July 16, 2009 § 5 Comments
In a new encyclical, entitled “Caritas in Veritate”, or “Love in Truth”, Pope Benedict XVI calls for the formation of a “true world political authority”, which would enforce global economic, environmental and immigration policies in order to construct a new world order that “conforms to the [Catholic] moral order”. He’s wrong to do that, on many levels, as explained in more detail here.
Most of the encyclical sounds nice, and most Christians would agree with at least some of the things he’s saying, except I, along with others, believe he has no God-given authority to call for such an order — in spite of the assumed authority that Catholic popes have granted themselves historically. The Pope calls himself Christ’s representative on earth. If so, he would do well do remember Christ’s words (quoting from source):
“Jesus Christ, whom the Pope claims to represent here on earth, very clearly said that [His] “kingdom was not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight . . . but my kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). A political body “vested” with “power” to ensure “security” and “compliance,” as the Pope recommends, will obviously have to use a police or military force. What qualifies the Pope to make recommendations or suggest policies for the creation of such an entity?”
Furthermore, “some may argue that the Pope is not suggesting he or his church be in charge of such an authority, but rather proposing that some other body take these steps to stabilize our world economy. And yet this cannot be the full argument. The letter makes clear that the policies carried out by the entity would be to construct a “social order” that “conforms to the moral order.” The Pope’s choice of words is telling. He does not say “some moral order,” or “a moral order,” but “the moral order.” He clearly has a certain moral order in mind. Could this be any other moral order than the one articulated and taught by the Catholic Church?”
Second, we must always remember the Dark Ages, the Inquisition, and all of the countless millions killed at the hands of that putrid religious zealotry. All of that was done in the name of the Pope and allegedly in the name of God, and the reason they could do it was the Catholic church’s control of Europe’s various governments. We cannot ever let history repeat itself like that.
Third, most may have easily forgotten or not even been aware of the Catholic church’s recent efforts to reinstate the Sunday Law, under the guise of a “national day of rest”. If that were to happen, it would be a form of religious persecution, where those who choose to worship on another day, like, for example, on Saturday, which is the true Biblical Sabbath, would slowly but surely be ostracized and persecuted for their disobedience of the legal day of rest, namely Sunday. If the church got its hands on a world government, you can only begin to imagine the measures of persecution that would be introduced, one after the other, in the name of the new “moral order”.
We must continually strive to dissuade any church or group of churches from attempting to control or influence world governments. World governments should be “worldly”, guided by a set of generally accepted moral rules and left to themselves, not controlled by a church. The churches would do well to remember their kingdom is in heaven and is to be ruled solely by God, not by fallible human beings. If they’re dissatisfied with the current state of affairs in this passing world, they’d better get on their knees and pray for the faster return of Christ, not try to build empires of their own.
July 14, 2009 § Leave a Comment
I was reading Ezekiel 33 this morning, and verses 7-9 state perfectly why I feel the need to write here at Dignoscentia.
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.”
As a believer in God and in God’s Law, I feel the need to share what I have learned from the Bible with others, in the hope that if they’re doing something that may be wrong, they might learn it’s wrong and turn from it. I’m not saying what I write is necessarily right — who knows, I could be wrong too — but at least I’m trying to shed light on the truth. I’ve always said that it’s each person’s responsibility to seek out the truth for themselves. It’s not about forcing people to believe in certain things or behave in certain ways. It’s about letting them make free, yet informed choices about their beliefs. If I can only get someone thinking and searching for the truth and for the right path in their life, then I’ve done my job.
Here’s how God feels about it:
“Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’
“Therefore, son of man, say to your countrymen, ‘The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys, and the wickedness of the wicked man will not cause him to fall when he turns from it. The righteous man, if he sins, will not be allowed to live because of his former righteousness.’ If I tell the righteous man that he will surely live, but then he trusts in his righteousness and does evil, none of the righteous things he has done will be remembered; he will die for the evil he has done. And if I say to the wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ but he then turns away from his sin and does what is just and right — if he gives back what he took in pledge for a loan, returns what he has stolen, follows the decrees that give life, and does no evil, he will surely live; he will not die.”
“None of the sins he has committed will be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he will surely live.”
Those were verses 11-16 in the same chapter (33) in Ezekiel. Now isn’t that something to rejoice about?
