individuals to exercise their freedom, enabling them to be more free than they would be otherwise, without those restrictions.

Back on topic: Conservatives wish to conserve something, but Liberals wish to relax, or be free from those things. But what is that thing?

This is where I wish to make an important point. Conservatism and Liberalism mean different things in different countries, because their different histories by definition mean that that which would be conserved varies based on the established historical culture of those places.

That's why, in Iran, conservatism means Shia Islam. In Saudi Arabia, it's Wahhabi Islam. In Spain and Italy, it's Roman Catholicism. In the UK and US, it's Protestant Christianity. In Russia, it's Communism, and in China, it's a mixture of that and, religiously, ancestor-worship is the traditional spiritual belief. So on and so forth.

The US differs from the UK, however. While they have a similar theological history, their political culture is very distinct. The UK was a Constitutional Monarchy since the good old days when King John signed the Magna Carta. It still is, but the monarchy is much weakened in its power. The US, on the other hand, has never had a king. It has always been a mixture of a Republic (leaders decide the laws on behalf of the people) and a Democracy (the leaders are chosen by the people). The democratic aspect of this is deeply embedded in American society because of generations of asserting the ideal of individualism. In America, the political unit is the individual. This is in turn supported by the theological teachings of Christianity, which says that all people are made in God's image and are responsible for themselves.

American Conservatism, then, is extremely unique because no other country has over a hundred years of history at its foundation that supports the political position that says that every individual has the right and responsibility to make their own decisions, provided they are not immoral, without any other person interfering with their ability and prerogative to do so.

That's why Conservatism in the US can be boiled down to a single phrase, as far as it concerns the relationship between the individual and his government: personal responsibility.

To be more specific, however, American Conservatism, understood historically, means the maintaining of Biblical Christian principles in all areas of public and private life.

That's my working definition.

The liberal view would be, rather than maintaining those principles, loosening and/or abandoning those principles.

Now that we have a basic definition of conservatism as it regards America, I need to address the obvious fact that people are not either totally conservative, or totally opposed to conservatism. As a result, I set about determining what broad categories of policy exist under which a person can adopt either a conservative or a liberal view.

Here are the categories I've found that individuals' views differ under:

Fiscally Conservative
Economically Conservative
Military Conservative
Foreign Policy Conservative
Constitutional Conservative
Social Conservative
Cultural Conservative
Theological Conservative
Legal Conservative
Government Conservative
Environmental Conservative
Educational Conservative

And consequently, this is why there's division inside the Republican Party base. Not everyone is conservative in the same way. Libertarians who are not Christians tend to be fiscally conservative, constitutionally conservative, governmentally and legally conservative. But their views diverge when it comes to social issues and military issues.

Note: conservatism is NOT to be understood as simply wanting a small government. The government has several important functions, defined in the Constitution, and these include, for example, providing for the common defense and promoting the general welfare. When libertarians argue for isolationism in our military and foreign policy and want to remove all social safety nets, bar-none, then they are not arguing for conservative principles, but more properly are arguing for reductionist principles--namely, they are trying to get there to be as little government as possible. 

If there is one issue in the 12 that I highlighted above, that libertarians value the most, to the exclusion of the others, it would be governmental conservatism -- limiting the size of government. Contrary to conservatives, libertarians have no point at which they would stop, seeing fit to remove government completely if they could. And if there is one issue in the 12 above that conservatives emphasize the most it would be theological conservatism, because a proper Biblical understanding is what guides the individual's actions in all other areas and it is from that belief that all the other policy positions are derived.

I'll briefly define the different categories I brought up and I'll call that the end of this article. :)

Fiscal conservatism concerns itself with how the government spends money. When the government spends $385,000 to study variations in duck penis length, that is a fiscally liberal policy.

Economic conservatism concerns itself with how best to maintain a healthy economy and how the government should be involved in it. Conservatives would be mostly libertarian on this issue, wanting government to be as little involved in manipulating the economy as possible. The only valid reasons for government intervention are to ensure that everybody plays by the same rules. You know, no fake currency, no false advertising, no price gouging -- and this is one that needs to be tread carefully around, since determining what's too high is very subjective -- and a few other minimal involvements. Economic conservatives may or may not believe that a gold standard is best, for example. Seeing as that changed 150 years ago, an argument could be made for either position being conservative, under the definition I've supplied.

