Category: D thru G


  It is interesting to note how the phrase “climate change” is replacing “global warming” as the catch phrase of environmentalism. Some scientists/climatologists are certain that human activity, primarily greenhouse gas emissions, is impacting the environment. What they are not certain about is precisely what the impact will be. A couple of decades ago, “global cooling” was the fear, with warnings of a new ice age being the primary scare tactic. While most scientists/climatologists today believe that global warming is the primary risk, uncertainty has led to “climate change” being used as a less specific warning. Essentially, the climate change message is this: greenhouse gas emissions are damaging the environment, and, while we are not certain what the effect will be, we know it will be bad.

Climatologists, ecologists, geologists, etc., are unanimous in recognizing that the earth has gone through significant temperature/climate changes in the past. Despite the fact that these climate changes were obviously not caused by human activity, many of these same scientists are convinced that human activity is the primary cause of climate change today. Why? There seem to be three primary motivations.

First, some truly and fully believe the greenhouse gas emissions are causing climate change. They honestly examine the data and come to that conclusion. Second, some hold to the climate change mindset with an almost religious fervor. Many within the environmentalist movement are so obsessed with protecting “Mother Earth” that they will use any argument to accomplish that goal, no matter how biased and unbalanced it is. Third, some promote the climate change mentality for financial gain. Some of the strongest proponents of climate change legislation are those who stand to have the greatest financial gain from “green” laws and technologies. Before the climate change mindset is accepted, it should be recognized that not everyone who promotes climate change is doing so from an informed foundation and pure motives.

How, then, should a Christian view climate change? We should view it skeptically and critically, but at the same time honestly and respectfully. Most importantly, though, Christians should look at climate change biblically. What does the Bible say about climate change? Not much. Likely the closest biblical examples of what could be considered climate change would be the end times disasters prophesied in Revelation 6–18. Yet these prophecies have nothing to do with greenhouse gas emissions; rather, they are the result of the wrath of God, pouring out justice on an increasingly wicked world. Also, a Christian must remember that God is in control and that this world is not our home. God will one day erase this current universe (2 Peter 3:7-12) and replace it with the New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21–22). How much effort should be made “saving” a planet that God is eventually going to obliterate and replace with a planet so amazing and wonderful that the current earth pales in comparison?

Is there anything wrong with going green? No, of course not. Is trying to reduce your carbon footprint a good thing? Probably so. Are solar panels, wind mills, and other renewable energy sources worth pursuing? Of course. Are any of these things to be the primary focus of followers of Jesus Christ? Absolutely not! As Christians, our focus should be proclaiming the truth of the gospel, the message that has the power to save souls. Saving the planet is not within our power or responsibility. Climate change may or may not be real, and may or may not be human-caused. What we can know for certain is that God is good and sovereign, and that Planet Earth will be our habitat for as long as God desires it to be. Psalm 46:2-3, “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

  As Christians, we should be concerned about our effect on our environment. God appointed man to be the steward of this world (Genesis 1:28), not the destroyer of it. However, we should not allow environmentalism to become a form of idolatry, where the “rights” of an inanimate planet and its non-human creatures are held in higher esteem than God (Romans 1:25) and man created in His image. With global warming, as with any other topic, it is crucial to understand what the facts are, whom those facts come from, how they are interpreted, and what the spiritual implications are.

A careful look at global warming, as a topic, shows that there is a great deal of disagreement about the facts and substance of climate change. Those who blame man for climate change often disagree about what facts lead them to that conclusion. Those who hold man totally innocent of it often ignore established facts. Experience and research leads us to believe that warming is, in fact, occurring; however, there is little to no objective evidence that man is the cause, nor that the effects will be catastrophic. The idea of earth “wearing out” is an apt analogy. This entire world has been continually decaying since the fall.

Global warming “facts” are notoriously hard to come by. One of the few facts universally agreed upon is that the current average temperature of Earth is indeed rising at this time. According to most estimates, this increase in temperature amounts to about 0.4-0.8 °C (0.72-1.44 °F) over the last 100 years. Data regarding times before that is not only highly theoretical but very difficult to obtain with any accuracy. The very methods used to obtain historical temperature records are controversial, even among the most ardent supporters of the theory of human-caused climate change. The facts leading one to believe that humans are not responsible for the current change in temperature are as follows:

• Global temperature changes from past millennia, according to available data, were often severe and rapid, long before man supposedly had any impact at all. That is, the current climate change is not as unusual as some alarmists would like to believe.