May 23, 2009 § 1 Comment
US News published an article entitled “10 Healthy Habits That Will Help You Live to 100“, authored by Deborah Kotz. I’ll list the 10 habits below, but I encourage you to read the entire article, it’s very good.
- Don’t retire
- Floss daily
- Be physically active
- Eat a fiber-rich breakfast
- Get at least 6 hours of sleep per night
- Consume whole foods, not supplements
- Be less neurotic
- Live like a Seventh-day Adventist
- Be a creature of habit
- Stay connected
Did you catch #8?
“Americans who define themselves as Seventh Day Adventists have an average life expectancy of 89, about a decade longer than the average American. One of the basic tenets of the religion is that it’s important to cherish the body that’s on loan from God, which means no smoking, alcohol abuse, or overindulging in sweets. Followers typically stick to a vegetarian diet based on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts, and get plenty of exercise. They’re also very focused on family and community.”
Seventh-day Adventists were also featured in the National Geographic Magazine for the very same reason in November of 2005, when researchers studied three different groups of people from around the world (Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy and Loma Linda, CA, USA) to discover why they lived so long. There are a large number of Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda. That same NGM study was then picked up by CNN and shown on the Anderson Cooper 360 show.
April 11, 2009 § Leave a Comment
The byline for this psalm is “a psalm, a song for the Sabbath day”. It’s yet another mention (among countless in the Bible) of the Sabbath’s importance, and I’m not referring to the false Sabbath of Sunday, which many obstinate and misguided churches are lobbying for, but the true Sabbath, Saturday, which was sanctified by God from the creation of the Earth.
As a photographer, I couldn’t agree more with verse 5: “How great are your works, O LORD, how profound your thoughts!” The more time I spend in nature, seeking natural beauty, and the more I examine that beauty, the more I realize how great God’s work truly is, and how beautiful He made this Earth before we spoiled it. As for the second part of this verse, I don’t know if we’ll ever know how profound God’s thoughts can be. We are too limited to realize how He thinks, how much He loves us, and how He cares for us.
The rest of the psalm is eschatological, and includes clear references to the destruction of the wicked, and to everlasting life with God, in heaven and here on the renewed Earth:
“Though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be forever destroyed.” (verse 7)
“For surely Your enemies, O LORD, surely Your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered.” (verse 9)
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.” (verses 12-14)
Verse 15 echoes the promises made in Daniel and the Revelation, that all will realize God’s perfect nature and goodness, and will proclaim it aloud, saying: “The LORD is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
Not all of the promises made in this psalm are prophetic. Some are for the present. Verses 10 and 11 say:
“You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured upon me. My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.”
My Bible’s footnotes indicate the term “horn” refers here to one’s strength. The original Hebrew version is likely even clearer on that meaning. It’s encouraging and inspiring to see that God sometimes blesses His faithful ones during their lifetimes, not just in heaven. He chooses the time and method, but when He pours out His blessings over them, there is no mistaking His hand. I can attest to this myself, and I’m sure many others can. When we’re in the direst of circumstances and things cannot possibly be solved by human means, He works something out miraculously and we are delivered in a way we could not have imagined if we hadn’t seen it.
Praise be to God!
March 28, 2009 § 2 Comments
Some of the most beautiful promises of reassurance I know of are contained within this psalm:
“A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” (Psalm 91:7)
“For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11,12)
“I will rescue him; I will protect him.” (Psalm 91:14)
Aren’t those promises amazing? I don’t know about you, but shivers run down my spine when I read them. To think, God will personally command His angels to protect me completely, no matter what the circumstances! All that He asks in return is:
- Make Him my dwelling place (Psalm 91:9)
- Love Him (Psalm 91:14)
- Acknowledge His name (Psalm 91:14)
That’s not too much to ask, is it? Of course, the key is to dwell in the Lord, as verse 9 says. How does one do that though? It’s got to be a symbolic statement, one that likely refers to keeping our minds on God, all day, every day, and inviting Him into our lives. It’s a natural extension of that second thing we must do in order to qualify for His full protection, which is to love Him, as verse 14 above says. Or, as another Christian puts it, to dwell in the Lord is to keep His word in our minds all day — to study the Bible carefully and to meditate upon it. Once we love Him and dwell in Him, it’s only natural that we acknowledge His name, or that we speak about Him to others, and give Him credit for all the blessings He bestows upon us.