Military conservatism concerns itself with the size of our military and how it is used. Opposing women in active combat roles would be a conservative position. Being opposed to the president waging de facto war without consent of congress would be a conservative position -- that would also happen to overlap with constitutional conservatism.

Foreign policy conservatism isn't strictly to do with the military, but concerns itself with America's interaction with other countries. Wanting to support Israel would be a conservative position. Disagreeing with Obama's plan to send billions of dollars to the terrorist organization currently in charge of Egypt, which has called for Israel's destruction, would also be a conservative foreign policy position. An argument for limiting the number of bases we have around the world would fall either under military or foreign policy conservatism, and it could be argued either way. The only positions which are not conservative are extreme isolationism and having America play "world police." America has a stake in world affairs but it has no duty to micromanage other nations when it is having trouble at home. The question comes to where you draw the line on how much 'intervention' is too much.

Constitutional conservatism is simple: conserve the Constitution. And in terms of how to interpret the Constitution, the method of Textual Originalism is the way to go. The Constitution does not get reinterpreted or disregarded according to the changing times.

Social Conservatism is well known. It concerns the "hot-button" topics like abortion, gay 'marriage,' civil rights, affirmative action, entitlements, feminism, etc. 

Cultural conservatism rarely affects national policy these days. I'm just including it to make a distinction between it and social conservatism. Social conservatism may have to do with whether you agree with the birth control mandate in the ACA, whereas Cultural conservatism may have to do with whether you buy your 12-year old daughter thongs and let your kids watch 8 hours of television every day. It's more of a personal application of your beliefs, and hence it doesn't really have much to do with national politics, because few if any people want to push their culturally conservative beliefs on others. One other way of seeing it is as if cultural conservatism is the graded area between theological and social conservatism.

Theological conservatism -- you believe the Bible is God's inerrant word, and you go from there. You naturally result in believing that salvation can't be earned by doing good works but is a free gift made possible by Jesus Christ taking your place and bearing the punishment you deserve for your wickedness. This is the essence of Christianity; you consequently view anything that denies this as unchristian, and rightly so. All of your beliefs are ultimately able to be supported by verses of Scripture.

Legal conservatism is slightly different from constitutional conservatism. While the latter has to do with honoring the Constitution, the former has to do with being very limited in the amount of laws passed, and ensuring that the laws that do get passed honor the Constitution and do not increase corruption or open the door for government tyranny. 

Government conservatism has to do with the size of government. Should there be millions of people across the country holding administrative jobs that are paid for by tax dollars? Conservatives will always lean towards less government but unlike their radical libertarian counterparts, they do at least see a purpose for government, and want to strike a balance so that the government that does exist does its job and doesn't simply waste money and increase corruption.

The last two are somewhat unique because they play a big part in government but it isn't obvious that these would be inherent categories. As it turns out, they are.

Environmental conservatism differs from unrestricted capitalism in that it does believe man has a duty to responsibly maintain the environment, but it differs from radical environmentalism in that it does not see animals as equal to people, or as nature being something to worship. Instead, it sees man as a God-ordained steward of creation, with responsibility for the earth, but as having more value than the earth, and human lives as worth sacrificing a section of forest for. Sustainability is definitely conservative, but be careful what this means. Sometimes 'sustainability' is code for "zero sum game," and that's not a conservative position.

Educational conservatism is my grab-bag. It does have to do with how we see schools but even broader than that, it has to do with the question of developing people from a young age until they are mature, and even in educating older people. Primarily, the raising of children is the job of parents, uplifting the poor is the duty of the Church, and the government has no right nor responsibility to require people to submit to a legal training academy of any sort. The fact that such a state of affairs currently exists raises additional questions of how best to replace the obviously-flawed system with a better one without causing chaos in the interim.