• Recent recorded history mentions times of noticeable global warming and cooling, long before man had any ability to produce industrial emissions.

• Water vapor, not CO2, is the most influential greenhouse gas. It is difficult to determine what effect, if any, mankind has on worldwide water vapor levels.

• Given the small percentage of human-produced CO2, as compared to other greenhouse gases, human impact on global temperature may be as little as 1%.

• Global temperatures are known to be influenced by other, non-human-controlled factors, such as sunspot activity, orbital movement, volcanic activity, solar system effects, and so forth. CO2 emission is not the only plausible explanation for global warming.

• Ice Age temperature studies, although rough, frequently show temperatures changing before CO2 levels, not after. This calls into question the relationship between warming and carbon dioxide; in some cases, the data could easily be interpreted to indicate that warming caused an increase in carbon dioxide, rather than the reverse!

• Computer simulations used to “predict” or “demonstrate” global warming require the assumption of human causation, and even then are not typically repeatable or reliable. Current computer weather simulations are neither predictive nor repeatable.

• Most of the global temperature increase of the last 100 years occurred before most of the man-made CO2 was produced.

• In the 1970s, global temperatures had actually been dropping since 1945, and a “global cooling” concern became prominent, despite what is now dismissed as a lack of scientific support.

The “consensus” claimed by most global warming theorists is not scientific proof; rather, it is a statement of majority opinion. Scientific majorities have been wrongly influenced by politics and other factors in the past. Such agreement is not to be taken lightly, but it is not the same thing as hard proof.

This “consensus,” as with many other scientific theories, can be partially explained by growing hostility to those with differing viewpoints, making it less likely that a person without preconceived notions would take on the subject for research. The financial and political ramifications of the global warming debate are too serious to be ignored, though they should not be central to any discussion.

• The data being used to support anthropogenic (man-caused) global warming is typically based on small data sets, single samples, or measurements taken in completely different regions. This creates an uncertainty in the results that rarely gets the attention that alarmist conclusions do.

While the above list is not exhaustive, it does include several of the major points that raise doubts about mankind’s actual effect on global temperatures. While no one can deny that warming is occurring, “overwhelming evidence” of any objective type does not exist to support the idea that global warming is significantly influenced by human actions. There is plenty of vague, short-sighted, and misunderstood data that can be seen as proving “anthropogenic” global-warming theory. All too often, data used to blame humans for global warming is far less reliable than data used for other areas of study. It is a valid point of contention that the data used in these studies is frequently flawed, easily misinterpreted, and subject to preconception.

In regards to issues such as this, skepticism is not the same as disbelief. There are fragments of evidence to support both sides, and logical reasons to choose one interpretation over another. The question of anthropogenic global warming should not divide Christian believers from each other (Luke 11:17). Environmental issues are important, but they are not the most important questions facing mankind. Christians ought to treat our world with respect and good stewardship, but we should not allow politically driven hysteria to dominate our view of the environment. Our relationship with God is not dependent on our belief in human-caused global warming.

For further research on global warming, we recommend the following articles:
http://www.icr.org/article/3233/
http://www.junkscience.com/Greenhouse/ http://www.clearlight.com/~mhieb/WVFossils/ice_ages.html
http://www.xtronics.com/reference/globalwarming.htm
http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2002/5/14/161152.shtml
http://www.whrc.org/carbon/images/GlobalCarbonCycleLG.gif
http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/fig3-1.htm

There is a difference between the biblical view of the environment and the political movement known as “environmentalism.” Understanding this difference will shape a Christian’s view of environmentalism. The Bible is clear that the earth and everything in it was given by God to man to rule over and subdue. “And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth'” (Genesis 1:28).

Because mankind was created in His image, God gave men and women a privileged place among all creatures and commanded them to exercise stewardship over the earth (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8:6-8). Stewardship implies caretaking, not abusing. We are to intelligently manage the resources God has given us, using all diligent care to preserve and protect them. This is seen in the Old Testament where God commanded that the fields and vineyards would be sown and harvested for six years, then left fallow for the seventh year in order to replenish the soil’s nutrients, both to rest the land and to ensure continued provision for His people in the future (Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:1-7).

In addition to our role of caretakers, we are to appreciate the functionality and beauty of the environment. In His incredible grace and power, God has placed on this planet everything needed to feed, clothe, and house the billions of people who have lived on it since the Garden of Eden. All the resources He has provided for our needs are renewable, and He continues to provide the sun and rain necessary to sustain and replenish those resources. And, as if this were not enough, He has also decorated the planet in glorious color and scenic beauty to appeal to our aesthetic sense and thrill our souls with wonder. There are countless varieties of flowers, exotic birds, and other lovely manifestations of His grace to us.

