Devout Christian who believes the primary mission of the Church is to faithfully represent the Gospel of Christ, and consistently live out the word of God in our everyday lives.
Posted 12/23/15 at 2:38 PM | Marvin Thompson
In a recent blog thread on 12/21/2015, responding to Michael Brown’s Christian Post article “Of Course Muslims and Christians Don't Worship the Same God,” a couple posters got to discussing God’s greatest attributes. One said that love is the greatest attribute and the other countered that holiness is the greatest attribute. Who is correct? Neither.
The scandal of the modern Church is the lack of understanding of the nature and person of God. Thinking of the attributes of God in term of rank exposes the flaw in our understanding of the classical Christine doctrine of God. Of course, this points to the bigger problem of inadequate Christian education. Apparently, there is no real focus on teaching today’s believers about how the orthodox understanding of the nature and person of God was developed and codified into the most important creedal documents of the Church.
It seems much of today’s church focus is on becoming the modern equivalent of a successful organization. That means building alliances with secular entities and emulating business models that promise corporate-like success. The only standard for a successful church is found in Jesus’ declaration of John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” If the believers do not “know” who God really is then the church is just a place for social gathering, of platitudes and a citadel of secular humanism worshipping a god of our own creation because the true and living God is not known. FULL POST
Posted 10/30/15 at 1:06 PM | Marvin Thompson
Christians believe “crazy” things, at least according to certain non-Christians. Some of the things Christians believe seem so counterintuitive that it is hard to take us seriously at times. For example, we are encouraged to love our enemies and to pray for the welfare of those who despise, use and abuse us. In fact, we are taught that loving those who love us is okay, though not really commendable. But loving those who hate us, now that is inspirational! It goes so much against what is natural that even some Christians have a difficult time digesting it, thereby creating some doctrinal stumbling blocks.
How can the doctrine of hell that is clearly thought in scripture be reconciled with a loving God? How can a loving God send someone to a place of unending torment? Critics of Christianity, and some believers, argue on the basis of the punishment fitting the crime. Is eternal retribution a fitting punishment for a relatively “short” life of rebellion, especially in the economy of a loving and just God? How can endless retribution coexist with endless love? The answer lies in our understanding of God’s love.
Classical Christian orthodoxy holds that God is Love. That means love is an essential attribute of God; it is eternal, immutable, and not merely a character trait. One cannot speak of God without speaking of love, because God does not possess love – He IS Love. Thus, it is not an emotion as we would consider the love that people are capable of possessing. People “fall” in and out of love. God’s love is unwavering and unalterable. People set their affection on others based upon acceptable conditions. God’s love is unconditional; He loves the sinner, and He loves the saint. FULL POST
Posted 10/22/15 at 1:04 PM | Marvin Thompson
In the wake of Kim Davis’s conscientious objector fiasco over the issuing of marriage licenses to gay couples, and the ensuing, and confusing, debates for and against her stance, it is important for Christians to take a step back and at least act like the adults in the room. Too much has been politicized, factionalized and emotionalized; and none to the edification of Christians. Yet, the situation presents an opportunity to teach Christians how to live with godly integrity in a secular society without being guilty of breaking its laws.
Paul told the Church that interacting with the broader society is unavoidable; otherwise we would have to be taken out of the world (1 Corinthians 5:9-10). He taught that the powers of government were ordained and given by God (Romans 13:1-6), and along with Peter (1 Peter 2:13-22), suggests that Christians have an obligation to God for obeying the laws of secular society. Please note that this is different from the hyperbole of those who claim that every secular law that goes against any religious belief warrants civil disobedience for the sake of obeying God rather than man.
Old Testament Examples
Two examples from the bible will illustrate how Christians may conduct themselves within a godless workplace and society, and maintain their integrity.
First, Joseph maintained his integrity even though he directed the affairs of an idolatrous society (Genesis 37-50). He was second in command to the Pharaoh in Egypt. But nowhere is it recorded that there were any attempts by him to abrogate the laws of that society and prevent the people from practicing their idolatry. Here was a “Christian” man in the seat of power in a society that was as guilty of human sacrifices and idol worship, and all the vices we are familiar with in our own society; yet he did nothing to change it. In fact, he was responsible for making sure that the society had enough food, drink and other things necessary to maintain their cultural and religious practices. Still he was never accused of condoning or supporting any of those ungodly practices.
