Vaccinations: Are the ends worth the means?

To all those who read my blog, I want to start with a short explanation. This article definitely strays outside of my typical content, but I needed a web format to respond to controversy that has risen over vaccinations that have been created using aborted fetal tissue cells. I hope it provides an example of how we can engage the world intelligently and respectfully, even when we disagree. Thank you for your patience!

qtipd-Syringe (2)

Below is my response to the widely circulated article “Vaccines Do Not Contain Fetal Tissue” by Dr. Jay L. Wile, a nuclear chemist. This article has surfaced many times in support of a moral obligation to vaccinate our children even if that vaccine was derived through unethical methods. With yet another political push to mandate vaccinations and a measles outbreak resulting in hostile feelings and accusations being directed towards parents who oppose them, I felt it relevant to provide a thoughtful and scholarly response to this article. Unfortunately, the political and health fields have propagated contrasting information and viewpoints which has left our nation largely misinformed and confused. This issue is far too complex to address in a few pages, but I hope this response aids individuals in developing a systematic approach when examining information and creating an opinion.

Firstly, the title of this article is “Vaccinations do not contain fetal tissue.” This is not even the main argument from the majority of the populace whom refuse vaccinations on moral grounds. The issue is this: an aborted fetus was used in the process of creating this vaccination and the cells which are currently used to continue culturing the virus for the vaccination have been grown from mother cells extracted from aborted fetal tissue. This is why they are referred to as Human diploid cells, or, “aborted fetal tissue cells” by the medical and science communities. The previous article I posted explains the process of taking the virus grown in cell lines originating from the aborted fetal cells and turning them into a vaccination. What this creates are vaccinations which contain DNA from an aborted fetus. Therefore, the vaccinations contain, even if in minute amounts, the DNA of a child who has been aborted. Of course many, at this point call foul and claim this is not so. However, consider what the FDA said in an official document concerning the matter, “Small amounts of residual cell substrate DNA unavoidably occur in all viral vaccines as well as other biologics produced using cell substrates.”(1)

My second point is this: Notice the asterisk following “Dr. Jay L. Wile’s” name in his article. The accompanying annotation reads as such, “*Dr. Wile is not a medical doctor. He is a nuclear chemist. As a result, he does not dispense medical advice. He simply educates the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.” Where I would perhaps defer to Dr. Wile on issues such as deconstructing nuclear weapons, creating a nuclear power source for a submarine or monitoring radioactivity in the environment, the medical field is not his area of expertise. Where he should be respected as a scientist, a responsible individual researching the issue should require additional input from professionals more closely connected to issue at hand.

In contrast, the article I posted was authored by Dr. Jay Carpenter, M.D. His title reads like this, “Dr. Jay Carpenter, M.D., is a founding member of the Board of Directors for Professionals for Excellence in Health Care, a group of physicians, attorneys, nurses, pharmacists, and related health care professionals dedicated to the ethical treatment of persons, born and unborn. Dr. Carpenter entered into private practice in Internal Medicine in 1984 in Clearwater, FL. In 2013 Dr. Carpenter was chosen by the Vatican to receive Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice—the highest award conferred upon members of the laity by the Holy See.”

The first paragraph of Dr. Wile’s article sets this piece up to be very biased and opinionated. He puts his own professionalism under scrutiny by his blatant insults and accusations of those who oppose his position. Upon reading the article the sentiment is clear. It opens with “Of the many lies told by anti-vaccination advocates…” and then continues to say things like: “…anyone with a modicum of training in biology…”, “Unfortunately, the anti-vaccination movement (and even some naive pro- life groups) will try to convince the uninformed…”, and “This is, of course, a bald-faced lie. Unfortunately, this lie is particularly evil…”. None of these statements is objective or scientific. Wile sets the tone of his article as an opinion piece, not a research paper; and while opinion articles can contain some fact, they should not be solely depended upon when making important informed decisions.

Wile concludes his second paragraph with these words,“…some viruses are so specific that they can only propagate in human cells. The viruses used in the above-listed vaccines (Hepatitis A vaccine, MMR vaccine and the chicken pox vaccine) are that specific. Thus, they must be grown in human cells.” Unfortunately for his argument, this simply is an overstatement and often untrue. Many alternative vaccinations currently exist but are not the mainstream vaccination used or are not available within the United States because of conflicts in patents or FDA regulations.(2) This issue is also dealt with in the original article I posted.

