Tuesday, April 30, 2019

On Father and Son from Jordan Peterson in His 12 Rules for Life

I'm stepping on my Monday post with this, so I implore you read that one, and the one I posted Saturday night both.  Don't miss those to get to this one.

This Thursday night, my wife and I will be going with two others to see and hear Jordan Peterson in San Francisco.  It is an event sponsored by the Independent Institute.  In preparation and anticipation of that event, I have been reading Peterson's 12 Rules For Life:  An Antidote to Chaos.  I've brought up Peterson's name to various ones in recent days, and some will say something like, 'oh yes, I really like Peterson,' even though they don't like rules.  Peterson's book is 12 rules.  Rules.  Some of the same ones would say 'no on rules'.

I've heard or watched Peterson in podcasts, interviews, and videos, and I have a pretty good handle on a lot of what he thinks, and I'm saying the following quote comes from a pivotal part of his thinking within his book.  In that very important part of his book, Peterson writes this paragraph about a father and a son in their relationship.  I'm typing this whole paragraph verbatim (p. 192):
If a father disciplines his son properly, he obviously interferes with his freedom, particularly in the here-and-now.  He puts limits on the voluntary expression of his son's Being* (look below for Peterson's definition of "Being"), forcing him to take his place as a socialized member of the world.  Such a father requires that all that childish potential be funneled down a single pathway (italics mine, not Peterson's).  In placing such limitations on his son, he might be considered a destructive force, acting as he does to replace the miraculous plurality of childhood with a single narrow actuality.  But if the father does not take such action, he merely lets his son remain Peter Pan, the eternal Boy, King of the Lost Boys, Ruler of the non-existent Neverland.  That is not a morally acceptable alternative.
*From earlier footnote from Peterson:  "I use the term Being (with a capital "B") in part because of my exposure to the ideas of the 20th century German philosopher Martin Heidegger.  Heidegger tried to distinguish between reality, as conceived objectively, and the totality of human experience (which is his "Being").  Being (with a capital "B") is what each of us experiences, subjectively, personally and individually, as well as what we each experience jointly with others."

Monday, April 29, 2019

What Is "Freedom in Christ"?

I'm for freedom.  I'm a capitalist.  I believe in a democratic republic, a free country.  I preach salvation by grace through faith alone and not by works.  There is no greater freedom than that in Christ.  If I wasn't writing this in a coffee shop, I might jump and down right now with freedom. I have the freedom to do that.

Christ freed me from sin.  I couldn't do that.  I was helpless under the Mosaic Covenant.  I couldn't stop sinning, but with the new covenant, Christ freed me to live righteous.  Even then, I sin, but He frees me from the punishment of sin.  I have power over sin, because of the freedom in Christ.  I praise God through Christ has set me free.  Amen!

I'm not getting to heaven by works, unless we're talking about the work, the finished work of Christ, which produces good works in me.  I can do good works.  Paul exclaims at the end of Romans 7, thank God for the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ.  If I was stuck with only the law of sin in my members, I could never do good, but through His workmanship, I can both will and do of his good pleasure.

Someone emailed this week and said the following, "We DO have freedom in Christ. Kent mocks that idea" (caps written by original author).  Kent is me.  So, according to this statement, I mock the idea that we have freedom in Christ.  It's a strange statement to read about myself, because I've preached for freedom in Christ on many occasions, really mention and preach it every week if not every day of my life (probably more than my critic), and could show notes from those sermons as evidence.

I did a search on my blog to see if I had written on it.  In 2016, I wrote a two part series (part one, part two) on "The Truth Shall Make You Free."  I have written about Christian liberty and also its perversions by evangelicals (here, here, here, here).  As a brief aside, I don't believe they very often have or want freedom.   I'm not sure they would even like the kingdom of God, because they would have to submit to Christ.  I have never mocked freedom in Christ and I would be glad to read the occasions that I have.  Many people who have listened to me have been opened up to Christian liberty, who have never heard it, and I've been told that many times.  I look out at a congregation of free people at Bethel Baptist Church.

Since then, I talked to the person who wrote the email to get a better understanding of the false accusation.  Almost by any definition, the statement is false, unless someone were defining "freedom in Christ" in a very narrow way that belies all teaching on freedom in Christ for the entire history of Christianity.  What I found through direct contact was that I mock the idea that we do have freedom in Christ, because I oppose the drinking of alcohol.  At least I found out what he meant.

The argument as it would relate to freedom in Christ seemed like the following.  People today take different positions on drinking alcohol, some prohibit it and some permit it.  Since there is more than one position taken, there is this dispute on the matter between Christians, those who prohibit it should allow liberty to those who permit it, and not judge them in this matter.  Those who judge it as sin, like me, mock freedom in Christ.  Okay.

It's true that I don't believe Christians have freedom to drink alcohol.  However, that doesn't mean that I don't believe Christians don't have freedom or liberty.  All activities can be divided into three categories:  scriptural, unscriptural, and non-scriptural.  I believe and would defend Christian liberty in the first and the third.  On the second, I believe we have freedom from unscriptural behavior, not freedom unto unscriptural actions.  "What shall we sin that grace may abound?  God forbid."

"In Christ" is a sphere or a position.  Christ is holy.  Our position "in Christ" isn't freedom to sin.  It isn't freedom even to do what we want.  It is freedom to do what Christ wants us to do, which is what it means to be "in Christ."  If someone doesn't want to do what Christ wants Him to do, why would He be interested in that position or sphere?  When someone looks at the classic Christian liberty passage in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 6-10, one can see that the point of the liberty is Jesus Christ, not himself.

We don't have liberty in unscriptural activities.  I believe drinking alcohol is unscriptural.  Unscriptural activities are sin.  The gospel of Christ, His freedom, gives a believer freedom not to drink alcohol.  He is delivered from drinking alcohol, because that is sin.  I'm saying drinking alcohol is bondage, not freedom.  I'm not mocking freedom in Christ.  I love it.  I don't have to drink alcohol, because of what Christ has done for me.  If I love Him, I keep His commandments, and they are not burdensome to me.  Sin no longer has dominion over me, because I'm under grace.

