Sunday, December 30, 2007

Holy Ones and Monsters

C.S. Lewis writes of those who are becoming monsters and those, who, as he puts it are becoming “everlasting splendours.” He is, in his essay “The Weight of Glory,” writing about how we help one another on our way, one direction or the other.
But Lewis was also writing about the glory of Christ which the Christian bears. He ends his essay with the words, “in him [our Christian neighbor] also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden”. Christians are the holy ones because of the holiness of Jesus Christ.

Yet all of humanity, so to speak, either redeemed or unredeemed, moves on. Lewis writes, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.” We are all traveling a direction. But once again it is only the righteousness of Christ that counts for anything. The new birth in Jesus Christ is the birth of a new creature meant to bear the image of Christ.

The stories of the birth of new creatures destined to be everlasting splendors are, except for the story of the Incarnation, the most beautiful stories. And both the story of the One who is Glory and the one united with Him are intertwined. Who can resist hearing of how Christ draws his children to himself.

C.S. Lewis’ story is a classic. He starts out on a journey, both a spiritual one and a physical one. His spiritual one covers several years leading from atheism to theism and finally to Jesus Christ. He writes of the night he became a theist:

“You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalem, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert on such terms.”

But of his conversion to Jesus Christ, Lewis writes, “I was driven to Whipsnade one sunny morning. When we set out I did not believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did.” Of course there is so much more to this story. You can read about Lewis’ conversion and also of his prolific reading (an inspiration) in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy.

Joy Davidman, Lewis’ wife, had, as we all do, a different story. She was a Jewish American woman, a poet and at one time a member of the Communist Party. She was blacklisted in the McCarthy years.
One night in great despair and loneliness she experienced the presence of God. She writes, “There was a Person with me in that room, directly present to my consciousness—a Person so real that all my precious life was by comparison a mere shadow play. And I myself was more alive than I had ever been; it was like waking up from a long sleep.” Davidman went on to write that “I must say I was the world’s most surprised atheist.” [1]

For me I think the most beautiful conversion story is that of Frederica Mathews-Green. She was an agnostic and then tried Hinduism. And while it was the reading of a Gospel that brought her husband to Christ, as Mathews-Green puts it, God had to hit her with a two-by-four.
Traveling with her husband in Europe and Britain, Mathews-Green met Christ in a cathedral in Dublin. She writes, “One day in Dublin I looked at a statue of Jesus and was struck to my knees, hearing an interior voice say ‘I am your life.’ I knew it was the one I had rejected and ridiculed, come at last to seize me forever. It was a shattering experience from which I emerged blinking like a newborn, and decades later I still feel overwhelming awe and gratitude for that rescue, that vast and undeserved gift.”[2]

There are so many stories. Augustine hearing some one say, “take up and read.” The historian, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, who last year went to be with her Lord, began her journey to Christ because of her moral outrage at abortion.
Lauren Winner’s conversion is one of the more interesting. As an Orthodox Jewish convert she began reading about the Great Awaking in New England, read a book about Southern fiction The Christ –Haunted Landscape and as she puts it “spent a lot of time wondering how to be both Jewish and Southern.” A dream about a mermaid figures into her conversion. The whole beautiful story combined with an equally beautiful mixture of Christian and Jewish devotional concepts can be found in her book Girl Meets God.

So the holy ones, holy because they wear the righteousness of Christ, are traveling one direction. The other direction is without Christ; is a rejection of Christ. It ends in the land of the monsters. There is an old hymn; some of the words are, “Going forth with weeping.” The weeping is for those who are striving hard to enter the nightmare.

[1] Taken from “The Longest Way Round,” in These Found the Way: Thirteen converts to Protestant Christianity, found in And God Came In: an Extraordinary Love Story: Joy Davidman Her Life & Marriage to C.S. Lewis, by Lyle W. Dorsett.

[2] See Facing East: A Pilgrims Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy by Frederica Mathews-Green

Saturday, December 29, 2007

More information on The Golden Compass

In my posting Reading and Thinking about The Golden Compass: Some Reviews I placed one excellent review of the Golden Compass, “The Golden Compass” - Questions I’ve been asked, answers I’ve given. by Jeffrey Overstreet.

Now I would like to link to two more excellent reviews. One is a review by Albert Mohler, "The Golden Compass -- A Briefing for Concerned Christians." The other is a radio discussion by Pastor Bill Crawford (Bayou Christian). The last is a podcast so click on podcast and then on the podcast click on posts. You will see the name Golden Compass, click on that.

"I was Just Thinking" and Benazir Bhutto

"i was just thinking," has posted an e-mail she received from "Feminists for Life" on her blog. It is about Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated this week. Bhutto deserves the respect of all women because of the words she spoke on their behalf which evidently included the unborn "girl child." Benazir Bhutto

"Feminists for Life of America President Serrin Foster remembered the contributions of the late Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as an international advocate for women and children, born and unborn, especially those in developing countries. “A pro-life feminist, Bhutto consistently promoted a holistic approach to addressing the needs of women by emphasizing the empowerment of women,” said Foster. “Bhutto urged world leaders to address health issues including increased nutrition and immunizations. She advocated the protection of women from domestic violence and war. And she connected the need for education of girls and women to their ability to work, and a woman’s ability to work as essential to achieving economic independence.”

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Reading and Thinking about The Golden Compass: Some Reviews

I am asking questions and looking for answers about "The Golden Compass." How bad is it? Is there anything good about the story? What about the rest of Phillip Pullman’s "His Dark Materials" trilogy. I know in the end I should and will read the books and see the movie so that I can properly address the material.

The subject has come loudly to my attention due to several blog postings on Shuck and Jive, as well as, and undoubtedly of far more importance, several reviews in the Presbyterian publication Presbyterians Today.