In his third paragraph, Wile goes on to confirm that the vaccines are indeed created by growing the said virus’ in cells originating from aborted babies: “Both of these cell lines were cultured from cells taken from two abortions…” In the following paragraph, he goes on to make the claim that “Abortion is murder. A person who claims to be a physician purposefully kills an innocent, unprotected person. That is evil, and there is no doubt about it.” So, in essence he has conceded the point that 1. Abortion is immoral and 2. Some vaccinations are created using cells that originated from aborted babies.

Paragraphs four through six of Wile’s article essentially justify the use of aborted cells arguing the resulting benefit to society and attempt to compare this practice to organ donation. Where superficially satisfactory, this argument is, in reality, fundamentally flawed in its logic. This argument results to the age-old reasoning that the “ends justify the means.” However, history has proven time and again that the blanket use of this form of reasoning can be disastrous for humanity. Was it not Hitler’s reasoning that a supreme race would justify the heinous slaughter that ensued? Please note, I am in no way saying Wile’s reasoning is like Hitler’s; I am simply pointing out that using this form of justification can be dangerous if not thoughtfully and correctly applied.

This, however, is not the only logical fallacy in Wile’s argument. He attempts to parallel a loved one being murdered and having the opportunity to donate their organs to save a life with using cells from these aborted children to provide vaccinations to the masses. Murder, however, is unexpected and universally illegal and condemned in every situation. Also, upon earning your driver’s license in the United States each individual is given the opportunity to choose to be an organ donor. The aborted children whose cell lines are used, however, were documented to be healthy and non-threatening pregnancies, in other words, “electively” aborted because their parents didn’t want any more children. (3) Also, abortion is legal. These children never had a chance to choose to live, let alone to donate their organs in the case of death. A more accurate comparison, using Wile’s illustration, would be to say that you are walking with a loved one downtown. They are suddenly shot and killed. The murderer then stoops down, picks them up and transports them to the hospital where he tells doctors, “I know it was wrong that I killed this person but his heart can now be donated to the patient in the neighboring room who will die without a heart transplant. So really, what I did wasn’t all that bad.” You then show up on the scene, process what is going on and conclude, “Well, it was an evil thing that murderer did but now that it’s over, thank goodness there’s a silver lining!” and you go on to pardon the murderer. Of course this is preposterous. But, for some reason we want to think that it is somehow ok or even heroic when used in the context of abortion.

Paragraph seven discusses the “strict” laws about this kind of situation. For the sake of time I won’t expound much on this except to say that I’ve done significant research on and responded to this issue previously and the fact of the matter is these “strict” laws are all too easily worked around. No one contests that abortion is one of the most unregulated “medical procedures” within the United States, and these laws follow suit. In fact aborted fetal tissue is used for medical and scientific research, for creating some cosmetic products, for export and even in the process of creating some artificial flavors. (4) I hate to breeze over this issue because it really is the crux of the matter. By continuing to consume items that require fetal tissue at some point in their creation, we create a perceived need for abortion and commercialize an industry that many wish did not even exist. (For more information on this and to dialogue with me further please message me. I would love to explore this further with you, but my desire is to provide a timely response so I won’t expound any further here.)

The remainder of this article addresses the Roman Church official stance on the issue. Firstly, as a Christian, my supreme authority is, in no way, the Vatican or the Pope. My moral authority is the Godhead and what He has revealed to us through His holy word, the Bible. Secondly, the article put forth by the Vatican described by Wile is an eight-page response prepared for the pro-life watchdog group Children of God for Life. In it, the Vatican describes, in great detail, their position on vaccinations created using aborted fetus tissue cell lines. One paragraph reads,

“Therefore, doctors and fathers of families have a duty to take recourse to alternative vaccine(if they exist), putting pressure on the political authorities and health systems so that other vaccines without moral problems become available. They should take recourse, if necessary, to the use of conscientious objection with regard to the use of vaccines produced by means of cell lines of aborted human foetal origin. Equally, they should oppose by all means (in writing, through the various associations, mass media, etc.) the vaccines which do not yet have morally acceptable alternatives, creating pressure so that alternative vaccines are prepared, which are not connected with the abortion of a human foetus, and requesting rigorous legal control of the pharmaceutical industry producers.” (5)

