Friday, February 14, 2014

"Pope and Change"

A Facebook friend wondered aloud how Pope Francis got to be Pope in light of comments like this:

"We have created New idols. worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings."  - Pope Francis

I responded thus:
"He became Pope the same way that Barack Obama became President. He's ethnically 'new', with clever words and expressed sentiments, that sound like a breath of fresh air, but underneath the same old gears are operating the same old machine. In a few years, the Hope and Change Pope will have the same level of disappointment among those who really care as the Hope and Change President. Mark my words. He will do nothing doctrinally or otherwise to move the Lying Behemoth that is the Roman Catholic Church away from its doctrinal moorings, or its money..."

Mind you I find it ironic that the Pope bemoans the 'new idols' when he heads what must be the worlds' leading idolatrous system...

As my daughter would say, 'Pot, meet kettle'

Your Thoughts?

After 'Strange Fire'

(note: This piece was written a while ago, I just never got around to posting it.) 
 
I have had a very interesting time reading the commentaries, blog posts, articles, tweets and more that have risen up as a result of the 'Strange Fire' Conference.

Full disclosure. I am a former charismatic. Yes, former. As in ‘used to be’
I do not believe in 'speaking in tongues' any longer, (yes I used to do it) at least as practiced by the pentecostals and charismatics that I know and Love. I no longer believe in the baptism of the Holy Ghost (aka the second blessing, doctrine of subsequence)

Am I still saved? Yes, Sanctified? Yes. Holy Ghost Filled? Yes.
Am I a cessationist, then? No, rather, not quite... I will explain that in a later piece.

It is not for lack of experiences, mind you. Rather it is because I believe that my experiences/feelings are not evidence of the truth,

I have been to bucket churches, where you purge/vomit out your demons. I have been to churches where the people were there not to hear the word, but to get A word, or a touch from the man or woman of God.

I hear people say that because I no longer believe in 'the gifts' (which by the way are not listed in the Bible) that I am out of balance. In fact, just recently I have heard that John 5:39-40 applies to people like me, in that we search the scriptures and in the process miss Jesus.
I am not sure that I fully understand this comment, though.
Especially in light of the following : Hebrews 1 says that God speaks through His Son. Where is the Son? Sitting at the right hand of the Father? What then do we have to speak the Words of the Son to us? 

The scriptures.

So, wondering aloud:

Am I to place my experiences before the written word?

Am I to try and harmonize my experiences with the scripture?

Which takes precedence? 
What happens when what I believe is the 'power of God' does not agree with the scriptures? 

What is the arbiter?

How do I test the Spirits, if not by the Word?

What is the final authority, my experiences/feelings, or the Scriptures? 

As to the verse that you are quoting: Are you implying that we who do not (or no longer) hold to charismatic beliefs re: the 'power of God' (things like the doctrine of subsequence and glossolalia) are somehow phariseeic?

Deafening silence... 
All righty then
 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The word for the New Year is: 'Intentionality'


'Intentionality' - "The state of having or being formed by an intention."

The intentions (will) of the LORD are never thwarted.
He makes His Will known to us via His Word, and we are bound, as His Slaves, to obey.
We are His adopted children, and as such, via His Spirit, we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, and being conformed to the image of His Son.


Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.
We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He planned in Him
for the administration of the days of fulfillment—to bring everything together in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him.
We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will, so that we who had already put our hope in the Messiah might bring praise to His glory.
When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:3-14 (HCSB) 



Thursday, December 26, 2013

Kwanzaa?? Um, I think not...2013


A 2013 update to my original 2008 blogpost ...

So, what exactly is this ‘Holiday’ known as Kwanzaa? This post seeks to uncover/reveal that, and take a look  at it in light of the scripture

Who is its founder? Who made it up?
Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga (born Ronald McKinley Everett on July 14, 1941) is the creator of Kwanzaa.
In the late 1960’s he started and led an organization (a black nationalist cult) known as the ‘United Slaves’. Interestingly, as Kwanzaa caught on, Mr. Karenga was sitting in a California prison for torturing two black women who were members of the United Slaves.
Originally known as Ron N. Everett, he went by (and eventually legally took on)  the name Karenga and in the 60's took upon himself the title "maulana," which means "master teacher" in Swahili. He was born on a poultry farm in Maryland, the fourteenth child of a Baptist minister.
Mr. Karenga was convicted of two counts of felonious assault and one count of false imprisonment. He was sentenced on Sept. 17, 1971 to serve one to ten years in prison. After being released from prison in 1975, he remade himself as Maulana Ron Karenga, went into academics, and by 1979 was running the Black Studies Department at California State University in Long Beach and converted to Marxism.