John Shuck's thoughts can be found here: DO NOT GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!! DON'T SUPPORT ATHIESTS!!!! Have a blessed day. :) and here Vatican Condemns Golden Compass and here Meet My Daemon (If You Dare!) . Of course this is all a lot of nonsense and I am more concerned with the official publication Presbyterians Today.

The Presbyterian reviews are of the movie and a book recommendation which purports to address the Christian viewpoint concerning Pullman's books: The movie review is here, and is mostly concerned with violence in the movie. However the reviewer's view of the movie fails to point out the anti-Christian views of the author, writing:

"Given the controversy over whether Philip Pullman’s novels — and this film — promote atheism, how should Christian viewers approach The Golden Compass? First, read the original novels, especially if you enjoy fantasy literature. You will discover that Pullman opposes what any thoughtful Christians would also oppose: abuse of power by the church, and a view of God as a tyrannical ruler. Pullman is very much like what theologian Robert McAfee Brown called "Assyrians in Disguise." Brown contended that authors such as J.D. Salinger and John Updike (and now Pullman) are like the ancient nation that Isaiah claimed was used by God to uproot or punish the corruption of ancient Israel so that the true faith could thrive unhampered. These authors may not have the truth (or gospel) themselves, but they do know what is false or life-killing in society"

The reviewer has failed to notice that the author of His Dark Materials has not only made a mockery out of truth; there is no true God at all in the book, only a caricature.

And the book recommendation, which is linked at the top of the movie review page is here:

The review of the book, Killing the Imposter God: Philip Pullman’s Spiritual Imagination in His Dark Materials, by Donna Freitas and Jason King shows how the two authors more or less side with Pullman in a kind of off-handed way. That is everything is, in reality, about "complex theological principles."

The reviewers of Killing the Imposter God write: "The authors are well aware of the intense controversy surrounding Pullman’s work. In the introduction to their book they delicately try to defuse some of the opposition by addressing some of Pullman’s public atheistic comments. But they also make this bold statement: 'We see Pullman’s trilogy as a powerful example of how a self-professed atheist has created what could be read as a contemporary Christian classic.' They then proceed to dissect the characters, plots and settings to support their views."

But I have found a far more complete and helpful review and that from a truly Christian view-point. It isn't nonsense and it isn't attempting to dis-regard the darkness of the atheist's viewpoint. It also doesn't ask Christians to hide in a corner but instead engage their culture with the truth of the gospel. “The Golden Compass” - Questions I’ve been asked, answers I’ve given. by Jeffrey Overstreet.

Overstreet writes: "I’ve been asked a long list of questions about The Golden Compass. As you probably know, the author has admitted that he wrote these stories because he wanted to give children a vision of a world without God, as an alternate fantasy to C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. His story about a little girl named Lyra ends up with her on the side of people who are trying to kill God… not just any God, but Yahweh himself, and Christianity as a religion… and they succeed.
Since folks have been asking where on my website they can find the things I’ve been saying on the radio, I decided to write some of them down.

This article is a long read but please if you want an intelligent review with practical ideas about how to explain this movie and the books to your children, take the time to read Overstreet's material. If you want to talk to a non believer about the differences between this movie and books and those of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien read Overstreet's questions and answers. Don't stand for nonsense or careless watered down approaches to Phillip Pullman's books or movie.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas for Penny

This is Christmas 2007 in pictures for my daughter Penny who lives in Georgia with her husband and three wonderful sons:

Waiting for the masses to arrive:

Daddy (Brad) reading a card:

Juana dreaming:

Isaac playing:

Katy drawing:

Ethan preparing for jamming in Grandma's
"messy" study:

Jenny playing her clarinet:
Brad the third and Dad with Spencer jamming:

Emma conducting with pick up sticks;
Melissa playing her Irish Harp:

David drumming:

Merry Christmas on a lemon pie:

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Holy Merry Christmas

A Holy and Merry Christmas to Everyone:
"The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples ... (Genesis 49:10)"
"I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a star shall come forth from Jacob, a scepter shall rise from Israel ... (Numbers 24:17a)"
"The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. ...
For a child will be born to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God. Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7)"
"Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, in order to register along with Mary , who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn.
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over the flock by night. An an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:4-11)"
C. S. Lewis wrote a wonderful fantasy trilogy. The first one is titled Out of the Silent Planet. In that book the man Ransom is kidnapped by two evil men of earth and taken to another world, a world that is not fallen like ours. Lewis portrays him escaping and wandering the planet. He meets with a great angel called Oyarsa who speaks of Maleldil (God). The Oyarsa is anxious to learn about Thulcandra (earth) from Ransom. The Oyarsa speaks:
"'Thulcandra is the world we do not know. It alone is outside the heaven, and no messages comes from it.'
Ransom was silent, but Oyarsa answered his unspoken questions.
'It was not always so. Once we knew the Oyarsa of your world--he was brighter and greater than I--and then we did not call it Thulcandra. It is the longest of all stories and the bitterest. He became bent. That was before any life came on your world. Those were the Bent Years of which we still speak in the heavens, when he was not yet bound to thulcandra but free like us. It was in his mind to spoil other worlds besides his own. He smote your moon with his left hand and with his right he brought the cold death on my own harandra before its time ... We did not leave him so at large for long. There was great war, and we drove him back out of the heavens and bound him in the air of his own world as Maleldil taught us. There doubtless he lies to this hour, and we know no more of that planet: it is silent. We think that Maleldil would not give it up utterly to the Bent One, and there are stories among us that He has taken strange counsel and dared terrible things, wrestling with the Bent One in Thulcandra. But of this we know less than you; it is a thing we desire to look into'"
Of course, only the truest and most beautiful story, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the midst of a fallen, bent world, could be retold by an author using such poetic, metaphoric language. The Oyarsa is of course speaking scripture when he says, "But of this we know less than you; it is a thing we desire to look into."
Peter, in his letter, puts it this way, "As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10-12)"

Weaving through Conspiracy Theories to Reach the Manger and the Cross

“God rest you merry, gentle-men, Let nothing you dismay, for Jesus Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day; to save us all from Satan’s power when we gone a- stray.”