As mentioned above, many alternative vaccinations not using human cell lines do indeed exist. And, by the standards described by the Vatican, capitalistic style patents and unwillingness by the FDA to further explore vaccines already widely used in places like Europe and Japan do not justify using unethical vaccinations in the United States. In fact, the Vatican tells “doctors and fathers of families” that they have a “duty” to demand alternative vaccines “if they exist.” They did not say, “if they are available within the United States.” Further, they emphasize the need to put pressure on politicians and health systems to make ethical vaccinations available even resulting to “conscientious objection” if necessary.

I hope this article proved helpful for those sincerely seeking to inform themselves on the vaccination controversy and form their own educated opinion. If you are looking to further inform yourself on this matter, I would recommend following this link: http://www.vaccines.mil/documents/1706_IP-FetalCellUse.pdf. This article is published by the Military Vaccine Agency (MILVAX). MILVAX, according to the CDC, “supports all 5 branches of the US Armed Services to enhance military medical readiness by coordinating DoD immunization (vaccination) programs worldwide”6

References
1 US Food and Drug Administration.. FDA Briefing Document: Vaccines and Related Biological Products
Advisory Committee Meeting ( September 19, 2012)

2 Children of God for Life. USA & Canada – Aborted Fetal Cell Line Products and Ethical
Alternatives ( January 2015). http://www.cogforlife.org/vaccineListOrigFormat.pdf.

3 Meredith Wadman, Medical Research: Cell Division, Nature 498, 422–426 (27 June 2013)
doi:10.1038/498422a.

4 Shortey, Oklahoma State Legislature. Bill SB 141 (2012). .

5 Pontificia Academia pro vita. Mrs Debra L.Vinnedge (June 9, 2005). Letter. Vatican City.

Note: You may read the original informative article I posted at < http://www.crisismagazine.com/2015/efficacious-vaccines-produced-unethically > The article which was used in response to that article, and which I directly respond to in this piece is available at: < http://www.drwile.com/lnkpages/render.asp?vac_abortion >

From Maddness to Mishap

Mantas Ruzveltas_freedigitalphotos.net

Mantas Ruzveltas_freedigitalphotos.net

The Romans dreampt it. The Nazis seiged it. The Socialists propagated it. Scientists experiment it.

Paradise. Utopia. That ever elusive demesne of perfection man so insists can be achieved on earth. We have strived for it, spent millions, revolted, sacrificed and spilled blood for it. Where superficially we seem so much closer in many ways, essentially we are further away today than perhaps ever in human history.

The Romans fell to ruin. The Aryan Race produced a Hitler prototype. Socialists’ dreams turned into an iron-fisted Marxist Manifesto nightmare. And even Albert Einstein created the atom bomb. Paradise? Perhaps “Hell” is more accurate.

My objective is in no way to demonize any particular group of people modern or historical. However,we must ask ourselves, “With motives so noble, how is it that these men and their ideas have led to such atrocities?” If we do not wrestle with history, we risk paying its burdensome price over and

Michelle Meiklejohn_freedigitalimages.com

Michelle Meiklejohn_ freedigitalpotos.net

 

over again.

As Christians, we are often quick to point fingers. “They did not worship our God and so brought upon themselves death and destruction,” we shout from our podiums. Perhaps. But then what of the Crusades?

The human condition desires a god. That is why every group of people from the foundations of the world has worshiped some entity. Friedrich Nietzsche, who coined the phrase “God is dead,” although an atheist and a nihilist himself, warned that without God our world would be plunged into chaos and violence unparallelled by human history. He wrote:

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science. Section 125, The Madman.

Did you catch that? “Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” Again, this theme of men like gods.

Nietzsche, who described himself as “The most terrible opponent of Christianity” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Friedrich Nietzsche. <plato.stanford.edu>), suffered a mental breakdown in 1889 and spent the remainder of his life incapacitated, tormented by insanity until he died in 1900. On his deathbed, he pulled out of his insane babble for a matter of seconds, at which time he sat up and shook a seemingly defiant fist towards the heavens before breathing his last (Zacharias, Ravi. Let My People Think.).

renjith krishnan_freedigitalimages.com

renjith krishnan_freedigitalphotos.net

And so we wrestle with God and with history. What does it all mean? How do we piece this together?