At the same time, the earth we inhabit is not a permanent planet, nor was it ever intended to be. The environmental movement is consumed with trying to preserve the planet forever, and we know this is not God’s plan. He tells us in 2 Peter 3:10 that at the end of the age, the earth and all He has created will be destroyed: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up” (NKJV). The physical, natural earth in its present form, with its entire universe will be consumed, and God will create a “new heaven and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1).

So we see that, rather than trying to preserve the earth for thousands or even millions of years to come, we are to be good stewards of it for as long as it lasts, which will be as long as it serves God’s sovereign plan and purpose.

A short series on the Environment and Environmentalism

The Green Bible, published in 2008 by Harper Collins Publishers, is not a new translation. The publishers use the New Revised Standard Version as their text. The whole premise of this version is similar to the “red-letter” editions of the Bible where the words of Christ are printed in red ink. Following this approach, the Green Bible prints in green ink verses and passages which, according to the publisher, deal with environmental topics or creation care. They break this down into four categories: [1]. How God and Jesus are involved in creation; [2]. How all elements (land, water, plants, humans, animals) are interdependent; [3]. How nature responds to God; [4]. How we are called to care for creation. The Bible itself is printed on recycled paper using soy-based ink with a cotton/linen cover. There is also a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as several essays by various people including Brian McLaren, of emergent church fame, and Pope John Paul II. Other features include a topical index, a personal “trail study guide,” and an appendix with information on further reading, how to get involved, and practical steps to take.

The idea of a “green” Bible may have merits. The Green Bible can serve as a reminder to believers who are overly critical of today’s modern “green” movement that the Scriptures do speak on the subject of the environment. The heavens, air, oceans, rivers, seas, plants, and animals are all wonderfully created by God. Some need to be reminded that God’s magnificent creation is something to behold, appreciate, respect, and preserve (Genesis 1:26-28). Of course, God’s command to mankind to rule over and subdue the earth does not mean we can abuse it. Rather, God has given care of the environment to mankind to nurture and use with respect, always mindful of our great God as the force behind its creation.

At the same time, there are negative aspects of the Green Bible. A statement by Eugene H. Peterson, author of The Message, explains the whole purpose of the Green Bible: “The Green Bible sets out an urgent agenda for the Christian community.” It seems clear that the main goal and purpose is to promote the “green” agenda and implies that God in His Word confirms this as a primary theme. However, the “urgent agenda” for the Christian community is not the reclamation of the earth, but the reclamation of souls destined for an eternity in hell. Anything that distracts Christians from this most basic reason for our existence is antithetical to God’s plan for His people. Interestingly, the Green Bible does not seem to be prominently used as a tool by those who support today’s “green” movement, no doubt because there are too many other truths in God’s Word that contradict the basic philosophies of the “green” agenda. The Green Bible in reality is a perfect example of what the Apostle Paul speaks about in Romans: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen” (Romans 1:25).

The Green Bible goes beyond just advocating an agenda and actually is teaching false doctrines. This becomes evident in the “Green Bible Quiz,” which has seven questions with three multiple-choice answers for each question. Question #2 asks, “Which verse praising creation is from the Psalms?” and gives Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands,” as the correct answer. The problem here is that this verse does exactly opposite of what the question asks. The verse is not “praising creation” at all; rather, it speaks of the creation praising the Creator, God. Question #4 in the Green Bible Quiz asks, “Where did Jesus go to commune with nature?” The “correct” answer given is Matthew 4:23, but apparently this was a typo and no doubt should have been Matthew 14:23, “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” This verse definitely does not say that Christ went up to the mountain “to commune with nature.” He went up to pray, literally to commune with His Father, God. This goes far beyond stretching the meaning of a verse and actually amounts to deifying nature, which is nothing short of idolatry.

There is nothing wrong with Christians being involved in a conscious effort to appreciate and even preserve God’s wonderful creation. But any effort directed at preserving the planet forever runs counter to God’s revealed plan. He tells us in 2 Peter 3:10 that at the end of the age, the earth and all He has created will be destroyed with fire. The physical, natural earth in its present form, along with the entire universe, will be consumed, and God will create a “new heaven and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). As believers, our focus has to be living for the Savior and, in what the Scriptures call the “last days,” to be about the business of sharing the good news of the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ with as many people as possible.