What may seem crazy to many Christians today is that it was God who put Joseph in that position. And, as Joseph realized, God meant it for good! He did not realize it at first, but he trusted that the God he served was faithful and knew his heart. Joseph would not do anything that was sin against his God. When he was faced with a situation that constituted sin against God, he fled without his outer garment from the room of Potiphar’s wife. He had a keen sense of what was and was not sin against God.
The second example is of a man who was not sure what was and wasn’t sin against God (2 Kings 5). Naaman was the commander of the army armor bearer for Aram the pagan king. One requirement of the job was to go wherever the king goes, and so be in the temple where there was idol worship and perform some of the oblations as the king’s proxy. However, after he was healed of leprosy, Naaman had a conversion experience and realized that continuing to perform his duties would incur some practices that conflict with a Holy God. So he inquired of the prophet Elisha and explained that he will no longer worship pagan gods, but because of his obligation he would still be required to perform the temple duties as described.
The prophet bid him to go in peace; a tacit acknowledgement that Naaman would not be guilty of sinning in the discharge of his duty. It serves no purpose to speculate whether Naaman’s duty extended beyond what was mentioned into other ritual practices. What’s important is that he was not instructed to leave his job (if that was even possible), or to negotiate with the king.
We Christians find ourselves in similar situations as the above examples every day. Some Christians are leaders of countries or large companies, governors and mayors; some work in places that produce goods and services that promote ungodly lifestyles. More significantly, as Christians we all live in a secular society with ungodly ethos and mores codified into laws. Yet we are expected to maintain our godly integrity while remaining a functional, productive member of that society.
Paul was very practical in his advice to those Christians who were slaves:
1 Corinthians 7:20-21: Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. (NIV)
Some Christians become believers while working in jobs that do not always uphold Christian principles. Some Christian take on jobs that do not always uphold Christian principles.The advice is not to let that become an obstacle. If God does not tell you to change jobs or provide you with a different job, then you need not worry that you are sinning in doing your work. (Again, I caution against extreme and ridiculous examples). Ironically, failure to do our secular job as unto the Lord is sin (Romans 13:1-2; 1Peter 2:13-22).
If one’s conscience is troubled (and that is a function of personal faith – Romans 14) and there is an opportunity to serve in another capacity or leave the job, then one should consider those options.
In light of Romans 13:1-6, Acts 4:13-20 and 1Peter 2:13-22, unless we are directed by secular law not to preach the Gospel, doing our secular duties is not a choice between obeying man or God. That portion of scripture in Acts has been abused enough as an excuse for politically activist, and biblically ignorant Christians to break the law.
Let us honor God by applying the scripture appropriately to our actions in the workplace and our daily lives as an example light and salt.
Posted 8/31/15 at 12:47 PM | Marvin Thompson
A recent article on Christian Post (CP) has unearthed a theological crisis within the Christian community. The article by Christian Post reporter Ray Nothstine was posted on August 21, 2015, and asked the question Should Christians Lie to End Abortion?
The report stated the concern of University of South Carolina Professor, Christopher O. Tollefsen, author of Lying and Christian Ethics, who published an essay questioning the tactics used by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) to uncover some of the “dark” practices of Planned Parenthood in selling body parts of aborted fetuses.
It seems that the CMP revelation came as a result of “… techniques that involved lies,” according to Tollefsen who went on to say that pro-lifers should “occupy a higher ground of truth.”
The CP reporter included objections to Tollefsen from various notables and organizations defending CMP, saying that it was done to save lives, suggesting that they believed it was acceptable, if not by religious practice, certainly as a journalistic paradigm to uncover the truth.
Needless to say, the article generated some very interesting comments from the CP readers. One standout comment was, “Someone forgot to tell God that lying to preserve lives is a sin.” FULL POST
Posted 7/30/15 at 2:28 PM | Marvin Thompson
In the midst of the tragedy and ensuing fallout something remarkable, no, miraculous, happened in Charleston South Carolina. And it may have been largely missed by the Church. Regardless of one’s intuition about whether or not President Obama is a Christian, the Church should collectively rejoice that he delivered such an impassioned eulogy at Reverend Clementa Pinckney’s funeral. There are at least three reasons that the Church should embrace this, and all three are about the Gospel.
The first reason to rejoice is the fact that the Gospel was preached!
“Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.” Philippians 1:15-18.
To Paul, preaching the Gospel was as important as life itself for he said at one time, “Woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16b). He was also not concerned with who was doing the preaching. Writing to the Philippians he makes the case for the supremacy of the Gospel regardless of the circumstance or the motivation of the “preacher”. The tendency for many Christians is to dismiss the message because of the messenger. FULL POST