As our world grows darker, man will continue to look for answers. And so we conclude that riches bring prosperity, experience brings happiness, sex brings joy, power brings success and all this contributes to the meaning of life. We throw some good deeds in to satisfy our egos and call it a day.

The paradigms of Christianity are in fact what make it such a unique worldview: You must die to live; The last shall be first; blessed are the poor and meek; A leader is to be the greatest servant; Only in losing your life shall you find it; Love and bless those who hate and revile you; To lust is to have acted in your heart; Those who mourn shall be filled with joy; You are to be as clever as serpents but innocent as doves; The extravagantly generous shall be rich. The list goes on and on.

It does not require a genius to conclude that worldly wisdom has failed us. Could it be that the answers we seek indeed reside outside of this world?

Stuart Miles_freedigitalimages.com

Stuart Miles_freedigitalphotos.net

I would argue, as Malcolm Muggeridge much more eloquently did, that He who embodied the outrageous Christian paradigms, namely Jesus Christ, is our answer and our hope. Only the way of the cross produces peace. Only when we surrender and say, “Not my will but Thine be done” will we achieve that which is best for mankind. For God is not biased, but He loves all His children with the same passion and zeal. Men make poor gods indeed. But, we were made in the image of the one true God. Only the Sculptor can perfect His artwork.

Be blessed, as Christians we remember that although we live in the world, we are not of the world. Our Savior has overcome the world, and so made us victorious as well. Go in peace and have compassion on those who have elevated themselves to a god status in their own lives. We should never envy the predicament they have placed themselves in. Be the salt of the earth and lights in the darkness around you, that those you encounter may taste and see that the Lord is good.

And if you are not a Christian, we would love to dialogue further with you. Be sure to respond, or to write to us at Revelation_2217@yahoo.com.

God bless you.

Men Like Gods

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jscreationzs/freedigitalphotos.net

The following is an excerpt from a message Malcolm Muggeridge delivered at St. Aldate’s Church, Oxford on December 01, 1968.

     “Science has seemingly achieved so much: We can travel with the speed of light; we shall soon be visiting the moon and exploring the Milky Way. We can send our words, and even our smiles, flying through the air to be picked up ten thousand miles away; we can turn back rivers, plant our deserts, and abundantly and effortlessly satisfy every human requirement, from potato chips to skyscrapers, from face cream to giant computers. All this has happened in one lifetime. Is it surprising, then, that those who have brought it about should see themselves, not as mere mortal men, but as very gods?That they should take on the functions of a god, claiming the right to decide whose life is worth protracting and whose should be cut short, who is to be allowed to reproduce and who should be sterilized; reaching with their drugs and psychiatric techniques into the mind, the psyche, and shaping it to suit their purposes; re-sorting the genes, replacing worn-out, derelict organs with new ones freshly taken from living flesh, fancying, perhaps, that in the end even mortality will be abolished — as an old-vintage car can be kept on the road indefinitely by constantly putting in new sparking plugs, dynamos, carburetors, as the old ones wear out; even redefining the moment of death to suit their convenience so that we are to be considered dead when Dr. Christian Barnard says we are?

Is it not wonderful? And, of course, that is only the beginning. Writers like Aldous Huxley and George Orwell have imagined the sort of scientific utopia which is coming to pass, but already their nightmare fancies are hopelessly out of date. A vast, air-conditioned, neon-lighted, glass-and-chromium broiler house begins to take shape, in which geneticists select the best stocks to fertilize, and watch over the developing embryo to ensure that all possibilities of error and distortion are eliminated. Where is the need for God in such a setup? Or even for moral law? When man is thus able to shape and control his environment and being, then surely he may be relied on to create his own earthly paradise and live happily ever after in it.