Maybe you agree, maybe you disagree, with all the things I've said here. But maybe it makes sense. I hope so. The reason why there are intraparty debates and struggles over which direction to go is because the words 'conservative' and 'liberal' are too simplistic to describe the reality of the varying beliefs of the individuals that make up America. We are not a monolith. We have always been stronger when we recognized that we had differences, and were able to work together because of them. In contrast to denying that we have differences, and struggling to treat everyone exactly the same in spite of them.

For an interesting essay about the divide within the Republican Party, see here: 
A Tale of Two Republican Parties

~ Rak Chazak

Is It A Religious Cult? Introduction.

This will be my first experiment with a "jump break," to keep the front page uncluttered.

Edit: I put a jump break at the top of the list, but it doesn't appear to be working. I'm sort of new to Blogger, so if anyone minds explaining how to make it work, please leave a comment. Otherwise, it's no big deal. It's not terribly clutter-y without it.

After the jump, you'll simply find a long list of things that characterize religious cults. It's a general list, and doesn't give any examples, as a result. So the information can be used and applied to any organization for the purpose of determining, "are they a cult?" Examples of organizations you might enjoy evaluating with the help of the list below would be political organizations, media groups, various advocacy organizations, religious groups, etc and etc. What I intend to do is to leave this here for now, and later on, I'm thinking about uploading an article to the effect "Is the Democratic Party a Religious Cult?" Now THAT is sure to ruffle some feathers! But I believe it will also be a gold mine for overjoyed conservatives to link to, assuming I write it well enough and it gets spread throughout social media, to a large enough audience.

As a clarifying note, just because something displays characteristics coinciding with the points given does not mean it is a cult, automatically. But organizations that are cults will have characteristics in common with the points listed. It's an issue of correlation.

Have fun using it for your own personal benefit! I should mention that the first two parts of the list were gotten from different sites, which I've since forgotten--so that content is not totally original. The third part is my own contribution.

At the bottom, I've given a few examples for fun. Enjoy!

Journal Entry: Dr. Phil, Open Marriages and Homosexuality

There's a connection? 


As you may have noticed if you've been reading from the bottom of the blog to the top, I'm gathering some initial material for the blog by going through my Journal and pasting certain entries I've made over the past year or so. Here is my reaction to a Dr. Phil episode I watched (I rarely watch t.v. at all, and this is why):

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

                        I turned on Dr. Phil for the first time in a long time (just after coming out of the bathroom, having read the first 30-some pages of Hadji, which is the Swedish title of The Hajj, by Leon Uris. I’d started reading it last year but only made it through the first 2 chapters), and he had on two african-american couples who were involved in an “open marriage.” The arrogant ignorance coming out of their mouths was disturbing. The wife is apparently a blogger, and she loves to run her mouth—she interrupted Dr. Phil multiple times and she even got shouted down by the audience. 

The husband said he thought the #1 thing that causes STDs is fear. Because fear causes stress which compromises your immune system. I kid you not. The wife was boastful, touting her ‘list of accomplishments,’ (i.e. they had a tough life, and if the kids turn out messed up it could be from any one of the other things—their house burning, moving, etc, rather than their very open ‘marriage’ that their kids know about) and talked about how she watched porn with her daughter (the point was to be ‘educational,’ but that doesn’t excuse it. She didn’t see a problem with showing her that). She ended her soliloquy by trying to make the point that their household was ‘good,’ or ‘inclusive,’ accepting, etc. by proudly stating that they’ll be totally okay with their children bringing home girlfriends or boyfriends that they’re having sex with. She’s so blind to her own lusts that she doesn’t realize this is not something that earns you points for being a good parent. Quite the opposite. 

The thing that stood out about her and her husband was that they reminded me of the other African-american couple that I had encountered in Borders (the bookstore) that were so sold on astrology and tried to justify to me how remarkable and personally enlightening it was, and then, how blind and ignorant I was for not believing it. This woman did the same to the audience. She was defensive and puffed herself up with accolades to justify her desire to be allowed to do what she’s doing without consequence, without anyone telling her she’s doing something wrong. 

