Friday, September 22, 2017

Science and Economics

Economics claims to be a science. The problem with this claim is that the scientific method depends on the ability to do repeatable experiments. For example, chemistry advances by checking if hypotheses are correct by doing experiments that are repeatable. If a hypothesis fails repeated experiments, it is deemed not to be true.

The problem for economics is that is a subject that deals with the behaviour of people and society, so it is usually not possible to set up an experiment to test whether an hypothesis or theory is correct. People do not like being experimented on. An economist cannot do experiments on an economy, because every economy is different, and changes over time, so any experiment would not be repeatable.

The best that Economics can do is establish models that approximate how the economy operates. Economists use their models to explain historical events, or to make predictions about what will happen if certain changes occur. Unfortunately, the same historical events can be explained by various models. What happens can usually be explained by several different models, so making a correct prediction or explanation does not prove a model is correct. Most predictions by economists are wrong, so faith in their models is risky.

Economists tend to rely on the weight of opinion to decide which is the correct model. They sometimes reach a consensus about which model is best, but they never reach full agreement. Consensus is good, but unfortunately, it is not the same as using the scientific method.

Models have to be a simplification of reality. This means that economics is not really a science, in the true sense of the word.

Climate change faces the same problem. Climate scientists cannot do repeatable experiments, so they have to rely on models, too. Predictions about future climate change depend on the accuracy of climate models. The outcome of the model depends on the assumptions built into the model, and there is often disagreement about these assumptions.

Environmentalists often say that people should accept the weight of scientific evidence for climate change. The problem with this is that climate models cannot be tested in the way that the scientific method requires. It is not possible to set up repeatable experiments, because there is only one world, and it is not possible to repeat climate situations to test the model.

The best that climate scientists can do is to test their preferred model to see if it can explain weather events in the past, or to make predictions and see if they happen. That puts them in the same boat as economists. Weight of opinion is not the same as scientific method. Using the word “scientific” to make the case for climate change is a bit misleading.

Evolutionary theory has the same problem. It is not possible to do an experiment to best if humans could evolve into apes, because this is not repeatable in a laboratory. Small steps in the evolutionary process can be tested in artificial conditions using the scientific method. But the overall process cannot be tested using the scientific method. For this reason, evolutionists often resort to depending on consensus of scientific opinion. However, that is not the same as scientific method.

When climate scientists and evolutionary biologists speak of the weight of scientific evidence, they are playing the same game as economists. Judging by the reliability of economic models this is not a very effective method for arriving at the truth.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thessalonian Politics

When Paul was in Thessalonica, some of the Jews stirred up trouble and some followers of Jesus were arrested. They made the following accusation.

They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus (Acts 17:7).
When they heard this, the city officials were thrown into turmoil.

Paul could have said,

Jesus is not a real king, he just wants to live deep down in your heart. He is not a threat to the Roman empire.
Paul did not say this. Instead, he fled to a different town. He did not say it, because it is not true. Jesus is a real king. His kingdom is a threat to the other kingdoms of this world. As it grows and expands, other kingdoms will shrink and slowly die. Other kings and political leaders will lose their power.

Jesus’ kingdom will be a very different kingdom. It will not look like the political kingdoms of this world. However, it will provide all the justice and protection that worldly governments promise to deliver, but never do. I describe how this will happen in Government of God.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Election

New Zealand has a king and his name is Jesus. He was raised up to that position by God, so we do not need an election to choose a new king, or political leader.

We should seek and honour the king who is already on the throne. Jesus is the only king who does not disappoint.

We need the Holy Spirit of God to teach us how to love and serve the king that God has given us.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Confusion

Confusion will win the election.
Confusion will reign
in New Zealand.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

God and Violence (14) God’s Silence

When Jesus was serving in the world, he would not let the demons speak. The first one he encountered called out,

What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God (Mark 1:24).
The demons’ words were correct. Jesus is the Holy one. He had come to destroy the power of the spiritual powers of evil. Jesus could have said, “You are dead right”, but he did not. He commanded the demon to be silent (Mark 1:25).

Jesus did not allow the powers of evil to control his revelation of his character or his plans. Jesus did not want to be associated with the word “destroy”, because it would be misunderstood, even though it was true. He wanted to associate his ministry with the word redeem, which was much more positive. He did not want to give the demons to gain glory for themselves by proclaiming the truth.