The discussion is really not about freedom in Christ.  It is about whether drinking alcohol is sin or not.  I believe it is a violation of scripture to drink alcohol.

In 2013, I wrote an article, "Everybody Draws Lines (It Really Is All About Why)."  Sin is transgression of the law.  Grace, liberty, freedom is not about transgressing the law.  I say transgressing, and that is crossing over a boundary, or a line.  In James 2:10, James writes that if we even cross over one line, we've broken the whole law.  Jesus said that the greatest in His kingdom is the one who keeps the least of His commandments, that is, crosses over the least of those lines.

Crossing God's boundaries isn't good.  It isn't freedom.  It is bondage.  It hurts the person who does it.  Even if everyone didn't want to cross a line, he would be helpless not to do that, except it be by the grace of God.  Until he is saved by the grace of God, he can't help himself.  I'm not saying he's the worst he could be, but he is still going to keep transgressing the law, except by the liberty by which Christ sets us free.

Drinking alcohol is not liberty or freedom.  Saying that you can do that doesn't mean you are more free than someone else.  This is what I call left wing legalism, people who think that because they have less regulations, they are more free.  Rather than say, God's grace enables me to do everything he wants me to do, they shrink the list down to a manageable number and call that freedom.  This is actually what the Pharisees did.  They eliminated the "weightier things," which are the harder things to do, and opted for the easy things.

Grace or liberty is not about shrinking the number of regulations.  It's not adding either, but God said not either to add or take away.  Modern evangelical reductionism isn't freedom.

What we see happening is the list of certain things shrinking in evangelicalism and the list of uncertainty growing.  Almost nothing can be judged because almost nothing is wrong anymore.  What especially becomes uncertain are numerous carnal lusts, inventing an unholy, worldly placebo of Christianity that isn't the grace of God and wouldn't require it.  The freedom is lasciviousness that denies the Lord Jesus Christ.  There's almost nothing different from the world in it.  This perversion is exposed in 2 Peter and Jude among other places.

I watched the 1988 vice presidential debate between Lloyd Benson and Dan Quayle.  There is a whole Wikipedia article to the famous quote of Benson.
Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy. 
I know freedom in Christ.  And the modern evangelical "freedom in Christ" is no freedom in Christ.  I don't mock freedom in Christ.  I don't even mock the counterfeit.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Two Bad Reactions When the Truth Hits Target: Shoot the Messenger or Doctor Shopping

When someone hears something from someone, let's say right from scripture, perhaps an exposition of a passage, so this is from God, His Word, the right response is to listen, acquiesce, humble one's self and obey.  So that's what people do, right?  Nope.  Read through the gospels and see what people do with Jesus.  He tells them the truth, then what do they do?  They attack Him.  He's from Nazareth.  He's Beelzebub.  He's born out of wedlock.  What authority does He have?  None of it has started dealing with what He actually said.  It's going after Him.

Let's say that I'm listening to someone who is telling me the truth.  It's an accurate representation of scripture.  I may not like everything about the person, but what is the right response to hearing the truth?  James 1:19 gives a nice little outline:  swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.  The truth should be taken to heart and someone should change.

When I tell someone the truth, and then the person attacks me, I know something from that.  The truth itself still stands.  He isn't dealing with what I've said, because it has hit target.

If what I've said is wrong, it's easy.  Tell me how it is wrong.  Go to the passage I've used or referred to or exposed, and show how it's wrong.  Tell me what it really does say.  Humility would give in to scriptural teaching.  That is humbling one's self.  If it relates to the application of the passage, indicate how the application is not following from the passage.  I'm actually happy about that kind of interaction with scripture.  It's basically, let's talk about the Bible.  I'm good with that.  I would expect the person to have done some work, the kind of drilling down that should be expected, not just a superficial opinion or even just what someone else said.

Here's what happens though.  Someone just doesn't like what the passage says.  He doesn't want to change.  Or he just doesn't like being judged by anyone based on a passage.  That doesn't alter the meaning of the passage.  It also doesn't mean that he's not going to be judged by God.

Alright, if someone hears the truth, he can agree.  It doesn't have to be a pound of flesh.  Someone doesn't need to blubber with tears down his face.  "You're right."  And then change.  Stop doing what you're doing.  But here's what happens instead.

Shooting the Messenger

Instead of hearing his message, people shoot the messenger.  In Acts, the authorities throw Peter and John in prison.  They kill Stephen.  It's normal.  With the Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians and Galatians provide the types of personal attacks people take.  I'm not going to go through all of them, but they often get into his motives, judging him to have said what he did for bad reasons.  They're still not dealing with what he actually says.  It's a kind of deflection out of rebellion.  It's a person who doesn't want to listen or follow through with what he says.

I don't like getting shot as a messenger, but it is to be expected, especially with biblical truth.  There is no light that gets a more harsh reaction than giving people what the Bible says.  The attacks are brutal.  I did not receive them until I started preaching.  Before that I was popular, liked by many.  As long as I didn't tell the truth, I was fine---no opposition, just everyone friends or friendly.

Since becoming a pastor, I get bad treatment all the time.  I've never been treated worse.  I get it from all over.  Jesus said this would be normal.  Read through every gospel, but especially in His instructions to the apostles in places like Matthew 10, Luke 10, and John 14-16.  Men love darkness.  They don't like being exposed.  They want to keep living like they want.  They want to be their own boss.  They are walking after lust and so they, as we see in 2 Peter 3, scoff.  People scoff to protect their own lust.

Jesus says people get it from family too.  Sometimes they're the most harsh and Jesus warns of this too.  During His ministry, He got it from his brothers.  Suffering from family is warned in the gospels by Jesus, but also by Peter in his first epistle.  Jesus said that when they "shoot you," they very often will treat it like they're doing a good deed.  They might think they are.