So goes the first verse of an English Christmas carol. And in just a few days it will be Christmas; the coming of God, as a small baby into human history, that is, the Incarnation, Jesus, fully human, fully God. What a strange time to wake up thinking about conspiracy theories and the evil slanders that some humans insist on telling about others.

We will begin, on the 25th of December, to follow the life of Jesus from the stable manger to the bloody cross and finally to His triumphant resurrection. That is we will follow along the path of salvation history which is the history of a real person who is the Lord of the Church. Jesus Christ is not about some universal ideal nor does he hold concepts that are “universal principles.”

Instead He was and is “The Way, the Truth and the Life.” So what does any of this have to do with conspiracy theories? What does the extreme right or the extreme left have to do with the One who is the way, the One who came to ransom us from our sins?

Several years ago, actually almost twenty, I watched one of the better apologetics groups entangle themselves in conspiracy theories through a book that one of them had written. I was dismayed as I waded through pages that supposedly detailed such Jewish families as the Warburgs, implied that the Federal Reserve was part of an elite conspiracy to take over the world and even explained that Churchill had been manipulated by the “insiders.”

The most offending chapter had this quote in it, “After Christ had cast the money changers out of the temple, they went out into the greater market place of the world and in time captured it. They did this colossal feat through ‘money changing’ in all its aspects. The greatest international banks on the face of the earth now belong to them.” This particular apologetic group took their eyes off of the Incarnate Lord and started fighting battles against imaginary bogymen. In doing so they aligned themselves with sinister evil.

That was the extreme right hurting what had at one time been one of the more prestigious new religion research groups in the country. But the extreme left or progressives can absorb some of the same audacious theories. Just yesterday on a progressive blog a pastor posted, Of the Fed, By the Fed, and For the Fed which provides a link to this movie.
America: From Freedom to Fascism, put together by film maker Aaron Russo. I watched this movie last night. Some of the same theories and books used by the above conspiracy theorist were used in the movie.

For instance, the movie states, “In 1913 America was a free country. Then a band of powerful bankers achieved their fathers and great grandfathers’ goals.” The movie maker, Aaron Russo then goes on to show pictures of J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and Paul Warburg, explaining that they were able to take, “control of the American government.”

Undoubtedly the movie was posted on the web site because one of the persons who comments there is politically a Libertarian and she recommended it. But my point is, that when one, whether progressive or evangelical, does not lift up Christ Jesus, one may find themselves lifting up unwanted bogymen. The pastor who posted the movie has had a few second thoughts and added a very good link that refutes the movies main premise
Comments on Aaron Russo's "Freedom to Fascism" but still the pastor writes this:

“There is a great deal more in this film which I found to be very disturbing. The film does have a paranoid/conspiratorial feel to it. But as the crazy man said: 'Just because you are paranoid, it doesn't mean they are not after you.'

I think it is worth a watch, regardless of your politics. At the least it will encourage you to research more on your own. Check it out!”

In the safe keeping of Jesus Christ, in union with Him, now in the Advent and Christmas season there is no need for looking at the future through the lens of conspiracy. I wrote in a paper about my first concerns with conspiracies, so many years ago, “The biblical view claims goodness only for God. All men are considered sinners acceptable to God only through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. In the biblical view we are all conspirators against God; His reaction towards us is the standard for a Christian.”

As the third verse of the Christmas carol states:

Fear not, then said the angel, let nothing you affright, this day is born a Savior of virtue, power and might; so frequently to vanquish all the friends of Satan quite: O Tidings of comfort and joy…

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Sad Event in Sacramento Today

I could hear the sirens streaming down Franklin but wasn't paying them any attention until my husband returned in the middle of the day and mentioned that there seemed to be an awful lot of police cars heading the other way as he came home. And then I noticed the sirens; they seemed to be endless. They were undoubtedly on Franklin and the freeway.

After turning on the TV we discovered that a police detective who worked with gang members had been shot as he attempted to get a young man to stop. As we watched on TV hundreds of law enforcement officers descended on a particular area in the Southern part of the city and at least five elementary schools locked down as well as multiple businesses. We watched police helicopters and a small police plane encircle the area. And saw three people arrested at gunpoint in one neighborhood. It seemed eerie to watch all of this on TV as though it was just some fictional detective show.

Several hours later the police detective, whose group had been working fairly successfully with Sacramento's growing gang problem, died from a gun shot in the neck. When I finally turned off the TV they still hadn't caught the person who had shot the policeman. I won't know until I turn the news back on tonight.

Pray for the family that has lost a son, and for the one who killed and his family. And pray for the gang members in Sacramento that the Holy Spirit will reach into their hearts and draw them home to safety, to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Exiled Preacher and his pet monkey

Here's an entertaining Christmas story from the Exiled Preacher, Its titled A David Sky Christmas Story . I am thinking that my friend Bayou Christian might particularly like the first part.

"Suddenly a terrifying sight appeared before him. It was David Sky, Exiled's old pet monkey. The monkey had been banished to a dark corner of the room where only books by Karl Barth and Tom Wright are stored."


Monday, December 17, 2007

Reporting on Reporting and "For the Bible Tells Me So."

In October I wrote that one of the Churches in the Sacramento Presbytery was showing the film "For the Bible Tells Me So." I wrote that they were linked to a trailer on U-Tube at [trailer]. The film is evidently about families with homosexual children. It also provides a progressive view and explanation of those biblical texts that deal with homosexual sex. It is an attempt to show that the text does not equate homosexual sex with sin.