Which reminds me, one point she made was “there are 33,000 religions in this country—which one should I teach my kids?” to her mother-in-law, who repeatedly said on the show that she was concerned for the children. Naturally, that makes all the sense in the world—it is the rejection of the Biblical God and His perfect law that leads people to justify these perversions. Noteworthy is the fact that she tried to refer to society’s acceptance of homosexual relationships in order to justify her ‘open marriage’ arrangement. Ultimately, those who accept and promote homosexuality have no ground to stand on to oppose having multiple partners, because the only ground to stand on is the Bible, and it must be rejected in order to embrace homosexuality.

~ Rak Chazak

Some Reflections on God's Attributes

Hello, Internet,
     Here are two short musings on God's sovereignty and goodness.

God's Sovereignty and Justice

Journal Entry Thursday August 23 2012

I turned on the 'traveling atheist,' (Robert Lawrence Kuhn on "Closer to Truth," weekdays 9:30 a.m. on PBS-2) as I call him, while I ate breakfast. There's nothing else on that time of day, and sometimes this blind squirrel happens to stumble upon a nut. He talked with people about “New Heavens and New Earth.” I’d say the positions stated were half good, half bad. It tends to be that way. How will someone without discernment sift through the jumble to seize on the good information and disregard the vomit of fallible men’s minds? Or in this case, specifically, a woman, from Fuller Theological Institute, who promoted the idea that all animals that ever existed would be resurrected, and also that people who ‘believed in God without knowing who He was’—she said that believing in “what Jesus stood for,” such as  charity and goodwill toward mankind would count—would be saved as well. 

But this is a classic mistake. Most people making this supposition (even CS Lewis appeared to promote this at the end of his last Narnia book) do so because the idea that God would damn people for, quote, “not knowing Him / ∴ not consciously rejecting Him,” is appalling, and they would like to think that God is more merciful than this, and has the power and grace to save these people. Their understanding of God’s mercy is for the most part on target, but their doctrine of Man is off base, and so their expectation of what God would—rather, must—do is mistaken. 

The fact is that there is no one who unconsciously rejects God, or goes to hell for ‘not having heard about Jesus.’ The Bible makes it very clear in Romans 1:20—God has revealed Himself to such an extent that everyone who denies Him is without excuse. They don’t need to have heard about Jesus. The problem is not that millions and millions of people are consciously searching for God, and He’s holding Himself hidden from them—no, it is that of the billions of people on earth, next to no one seeks after God. God certainly has the power to reveal Himself, through a vision or dream, for example, to someone who seeks after Him, but the reason it doesn’t happen (if it doesn’t happen) is because they don’t seek after God. And why do they not? Because of their sinfulness. 

They’d prefer to not “discover” that there is a God they’re accountable to, because they’d prefer to be able to continue in their sin without being pricked by their conscience. And it is their sinfulness that condemns them in God’s eyes, not that they didn’t “hear about Jesus.” Jesus has more than enough power to reveal Himself to someone who wants to know. This is the error in the universalist view that nonchristians will be in heaven. It’s the wrong application of God’s sovereignty. God doesn’t let the unsaved into heaven—what He will do is to reveal Himself to the unreached people of the earth. And He does. 

There are reports from Christian leaders involved in the Muslim world (a very closed world, where it is nigh impossible to spread Gospel literature or to engage in missions), that God has revealed Himself to people through dreams. Rest assured, He will use whatever means necessary to save people. If there is no missionary or preacher or Bible available, He will “get His hands dirty” and do the work completely Himself, without acting through a human agent. He is that powerful, and that good. The conclusion, then, is that if someone “doesn’t know Jesus” it’s because they rejected Him. Pure and simple. God doesn’t make mistakes. There are no innocent people in hell. It’s frustrating when people echo this false belief, when the answer is very clear if only they would think about it (or read The Word). 