When I wrote the post published last Wednesday, I got some instant personal attack over it.  I got almost no interaction with the truth. What I wrote was just the truth.  It was important truth, but what did I hear?  Understand that this wasn't in the comment section, but that it was in emails.  He isn't humble.  His tone isn't any good.  He doesn't believe at all in freedom in Christ.  People hate him.  People roll their eyes at him when they see him coming.  He drives people away.  He doesn't have compassion, humility, or love.  He just loves to argue.  He isn't happy unless he's in a fight.  He isn't guiltless himself.  He comes across as sanctimonious.  He's been thrown off multiple blogs.  He himself doesn't show almost any fruit of the Spirit.  I got all those and many more. What about what I wrote?  Almost nothing.

What does all this personal attack, shooting the messenger mean from these people who one would expect are great examples of love themselves?  They would have tremendous tone too!  When someone doesn't deal with the truth, that means that it has hit target.  The attack should be expected.  It is very sad, but it should be expected.  It will happen.  Jesus said it would.

Just as an aside, shooting the messenger is proud.  It is not humble.  Humility is a biblical concept and it relates to a response to God.  People who don't like what God says and shoot the messenger are really not humbling themselves before God.  Go ahead.  You can shoot now.  It's what you do.

I believe the truth doesn't return void back to God.  It always works.  If it is teaching from scripture, it is powerful.  Part of operating by faith is not judging by appearance.  Like God said to Jeremiah, don't be afraid of their faces.  This is par for the course.  I've found it for thirty to forty years now. 

For myself, even if it is from someone that I don't think is completely squared away, if it is the truth, I think I should listen to it.  I'm still going to stand before God based on what His Word says.  That's not going to be the normal reaction to the truth.  Most of the time, they shoot the messenger.

Doctor Shopping

I'll call this spiritual doctor shopping.  Doctor shopping is where someone doesn't hear what he wants from his doctor, so he finds a doctor who will tell him what he wants to hear.  He keeps shopping for a doctor who will tell what he wants until he finds one.  If I go to a doctor, and he tells me what I've got or what he's going to give me in medication, what I want is the truth from him.  I understand not liking what I hear or what I get, but if it's the truth, I can solve whatever the malady is.

I can tell someone the truth from scripture, but someone will look for a preacher that says something different, or at least says that multiple possibilities exist and he can still do what he wants.  In the real world, if someone has the disease, he has the disease.  He can hear something else, but that's not going to change that.  People don't think the same today about scripture, the truth of God's Word.  They think they can choose whatever option they want, but that's not true.  They'll find out someday and it will be worse than any bad decision about a doctor.

Doctor shopping is akin to someone looking for his own counselor.  He "got counsel."  That's something he's supposed to do, right?  But that isn't counsel.  Counsel isn't shopping around until someone hears what he wants.  Counsel includes the opposite of what one wants to hear.  In scripture, the doctor shopping I'm describing is what Rehoboam did when he listened to younger men instead of the wise men.  This action split the entire nation and resulted in numerous deaths and spiritual apostasy.

I know many people who doctor shop.  They love their new doctors.  I tell someone the truth and he goes to someone else who says something different, that he wants to hear, and that's now the truth.  Is this based on exposition or the right means of understanding scripture?  No.  It's based on his own lust.  He bows to whoever tells him the spiritual position he wants to hear.  That doesn't change the truth and it won't work with God in the end.

Someone should want a doctor who gives the correct diagnosis based on the truth.  As a "doctor," I don't respect at all someone who shops for another doctor once I've told him the truth.  He's not getting the truth, I don't care if the other "doctor" is telling him he is. He's just shopping for whatever he wants to hear.  It's despicable.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Christian Mutual Funds With Great Rate of Return

Eventide, the family of mutual funds with Christian values that I have reviewed on my website and written about at What is Truth previously (here and here) has, I am pleased to report, won awards for having some of the highest rates of return within their mutual fund categories.  Investor's Business Daily named the Eventide Gilead Fund one of the 2019 Best Mutual Funds:

The Eventide Gilead Fund (NASDAQ: ETGLX) was named one of the 2019 Best Mutual Funds by the investment publication Investor’s Business Daily. The annual award list recognizes the funds in each equity category that have outperformed the S&P 500 Total Return Index in each of the 1-, 3-, 5-, and 10-year periods as of the prior year-end. The Eventide Gilead Fund was one of 108 funds to achieve this result in the Growth Stock Funds category out of 439 funds, one of 111 funds to achieve this result in the U.S. Diversified Equity Funds category out of 1076 funds, and one of 10 funds to achieve this result in the Midcap Funds category out of 210 funds. For award consideration, funds were required to have at least $100 million in assets under management.
The Eventide Funds are managed by Eventide Asset Management, LLC, a Boston-based registered investment adviser practicing investing that makes the world rejoice.®

The Eventide Gilead Fund and the Eventide Healthcare & Life Sciences Fund were both named as "Category Kings" by The Wall Street Journal for the one-year period ending March 31, 2019. The Category King award recognizes the top 10 performing funds in each equity category for trailing one-year total return. The Eventide Gilead Fund (NASDAQ: ETILX) ranked #4 in the Midcap Growth category out of 401 funds, and the Eventide Healthcare & Life Sciences Fund (NASDAQ: ETIHX) ranked #1 in the Health & Biotech category out of 97 funds.
The Eventide Funds are guided by an approach that seeks to deliver market outperformance to investors by investing in companies whose products and practices help create a better world. Eventide CIO Finny Kuruvilla, MD, PhD, commented on the approach: "Investing, for all its seeming sophistication, is simply the act of owning companies. What sets Eventide investors apart is a desire to invest in companies that are serving society and human flourishing. It is so gratifying to be able to work on behalf of those who want their use of money to follow and express their values and commitments." 
The Eventide Funds are managed by Eventide Asset Management, a Boston-based registered investment adviser practicing investing that makes the world rejoice.®
Even if they achieved an inferior rate of return, I would still recommend Eventide because they are clean and God-honoring in their investment philosophy, and it is not right for Christians to be part-owners of companies that support abortion, alcohol, tobacco, etc. by owning mutual funds that contain such stocks.  However, through investing in Eventide--which can be done directly through them or without purchase or sales fees through brokers such as Fidelity, Schwab, Merrill Edge, etc., it has been possible to get a fantastic rate of return on one's investment while still honoring the infinitely holy God.

