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Politics Theology

People are Complicated

One reason I made my last post about our spiritual adversaries is to deal with the fact that so many people today are demonizing their political opponents. The spiritual beings made their decision for or against God a long time ago, and their decisions are fixed. That is why we can categorize them as angels and demons. This, however, is not the case with humans in this present life. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has a great quote about this.

The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either–but right through every human heart–and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained.

The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Humans develop and grow in this life, not only physically and mentally, but also morally and spiritually. We develop a sense of right and wrong, which is called our conscience. Every day we make many decisions that have a moral consequence. Sometimes we follow our conscience and do what we think is the right thing, and sometimes we violate our conscience and do what we think is wrong, usually justifying it with some rationalization. These choices affect who we become, and as we move through life, we are a work in progress. It is not until the end of our life that our ultimate choice is made to either embrace God and goodness forever, or to reject Him forever. Until that happens, we are all a mixture of good and evil of varying proportions. Therefore, if we try to divide humanity into the good guys and the bad guys, we will get into trouble. This is what Jesus means when he says, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).

This doesn’t mean that we don’t judge the words and deeds of people as either good or bad. Crimes and lies are bad regardless of who the perpetrator is. The judging that Jesus prohibits is summing up a person as ultimately good or evil because we humans do not know the totality of the person or what he will ultimately become.

It is common now in the United States to divide people according to left and right, and to label one group as good and the other as evil. This can be a problem when dealing with individuals because good and evil exist in both groups, and some people are difficult to put into one of the two groups. Even in the realm of ideas, one cannot always say that a particular idea is necessarily left or right. I primarily identify with the right, and I am very concerned with many of the ideas I hear coming out of the left, but the way I prefer to look at it is that I am a follower of Christ, and I am opposed to ideologies that will drag people away from his salvation. That’s why I wrote in my earlier post that the real enemy is spiritual. We must remember that our enemy is loyal to neither the left or the right. He hates all of us. He will happily provoke the bad elements on one side to do something that plays into the plans on the other side as long as evil advances on all sides. Therefore, we must be careful to not defend bad actions or condemn good actions no matter who does them.

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Theology

The Real Enemy

St. Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians, “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (6:12 RSV2CE) The Bible tells us that there are multitudes of spiritual beings that were created by God before man was created. Although most of them are loyal to God and help us, about a third of them rebelled against God. These demons, led by Satan, hate the human race because we are loved by God. They want to destroy us, and they ultimately do that to some of us by drawing us away from God to an eternity in hell. Note that they do not accomplish their goals if they merely kill us and we end up in eternal happiness with God in heaven.

The power of these beings is limited by God. They cannot do anything without God’s permission, and they are usually not allowed to directly touch us, but that protection from God can be forfeited by those who reach out to dark powers through witchcraft and the occult. The usual way the demons attack us is through lies. They can introduce deceptive and untrue thoughts into our heads. We can choose to reject those thoughts, but if we let them take hold, they can lead us into a downward spiral of sin.

Not only do these forces of darkness tempt individuals to draw them away from God, they also try to influence human history to establish structures in the world that will have a corrupting influence on us. I suspect that many of the times people think they see global conspiracies, what they may be seeing instead is coordinated efforts of demonic activity across the world, influencing various people to act in ways that work together for evil ends.

Because of God’s limits on their power, and the resistance of good and holy men and women, their plans do not always come to fruition. Even when they are able to bring about great evil, God is able to turn it into a greater good. This is illustrated most clearly in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the ultimate evil that brought about the salvation of the human race.

Because faithful Christians live in the power of the Cross, we have nothing to fear from these demons if we cling to God’s mercy. Nevertheless, it is good to know that they are at work. Indeed, I think we are entering a time when their operations will be even more manifest to those who have eyes to see. It is good to keep in mind that they are the real enemy. Men and women that may oppose us, although they bear responsibility for their actions, are also victims of the deceptions of the real enemy. This is why Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We never know the power of prayer, but it could lead to very unexpected changes. We should never give up on the most seemingly corrupted person. As long as they still have breath, the powerful grace of God can bring them to repentance. Pray without ceasing!

Edit 1/24/21: Add image.

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Theology

Alternate Realities

There is growing division in our country, and many people have their theories on why that is. I believe an important reason for this division is two fundamentally different views of reality. I do not usually use the political language of left versus right. That division is related to what I am about to propose, but I think the real division goes much deeper than politics.

The first version of reality is what I will call the heavenly reality. It sees God as the creator and sustainer of the universe. Everything exists according to his design and purpose. Everything in the universe has its place, and the universe is full of meaning. Men and women need to seek to know God and how he intends for them to live so that they can be in harmony with their creator, each other, and the world around them. When there is a conflict between the will of a person and God’s created order, the person needs to submit their will to God and conform to his ways.

The second version of reality is what I will the earthly reality. It does not acknowledge God in any meaningful sense beyond a possible psychological construct that must remain a private affair of the individual. It recognizes no creator and no meaning in the universe. Men and women decide their own meaning for their lives, and if there is any conflict between their will and the natural order, they alter the natural order to fit their will.

By the way, Christianity, in addition to affirming the heavenly reality, also acknowledges that man has failed to follow God’s ways and is need of redemption. In Jesus Christ, God reaches down and becomes one of us to restore us to friendship with him and enable us to live according to his ways.

As Christianity spread through what became Christendom, the heavenly reality became the accepted view, even among those who rebelled against it. However, in modern times, many think scientific progress confirms the earthly view, and they hold tightly to it because they believe it gives them freedom to live however they like, not realizing it actually makes them slaves to their own restless desires. This so-called freedom is actually licentiousness.

The earthly minded come into conflict with the heavenly minded because the heavenly view of justice would place some restrictions on the licentiousness they hold dear. A common point of conflict is in the area of sexuality. The heavenly reality has a particular role for sex within the family because sex is the way through which God creates children who are made in his image, so sex is a very holy thing. These children deserve to grow up in a stable, permanent, loving family, so the sexual act that conceives them should only take place between the man and woman who will be the parents in such a family, and those parents must be bound together for life in marriage. This view of sexuality excludes fornication, adultery, and sodomy as violations of the divine order. However, the earthly minded want to engage in sex with whomever they want whenever they want. The fact that a baby may result from this activity is dealt with through abortion. This is why so-called abortion rights are sacred to them.

This conflict was already growing before Donald Trump became President of the United States, and it will continue to grow until it reaches a breaking point. If the heavenly reality is true, at some point either the earthly minded will convert, or God will intervene. It is because God is merciful that he gives us time to repent. I actually think the that earthly view will gain such prominence that the folly of it will become clear and many will repent. If enough people repent and turn to God, he will not have to intervene in an extreme way.

Edit 1/24/21: Add image.