Some people today, especially those of anti-Christian opinions, have the mistaken notion that the Bible prescribes permanent racial divisions among men and is, therefore, the cause of modern racial hatreds. As a matter of fact, the Bible says nothing whatever about race. Neither the word nor the concept of different “races” is found in the Bible at all. As far as one can learn from a study of Scripture, the writers of the Bible did not even know there were distinct races of men, in the sense of black and yellow and white races, or Caucasian and Mongol and Negroid races, or any other such divisions.

The Biblical divisions among men are those of “tongues, families, nations, and lands” (Genesis 10:5,20,31) rather than races. The vision of the redeemed saints in heaven (Revelation 7:9) is one of “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues”, but no mention is made of “races”. The formation of the original divisions, after the Flood, was based on different languages (Genesis 11:6-9), supernaturally imposed by God, but nothing is said about any other physical differences.

Some have interpreted the Noahic prophecy concerning his three sons (Genesis 9:25-27) to refer to three races, Hamitic, Semitic and Japhetic, but such a meaning is in no way evident from the words of this passage. The prophecy applies to the descendants of Noah’s sons, and the various nations to be formed from them, but nothing is said about three races. Modern anthropologists and historians employ a much-different terminology than this simple trifurcation for what they consider to be the various races among men.

Therefore, the origin of the concept of “race” must be sought elsewhere than in the Bible. If certain Christian writers have interpreted the Bible in a racist framework, the error is in the interpretation, not in the Bible itself. In the Bible, there is only one race—the human race! “(God) hath made of one, all nations of men” (Acts 17:26).

What Is a Race?

In modern terminology, a race of men may involve quite a large number of individual national and language groups. It is, therefore, a much broader generic concept than any of the Biblical divisions. In the terminology of biological taxonomy, it is roughly the same as a “variety”, or a “sub-species”. Biologists, of course, use the term to apply to sub-species of animals, as well as men.

For example, Charles Darwin selected as the subtitle for his book Origin of Species the phrase “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”. It is clear from the context that he had races of animals primarily in mind, but at the same time it is also clear, as we shall see, that he thought of races of men in the same way.

That this concept is still held today is evident from the following words of leading modern evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson:

“Races of man have, or perhaps one should say ‘had’, exactly the same biological significance as the sub-species of other species of mammals.”

It is clear, therefore, that a race is not a Biblical category, but rather is a category of evolutionary biology. Each race is a sub-species, with a long evolutionary history of its own, in the process of evolving gradually into a distinct species.

As applied to man, this concept, of course, suggests that each of the various races of men is very different, though still inter-fertile, from all of the others. If they continue to be segregated, each will continue to compete as best it can with the other races in the struggle for existence and finally the fittest will survive. Or else, perhaps, they will gradually become so different from each other as to assume the character of separate species altogether (just as apes and men supposedly diverged from a common ancestor early in the so-called Tertiary Period).

Most modern biologists today would express these concepts somewhat differently than as above, and they undoubtedly would disavow the racist connotations. Nevertheless, this was certainly the point-of-view of the 19th century evolutionists, and it is difficult to interpret modern evolutionary theory, the so-called neo-Darwinian synthesis, much differently.

Nineteenth-Century Evolutionary Racism

The rise of modern evolutionary theory took place mostly in Europe, especially in England and Germany. Europeans, along with their American cousins, were then leading the world in industrial and military expansion, and were, therefore, inclined to think of themselves as somehow superior to the other nations of the world. This opinion was tremendously encouraged by the concurrent rise of Darwinian evolutionism and its simplistic approach to the idea of struggle between natural races, with the strongest surviving and thus contributing to the advance of evolution.

As the 19th century scientists were converted to evolution, they were thus also convinced of racism. They were certain that the white race was superior to other races, and the reason for this superiority was to be found in Darwinian theory. The white race had advanced farther up the evolutionary ladder and, therefore, was destined either to eliminate the other races in the struggle for existence or else to have to assume the “white man’s burden” and to care for those inferior races that were incompetent to survive otherwise.

Charles Darwin himself, though strongly opposed to slavery on moral grounds, was convinced of white racial superiority. He wrote on one occasion as follows:

“I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit…. The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.”

The man more responsible than any other for the widespread acceptance of evolution in the 19th century was Thomas Huxley. Soon after the American Civil War, in which the negro slaves were freed, he wrote as follows:

“No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man. And if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathous relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller-jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried out by thoughts and not by bites.”

Racist sentiments such as these were held by all the 19th century evolutionists. A recent book has documented this fact beyond any question. In a review of this book, a recent writer says:

Ab initio, Afro-Americans were viewed by these intellectuals as being in certain ways unredeemably, unchangeably, irrevocably inferior.”