Of course, past performance is never a guarantee of future results. The only thing certain here is not what happens to your money but that Jesus Christ will hold you accountable for what you did with it.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

One of the Two Primary Distortions of the Gospel in the New Testament, and The Most Prominent Today

Gospel means "good news," good news that we can be saved, that God wants to save us.  We need to be saved, but we also can be saved.  We don't deserve it, but God in His nature saves, wants to save us, and we can be saved.  Nothing is more important to anything and everything in life than being saved, which includes relationship with God and relationship with man.

Ephesians deals with relationship.  I've started to include that in my series on relationship and will continue through Ephesians and other relationship books and passages for exposition.  I established in that series (all links to every part are HERE), and showed how that wrong relationship (in part thirteen) with God is the paradigm or template for a wrong relationship with men.  The impediments to relationship with men do proceed from the barrier in relationship with God.  They do proceed.  This is axiomatic; it is a rule.

A fundamental way that Paul shows in Ephesians that someone can know and understand the relationship with God is by means of the relationship with men, and this relates to one of the two primary ways the gospel is distorted.  Nothing is worse than the gospel being distorted.  It means people go to Hell.  When someone does it, he is causing more damage than any singular activity on earth.  He should be rebuked in the strongest possible terms.

One distortion of the gospel is represented in many places in the New Testament, but in the epistle to the Galatians in a classic way.  Paul rebukes Peter to his face for a corruption of the gospel that today someone might think is meaningless.  Peter chooses not to eat meat with Gentile Christians in Antioch because of the pressure of Jews from Jerusalem.  Paul withstands Peter to his face for doing that, because of what it would do to the gospel.  This is the "adding works to grace" kind of corruption, or what has been termed, legalism.

Today, professing evangelicals have assigned legalism to all sorts of activity that resemble nothing like what Paul confronts with Peter and so they conveniently distort the problem of actual legalism, real legalism, which is a problem still, but not to the extent of a worse one presently, the second of the two primary distortions of the gospel in the New Testament.  This one is also all over the New Testament, but I want to focus on what one should see in Ephesians about this.  It could be a corollary to my relationship series.  I am motivated right now by a specific example, and I'll get to that.  Someone I know well is corrupting and confusing the gospel.  It's too big of a problem not to expose.

Ephesians 5:1-13 and the Other Distortion of the Gospel, the Main One Today

I could cover more or less than the first 13 verses of Ephesians 5, but that's what will expose the point.  I'm going to bold certain portions to show you that this relationship material does apply to the gospel.  Read these verses (all of them)!
1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
If you are a "dear child" (v. 1), you are saved (John 1:12), and children will follow their Father, literally "imitate."  The supreme example of this is Christ, as seen in His obedience to the Father, offering himself as a sacrifice to God.  Yes, He gave Himself for us, but He was also pleasing the Father, described as being a sweetsmelling savour to the Father.  Contrasted with this ("But") is something different, which isn't being a child of God, which is later "a child of light," rather than a "child of disobedience."  Paul uses this same phrase in Ephesians 2:3 in that gospel passage of Ephesians 2:1-10, that also is formulated for relationship, starting in Ephesians 2:11.

Paul is dealing with a distortion of the gospel, and he commands in in Ephesians 5:6, "Let no man deceive you."  It's obvious that there were false teachers that were deceiving in this way, giving people the impression that someone might be a dear child or child of the light, who is participating in these types of activities.  Today this is mainly called "antinomianism."  In the New Testament, especially exposed in 2 Peter and Jude, it is turning the grace of God into lasciviousness.  In Galatians, it is using grace as an occasion of the flesh.  This is not the grace of God.  It is an impostor, counterfeit grace, but it is popular in evangelicalism today, often called free grace and now I've read, "scandalous grace" (read this and this).  It is not the gospel.  It is a placebo that gives people a horrific false sense of security.  That is the scandal of it.  Paul says, don't be deceived by that false gospel -- the person who is deceived will not inherit the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Right now, I have good reason to believe that someone who I love dearly, almost as much as anyone, is being deceived by this kind of deception.  I have no good reason to think he isn't.  He is promoting exactly what the Apostle Paul says not to do here, and then Paul also characterizes it as a non-Christian.

Let's go back to Ephesians 5.  Paul contrasts Christ's obedience, which is His love, with that which might include the acts of fornication, uncleanness, or covetousness (5:3).  Paul doesn't stop there, he also brings it to the equivalent in speech:  filthiness, foolish talking, and jesting (5:4).

The actions are bad, but Paul doesn't stop there.  He includes the people, who talk about these things.  "Filthiness" is obscenity, someone who uses the foul language or suggestive language in line with fornication.  "Foolish talking" is the kind of talk of a fool, and a fool is an unbeliever, but it is characterized by temporal and of this world and lust again (see eph 2:1-3, please read).  "Jesting" is coarse, double entendre and innuendo.  It's not funny but it is made light of, even though Paul says it shouldn't even be "named among you."  Christians won't use this language and of course would never direct to or support someone else who uses it, like an entertainer, comedian, or "musician."  Popular music is full of, primarily constituted by, filthiness, foolish talking, and jesting.

Paul is clear.  People who act this way and talk this way are not followers of God, not His dear children, not loving, not a sweet smelling savor to God, not a child of light and not acceptable to the Lord, but instead a child of disobedience, darkness, and those not inheriting the kingdom of God but instead recipients of God's wrath.  They are not saved.  Are you listening?  Are you being deceived?  Stop being deceived.  This view of grace is false.  You will right now walk away from this view of grace, because it is false, whoever is telling you it, even if it is an uncle, an aunt, a cousin, a proclaiming preacher, an author, or a professing friend.  He isn't your friend.  He is a deceiver.  If you are saved, you'll be able to walk away from it.