The same principle applied in the Old Testament. God does not give glory to the spiritual powers of evil. He does not want them given any glory. So he does not ascribe all the violence and evil that they are doing to them. The result is that he often gets blamed for the stuff that the powers of evil were doing. He prefers to remain silent about their actions in the world, because he does not want them getting unnecessary glory. Although he could blame them, he remained silent, even though it means that he often gets blamed for things that he has not done.

This complete series of posts can be read at God and Violence.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

God and Violence (13) Voluntary Law

The system of government that God gave in the Laws of Moses is entirely voluntary. There is no provision for the use of force to coerce people into complying with the law. We are so used to the existence of police and military power to enforce the laws of nation that we assume that the same system of coercion existed in the Laws of Moses. The surprising truth is that they are totally missing.

God did not establish any group or agency to enforce the Laws of Moses. His laws are entirely voluntary. People will obey the law because they are committed to God’s covenant and wanted to receive the benefits that flow from it.

  • The Law of Moses does not have any agency with police powers. There is no police force to arrest people who broke the law.

  • There are no prisons in the Laws of Moses. They only mention of prison is in Numbers 33:34, where the people held a person in custody while waiting for God to show them what they should do about Sabbath breaking. This was not a general justification for imprisonment. There is no provision for using imprisonment for punishment.

  • There is not compulsory taxation in the Laws of Moses. The people were to share their tithes with the Levites and the poor, but there was no organisation to enforce and deliver the tithe. Each person would decide which poor people they would share their tithes with. If someone refused to tithe, the Priests and the Levites had to power to enforce it.

  • There is no bureaucracy of executive power in the Law of Moses.

  • God gave laws required the cancellation of debt and the return of land after seven years and at the time of the Jubilee. However, he did not establish an agency to enforce these requirements. He expected the people to freely act on these laws, because they loved God and were committed to the covenant.

  • Judges could specify financial restitution for various crimes. However, they did not have the power to enforce the payment of this restitution.

Pressure to act on God’s laws would come from the rest of the community. However, the only power that the community had was to exclude someone who failed to acknowledge the law and decisions of judges from their community. Belong to a community was a privilege. If people refused to honour the covenant that was the basis for the community, they could be excluded from the activities of the community.

More at Voluntary Justice.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

God and Violence (12) God-breathed

God inspired the scriptures, but humans wrote them using the language and words that were familiar to them. The Holy Spirit spoke into their minds, but they wrote his thoughts in their own words. His ideas were quite radical, so he often had difficulty getting them to write them down correctly.

When the Holy Spirit was inspiring the scriptures, he was engaging in cross behaviour. He was doing an important task with people that he did not control. He could put thoughts in their minds, but he could not make them use the words he wanted. Sometimes writers used a word that was not the best one for what the Holy Spirit was wanting to say. Provided that the word conveyed the meaning, he would make do with what they put. We must seek the meaning he wanted conveyed.

Moses was responsible for recording the Laws for Society. The only law that he knew was what he had learnt from the Egyptians. Their laws were ugly, ruthless and vindictive. He had also learnt a bit about God from his mother, but his knowledge was limited. The Holy Spirit gave him a set of laws that was radically different. Getting Moses to write them down accurately was extremely difficult.

Moses probably thought that the laws he wrote down were harsher than they were. The Holy Spirit was getting him to record a set of laws that were less violent than he expected. This was cross behaviour, because the Spirit was committed to working through a human who limited his ability to communicate.

Moses sometimes used words that were not exactly right, but the Holy Spirit went along provided the word supported his meaning. We have to look behind what Moses wrote to understand the message the Holy Spirit was communicating. We have to find the ideas that the words carry for him, even if Moses did not understand them. The key question is “What was the Holy Spirit saying to us here?”

Hebrew words often have a range of meaning. Moses often intended the harsher meaning, but the Holy Spirit wanted a milder meaning. If we read the Old Testament with violence in our hearts, we will get the violent message. If we listen to the Holy Spirit as we are reading, we will discover his pure message.

Monday, September 04, 2017

God and Violence (11) Misunderstood

The violence in the Old Testament has been misunderstood due to poor translation and interpretation. Much of the violence attributed to God was actually initiated and perpetuated by the spiritual powers of evil. Part of the problem is translation. Traditional translations often choose the most violent possible translation of the worlds. There are three reasons why they do this.