A reviewer in another scientific journal says:

“After 1859, the evolutionary schema raised additional questions, particularly whether or not Afro-Americans could survive competition with their white near-relations. The momentous answer was a resounding no…. The African was inferior—he represented the missing link between ape and Teuton.”

The Modern Harvest

In a day and age which practically worshipped at the shrine of scientific progress, as was true especially during the century from 1860 to 1960, such universal scientific racism was bound to have repercussions in the political and social realms. The seeds of evolutionary racism came to fullest fruition in the form of National Socialism in Germany. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, a contemporary of Charles Darwin and an ardent evolutionist, popularized in Germany his concept of the superman, and then the master race. The ultimate outcome was Hitler, who elevated this philosophy to the status of a national policy.

“From the ‘Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life’ (i.e., Darwin’s subtitle to Origin of Species) it was a short step to the preservation of favoured individuals, classes or nations—and from their preservation to their glorification…. Thus it has become a portmanteau of nationalism, imperialism, militarism, and dictatorship, of the cults of the hero, the superman, and the master race … recent expressions of this philosophy, such as Mein Kampf, are, unhappily, too familiar to require exposition here.”

However one may react morally against Hitler, he was certainly a consistent evolutionist. Sir Arthur Keith, one of the leading evolutionary anthropologists of our century, said:

“The German Fuhrer … has consciously sought to make the practice of Germany conform to the theory of evolution.”

With respect to the question of race struggle, as exemplified especially in Germany, Sir Arthur also observed:

“Christianity makes no distinction of race or of colour: it seeks to break down all racial barriers. In this respect, the hand of Christianity is against that of Nature, for are not the races of mankind the evolutionary harvest which Nature has toiled through long ages to produce?”

In recent decades, the cause of racial liberation has made racism unpopular with intellectuals and only a few evolutionary scientists still openly espouse the idea of a long-term polyphyletic origin of the different races. On the other hand, in very recent years, the pendulum has swung, and now we have highly vocal advocates of “black power” and “red power” and “yellow power”, and these advocates are all doctrinaire evolutionists, who believe their own respective “races” are the fittest to survive in man’s continuing struggle for existence.

The Creationist Position

According to the Biblical record of history, the Creator’s divisions among men are linguistic and national divisions, not racial. Each nation has a distinct purpose and function in the corporate life of mankind, in the divine Plan (as, for that matter, does each individual).

“(God) hath made of one blood, all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation: That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him” (Acts 17:26,27).

No one nation is “better” than another, except in the sense of the blessings it has received from the Creator, perhaps in measure of its obedience to His Word and fulfillment of its calling. Such blessings are not an occasion for pride, but for gratitude.

Diversity is, basically, variety. In recent times, the word diversity has taken on the specific connotation of “variety of people within a group”—the differences among the people being racial, cultural, gender-based, etc. Diversity was God’s idea. Even a cursory study of science reveals an amazing variety of plant and animal life. People, God’s final creation, are diverse, too. He did not create us as clones or robots. He created two different genders (Mark 10:6). The creation of male and female is diversity at its most basic—the sexes are very different, yet complementary.

Another act of God that created diversity occurred at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:9). Humankind was clustered together, and God wanted them to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). To expedite their obedience, He confused their languages, making it impossible for them to work together. From there, humanity spread out across the earth, and people with the same language remained together. Over time, cultures, races, and regional dialects emerged and resulted in the diversity we now know.

Diversity is part of being human. God delights in the plethora of differences His human creatures possess. The book of Revelation describes the final gathering of God’s people from “every nation, tribe, and tongue” (Revelation 7:9). The angels and elders around God’s throne adore Jesus with the words “with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). So God enjoys the diversity within the human race. We are each created in His image for His pleasure and glory (Revelation 4:11; Colossians 1:16). He designed us the way we are and delights in His handiwork (Psalm 139:13–16).

However, in our modern culture, the focus on diversity can become its own god. Diversity itself is revered rather than the One who created that diversity. An emphasis on diversity tends to highlight our differences. God is more concerned with unity (Ephesians 4:3). Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” God is saying that our differences are not what should define the children of God. Those who belong to the Lord Jesus should first define themselves as God’s children. We must be willing to set diversity aside in favor of unity in spirit. Jesus’ passionate prayer in John 17 shows that His desire for His disciples was that “they may be one as you and I are one” (verse 22).