What Paul Says to Do About It

Paul first commands not to be deceived.  He doesn't stop there.  He makes some commands to the church that are typically not done and church members don't look fondly on them.  Let me remind you of what they are.
Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
Walk as children of light.
Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.
Rather reprove them (make manifest them).
Don't speak of them even in secret (let alone in public).
It doesn't say, like, be silent, get along, tolerate, and be polite with.  Separation must occur.  No approval can be shown.  It must be rebuked.  That is real speech.

Here's the thing.  Today in this postmodern world, almost everyone, especially millennials, think that love is tolerating this behavior.  "Scandalous grace" tolerates it.  Jesus doesn't.  God doesn't.  These people will not be in His kingdom, but be under His wrath.  If you rebuke it, you are doing the right thing.  If you don't, you are not doing the right thing.  You are allowing it to be done, unlike a child of light.  You are not loving this person. You are jumping in with this person.  Do not do this!

The one I love is promoting new "country artists," and he says every week he'll do some of it more.  I looked into the lyrics of the first three.  I'm not even talking about the sensual, lustful music, which is bad enough, but the lyrics are filthy, foolish, and jesting.  Almost everything they write has this in it.  He calls them "authentic" and "honest" and "know how to deliver a hook," which are nonsense as a means of evaluation.  Everywhere one can adjudicate biblical teaching, they violate God.  They represent darkness, disobedience, and all things that should not even be named, let alone promoted.  This first one he pushes everyone to hear (what Christian would do this?) has these lyrics:
Whoever wrote the rules of breaking up never kissed your lips
Touched your skin, held the world at their fingertips
Didn't have a clue what heaven was
No they didn't have to lose that kind of love
And if they ever saw that smile, ever felt your fire
They might know what I'm going through
Whoever wrote the rules of breaking up
Ever been broke up? Broke up
There is more and there is worse.  The next one he endorses, sing their song, Underage, which says these:
All we ever think about is fun
All we ever wanna be is 21
Hey, doesn't everyone wanna sit on top of the world?
Revolves around athletic boys and girls
Dressed up in their older sister's clothes, R. Kelly on the radio
Screaming out, "This'll never get old" 
Racing cars and breaking hearts
First taste of love and twist-off wine
Kissing strangers, daring danger
Burning bridges, crossing lines
You don't think to take it slow
And you don't know what you don't know
The nights are young and our IDs are fake
Feels like it's always on our side
So we fill it up with midnight drives and lies
To your mama when she asks you where you've been
And you hide your smile and say anywhere but with him
'Cause you know when she was seventeen
She was doing the same **** thing
I'm going to stop there, but it doesn't get better.  It's worse.  The language is worse and the themes are worse.  The above is tame and being used just for the blog post.  These not only shouldn't be promoted and pushed.  The world doesn't need it.  Satan will get the word out.  Christians should be talking about the Lord Jesus Christ, which I just don't see.  This is just the opposite.  Take into consideration everything Paul says in Ephesians 5 with these examples as a consideration.

If someone is to the point where he says he's a Christian, who loves Jesus, and yet he is promoting and adulating the above types of groups and lyrics, then he is being deceived like Paul talks about.  I think we should assume, that since Paul writes this to a church, that the church could be deceived and that a Christian could be deceived.  If a Christian is deceived, when he is being taught or warned, he will also listen (cf. James 1:18-27), and repent of this type of behavior.  I look forward to that from anyone who is an actual believer and in this present condition.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Major Message in Scripture: Suffering for Evil Doing Isn't Actually Suffering

In this postmodern age, people don't want to suffer at all and they "succeed" by avoiding any and all suffering.  This includes suffering for evil doing.  The feel entitled not to suffer for evil doing.  You could see how postmodern that is.  There can't be evil doing in a post modern world, except for bringing suffering to an evil-doer.  Just telling one of them they're wrong is evil doing, which is in social media world, "not like."  When postmoderns do wrong, they don't want to hear it, and if they do, they have suffered.  Even if parents are the ones telling them, they are the real evil doers.  That's the only rule in their postmodern world.  Do you know the verse for that?

There isn't one.

Just the opposite.

Peter in his foremost epistle on suffering writes (read it all, but bold for emphasis):
1 Peter 2:20, For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 
1 Peter 3:13-14, 16-17, 13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 
1 Peter 4:12-16, 12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
No one should be surprised when he suffers as an evil doer.  Throughout scripture, one repeated aspect of repentance for evil doing is admittance of the deserving of the punishment, essentially of taking the punishment.  A person who is angry with punishment, that he deserves, is not repentant.  This is a major theme of the book of Lamentations.   God will most often show mercy to unrepentant sin.  He gave multiple opportunities to Israel. The punishment is the barbaric siege of Jerusalem that God brings as a means of chastisement.  It is savage treatment by the Babylonians. Here are some excerpts a samples (bold again for emphasis).
Lamentations 1:5, 8, 15, 18,  5 Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.  8 Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed: all that honoured her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward.  15 The Lord hath trodden under foot all my mighty men in the midst of me: he hath called an assembly against me to crush my young men: the Lord hath trodden the virgin, the daughter of Judah, as in a winepress.  18 The LORD is righteous; for I have rebelled against his commandment. 
Lamentations 2:4, 17,  4 He hath bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire. 17 The LORD hath done that which he had devised; he hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old: he hath thrown down, and hath not pitied: and he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee, he hath set up the horn of thine adversaries. 
Lamentations 3:1, 26-30, 33-43 1 I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. 26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. 27 It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. 28 He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. 29 He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. 30 He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach.  33 For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. 34 To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth, 35 To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High, 36 To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not. 37 Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not? 38 Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good? 39 Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? 40 Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. 41 Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. 42 We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned. 43 Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. 
Lamentations 4:6, 13, 22,  6 For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her. 13 For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her, 22 The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins. 
Lamentations 5:15-17,  15 The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning. 16 The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned! 17 For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim. 
Especially look at Lamentations 3, the apex of the book, where Jeremiah writes that this punishment from God is His faithfulness, great is His faithfulness (3:23).