I also wrote that the trailer "is pure propaganda. Scary propaganda since it uses people without explaining who they are. It also uses insinuation since for instance it places Billy Graham preaching from the Bible right after a Nazi leader making a hate speech during the Nazi era." The film producer also has someone suggesting that those who believe the homosexual act is sin have a fifth grade view of God.

Today the Presbyterian News Service had an article, Biblical examination , about the film. It is written by Toya Richards Hill. While it is true that this particular film has won quite a few awards at the Sundance film festival, so it is a news worthy film, it is also true that the Presbyterian News Service is, well, officially Presbyterian. So it seems to me in their news reporting they should be handling the subject of this film from a two-sided position.

That is, the Presbyterian News Service could write about how the Covenant Network likes this film and here is what all of those who made the film and agree with the film, including some theologians, say about it. (Which they did.) But on the other hand, there are those scholars and theologians and Christians in the pews who don't agree with the film's take on the subject and this is what they have to say about it. (Which they did not do.) And hopefully as the film is shown across the country PNS will do that?

But another part of the story, and a news worthy one at that, is that damnable trailer. And that is quite a story. While I haven't seen the movie, yet, I have seen the trailer and in their use of Nazi and Klan figures to make Christians who believe homosexual sex is sin look like thugs, its makers have themselves resorted to Nazi like propaganda. If any one has ever viewed the old propaganda films the Nazis put out about the Jewish people there is honestly not much difference between the caricatures of those Jewish people and the Christians portrayed in this trailer.

At least the Evangelicals in the Presbyterian Church USA can now know what the Jewish people felt like at the very early beginning of that horrible time in history.

Jesus Christ, the light in our messy world is calling us to faithfulness in the midst of gross darkness. "And Jesus cried out and said,'He who believes in me, does not believe in me but in him who sent me. He who sees me sees the One who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me will not remain in darkness." (John 12: 44-46)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Art, History & Truth

On the web site for, Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, under comments is a posting about an exhibit of, Early Christian Art in Texas. The exhibit is at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth Texas. See "Picturing the Bible: the Earliest Christian Art." The whole exhibit looks extremely interesting and I wish I lived closer since I would like to explore it.

However, I found this fascinating for another reason. On the Web site of Voices of Sophia and at other places on the web are references to a coming new book by Rita Nakashima Brock, called Saving Paradise. It is Brock's contention that the early Church did not give much attention to the cross and that it was rather the church supported by an Empire which held the cross in high esteem.

In an excerpt placed on the
Voices of Sophia web site Brock writes:

"Like most western Christians we were accustomed to images of a Christ who died in agony, hanging dead on the cross. We had been taught in church and in graduate school that Christians believed the crucifixion of Jesus Christ saved the world and that this idea was the core truth of Christian faith. In our book Proverbs of Ashes we showed how this idea contributed to sanctioning intimate violence and war by claiming the highest form of love was self-sacrifice, modeled by Jesus on the cross."

Brock suggests that "Christians did not focus" on the cross for a thousand years. In her anger at the cross she writes:

"We regard such theology as a travesty - a poisoning of souls to acquiesce to evil. It is also a theological justification for God's use of violence to save the world. We found nothing life-giving or redeeming in a theology that sanctified the torture and execution of Jesus as God's will. Even so, we were unprepared for the possibility that Christians did not focus on the death of Jesus for a thousand years."

Not to mention Scripture which puts a light on such lies, if one looks over the art mentioned on the museum web site there is proof enough against Brock's statements. But better yet is a book, The Beauty of the Cross: The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts--from the Catacombs to the Eve of the Renaissance, by Richard Viladesau.

A quote from the book is:

"From its earliest era, the church has applied to Christ in his passion the words of the fourth 'Song of the Suffering Servant' from the book of Isaiah (Isa. 52:13-53:12)--thinking of them, indeed, as a direct prophecy of the passion. Here we read that 'there was no beauty in him to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him' (Isa. 53:2-3). As Barth says, 'Jesus Christ does present this aspect of Himself, and He always presents this aspect first. It is not self-evident that even--and precisely--under this aspect he has form and comeliness, that the beauty of God shines especially under this aspect. . . . We cannot know this of ourselves. It can only be given to us.' Yet to Christian faith, it is given that Christ is --precisely in the cross--the supreme revelation of God's being, God's 'form,' 'glory,' and 'beauty.' The transcendent 'beauty' and 'light' of God, then, must embrace also 'the abysmal darkness into which the Crucified plunges." (10)

May all of us, the Church, God's people, boast only "in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." (a Gal 6:14)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Karl Barth: The Church's Struggle in 1933, Theology for Today 6 & Final

I was driving to class sometime in the early eighties with my mind on a couple of things. I had just a few nights before seen a wonderful play at Warehouse Ministries, the church I was attending at the time. It was a play about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I was also thinking about my reading assignment which was something out of The Portable Nietzsche. God’s timing was perfect.

I turned on the radio to a Christian station and heard what pretended to be a sermon by a Christian minister. What I heard instead was a tirade against the Jewish people. Later I called the radio station and asked about the speaker, and was given the man’s name and telephone number. I called him and discovered that Dr. Gorden L. Ginn is a Holocaust Revisionist. That is he denies that the killing of six million Jews by Hitler and the Nazis ever happened. He was unhappy when I would not agree with him and even more so when I doubted his Christianity.