So, what does it mean to be “one”? When we are born again (John 3:3), we are created anew in Christ Jesus. Our fleshly differences become secondary to our new nature in Christ. We are unified around the centrality of God’s Word. We have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). Regardless of racial, cultural, or gender differences, God’s children hold to His Word as their final authority on all matters, including cultural and social issues. Some try to use “diversity” as an excuse to justify immorality or homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9). While we all have different sin strongholds, we cannot allow unrepentant sin to continue under the guise of diversity. The diversity God created is good; sin can indeed be diverse, but God has nothing to do with it.

Human differences such as race, temperament, and culture are to be celebrated, tolerated, and incorporated in our goal of being “one” in Christ (John 17:20–23). However, when diversity is made into an idol, we become self-centered and divisive. When every difference is treated as sacred, selfishness rules and oneness is sacrificed in favor of individual preference. When we exalt our preferences over unity, we become demanding and proud, rather than selfless and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32; Philippians 2:4). John 17:23 encapsulates the desire of Jesus for all His children. In this last, long, recorded prayer before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed, “I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” While we can and should appreciate the value of the various nuances of being human, our goal must always be to become more like Jesus (Romans 8:29).

Started in 2013 in response to separate police shootings of two young black men, the Black Lives Matter movement came into prominence with its use of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag. Ever since, the phrase “black lives matter” has been a rallying cry of those who believe there is institutional racism against African-Americans in virtually every aspect of society, but especially in police departments and the legal system.

There is no point in discussing the statistics on black crime vs. the percentage of the black population and/or the numbers of black-on-black murders vs. the number of blacks killed by police officers. For every statistic, there is a dueling statistic and/or a way to reinterpret the statistic. There is no point in discussing the specific cases that spawned the Black Lives Matter movement. The various sides all seem to be rigorously locked into their understanding of the events and the aftermaths. Like most issues connected to race, it appears to be virtually impossible to have a constructive dialogue about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Biblically speaking, of course black lives matter. Blacks/African-Americans are equally created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). In God’s eyes, blacks are equal in value to whites, browns, reds, yellows, and everyone in between. Racism is evil. Some propose the saying “all lives matter” as an alternative. While “all lives matter” is absolutely and biblically true, it fails to address the issue at hand. The Black Lives Matter movement exists because many feel the world needs to be reminded that black lives do, in fact, matter.

How should Christians view the goals of the black lives matter movement? First, they should examine their hearts and ask God to help them get rid of any racist thoughts or tendencies. Second, they should fight against all true forms of racism that still exist in society. Third, they should be compassionate toward true victims of racism and point them toward Christ as the only answer for racism. Protests, policies, awareness, changes to the legal system, etc., etc., will never solve the problem of racism. Racism is the result of sin. Until the sin problem is dealt with—until people become new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)—the problem of racism will never be eradicated.

How should Christians view the methods of the black lives matter movement? Peaceful protests against racial injustice are necessary and appropriate when racism has truly occurred. But Christians should never be involved in rioting, looting, violence against police officers, hateful speech, and/or “reverse” discrimination/racism against non-blacks. Injustice and hatred will not be ended by more injustice and hatred.

While there are numerous ideas of precisely what election means in regards to salvation, the fact that believers are elect is indisputable (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11; 1 Thessalonians 1:4). Simply put, the doctrine of election is that God chooses/determines/elects/predestines who will be saved. It is not within the scope of this article to determine how election works. Rather, the question is “How can I know if I am one of the elect?” The answer is exceedingly simple: believe!

The Bible nowhere instructs us to be concerned regarding our status of elect vs. non-elect. Rather, God calls us to believe, to receive Jesus Christ as Savior, by grace through faith (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). If a person truly trusts in Jesus alone for salvation, that person is one of the elect. Whether belief secures election, or election causes belief – that is another debate. But what is sure that belief is evidence of election. No one can receive Jesus as Savior unless God draws him or her (John 6:44). God calls/draws those whom He has predestined/elected (Romans 8:29-30). Saving faith is not possible without divine election. Therefore, saving faith is evidence of election.

The idea of a person wanting to be saved but being unable to, due to not being one of the elect, is absolutely foreign to the Bible. No one seeks after God’s plan of salvation on his own accord (Romans 3:10-18). Those without Christ are blind to their need for salvation (2 Corinthians 4:4). This only changes when God begins drawing a person to Himself. It is God who opens eyes and enlightens minds to the need for Jesus Christ as Savior. A person cannot repent (change the mind about sin and the need for salvation) unless God grants repentance (Acts 11:18). Therefore, if you understand God’s plan of salvation, recognize your need for it, and feel compelled to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, then believe, and you are saved.