Another facet of what I'm writing about in this essay is the example of the Babylonian captivity of Judah.  Judah went through a siege, but then captivity and part of her repentance before God was accepting the punishment she received.  People who can't take their punishment are not repentant.  One should also consider the repentance of Zacchaeus in Luke 19.  Part of his repentance was retribution or remuneration, which was punitive.  He had to pay back with a high percentage of interest money that he admitted that he stole through wicked taxation.

The duration of the Babylonian captivity was precisely 70 years.  The reason for that captivity is that Israel had failed to observe 70 Sabbath years (Leviticus 26:27-35; 2 Chronicles 36:20-21).  Matthew Henry writes in his commentary on Jeremiah 27:
Jeremiah the prophet, since he cannot persuade people to submit to God’s precept, and so to prevent the destruction of their country by the king of Babylon, is here persuading them to submit to God’s providence, by yielding tamely to the king of Babylon, and becoming tributaries to him, which was the wisest course they could now take, and would be a mitigation of the calamity, and prevent the laying of their country waste by fire and sword; the sacrificing of their liberties would be the saving of their lives. I. He gives this counsel, in God’s name, to the kings of the neighbouring nations, that they might make the best of bad, assuring them that there was no remedy, but they must serve the king of Babylon; and yet in time there should be relief, for his dominion should last but 70 years (v. 1-11). II. He gives this counsel to Zedekiah king of Judah particularly (v. 12-15) and to the priests and people, assuring them that the king of Babylon should still proceed against them till things were brought to the last extremity, and a patient submission would be the only way to mitigate the calamity and make it easy (v. 16-22).
Read especially Jeremiah 27:8-11:
8 And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the LORD, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand. 9 Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon: 10 For they prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far from your land; and that I should drive you out, and ye should perish. 11 But the nations that bring their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him, those will I let remain still in their own land, saith the LORD; and they shall till it, and dwell therein.
It was God's will that His people submit to His judgment because of their sins.  Their admission of guilt and willingly acquiescing to His punishment would mean repentance.  This is a reason that parents should look for willing acceptance of discipline from their children.  Later on, if a child, who has sinned, is bitter because he chafes under the punishment he received, essentially in willful pride, he is not repentant.

Someone suffers in actuality for well-doing.  Someone is punished or chastised for evil-doing.  When a parent spanks a child, lectures a child, disapproves of a child's behavior, the child isn't suffering.  He's being punished and deserves it.  If he wants to hold on to that and consider himself to be a victim, this is a recipe for disaster.  I don't even believe it.  Children who do that are looking for a way to justify future sinning.  All discontent and resentment holds a future of iniquity.

If a church member is subjected to discipline and the church practices separation from that person, and he doesn't not accept that punishment, then he is not repentant over his sin.  He is justifying his own actions.  If he is saved, I would expect chastisement, even death, and that would be a mercy of God.  If this is an unbeliever, and he doesn't repent, it is even worse punishment in store for his future.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Ancient Text of the New Testament, part one

In 1975, Jakob Van Bruggen (Wikipedia link), longtime professor of New Testament at the Theological College of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, gave a lecture on the text of the New Testament in Broederwig, Kampen at the anniversary of the College.  The transcript of the lecture was translated into English and was published into a forty page booklet entitled, The Ancient Text of the New Testament.  With his lecture, Van Bruggen argued for the superiority of the majority text and the textus receptus (those two are not seen as the same thing anymore, but at one time, the textus receptus would be referred to as the majority text -- for the sake of the reader, very often the terms textus receptus, received, Church, ecclesiastical, Syrian, Byzantine, traditional, and majority are used interchangeably).  I want to explain his lecture in a manner that almost anyone reading could understand his argument.  It is very good.

When I consider the text of scripture and its preservation, I start with scriptural presuppositions about what we should expect God to have preserved and to have made or kept available.  This is the best approach or even the right one, but it is also important, I believe, to accompany that with an explanation of the text in a historical manner.  Van Bruggen has thought through and given a good defense in a textual way, and it should be considered.  It is strong.

The first line reads:  "The New Testament textual criticism of the twentieth century is characterized by great uncertainty."  He says that "on the surface the opposite seems to be the case," because there is so much agreement among Catholics and Protestants in support of the eclectic Nestles text of the United Bible Society.  He follows:
All this does not yet mean that there is certainty about the correct text of the New Testament.  Agreement can be based on mutual certainty, but also on mutual uncertainty.  And the latter is the case.
Furthermore, he writes:
This again means acquiescence in a consensus text which has been determined on the basis of uncertainty. . . . many readings which have been chosen only by the majority of the committee.   That they did not unanimously arrive at a text. . . . At present there is no certainty concerning the history of the textual tradition. . . . the eclectic method is generally followed. . . . Subjectivity is not out of the question with this method.  Thus they will just have to arrive at a text by majority vote.
In contrast, he continues with some seeming tongue-in-cheek:
Among all uncertainties of the 20th century, we, however, to one great, lasting uncertainty in the modern textual criticism. . . . One can even say that the modern textual criticism of the New Testament is based on one fundamental conviction that the true New Testament text is at least not found in the great majority of the manuscripts.  The text which the Greek church has read for 1000 years, and which the churches of the Reformation have followed for centuries in their Bible translations, is now regarded as defective and deficient. . . . Already for more than 100 years the certainty that this type of text is inferior has already been taken for granted. . . . The heritage of the 19th century criticism was a solitary certainty -- the inferiority of this "traditional text." . . . .  It is striking how emotionally people often speak about this one certainty.
Van Bruggen does not explain why one should even expect certainty for the text of the New Testament.  This is a single lecture that doesn't come close to asserting everything, so he just assumes the expectation of certainty.  The nature of God and His Word assumes certainty.  Uncertainty is not a satisfactory basis for faith.  It should be easy to understand why certainty is important.  Scripture itself affirms certainty to the jot and tittle, every word, settled to the extent that a curse exists on those who add or take away from the words (Rev 22:18-19).  I often hear evangelicals today mock the expectation, approaching certainty like of course it isn't to be expected.  This exposes their absence of biblical presuppositions.