God's Self-Sufficiency 

“This is why God created the world — “that he may be glorified.” Which does not mean: “that he may be made glorious.” Don’t take the word “glorify” and treat it like the word “beautify.” To beautify means to take a plain room and make it beautiful. We don’t take a plain God and make him beautiful. That is not what glorifying God means. When God created the world he did not create out of any need or any weakness or any deficiency. He created out of fullness and strength and complete sufficiency. As Jonathan Edwards said, “Tis no argument of the emptiness or deficiency of a fountain that it is inclined to overflow” (Yale: Works, Vol. 8, 448).”  ~ John Piper, sermon September 22, 2012

~ Rak Chazak

Journal Entry: A Theology of Evangelizing Discussion Forums

The following is a letter I sent out to some fellow Christians at my university who have gotten to know me subsequent to my becoming infamous because of the character assassination employed against me because of standing up for my beliefs against the jeers of my "peers" at my university.

It's essentially a theology of how best to evangelize on discussion forums. Feel free to take this "game plan" and apply it as you see it being useful.


[context: I had just copied a conversation with a belligerent person to show how depraved his behavior had become] 

Why did I post this here? Not primarily to complain, but I admit I’m hoping to generate some understanding empathy on the part of the reader. I’m posting this here so that you can see what it is that I’m referring to when I make reference to the [university] forum. This is a “typical” heated fight. These sorts of things, while not as long and drawn-out every time (though sometimes much more so!), are standard fare, and happen on a recurring basis. Because there are so many “critics” on the forum, there is no shortage of supply of belligerent arguers to enter into a thread and begin making the discussion miserable for most of the rest of us. Some of these people thrive on instigating this kind of stuff. And I recognize that there were a few places above, where my words could have been less emotional and I could have avoided letting myself get drawn into the fight. It’s hard. 

You’re often stuck between choosing whether to be gentle or whether to engage in challenge riposte. And this was something I came to recognize early on (years ago, when I started being on the forum)—that you can’t go it alone. You can, but you can’t fulfill all the roles when you’re just one person. To be specific, you can’t be the whole body of Christ when you are only one part. You need, ideally, one person to exposit Scripture, one person to handle apologia to deal with those who question the exegesis of Scripture, one person to engage in challenge riposte with those who refuse to be rational when faced with apologia, one person preach judgment and accuse those who have rejected challenge riposte of being intentionally self-deceived and dangerous false teachers, one person to avoid the back-and-forth and pipe in here and there and constantly draw everything back to the Gospel; one person to be the Lover—the one who couches everything in terms of God’s love and mercy toward us—this takes the wind out of the sails of those who would come belligerently accusing the preachers of Scripture to be sowing hatred and worshiping an angry, mean or evil God. You can add more people on to this, such as a dedicated politician, one who will perpetually present Biblically-based political positions, for example. 

But as you can see, in order to accomplish all the things that need to be accomplished, at once, including 1) preaching the Gospel, 2) teaching Scripture, 3) defending the Faith, 4) rebuking scoffers, 5) preaching judgment and repentance, an 6) preaching Love, Mercy and Grace,  you can’t successfully accomplish this with one person. I would try presenting Biblical positions, this would lead to scoffers and mockers coming out of the woodworks. Presenting apologetics distracted me from the teaching of Scripture, and then when the apologetical answers were utterly rejected, I retreated to calling out the perpetual mockers and referencing the vast history of their rebelliousness as reason (which is nonetheless valid to do) to not bother explaining Scripture to them since they would reject it anyway (throwing what is holy to dogs, is what it is). Then it just devolves into bickering from that point on. 

If you get sucked in, you’ve successfully been distracted away from preaching the Gospel. And in all this, it’s hard to explain to people in any credible way how everything you’ve said is a result of God’s Love for us. In internet forums, where your words are permanent, it’s hard to be harsh toward the scoffers and fools, and then turn and try to be gentle toward the meek, or people who seem otherwise receptive to what you have to say. Two reasons: 1, they can get discouraged by how they’ve seen you talk toward the scoffers (not that you did anything wrong in rebuking them), and 2, the mockers can attempt to interrupt your conversation, since it’s public, and try to disengage both of you from talking to each other. They’ll try to distract you again as explained above, and they’ll try to convince the other person not to listen to you because you’re hateful, ignorant, wrong, etc etc etc. These are unique problems to internet forums (and to famous Christian figures, with whom the dynamic is similar, with an “all-eyes-on” sort of situation). I’ve tried to give a bit of an explanation of how I think it works. To summarize:

                        My theoretical “ideal” Christ-force Gospel-League Saint-Squadron:

1.         The Gospel Preacher. Their job is to preach the Gospel clearly in every thread they can, and to intervene & derail bickering subthreads by turning everything back to the Gospel.
2.         The Bible Teacher. Their job is as simple as can be defined. Speak only the words of Scripture. Give Biblical justifications for everything. This will confound the scoffers.
3.         The Apologist. Their job is to intervene when the Bible Teacher is attacked, and “take the fire” by engaging the critic and proving him wrong and showing him the truth.
4.         The Riposte Challenger. Their job is to intervene when the Apologist has run his course with a recalcitrant sinner, and to play “no more Mr. Nice Guy”
5.         The Judgment Preacher. Their job is to handle the refuse of the Riposte Challenger and to assist the Gospel Preacher by emphasizing God’s righteous judgment on sin.
6.         The Love Preacher. Their job is to intervene when meek unbelievers express distress at the Judgment/Gospel preachers, and explain God’s Mercy, Love and Grace to them.
7.         The Politician. Their job is to provide Biblical applications for everything in human experience that isn’t a creedal position.
8.         The Logician. Their job is to, while coming from a Christian worldview, not explicitly use Biblical references, but reason with people on a “common sense” level, and when they’ve gotten them to a certain level of understanding, to redirect them to the Gospel Preacher, Bible Teacher or Apologist for further instruction. (Dialectical Approach?)
9.         The Sympathizer. There can be many different kinds of these, but their job is to connect with people who have undergone similar experiences, to “be all things to all people.”
10.       The Scientist. Their job is to assist the Apologist by producing ‘random’ factoids and articles that provide evidence to confirm Biblical Christian positions, to confound scoffers.
11.       The Voice of the Martyrs. Their job is to assist the Politician and educate the audience as to the reality of persecution against Christians.
12.       The Eschatologist. Their job is to provide coverage of current events relevant to the Lord’s Return, including Israel, the Beast, the Great Apostasy, etc etc and assist the Politician.
13.       The Fundamentalist. Their job is to assist the Bible Teacher and Gospel Preacher by showing how the Bible is one unit, and if the foundational doctrines fall, the rest will also.

Notice how none of these positions concern a distinct “Evangelist” position or “Prayer Leader” position. This is because Evangelism is the call of ALL believers, and is what all of the above Saints should be preoccupied with, working together to yield a better harvest. And Prayer is the preoccupation of every Christian. Here is a quote from Spurgeon I believe I’ve referenced before: “You are no Christian if you do not pray. A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. You have no inheritance among the people of God if you have never struggled with that Covenant Angel and come off the conqueror. Prayer is the indispensable mark of the true child of God.” And so, ALL of the above should be praying and evangelizing. 

The separate roles I have invented here are not set in stone, they are simply ideas for how to perform better as the Body of Christ by being united in purpose, but distinguished in service according to ability and the direction of the Holy Spirit. This is, I believe, a part of why I have met with trouble in attempting to preach on-line. In part it’s because of my own sinfulness and failure to be the best, because simply, without God, and without the Holy Spirit infusing my every action with His power, I am worthless and my efforts are futile and even counterproductive and destructive. And in part it’s because the Gospel simply causes evil to bubble to the surface. Demonic opposition may be involved, although it may just as well, in some or many cases, be the sinfulness of man’s heart alone, which even without the temptation of demons is inclined to rebel against God, and to hate His Word and His Children. I think that one of the reasons we are told to be in fellowship—to attend Church--is for this reason. It is to give us accountability, yes, but it’s also to enable us to recharge, and to bear our burdens collectively, making it easier for each to bear individually. One of the foremost goals of a church, being composed of believers, is the preaching of the Gospel, and so, being in a church setting naturally provides you with the potential to select a “merry band of Bereans” to join forces with and to go out and to move as one Body, being more effective as a unified whole than as one part alone.

~ Rak Chazak