If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior, trusting Him alone for salvation, believing that His sacrifice is the full payment for your sins – congratulations, you are one of the elect.

False%20Doctrine-001  Doctrine is “a set of ideas or beliefs that are taught or believed to be true.” Biblical doctrine refers to teachings that align with the revealed Word of God, the Bible. False doctrine is any idea that adds to, takes away from, contradicts, or nullifies the doctrine given in God’s Word. For example, any teaching about Jesus that denies His virgin birth is a false doctrine, because it contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture (Matthew 1:18).

As early as the first century AD, false doctrine was already infiltrating the church, and many of the letters in the New Testament were written to address those errors (Galatians 1:6–9; Colossians 2:20–23; Titus 1:10–11). Paul exhorted his protégé Timothy to guard against those who were peddling heresies and confusing the flock: “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing” (1 Timothy 6:3–4).

As followers of Christ, we have no excuse for remaining ignorant of theology because we have the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) available to us—the Bible is complete. As we “study to show ourselves approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15), we are less likely to be taken in by smooth talkers and false prophets. When we know God’s Word, “we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).

It is important to point out the difference between false doctrine and denominational disagreements. Different congregational groups see secondary issues in Scripture differently. These differences are not always due to false doctrine on anyone’s part. Church policies, governmental decisions, style of worship, etc., are all open for discussion, since they are not directly addressed in Scripture. Even those issues that are addressed in Scripture are often debated by equally sincere disciples of Christ. Differences in interpretation or practice do not necessarily qualify as false doctrine, nor should they divide the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10).

False doctrine is that which opposes some fundamental truth or that which is necessary for salvation. The following are some examples of false doctrine:

• The erasing of hell. The Bible describes hell as a real place of eternal torment, the destination for every unregenerate soul (Revelation 20:15; 2 Thessalonians 1:8). A denial of hell directly contradicts Jesus’ own words (Matthew 10:28; 25:46) and is therefore a false doctrine.

• The idea that there are “many paths to God.” This philosophy has become popular recently under the guise of tolerance. This false doctrine claims that, since God is love, He will accept any religious effort as long as the practitioner is sincere. Such relativism flies in the face of the entire Bible and effectively eliminates any need for the Son of God to take on flesh and be crucified for us (Jeremiah 12:17; John 3:15–18). It also contradicts Jesus’ direct words that He is the only way to God (John 14:6).

• Any teaching that redefines the person of Jesus Christ. Doctrine that denies the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, His sinless nature, His actual death, or His physical resurrection is false doctrine. A group’s errant Christology readily identifies it as a sect or cult that may claim to be Christian but is actually teaching false doctrine. Even many mainline denominations have begun the rapid slide into apostasy by declaring that they no longer hold to a literal interpretation of Scripture or the deity of Christ. First John 4:1–3 makes it clear that a denial of biblical Christology is “anti-Christ.” Jesus described false teachers within the church as “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15).

• Teaching that adds human religious works to Christ’s finished work on the cross as necessary ingredients for salvation. This teaching may pay lip service to salvation by faith alone but insists that a religious ritual (such as water baptism) is salvific. Some groups even legislate hairstyles, clothing options, and food consumption. Romans 11:6 warns against attempts to mix grace with works. Ephesians 2:8–9 says we are saved by the grace of God, through faith, and nothing we do can add to or take away from it. Galatians 1:6–9 pronounces a curse on anyone who changes the good news of salvation by grace.

• The teaching that presents grace as a license to sin. Sometimes called “easy-believism,” this false doctrine implies that all one must do for right standing with God is to believe the facts about Jesus, pray a prayer at some point, and then resume control of one’s life with the assurance of heaven at the end. Paul dealt with this thinking in Romans 6. In Matthew 7:21–23, Jesus warned those who adopt this doctrine that they did not know Him at all. Second Corinthians 5:17 states that those who are “in Christ” become “new creatures.” That transformation, in response to a believer’s faith in Christ, changes the outward behaviors. To know and love Christ is to obey Him (Luke 6:46).

Satan has been confusing and perverting the Word of God since the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1–4; Matthew 4:6). False teachers, the servants of Satan, try to appear as “servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:15), but they will be known by their fruits (Matthew 7:16). A charlatan promoting false doctrine will show signs of pride, greed, and rebellion (see Jude 1:11) and will often promote or engage in sexual immorality (2 Peter 2:14; Revelation 2:20).