To segue to the argument of the book, Van Bruggen writes:
The friction between certainty and uncertainty in modern New Testament textual criticism gives occasion to ask what reasons are given for rejecting the Byzantine or Church text, which has been used for many centuries. . . . There is a scientific and religious duty to ask the question whether the ancient text of the New Testament is not found in the majority of the manuscripts and whether the church has failed to follow the truly ancient text for many centuries.
Van Bruggen asserts that the rejection of the textus receptus is accepted as fact in the 20th century, but not defended.  The defense is merely refer "to the work of Hort in the 19th century.  Yet the various arguments of Hort are no longer generally accepted today"  As well, "no new supplementary arguments against the Byzantine text have been worked out."  Van Bruggen summarizes the arguments of Hort against the Syrian text or the traditional text as the following:
  1. this text goes back to a revision of the Greek text in the 4th century, probably under the leadership of Lucianus of Antioch;
  2. this text can on external grounds be characterized as a late text:  it is not found in the old majuscules and it is not followed by the Church Fathers before Nicea in the New Testament quotations;
  3. this text can on internal grounds be characterized as secondary because of its inclusive nature (conflate readings) and because of its tendency to harmonize and assimilate, leading to a complete and lucid text.
Soon thereafter Van Bruggen provides a snapshot push-back:  [I]t must be remembered that for centuries people could daily acquaint themselves with the character of the Byzantine text or the textus receptus, yet they did not regard this as secondary and inferior."  Also, "if Hort's arguments are proven right, then it is strange that they were not advanced earlier.  If they are wrong, the question becomes urgent why they were still generally accepted in the last century."  Although puzzled by that phenomenon Van Bruggen chooses to focus his "attention on the question what force the argument of Hort in themselves have"  -- "after all, on the ground of these arguments people were so bold to abandon the traditional text."  The next three sections of the booklet are given to dealing in order with each of Hort's arguments.

The Value of the Number of Manuscripts

Van Bruggen earlier made light of the use of a majority of committee members to determine the acceptance of a textual variant.  He asks, why since there is no certainty still about the text of the New Testament would the critics not then rely on a majority of the manuscripts?  The answer is Hort's first argument, that the majority can be traced back to one recension, that is, "the many manuscripts would be nothing else than copies of only one manuscript."

The critical text is not based on a majority of the manuscripts because those are given the weight by critics of only one single manuscript.  "The historical starting point for this recension-idea is sought in the person of Lucianus of Antioch."  The critics are saying that a man, Lucianus of Antioch, revised the New Testament text in the fourth century and then the majority of the copies of the New Testament were made from that 'corrupt' revision.  The majority of the handwritten copies, manuscripts, of the New Testament must be dismissed, critics say, because they all come from the same source, which can't be trusted.  These are the copies which give the essential basis of the textus receptus and the Reformation era translations of scripture.

It is not possible to prove Lucianus made a revised text of the New Testament in the fourth century.  Because of that, a far diminished number of 20th century critics now mention Lucianus, despite continuing with a recension claim.  Van Bruggen writes:
That there is much agreement between all these manuscripts does not mean that they all come from one and the same source.
The work that debunked Hort's theory was done at least by Ernest C. Colwell and Kirsopp Lake.  Van Bruggen says:
[They clearly show] that it is better to describe the Byzantine textual tradition as a collection of converging textual traditions than as a varying reproduction of one archetype.  This fact now prevents us from thinking of one recension as the source for the text that is found in the majority of the manuscripts.  No matter how one judges about the value of the growing consensus in the textual tradition, one can not simply reduce the large majority of manuscripts to one vote and then only a secondary vote. . . . It is impossible to treat the majority of the manuscripts during the evaluation of them as though they textually formed one family. . . . We do not deny that small family groups can be distinguished within this majority, just as families can also be determined in other text-types and with the versions.
He continues:
That no importance is attached to this majority as such in modern textual criticism is not only connected with the recension-idea, but especially with the opinion one has concerning the age and character of the Byzantinue type.
Lucianus is not the basis of "convergence and uniformity."  So what is it?  Van Bruggen answers:
The different centres of production in the 4th and following centuries aimed at a most faithful copy of the original or at a good restoration of the original text. . . . Growing uniformity . . . points in the direction of a simultaneous turning-back in various centres to the same same central point of the original text.  This text was sought in the oldest and most faithful manuscripts.
Churches should not have allowed a modernist influenced movement to abandon the text received by the churches.  Many leaders did reject the rationalistic bias against the uniformity of a majority of the copies.  There was a historic trend toward uncertainty that resulted in this weak theory holding sway.  An honest recalculation would reconsider the historic reception of a uniform text in light of the unmasking of the underlying ideology for its abandonment.

More to Come

Friday, April 19, 2019

Tax the Poor: The Rich Are Paying Far More Than Their Fair Share

With April 15, tax day in the USA, having just recently passed, it is appropriate to reflect on the mantra that the rich are not paying their "fair share" of taxes, but are ripping off the poor, who allegedly are overwhelmed by the burdens the federal government is imposing on them to give to the rich.

What part do the rich and the poor pay?

The top 50% of tax payers paid 97% of all income tax in 2016, and the figures are about the same today.  The top one percent paid 37% of all income tax.

Approximately 44% of all lower-income workers will pay no income tax at all.  In other words, they are not just failing to pay their "fair share."  They are paying no share.  The rich are paying their fair share--in fact, they are paying far more than their fair share.  The government is stealing from the rich.

The large majority of what is stolen from the rich goes to unconstitutional "redistribution" of wealth--it is the government using force and the threat of fines and imprisonment to take from one person and give to another:

What is a "fair share"?