The wonderful thing about God is that He loves us so much He’ll protect us even when we don’t love Him. He’ll bless us even when we curse Him. He is truly amazing. I’ve heard stories of people who were atheists or pagans, and yet God protected them in terribly dangerous situations. What do you think happened afterwards? Many became Christians. They began to believe in Him, to love Him, and to acknowledge His name publicly. They realized He exists, and He watches out for all His children, even though He may not always answer our prayers the way we expect. Yet if only we could see His angels at our side when in dire circumstances, we would know He never fails to deliver on His promises.
He doesn’t falter. Only we do, and that’s the hard part to accept, isn’t it? The Bible is full of God’s promises, and yet we have a hard time believing them, because we either don’t think He, who created the entire Universe, has the power to help us, or because we think He slighted us in the past when we prayed for something and didn’t get it. But that’s our pride that stands in the way, isn’t it? We can’t seem to be able to swallow it down and to accept the fact that God did what was ultimately best for us, even if it wasn’t the outcome we expected. Let’s face it, sometimes, when those arrows come our way, as verse 7 says above, we may be among the ones that fall, not among the ones that are left standing. Don’t ask me why — only God knows that. The thing to do is to put it in His hands and let Him figure things out. Let the chips fall where they may, knowing He is in control.
I think that’s the hardest lesson to learn.
February 14, 2009 § Leave a Comment
Here is a short passage from Isaiah 46, verses 6 and 7:
“Some pour out gold from their bags and weigh out silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god, and they bow down and worship it. They lift it to their shoulders and carry it; they set it up in its place, and there it stands. From that spot it cannot move. Though one cries out to it, it does not answer; it cannot save him from his troubles.”
Notice the ridiculousness of the situation: a human being will create an object out of inanimate metals, set it on a pedestal in their home, and start praying to it — what’s worse, they’ll expect results.
Some may read this and say it’s no longer relevant. It’s what the ancient people did. But let’s look around the world and we’ll soon find out that this is still practiced. In some religions, people won’t bother to carve out gods from metals or stone. They’ll pray directly to stones. Or they’ll pray to the trees, or to nature itself. Then there are those religions that still pray to statues that depict human or animal likenesses, and they’re dominant in some parts of the world.
What’s worse, the practice of praying to graven images or statues isn’t limited to pagan religions. It happens right under our noses in the Western world. All you need to is to enter a Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopal or Anglican church, and you’ll see statues of Jesus Christ or Mary, or the apostles, or of some saint or other, to whom the people pray and cry. They light candles to them and lay flowers at their feet, hoping in earnest for an answer when God clearly forbids it.
These people have forgotten the Ten Commandments, haven’t they? Here’s what God Himself wrote on the tablets of stone He gave to Moses:
“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Deuteronomy 5:7-9)
When one looks at these things through the lens of God’s Word, the matter becomes very simple: you shall not do it. When human reason enter the equation, we hear excuses like “But this is only a likeness that reminds us of God. We are really praying to God, and this helps us imagine Him.” The list goes on and on.
Problem is, God won’t listen to these excuses when it comes time for the final judgment. He won’t care what you intended to do. He clearly forbids the worship of statues and graven images, and all who call themselves believers in God should obey His wishes.
January 22, 2009 § 9 Comments
I have always been pro-choice. As a Christian, I can’t see it any other way. It’s about free will, and it’s about tolerance. Those two notions are clearly set out in the Bible, and if you’re a Christian who tries to love your fellow human beings, as the Bible says you should do, then you should also be pro-choice.
This is why I love this video I found on YouTube. A young man went to a group of pro-lifers who were demonstrating on the streets and asked each of them this question:
“If abortion were illegal, what should be done with the women who have illegal abortions?”
It’s a simple question, but one which gets back to the principles of compassion and tolerance so entrenched in the Bible. Watch them struggle to come to grips with what sort of punishment these women should receive, and you’ll see they can’t answer.
I’m glad someone had the courage to go out there and ask this question, because people who try to impose their religious beliefs on others are not doing God’s will. The pain that women suffer through after aborting is greater than any sort of pointless legal action that could be taken against them. They have pangs of remorse and go through bouts of depression for years or even decades. It’s not something I’d wish on anybody, but I strongly believe that they should have the option to do this if they feel it is necessary.
[via Unreasonable Faith]