The Crime:
On May 9, 1970 he initiated the torture session that led to his imprisonment. The torture session was described in the L.A. Times on May 14, 1971.
 "The victims said they were living at Karenga's home when Karenga accused them of trying to kill him by placing crystals in his food and water and in various areas of his house. When they denied it, allegedly they were beaten with an electrical cord and a hot soldering iron was put in Miss Davis' mouth and against her face.
Police were told that one of Miss Jones' toes was placed in a small vise, which then was tightened by the men and one woman. The following day Karenga told the women that 'Vietnamese torture is nothing compared to what I know." Miss Tamao put detergent in their mouths; Smith turned a water hose full force on their faces, and Karenga, holding a gun, threatened to shoot both of them. The victims Deborah Jones and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothing."
Karenga was convicted of two counts of felonious assault and one count of false imprisonment.
More information can be found here: http://www.nathanielturner.com/karenga2.htm 

At Karenga's trial, the question of his sanity arose. A psychiatrist's report stated the following: "This man now represents a picture which can be considered both paranoid and schizophrenic with hallucinations and illusions, inappropriate affect, disorganization, and impaired contact with the environment." The psychiatrist reportedly observed that Karenga talked to his blanket and imaginary persons, and believed he'd been attacked by dive-bombers. 
Jones and Brenda Karenga testified that Karenga believed the women were conspiring to poison him, which Davis has attributed to a combination of ongoing police pressure and his own drug abuse.
Karenga denied any involvement in the torture, and argued that the prosecution was political in nature. He was imprisoned at theCalifornia Men's Colony, where he studied and wrote on feminism, Pan-Africanism and other subjects. The US organization fell into disarray during his absence and was disbanded in 1974. After he petitioned several black state officials to support his parole on fair sentencing grounds, it was granted in 1975.
Karenga has declined to discuss the convictions with reporters and does not mention them in biographical materials.[17] During a 2007 appearance at Wabash College he again denied the charges and described himself as a former political prisoner. The convictions nonetheless continue to generate controversy during Kwanzaa celebrations.  - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maulana_Karenga

Origins of Kwanzaa:

What is it, how and why did he put it together?
On December 25th 1965, three months after the founding of the Us (United slaves) organization, Samuel Carr-Damu, one of the original members visited Karenga's home to present his daughter with a black doll for Christmas. Karenga rejected the gift, stating that Us members should not celebrate Christmas. Since the entire rank-and-file recognized some form of Christianity and were life-long celebrants of Christmas, the potential elimination of the holiday posed a serious problem for the organization, especially those with young children….. Karenga spent much of the following year researching African cultural practices, trying to find a suitable alternative for Christmas 1966….. Excerpted From:
The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era by Peniel E. Joseph (2006) Pages 342-343 You can read it in more detail here: http://books.google.com/

The word "Kwanzaa" itself is man made. It is derived from the swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which means first fruits. Karenga's history has it that the extra "a" was added to represent the seven children that were a part of his organization, (US Organization) as each child wanted to represent a letter of Kwanzaa.
From: ‘Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture’ pg. 108.
The Kwanzaa celebration consists of seven days to celebrate seven principles (the Nguzo Saba), with emphasis on one principle a day. The seventh day culminates in a feast, patterned much like the first-fruits celebrations of ancient Africa. There are activities such as the pouring the libation for ancestors, lighting of candles, raising names of ancestors (also referred to by many as "ancestor worship" - discussed more in detail later), and gift-giving.
http://www.believersweb.org
Coincidentally, the seven principles of Kwanzaa are the very same seven principles of the Symbionese Liberation Army. In 1974, Patricia Hearst, kidnap victim-cum-SLA revolutionary, posed next to the banner of her alleged captors, a seven-headed cobra. Each snake head stood for one of the SLA's revolutionary principles: Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani — the same seven "principles" of Kwanzaa.

For those of you who do not know or remember the SLA or its history: 

What is the purpose of it?

Dr. Karenga, 1977: "... it was chosen to give a Black alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.  Kwanzaa: origin, concepts, practice - Karenga (Maulana.) 1977 Kawaida Publications, - pg. 21,

Why is this a problem for Christians?