Enemies of the free market and advocates of socialism and of "redistribution" of wealth rarely define what the "fair share" is that they want the rich to pay.  However, the Bible clearly states what the maximum just level is for an income tax. In the words of the tract The Role of Government:  Has God Spoken?:

In economics, God teaches that taxation on income should be below a flat 10% rate—any higher rate is a curse and a form of slavery (1 Sam 8:6-81517-18). “Redistrib­uting” wealth—the government taking from one person by force through taxation to give to someone else it believes is more worthy—is ungodly (1 Sam 8:14-15). Governments that redistribute wealth are stealing (Ex 20:15), just like a robber who “redistributes” what a person owns. Such practices are considered in Scripture to be pagan (1 Sam 8:19-20), tyrannical (1 Sam 8:17-18), and oppressive (1 Sam 12:3). Devaluing currency—as the government does by inflation—is also stealing (Isa 1:2225). National debt is a curse (Deut 28:1244). Bribery—including bribing certain classes of people to vote a certain way by promises of government handouts—is a sin and “perverted judgment” (1 Sam 8:3), for the government is to be impartial and neither favor the rich or poor (Deut 16:19Ex 23:3Prov 22:16). God commands individual believers and churches to generously and selflessly help the needy and poor (2 Thess 3:10Gal 6:10Lu 6:35), and not to do so is sinful, but for the government to employ force to extract money from people to give to either the rich or poor is the sin of stealing, not charity or generosity. The Bible teaches an economic system that values private property (Ex 20:15), free enterprise (Mt 20:2), and economic freedom (Mt 20:15), rather than socialism, fascism, or communism.

Any income tax above the tithe--above the 10% that God requires for Himself--is stealing and iniquity, not justifiable taxation.  10% is the maximum Biblically justifiable tax rate.  Furthermore, the tax rate should be flat--the poor should pay at most 10% of $1,000, namely, $100, and the rich should pay as a maximum 10% of $1,000,000, namely, $100,000. Therefore, every tax bracket in the USA, except perhaps the very lowest one, is sinful, and the rates become more sinful the more people earn:

2018 Tax Year Individual Income Tax Rate Schedule
Tax Rate
& Widow(er)
Head of Household
$1 to $9,525
$1 to $19,050
$1 to $9,525
$1 to $13,600
$9,526 to $38,700
$19,051 to $77,400
$9,526 to $38,700
$13,601 to $51,800
$38,701 to $82,500
$77,401 to $165,000
$38,701 to $82,500
$51,801 to $82,500
$82,501 to $157,500
$165,001 to $315,000
$82,501 to $157,500
$82,501 to $157,500
$157,501 to $200,000
$315,001 to $400,000
$157,501 to $200,000
$157,500 to $200,000
$200,001 to $500,000
$400,001 to $600,000
$200,001 to $300,000
$200,001 to $500,000
over $500,000
over $600,000
over $300,000
over $500,000

(Note that the bottom brackets are essentially not really what they appear to be because various credits cancel out the tax rate--people in the 10% income bracket, for example, are almost certain to really pay 0%, having all their income tax returned to them.)

Biblically, the government is simply to be like a night watchman, punishing evil (Romans 13) and doing nothing except offering praise to what is good, rather than funding what it believes to be good through taxation.  Were the government to cease its sinful "redistribution" or stealing of people's private property through unbiblical spending, it could definitely both tax at below a 10% flat rate and also balance its budget and pay off the national debt.

Why the poor should be taxed

A flat tax is appropriate, not only because of the (entirely sufficient) reason that God says that it is, but also because it is very important for everyone to have "skin in the game."  When 44% or so pay no income tax at all, they have no incentive to fight for lower taxes and spending--rather, they have every incentive to vote for politicians who promise to steal more from other people and "redistribute" the goods of others to themselves.

Furthermore, a flat tax rate of less than 10% would result in much faster economic growth, making both rich and poor more wealthy.

It should be noted that in America the "rich" and the "poor" are highly fluid, not static, categories.  It is not that hard to become a millionaire in the USA. (See the IRA calculator here, for example--just start early enough and it is highly likely you will be a millionaire if God spares your life).  Furthermore, if you avoid the "strange woman" of Proverbs and work, you have less than a 2% chance of being below the poverty line.  What is more, the "poor" of the USA are not really poor--they are far better off than the vast majority of people in the world today, and far better off than just about everybody that lived in past centuries.

Thus, the poor that fear God should protest against the fact that other more wealthy Americans are having their property unjustly stolen by the government, and they should vote against programs that give them the stolen goods of others.  (I'm not holding my breath.)

Far too often (though not always), people are poor because of sinful behavior--drugs, alcohol, sexual immorality, etc.--and government welfare programs actually make their situation worse, not better.  Rather than stealing money from the wealthy through unjust taxation, the government should praise the wealthy who give generously to true churches that preach the gospel that changes the lives of drug addicts and other sinful lifestyles and cleans them up.  From a secular viewpoint, an organization such as Kiva does far more to help the poor in the USA and around the world with the money it has than the government does with the funds that flow through its "redistribution" schemes.

Conclusion:  Tax the poor

In conclusion, the rich are indeed not paying their "fair share"; they are paying much, much more than their fair share.  The poor, by contrast, are not paying their "fair share"; a huge percentage of them are paying no share at all.  These facts are ungodly, like many of the other things that the government does, the worst of all being allowing the slaughter of helpless infants in the womb.

Politicians will never say what this blog post says, because it would be highly unpopular and they would be out of a job the next election cycle.  (To be even more politically incorrect, you should not give the homeless money either--they are almost certain to spend it on drugs or alcohol, not food.)  Visualize the soundbites and headlines now:  "Politician says to tax the poor and give nothing to the homeless," followed by pictures of needy people, while ignoring the fact that the role of government, not of private charity, is under discussion.  It is not the role of government to be "generous" with other people's money--it is the duty of individuals and churches to be generous with their own money.  While politicians will never say these things, they are, nevertheless, the truth.  The rich are paying too much in taxes, and the poor are not paying their fair share.  The government is wickedly violating the eighth commandment, "Thou shalt not steal" (Exodus 20:15), and God's sword of justice will not always sleep.