Later when I had written an article for Christian Research Journal, “Identity: A "Christian" Religion for White Racists” Ginn vehemently protested to the editor of the journal. Under the title “CHRISTIAN RESEARCH INSTITUTE: (Sad Demise of Dr. Walter Martin's Ministry),” he posted a letter he wrote to the editor. I found, at the time, that someone could call themselves a Christian minister and yet deny the very roots of the Gospel, the covenant that God made with his people Israel as he prepared to being forth a Savior, from them, for humanity. Hatred of the Jews is not a sign of Christianity.

In the midst of writing the “Identity” article for Christian Research Journal I was watching television one afternoon and discovered an oddity. On what was at the time the television channel for the Sacramento Faith Bureau, a liberal ecumenical group, a program was airing with a preacher setting at his desk with an American flag behind him. He was doing an in-depth Bible study, verse by verse, but he kept referring to a group of people he called the 'Kenites.'

The paper I was writing “Identity: “A Christian” Religion for White Racists,” is about white ethnic groups that see themselves as the real Jews and believe that the Jewish people of today are the offspring of a sexual union between Eve and Satan. As I listened to the speaker on TV I found that he was simply substituting the word Kenites for Jew and that he was in fact an Identity preacher.
Arnold Murray, who has a satellite ministry, was on this particular station nine hours a day preaching his poison.

Because Murray was free, and because the two ladies running the station could not comprehend what he was teaching, one was a Unity School of Christianity preacher, the other a Seventh Day Adventist lady who followed the Old Testament food laws, I could not get them to do anything about the programming. Finally a Jewish Professor I knew at California State University Sacramento and Fremont Presbyterian Church which I now attend were able to get the programming changed. Discernment is a gift God gives by the Holy Spirit through his Holy Scriptures. Without God’s word and his Spirit we all can fall into gross error.

As I begin to do a great deal of research on these various racist groups I also became interested in the Confessing Church in Germany. As I have pointed out that is the group that withstood the onslaught of Hitler and the Nazis. One of the books I read was The German Church Struggle and the Holocaust, edited by Franklin H. Littell and Hubert G. Locke. In his introduction Littell wrote:

American Liberal Protestantism is sick, and the theological form of its sickness can be summarized by saying that it stands solidly on ground but lately vacated by the ‘German Christians’ … who collaborated with Nazism.

The evitable result of such initial academic aloofness and doctrinal uncertainty in the German universities and churches [as now in the universities and churches in
the United States] was the fatal weakening of the two centers which might have been the chief barriers to the Nazi system. More than that, they predictably produced a generation that came to power amiably inclined toward spirituality and religion-in-general but ill-informed as to the particular claims of the Christian faith and hostile to the particularism of Judaism. (24)

Littell goes on to write of the stance taken against the unchristian spirituality of the Nazis. He writes:

The men of the Christian resistance did not view holy history or doctrine so lightheartedly, although they did not always speak as bluntly as the Lutheran
theologian Hermann Sasse: ‘The Evangelical Church has to start every discussion with the avowal that its doctrine is a permanent affront to the morality and ethical feeling of the German race.’ Nevertheless, they spoke plainly enough to be accused constantly of meddling in politics,
to be charged with ‘fundamentalism’ for asserting doctrines not negotiable, and to be answered by a swarm of pamphlets like that of the neo-Lutheran ‘Ansbach Counsel’ (June 11, 1934), which affirmed a general revelation made manifest in the nation and its divinely appointed fuhrer. (Bold Mine) (25)

My point here is that just as the above extremely conservative and heretical teachers such as Arnold Murray have embraced their various kinds of anti-Semitism, in the same way those Progressive theologians, pastors and laity of today who believe nothing but a vague kind of spirituality will inevitably embrace some revelation with damnation writ across its face. That is not to say it will be Nazism.

Karl Barth has suggested that inevitably those who seek a revelation in anyplace but holy Scriptures will resent, not only those whom God has chosen in Jesus Christ, but almost always, first, those he chose to bring forth the gift of his Son. Because of a posting
Are Progressive Christians Nazis?, on another blog, I am choosing to end this series with some words from Barth’s essay, “The Jewish Problem and the Christian Answer,” taken from the book, Against the Stream: Shorter Post War Writings 1946-52.

It is in their existence that we non-Jews come up against the rock of divine choice, which first passing over us is primarily made by Another, a choice which can concern us only in that it firsts concerns Him and cannot affect us except in Him and through Him. In the ‘lost-ness’ and in the persistence of the Jews that Other One looks down on us; the Jew on the Cross, in whom is salvation for everyman. We refuse to accept that and many a man refuses it who yet would not
like to be suspected of anti-semitism. Even the Jews refuse to accept it. Yet they should remember that this is just that other bit of sense in all the non-sense, this is just the other root of anti-semitism! Whoever refuses to accept this, let him see to it that he does not become an anti-semite; he is already well on the way to becoming one.


Without any doubt the Jews are to this very day the chosen people of God in the same sense as they have been so from the beginning, according to the Old and New Testaments. They have the promise of God; and if we Christians from among the gentiles have it too, then it is only as those chosen with them, as guests in their house, as new wood grafted on to their old tree. The Christian community exists in the same way as the Jews; miraculously sustained throughout the years, it too is a people of strangers; and just as the anti-semites are offended by the Jews, so the Christian community will necessarily arouse the same feelings.” (200)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Karl Barth: The Church's Struggle in 1933, Theology for Today 5

Paganism is as old as sin. Paganism also rears its head without and within the Church in some form in every century. In Germany, before and during the Nazi years, paganism in various forms invaded the churches. Those who espoused it based their religion on blood and soil; that is, religion for the German Church was considered best represented by that which conformed to German nationalism and culture. The interesting aspect of this is how first orthodoxy, then liberal Christianity could evolve to meet such a need.