But can he? It’s precisely here that the doubt arises. Let us take a quick, cool look at the world these men like gods have so far succeeded in bringing to pass. It’s a world of violence and destruction unparalleled in human history. Who can estimate the lives that have been lost and uprooted in the ferocious conflicts of our time; the buildings, the treasures of art and learningwhich have been wantonly destroyed; the misery and privations, the degradation of standards of truth and humanity which have accompanied these upheavals. And what about our present situation? Is it worthy of men like gods — with one part of the world glutted and surfeited with an excess of everything they need, or can be persuaded to need, and the rest of the world getting hungrier and hungrier, more and more deprived of their basic necessities? With vast resources of wealth and research devoted to making ever more potent engines of destruction, while in Asia and Africa and Latin America what we call in our Orwellian Newspeak the underdeveloped peoples of the world lack the very minimal medical requirements and personnel? I could go on and on. I tell you in all seriousness that in my opinion posterity will find the utmost difficulty in believing that people belonging to a technologically developed civilization like ours could possibly have tolerated such a situation in the world; still less than that their affairs were in the hands of men like gods. Men like apes, they’ll prefer to believe, and even that will seem rather hard on the apes.”

Muggeridge, pg.90-1

A follow-up response to this article will be coming soon. Be sure to come back!

Muggeridge, Malcolm. Jesus Rediscovered. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1969.

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samurai/freedigitalphotos.net

An Urgent Prayer for the Bride

Courtesy: Just2shutter/freedigitalphotos.net

“The problem with the world is not that sinners are sinning. The problem with the world is that the church is asleep.”

~Trey Kent, Pastor at Northwest Fellowship, Austin TX

God is increasingly awakening His remnant to the revelation of His love. In these tumultuous days we are living in, it is becoming clearer and clearer that before true and transformational revival can come to our cities, our nation and our world, the church has to wake up and step up.

If the church is asleep and stuck in traditions that have become meaningless rituals, where do we expect new believers to go? Such an atmosphere will undoubtedly quench their new love fire. A passionate brotherhood, however, who is experiencing and reciprocating Christ’s continual love and forgiveness will fan such flames into a blaze.

As churches and believers renew their covenant with God and awaken to the passion that is meant to be mutually shared between them and their Creator, we will start to see real and lasting transformation beginning with individuals and spreading to families, communities, regions, nations and the world. But, it starts with the individual’s heart. Is that not how Jesus Himself changed the world?

Following is a prayer for the Church, the Bride of Christ. It was spoken over Gillette, Wyoming but can just as easily be applied to your hometown. It’s time to start interceding for the Beloved!

“Father, Our Father- We know You are always with us. Help us to open our hearts to Your continual guidance and presence. Help train our ears to hear Your whisper.

You are holy, holy, holy! Purer than the virgin on her wedding day; more beautiful than a field of wildflowers; greater than the greatest mountain in all its majesty; mightier than all the mortal kings and emperors combined. In You are power and glory, beauty and wonder unspeakable. Might Your Name be like honey on my lips. Might Your heavenly kisses fall on my face. Might Your deep deep love embrace me. And may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You. May praises arise from my lips night and day for truly You are worthy of it all. May my life be like an incense burned before Your celestial throne.

Awaken o sleeping bride of Gillette (or wherever you live)! Awaken to love. Awaken to your Bridegroom. Receive the kisses from the mouth of your Lover for He rejoices and sings over you! Your first love has grown cold. Do those things which you did at first. As young lovers drink deeply of each other, so your God desires to be delighted in by you. He is the most beautiful and faithful of all lovers. Will you turn Him away? He is fiercer and more loyal than any friend of man. Will you deny Him?

Woe to the bride who rejects her Bridegroom! But, to she who runs to Him, blessings and honor, joy and love

Courtesy: graur razvan ionut/freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy: graur razvan ionut/freedigitalphotos.net

beyond all compare for she has found the greatest of all treasures.

What is life but a breath, a flower of the field? We do not choose our family nor our fates. We cannot number our days. O, but eternity is found in Him in whom my heart desires!

So sleep no more beloved; your Lord is calling you from slumber into glory. Leave your bed and shed your graveclothes, for the King beckons you into His chambers.

No longer shall you be called forsaken. No longer shall you be as a joke and a reproach to the world. No longer shall you be as an orphan. For though you are pitiful and stand condemned, God, your God has washed you in the cleansing flow of the blood of the Lamb shed upon Calvary. Do not despise Him in this final hour. Do not lose your gift of love.

Choose love. Choose life. Let He who spoke the Heavens into being by the words of His mouth adopt you. Let Him father you. His Spirit will fill you and never again shall they call you forsaken. Let Him love and cherish you. Receive the kisses from His lips – those celestial kisses!