We are wise to recognize how vulnerable we are to heresy and make it our habit to do as the Bereans did in Acts 17:11: “they . . . examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” When we make it our goal to follow the lead of the first church, we will go far in avoiding the pitfalls of false doctrine. Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Such devotion will protect us and ensure that we are on the path Jesus set for us.

God's Elect  Simply put, the “elect of God” are those whom God has predestined to salvation. They are called the “elect” because that word denotes the concept of choosing. Every four years in the U.S., we “elect” a President—i.e., we choose who will serve in that office. The same goes for God and those who will be saved; God chooses those who will be saved. These are the elect of God.

As it stands, the concept of God electing those who will be saved isn’t controversial. What is controversial is how and in what manner God chooses those who will be saved. Throughout church history, there have been two main views on the doctrine of election (or predestination). One view, which we will call the prescient or foreknowledge view, teaches that God, through His omniscience, knows those who will in the course of time choose of their own free will to place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation. On the basis of this divine foreknowledge, God elects these individuals “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). This view is held by the majority of American evangelicals.

The second main view is the Augustinian view, which essentially teaches that God not only divinely elects those who will have faith in Jesus Christ, but also divinely elects to grant to these individuals the faith to believe in Christ. In other words, God’s election unto salvation is not based on a foreknowledge of an individual’s faith, but is based on the free, sovereign grace of Almighty God. God elects people to salvation, and in time these people will come to faith in Christ because God has elected them.

The difference boils down to this: who has the ultimate choice in salvation—God or man? In the first view (the prescient view), man has control; his free will is sovereign and becomes the determining factor in God’s election. God can provide the way of salvation through Jesus Christ, but man must choose Christ for himself in order to make salvation real. Ultimately, this view diminishes the biblical understanding of God’s sovereignty. This view puts the Creator’s provision of salvation at the mercy of the creature; if God wants people in heaven, He has to hope that man will freely choose His way of salvation. In reality, the prescient view of election is no view of election at all, because God is not really choosing—He is only confirming. It is man who is the ultimate chooser.

In the Augustinian view, God has control; He is the one who, of His own sovereign will, freely chooses those whom He will save. He not only elects those whom He will save, but He actually accomplishes their salvation. Rather than simply make salvation possible, God chooses those whom He will save and then saves them. This view puts God in His proper place as Creator and Sovereign.

The Augustinian view is not without problems of its own. Critics have claimed that this view robs man of his free will. If God chooses those who will be saved, then what difference does it make for man to believe? Why preach the gospel? Furthermore, if God elects according to His sovereign will, then how can we be responsible for our actions? These are all good and fair questions that need to be answered. A good passage to answer these questions is Romans 9, the most in-depth passage dealing with God’s sovereignty in election.

The context of the passage flows from Romans 8, which ends with a great climax of praise: “For I am convinced that… [nothing] in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). This leads Paul to consider how a Jew might respond to that statement. While Jesus came to the lost children of Israel and while the early church was largely Jewish in makeup, the gospel was spreading among the Gentiles much faster than among the Jews. In fact, most Jews saw the gospel as a stumbling block (1 Corinthians 1:23) and rejected Jesus. This would lead the average Jew to wonder if God’s plan of election has failed, since most Jews reject the message of the gospel.

Throughout Romans 9, Paul systematically shows that God’s sovereign election has been in force from the very beginning. He begins with a crucial statement: “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (Romans 9:6). This means that not all people of ethnic Israel (that is, those descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) belong to true Israel (the elect of God). Reviewing the history of Israel, Paul shows that God chose Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau. Just in case anyone thinks that God was choosing these individuals based on the faith or good works they would do in the future, he adds, “Though they [Jacob and Esau] were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad – in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls” (Romans 9:11).

At this point, one might be tempted to accuse God of acting unjustly. Paul anticipates this accusation in v. 14, stating plainly that God is not unjust in any way. “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:15). God is sovereign over His creation. He is free to choose those whom He will choose, and He is free to pass by those whom He will pass by. The creature has no right to accuse the Creator of being unjust. The very thought that the creature can stand in judgment of the Creator is absurd to Paul, and it should be so to every Christian, as well. The balance of Romans 9 substantiates this point.

As already mentioned, there are other passages that talk to a lesser extent on the topic of God’s elect (John 6:37-45 and Ephesians 1:3-14, to name a couple). The point is that God has ordained to redeem a remnant of humanity to salvation. These elect individuals were chosen before the creation of the world, and their salvation is complete in Christ. As Paul says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).