Arthur C. Cochrane, author of The Churches Confession Under Hitler, writes of one pastor, Friedrich Andersen of Flensburg:

The latter [Andersen] is typical of how many ecclesiastics turned from Protestant orthodoxy to radical liberalism. As early as 1907 and 1913, Andersen was an avowed critic of the Old Testament and ‘all Jewish blurring of the pure teaching of Jesus’; and in defending himself, he liked to appeal to Adolf von Harnack’s book Marcion. Coming under the influence of the writings of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Andersen eventually became a member of the Hitler Party and an enthusiastic advocate of racial theories, even defending Rosenberg’s Myth of the 20th Century! As Hans Buchheim has observed, Andersen is a classic example of the transformation of liberal, historical theology into intolerant German nationalistic dogmatism. (75)

Religiously speaking, two important aspects of the liberalism of the German Churches in Nazi Germany correspond to Progressive Protestantism today, that is, a rejection of much of the Old Testament and a rejection of the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross. In fact both groups, the ‘German Christians’ of Nazi Germany and contemporary Progressives, reject Jesus Christ as he is found in both the Old Testament and the New.

As this particular heresy evolved in Nazi Germany it could not help but emerge as a form of paganism. Theologians insisted that theology must meet the needs of the German people; it must be seen, interpreted and formed in the context of their culture. Since all are sinners always turning toward themselves, the German people glorified the ‘volk’ that is the people. The people were glorified as was their leader, therefore Jesus Christ could only be understood as a heroic figure set beside Hitler.

There were those both inside the Church and out who went much further in their Paganism. There were many who wished to destroy Christianity as it had been known for almost two thousand years. Those outside tormented and mocked the Confessing Church. By 1937 many pastors of the Confessing Church were imprisoned

Along side this many declarations and statements of faith were written all leading toward Barmen. Cochrane writes of one such statement written by Pastor Heinrich Vogel. It is the ‘Eight Articles of Evangelical Doctrine.’ It is the answer to all paganism inside the Church. Cochrane writes:

"In these articles the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are acknowledged as God’s Word, which is to be heard only in faith through the Holy Spirit. The attempt to rend the unity of the Old and New Testaments, or to do away with them or to abbreviate them, is condemned. Thereafter Scripture is confessed ‘as the only source of revelation,’ and the ‘acceptance of other sources of revelation in nature and history’ is rejected. ‘We hear God’s voice not in the voice of the people who today cry ‘hosanna and tomorrow ‘crucify’ but in the Word of Scripture.’

The sermon is dealt with as ‘the present proclamation of God’s word subordinate to Holy Scripture, whose true preacher and hearer is the Holy Spirit alone.’ The second article deals with the sacraments. The third affirms the Triune God and rejects nature deities, and idols of culture, race, class, folk, and humanity. Next, the nature of God’s law is defined and distinguished from civil law and from social customs. Sin is ‘disobedience, unbelief, and enmity to God’s Word,’ which is known only through the cross of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, in which it is judged and forgiven.’

Then follows an article on grace in which it is asserted that we are redeemed through the blood of Christ and not by our own blood and natures." (125)

Cochrane’s explanations go on to describe the nature of the Church, the condemning of the banning of Jewish Christians from the Church and much more. He points out that all of the various writings and confessions being written during this time were the seeds being sowed for a new Confession which would grow out of the Church’s need to simply stand and confess her Lord.

The progressive theology of today will evolve also since it has no foundation in the revealed Word of God. Only God, however, knows that future. That some progressives in the Church care to mock the Lord of the Church and those who belong to the Lord of the Church is a telling sign of their evolving direction.

From Theological Existence Today: (And I have used this often before!)

"Of course something has to be done; very much so; but most decidedly nothing other than this, viz. that the Church congregations be gathered together again, but aright and anew in fear and great joy, to the Word by means of the Word. All the crying about and over the Church will not deliver the Church. Where the Church is a Church she is already delivered. Let persecution be never so severe, it will not affect her! 'Still,' it is said, 'still, shall the City of God abide, lusty beside her tiny stream.' (Psalm xlvi. 5; Luther's translation)." (78)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Art and a Poem for the Weekend

My family is graced with artists. When I was a little girl my mother made us paper dolls with clothes. Once when she wanted to draw a picture of my sister Janice she had nothing to draw on except some wall paper. This is the only picture our family now has from her drawings.

My granddaughter Melissa does all kinds of art. Some of her pictures are on her web site, Libellus Stellatus. Recently she posted, beneath some other photos of her husband's broken nose,(He got into a bicycle accident), a picture of two purses she painted. I particularly like the one with a girls face on it. (Perhaps an angel, the girl has wings.)

The other purse has red skulls and flowers and a funny name on it. The name is funny because Melissa didn't know what the word meant until after she put it on the purse and even that was an accident. You will need to go to her posting to read about the purse and Spencer's broken nose. November Photo Journal

I haven't drawn in a long time but here is a picture of children enjoying each other's company across a garden fence. I drew it many years ago.
I would like to post some of my sister's pictures but they are framed and I can't find an easy way to post them.
I have spent the day looking for a post card one of my nephews, Duane Andersen sent us a long time ago with one of his pictures on it. I think it was "Our Lady of Perpetual Cherry Pies." Duane has taught art at BYU and now makes movies.

Because I can't find, at the moment, anymore pictures to post I will end this with a poem I wrote for my children many years ago. It is about the farm I used to live on, and the country school I went to. For your information "lambsquarters" are a wild green better than spinach.

For My Children (And Grandchildren)

Take my hand my children and walk with me today.
You may not know me very well until you come this way.
The road is brown and soft; it goes up hill and down.
It twist and turns between the farms and there my farm is found.

The house is aged and gray, its rooms are huge but few.
It sits without foundation, but its ways are old and true.
A cistern brings us water, a lamp our light to read.
A country Church and school house are where our hearts will feed.