Do not think that you alone can bring about your own salvation. There is but One who can save from the inferno flames of hell. And He is calling you. He shall give you a new name. He will remove your soiled garments of shame and dress you in purest white. He will call you to His side, never again to be parted.

God, your God seeks and desires you. He is passionate and longsuffering toward you. He longs to cover you with His Son, to fill you with His Spirit and to come to you as Father.

Will you receive Him?

This day He has set before you: Life and Death; Love and Torment; Freedom and Shackles.

Choose Life. Choose Love. Choose Freedom. Choose Him.

He awaits.”

Why Hope? on Let My People Think (RZIM)

 

elevator up

“…when there is no battle for the Gospel it rusts and it finds no cause and no occasion to show its vigor and power. Therefore, nothing better can befall the Gospel than that the world should fight it with force and cunning.”

~Martin Luther, 16th century theologian and reformer

Why Hope? on “Let My People Think” by Speaker and Apologist Ravi Zacharias

“Why Hope?” was broadcast as a two-part series on March 30th and April 6th of 2013. It was part of the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) radio program, Let My People Think. Zacharias is an internationally renown speaker and apologist. He offers a thought provoking response to the darkness of the times we currently find ourselves in. He walks the listener back through history for comparison and shares the secrets that empowered the early church to prevail against their own dark days and outrageous persecution. Zacharias’s words ring both with warning and encouragement.

See also, blog response in previous post (below).

May God richly bless and encourage you.

Why Hope? (some mature content, reader discretion advised)

MP900178845Darkness; Evil; Sin; Corruption.

Darkness implies a lot in the Christian faith. We war against the “Kingdom of Darkness” whose prince is the “ruler of this world.” Having handed our own reigning power over to the enemy of our souls, we should hardly be surprised to find great darkness in the world.

However, when we look around us it is hard to believe that times could have ever been worse than they are now. As Christians, our senses are all the keener to the peril we face at home and abroad. We only need skim through our monthly missionary newsletter or the Sunday newspaper.

Last December I received a letter from the Billy Graham  Evangelistic Association that reported how Christian men in northern Sudan were crucified on trees while their wives and daughters were sexually assaulted before their very eyes. In one of his speaking engagements, internationally renown Speaker and Apologist Ravi Zacharias spoke of a woman he had met on a plane. He shared that she told him she was a worker who fought the sex trade and that she had just come from a place where she had rescued an 18 month old baby from the clutches of a deranged mind that had sook to sexually destroy her. I was recently reading a report from an investigative journalism magazine in New Zealand. When they discovered that fetal eyeballs were being used in a college experiment in a New Zealand university, they followed a trail that ultimately led them to American abortion clinics. They discovered that body parts from aborted babies are harvested in the USA for medical and scientific research as well as commercial purposes and even export, all within legal boundaries. It turns out that not only is Molech alive and well, he is also growing fat (see Jeremiah 32:35, also J.B. Hennessey, Palestine Exploration Quarterly [1966])

If your stomach is not churning by now, then perhaps there truly in no hope left for the human race this side of Boy holding onto his motherHeaven.

The darkness – cruelty, violence, selfish ambition, hatred – is now pandemic. Looking at the condition of the world, it is sometimes difficult even to ask God for mercy. After all, why should such deeds be forgiven? Perhaps Jonah’s attitude is much easier to slip into than most of us would care to admit (see Jonah 4). Speaking of God’s love and mercy is wonderful when we see the darkness as some ambiguous force, but what about when we construe the repulsive details? How many of us want to see Kermit Gosnell forgiven and redeemed?

Yes, dark indeed are our days.

So, Why hope?

Darest we even hope that hope be yet appropriate? When we find ourselves in a place where the consuming darkness is overwhelming, it does well to look back over the sands of time to gain some valuable perspective. What about when famine reached such a peak that it drove a mother to cook and devour her own son (2Kings 6:24-30)? What about when the inhabitants of a city were so evil they would rape a visitor unto their death (Judges 19)? Or when Christians were fed to the lions while a Coliseum roared with applause (see http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Secrets-of-the-Colosseum.html, also http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/452499/Perpetua)? And surely there has never been a darker moment in the history of the human race than when men spat upon Redemption and nailed Him to a tree.