Because Kwanzaa is a RELIGION!
"Kwanzaa has definite principles, practices and symbols which are geared to the social and spiritual needs of Afro-America." - Kwanzaa: origin, concepts, practice - Karenga (Maulana.) 1977 Kawaida Publications, - pg. 14.
The Nguzo Saba are seven principles clearly set apart for the Black American and not for others. It is also an attempt by Dr. Karenga to introduce humanistic principles for improving life without God. Kwanzaa is not just a cultural celebration, but an attempt to establish a way of life with man as the center of worship and reverence.
If anything, many are accepting these principles as SPIRITUAL principles and a guide for their lives. A disturbing fact for the Christian who believes that all spiritual principles begin with the Bible and not with man.
Frequently, spirituality is mentioned and the Nguzo Saba is said to be a standard by which to live for moral guidance and instruction within the community. The Nguzo Saba (seven principles) is given so much emphasis in character development that it is also said in Dr. Karenga's book, to make one a "new man, woman and child." (The African American Holiday of Kwanzaa, p44.) Very similar to what is said in the Bible regarding the newness of man:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"  - 
2 Cor 5:17 (NIV)

So here we have a celebration that emphasizes a code of ethics (the Nguzo Saba) for moral instruction to bring about a spiritually developed character. Thus far, Kwanzaa has a few things in common with Christianity and other religions. Moral instruction, spirituality and a purpose -- becoming a new person!

Karenga Lists The Nguzo Saba as a Religion

Dr. Karenga even recognizes the "religion" of Kwanzaa when in his book, Kawaida Theory, p. 25, he says of the seven principles (The Nguzo Saba) as coming "from African religion" and lists it among other religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, and Judaism in his section on positive functions of religion. In light of that writing, it then becomes difficult to explain his statement that "Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday," especially when the Nguzo Saba is considered the centerpiece of Kwanzaa.

"The primary conflict that the Christian should have with Kwanzaa is that it is a way of life. It is even being encouraged by many to celebrate it not just during the holiday season, but all year round! Why is that so? Because it is promised to be build character, to change one's life spiritually. This can be seen on the Melanet's Kwanzaa Information Center web site under the Goals of Kwanzaa topic. It says: "To develop self and facilitate a positive Black self-esteem by exposing individuals to 'Kwanzaa', a culturally desirable pattern of principles, to help them live their lives and to encourage the highest level of positive Black self-esteem and spiritual development. -- To establish a culturally oriented 'WAY OF LIFE."
There are several dangers that present themselves when the Christian attempts to combine their "religion" of Christianity with that of the "religion" of Kwanzaa. 1) They take upon the assumption that the Bible is not enough to spiritually feed us a a people... 2) That we MUST define ourselves in the context of culture 3) Unity is possible without Christ, by simply uniting with those of the same color, i.e. culture. Our self-worth only comes from knowing Christ as Lord and Savior, so we can't really do both."
- Carlotta Murrow, a San Diego computer technician who runs the website - http://christocentric.com/Kwanzaa/ - which is a fantastic and comprehensive website dealing with the history, contradictions, ancestral worship and other problematic issues inherent in this 'holiday'

A little more background from the Dartmouth Review:
Initially, Kwanzaa proceeded from Karenga's hostility toward Western religion, which, he wrote in his 1980 book, Kawaida Theory, 'denies and diminishes human worth, capacity, potential and achievement. In Christian and Jewish mythology, humans are born in sin, cursed with mythical ancestors who've sinned and brought the wrath of an angry God on every generation's head.' He similarly opposed belief in God and other 'spooks who threaten us if we don't worship them and demand we turn over our destiny and daily lives.'
Thus, Karenga explained in his 1977 Kwanzaa: Origin, Concepts, Practice, 'Kwanzaa is not an imitation, but an alternative, in fact, an oppositional alternative to the spookism, mysticism and non-earth based practices which plague us as a people and encourage our withdrawal from social life rather than our bold confrontation with it.' The holiday 'was chosen to give a Black alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.'
Since then, the holiday has gained mainstream adherents, and Karenga has altered its justification so as not to alienate practicing Christians: 'Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their own religion or religious holiday,' he writes in Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture, published in 1997. - J. Lawrence Scholar from the Dartmouth review

So dear reader,
Having significant information at your disposal now, you must ask yourself: Ccan the celebration, even the acknowledgment of Kwanzaa in the house of God, or by the people of God be justified, except to condemn it?

I daresay not.

God is possessive of the worship and service that belong to Him. It is a sin (as God points out in Exodus 20:4-5) to worship or serve anything other than Him. God is jealous for what belongs to Him; worship and service belong to Him alone, and are to be given to Him alone. As 1 Samuel 5 clearly examples, YHWH does not 'play well' with other 'gods'... That said, clearly, at its root, Kwanzaa was designed and presented as an alternative to Christianity. This is of course, a violation of the first commandment.
Please note that I am anxious to hear/share/discuss your thoughts/opinions, etc, as they relate to this issue, and look forward to hearing from you
Blessings to all,


Pastor CTJ