In springtime you may go with me into the thicket wild.
We will gather mushrooms by the bucket, lambsquarters green and mild.
We will sit beside a little stream that runs within a draw,
and pick the pretty mayflowers, sweet williams blue and tall.

And when the weathers hot and loud thunders crashing round,
we will smell the musty air of my cellar cool and sound.
We will sit among the many jars of beans and peas and beets,
and wait for distant storm to rumble onward in defeat.

Now when the ground is frosty and the air smells of smoke,
you may hear the hounds all barking and our closest neighbor folk.
They have the foxes running. They're after rabbits too.
And they hunt beneath a canopy of red and golden hue.

We will walk above the fence tops when the snow is on the ground,
and sit within a schoolhouse and hear the pleasant sound
of children reading books aloud and praising God in song,
and whispering to their neighbor that their answer is still wrong.

Oh how I wish my children that I could place within your heart
a little bit of this my memory that is still of me a part.
Baby pigs and wild roses, cherry blossoms in the spring,
picnics by the creek side and whippoorwills that sing.

Cornfields and catfish, gooseberries plump and sour,
a garden full of vegetables and every kind of flower,
the twilight of the evening with the cow bells ringing home,
please take my happy yesterdays and make of them your own.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Karl Barth: The Church's Struggle in 1933, Theology for Today 4

The great images of the book of Revelation can almost be seen in the later part of 1933 and beyond in German Church history. Here I am thinking of the great whore who is drunk with the blood of saints and who in the end is destroyed by the beast. Only this time it was the Nazi State and the Confessing Churches who at least partially killed the whore.

The ‘German Christians’ over played their hand. Arthur C. Cochrane in The Church's Confession Under Hitler, writes of a ‘monster’ rally held by the German Christians in the Berlin Sport Palace on November 13 of 1933. He writes of the speech given by Dr. Reinhold Krause. Cochrane’s description of the speech and the rally is instructive for the Church today. His words:

“He [Krause] declared that the German Reformation begun by Luther would be completed in the Third Reich by the formation of a new Church— … [a] new all-embracing German Church.’ It would not be a clerical Church bound to Confessions, but a people’s Church. The first step in the creation of an indigenous Church must be to get rid of ‘the Old Testament with its Jewish morality of rewards, and its stories of cattle dealers and panders.’

The New Testament had to be expurgated of all perverted and superstitious passages, the whole scapegoat and inferiority complex theology of the Rabbi Paul had to be guarded against. …

Finally a resolution was passed, with but one dissenting voice, which expressed the special demands made by Krause and his friends—the discharge of ministers who are not willing to co-operate in the completion of the Reformation in accordance with the spirit of National Socialism; swift execution of the Aryan paragraph [No Jews in the German Church] without any weakening of it; the placing of all Christians with alien blood in a Jewish Christian Church; removal of anything un-Germanic from the Church service and the Confession, especially the Old Testament; freeing the gospel of its Oriental distortions and the presentation of a heroic picture of Jesus as the basis for a Christianity in which the proud man who is a child of God is conscious of the divine in himself and in his people takes the place of broken and servile souls; a single true Church service that is a service to one’s fellow countrymen and which completes the German Reformation of Martin Luther and alone does justice to the totalitarian claims of the National Social States. (112-113)”1

There was, of course, a great outcry from the Evangelical German Church. In the end, for the sake of peace in the State, both Muller and Hitler had to disassociate themselves from the Faith Movement of the German Christians. Hitler could hardly afford to prepare for war and at the same time fight an internal battle with the Church.

But this was of course no true victory for the Confessing Church. Manipulation never ended and although there were no longer loud drumming demonstrations against the Confessing Church, nonetheless, church authorities, aligned with the Nazi State began to squeeze out all freedoms even banning all youth groups except the Hitler Youth Movement.

Some of the problems with the German Christians, listed by Barth in Theological Existence Today, have to do with issues equated with both conservatives and liberals of today. For instance the German Christians denounced pacifism which is actually as legitimate a position, for Christians, as is the just war position. There was also a call by the German Christians to expand the confessions in order that they might be a defense against “Bolshevism” [Communism] and “Mammonism” [Capitalism].

Not only were the German Christians anti-Semitic, they were also anti-Masonic believing there to be a conspiracy between the Masons and the Jewish people. But Barth cut through all of this.

His concern was always with the underlying heresy that fed the German Christian Movement which he felt would live on even after their thuggery. (They had threatened physical violence on the members of the Confessing Church.) He suggested that their theology was the real problem. “My belief is that at not too remote a time the Church will have finished with the public, savage heretics; but who will have saved her from the blandishment of those who seem to be correct as to the standards of the Church, Bible and Reformation, and yet, in principle do not think differently from those heretics?” Theological Existence Today, (71)

Barth’s words against the program of the German Christians are instructive to the Church today. He writes:

From: Theological Existence Today

"1. The Church has not ‘to do everything’ so that the German people ‘may find again the way into the Church,’ but so that within the Church the people may find the Commandment and promise of the free and pure Word of God.

2. It is not the Church’s function to help the German people to recognize and fulfill any one ‘vocation’ different from the ‘calling’ from and to Christ. The German people receives its vocation from Christ to Christ through the Word of God to be preached according to the Scriptures. The Church’s task is the preaching of the Word.

3. Speaking generally, the Church has not to be at the service of mankind, and so, not of the German people. The German Evangelical Church is the Church with reference to the German people: she is only in service to the Word of God. It is God’s will and work, if by means of His Word mankind, and of course, the German people, are ministered unto.

4. The Church believes in the Divine institution of the State as the guardian and administrator of public law and order. But she does not believe in any State, therefore not even in the German one, and therefore not even in the form of the National Socialistic State. The Church preaches the Gospel in all the kingdoms of this world. She preaches it also in the Third Reich, but not under it, nor in its spirit.