But could it be that God, in his great sovereignty and irony, works miraculously not in spite of darkness, but through it?

candle“It is a glorious phrase of the New Testament, that ‘he led captivity captive.’ The very triumphs of His foes, it means, he used for their defeat. He compelled their dark achievements to subserve his end, not theirs. They nailed him to the tree, not knowing that by that very act they were bringing the world to his feet. They gave him a cross, not guessing that he would make it a throne. They flung him outside the gates to die, not knowing that in that very moment they were lifting up all the gates of the universe, to let the King of Glory come in. They thought to root out his doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishably in the hearts of men the very name they intended to destroy. They thought they had God with His back the wall, pinned and helpless and defeated: they did not know that it was God Himself who had tracked them down. He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquered through it.”

~James Stewart in “The Strong Name”

The world may very well be worse off, as a whole, than it has ever been. However, as Christians, we must never give in to despair, for it is only a step away from apathy, and apathy is a consummate void of hope, utter disengagement. Neither must we allow the world to put blinders over our eyes and lead us about by a bit like some old tired workhorse. Some will tickle men’s ears with suave speech of a people more advanced than ever before in the history of the human race, but we know better. Yes, we sometimes find ourselves like Jeremiah crying “violence and destruction” to unheeding ears, but we are in good company. The first American Great Awakening came about in part because Christians who were “civilized men” realized the barbarity with which they slayed the “savage.” And like Jeremiah, they too often found that the Word of the Lord brought them “insult and reproach” (see Jeremiah 20:8).

We must muster what courage as we can and beg God to grant to us what is lacking. We must be “cities on hilltops” and the “lights of the world” that Christ so called us to 2,000 years ago. Might we recall, that the greater the darkness is, the brighter the light shines.

We may hope because Christ lives. Indeed He walks the very earth within you and I. So, take courage my comrades, and remember with whom it is that we wage war, for it is in an epic battle we find ourselves.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Ephesians 6:12

Brothers and Sister, go in peace and be filled with hope. Remember always that we are but foreigners in a strange land; Pilgrims journeying to a Holy City, where our home is being ever prepared for us. May God mightily bless you.

Farthing in a Treasure Chest

I committed to reading the Bible through in a year. That was almost three years ago, and I am now in 1 Peter. Although I have not always been as diligent as I should have been, it is not for lack of commitment that I failed my original time goal. Rather, reading at such a pace, for me, would have been like digging up a chest of treasure, taking a single gold coin and walking away from riches unknown.

I love to travel, especially internationally. When I first started exploring, I would try to see as much as I could in whatever time restraints I was oppressed by. I soon came to realize, however, that while rapid sight-seeing temporarily satisfied my hungry eyes, true delight and better understanding of my surroundings came from spending time in a single place. In this manner I could peel back the layers of the culture, history, folklore, worldview, customs, traditions and so on of the place I was at. It was like licking away at a Tootsie Pop to reach the heart of it.

Instead of wonder at the Pink House of Argentina simply for its uniqueness as a pink presidential capital building, I came to appreciate all it stood for; the revolutionary Peron era and the Forgotten, or “Dirty” War that pursued. I began to understood why no Argentine is unopinionated when it comes to the infamous Evita Peron. I experienced real compassion when I saw old widows still holding pictures of their loved ones who disappeared under the merciless military regime that ended the Peron reign. Without the culture, history and human factor added in, I saw only a big political pink building. Without knowing the heart of the matter, it only reminded me of Madonna standing on the balcony singing “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” in the musical Evita. How American right?

What would my travels in Argentina been had I not slowed down to learn the history of the Pink House or to hike atop the Glacier Moreno? What loss would it have been had I left southern Brazil without stopping to marvel at Iguazu Falls? How much would I have missed had I not taken time to ponder the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew? How could I skim the pages of James without being forever changed? How much would I have missed had I not considered the impossibility of the story of Esther? How would my life be different if I stopped to figure in the culture, history and human factor of the Cross?

I am not suggesting that year-long Bible reading plans are inherently wrong. However, were I to do only that, it would be like seeing the Taj Mahal and reasoning that I knew everything about India. I daren’t be so arrogant. Beyond that, it would be like trading chest of treasure, for a measly farthing – And I daren’t walk away from such a prize.