5. If the Church’s Confession of Faith is to be expanded it must be according to the standard of Holy Scripture, and not al all according to the examples, positive or negative, of a view of things existing at some one particular period of time, be it a political philosophy, or otherwise. Therefore, she must not widen the Creed to include the National Socialists’ ‘world-view.’ Nor has the Church to ‘provide weapons’ for ‘us’ or anyone whatever.

6. The fellowship of those belonging to the Church is not determined by blood, therefore, not by race, but by the Holy Spirit and Baptism. If the German Evangelical Church excludes Jewish-Christians, or treats them as of a lower grade, she ceases to be a Christian Church.

7. If the office of a Reichs-Bishop should be possible at all, than that office, like every other Church office, must not be established according to political programmes and methods at all. That is to say… by the representatives of the regular administration within the Churches, from the point of view of what exclusively empowers him for a Church office.

8. Not ‘in the sense of a closer approach to life and connection with the community’ is ‘the training and leading of the ministry to be transformed’ (As the Faith-Movement declares), but on the lines of a stricter, broader education, with pith and substance for the development of the work solely charged upon pastors, viz. the work of preaching the Word According to Scripture.” (51-52)

Barth goes on to add one more number without putting anything there explaining that the list is not complete. He also explains that he is not advocating against the German Christians because they are offering some new heresy. In deed, he explains, using another’s quote, that their heresy is a “small collection of odds and ends from the theological dust-bins of the despised eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.” Rather he is speaking up it because of their mass demonstrations and threats of violence against members of the Confessing Church.

1 I have divided Cochrane’s long paragraph for easier reading.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Karl Barth: the Church's Struggle in 1933, Theology for Today's Struggle 3.

Political manipulation, in the Church, is sadly one of the facts of Church history. And it happens in politically free countries as well as totalitarian ones. The surprising fact is that those in a free country would allow themselves to be manipulated. However, Karl Barth took on those Church members who allowed themselves to be manipulated in an increasingly totalitarian country.

His aim was pointed directly at his Christian brothers and sisters in the Evangelical Church in Germany rather than those who were called “German Christians.” Barth would have nothing to do or say to those who pushed a “positive Christianity,” that is, the German Christians. Rather he scolded those Evangelicals who alongside the German Christians espoused natural theology. But he also scolded them for their many compromises with the German Christians.

One of the compromises was to allow the German Christians the right to help form a new Church constitution. Another compromise, especially on the part of those who were reformed, was to call for a Reich Bishop over the united Churches. It was the 'Young Reformation Movement' that Barth chided the most for aligning with the German Christians in a call for a Bishop.

And this is where very serious manipulation happened in the German Church of Hitler’s time. Dr. Hermann Hesse and two other churchmen allowed Ludwig Muller, an advocate for the German Christians and Hitler, to participate in their deliberations on the Church constitution.

The committee for the constitution wanted to meet with Hitler to give him their results and to tell him their choice of a Bishop, which in the end was Friedrich von Bodelschwingh. However, Muller announced to the committee that Hitler needed to put off the meeting. Soon afterwards it was announced by the German Christians that Ludwig Muller was their candidate for Bishop.

When von Bodelschwingh was elected, the German Christians started a publicity campaign suggesting that von Bodelschwingh was not the people’s choice. And Muller stated that the election was illegal because “the constitution had not been drawn up.” (Because they had not yet met with Hitler.) At that time the Evangelical Church leaders lost their offices and with the backing of the state the German Christians literally took over the Church.

In Theological Existence Today, after castigating all parties for their compromises, Barth encouraged the Evangelical Church to carry on their work as the Church ignoring the German Christians and their positive Christianity. Barth’s words on the act of placing a bishop over the Church are illuminating. He spends several pages writing about the church’s failure to ask theologically what they mean by a bishop, and then he writes about the great blunder they have made.

From Theological Existence Today:

“But so long as no one will openly give a statement in one sense or the other of what ‘bishop’ means, can this whole business of creating and electing a Reichs-Bishop be described otherwise than as a colossal blunder? A blunder in which the Church (and the likelihood of it has never been contradicted) has acted in a way that is worldly in principle, because of her quite uncalled-for enthusiasm or fearfulness to ‘assimilate’ herself to the Government of the day.

And can anything else be said but this, that it is high time for the Church to become self-controlled again, sober to the recognition that the German Evangelical Church, so far as she is in the One, Holy, Universal Church, has the ‘Leader’ in Jesus Christ, the Word of God, Who can provide her with human ‘leaders’? So that precisely for this reason—and, to-day, just as thoroughly as Israel of yore had to on mount—Carmel—the German Evangelical Church has to make up her mind whether she is content with His leading, and with His ability to supply us with leaders. …

The German Evangelical Church, through her responsible representatives, has not comported herself as the Church which possesses her leader, during these recent months. And yet He possesses her: as surely as we have to hear His law and His Gospel ever again from Him. When it is recognized that He, and He alone, is the Leader, there is the possibility of theological existence.

And then, in all deference, even if one be but an ever-so-insignificant theologian, or the obscure village pastor, or even not a pastor or theologian at all, but ‘merely’ somebody like a lay-elder, then one is himself the genuine Bishop, if he only knows his Bible and his Catechism: a ‘bishop’ as foreseen in Holy Writ. Where there is no theological life about; where men call out for the Church Leader instead of themselves being leaders in their appointed ministries; then all this crying out for a leader is as vain as the howling of the priests of Baal on Carmel, ‘Baal, hear us!’”

1 For complete details of these actions see, “The Formation of the German Evangelical Church and Its Constitution,” in Arthur C. Cochrane, The Church’s Confession Under Hitler, (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press 1961).