  1. Justification for Israelite violence. The Israelites perpetrated violence that was not commanded by God. Violent translations of God’s commands justify that violence, incorrectly. This feeds through to support for Israeli violence in the modern world.
  2. To support empire and political power. Once Christians began colluding with the Roman empire, they needed a justification for the violence of the Roman army. They found it in harsh translations of the Old Testament. This reason is still used in support of military power and empire in the modern world.
  3. Harsh translations of the Old Testament allow people to justify seeking revenge in their personal circumstances.
We need a much better translation of the Old Testament that would help us to understand better what is happening (see Spiritual Warfare during the Exodus).

Sunday, September 03, 2017

God and Violence (10) Defence and Protection

An ideology of nonviolence cannot be justified from the scriptures. Violence is occasionally justified for defence; however, these occasions are very rare. Violence should only be used as a last resort.

God allows the use of force for defence when a person or community is being attacked. It is allowed, but not ideal. A person whose family is being attacked can use force to protect it (Ex 22:2). However, a protective miracle is a better option (Luke 4:30; Acts 5:19; 12:6-7; 14:19-20).

A community that is attacked is entitled to defend itself to defend itself, eg the Israelites defended themselves against Og of Bashan and Sihon of the Amorites (Num 21:21-35) and the Midianites (Judges 7). However, physical defence is only justified if:

  • If it is the last resort
  • The benefits outweigh the costs
Spiritual war is always more effective. God organised Balaam to prophesy in favour of the Israelites against the Moabites and Midianites. If the men of Israel had not been seduced, the power of the prophetic word would have kept Israel safe (Num 23-24). Isaiah’s prophesy released the angels to destroy the armies of Sennacherib when he was attacking Jerusalem (Isaiah 37).

Rather than jumping to physical defence, Christians should seek a spiritual victory over the power that are stirring up people to attack them. Resorting to physical defence is a sign that spiritual protection has failed.

Violence should always be the last resort and is rarely justified. Jesus lived a perfect life. He lived his entire life without any need to use violence, except when hammering nails and cutting his meat and vegetables.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

God and Violence (9) Last Resort

Because God uses violence to accomplish his purposes, we cannot say that he is absolutely opposed to violence. In situations where he has limited authority, this is the only way that he can get his will done. He seems to be able to use evil to restrain evil. In this way, he uses evil to achieve good. We do not have his wisdom, so he forbids from trying to do the same (Rom 12:21).

God sometimes had to allow his people to use violence to protect themselves from being defeated by the spiritual powers of evil. Killing the Midianites is an example. The women had seduced the men once before and nearly destroyed the nation, so Moses could not risk that happening again. They would be more subtle and clever and harder to resist the second time.

However, it is clear that God strongly prefers not to use violence. He would sooner convict people and change their hearts by the Holy Spirit. However, because people are free, that is not always possible. In a world where he had limited authority, because he had given authority to humans who had lost it to the spiritual powers of evil, he sometimes had to use violence to accomplish his purposes.

God only uses violence as a last resort. He is perfectly wise, so he knows when it is justified. In the same way, humans should only use violence as a last resort. We do not have the same wisdom as God, so we are at risk of using violence when it is not appropriate. In most situations, violence is not the best option.

Friday, September 01, 2017

God and Violence (8) Desperate Situation

Before judging God, we must understand how desperate the situation was during the Old Testament age. Humans had given the spiritual powers of evil a free rein and they took full advantage. Prior to the flood, they nearly destroyed the earth. The flood got rid of some of them, but the rest still had authority to be on earth.

Through Abraham and Moses, God established a people in a small area of land, but it was still touch and go. If Egypt had recovered and attacked them in the wilderness, the new strategy would have come to an end before it got started, so it was just as well the Egyptians enemies were destroyed. Likewise, if a powerful empire had invaded and destroyed the Israelites once they were in the land, all would have been lost.

Jesus death on the cross is unbelievable. A god allowing himself to be tortured, tormented and killed by beings that he created is a bizarre idea. We are now so familiar with the cross, that we take it for granted, but it was a shocking event. Gods do not allow the objects they have created to harm them. The fact that Jesus had to die shows what a serious threat the spiritual powers of evil are to life on earth. If Jesus had been killed by Herod as a baby, God’s bold strategy of coming as a baby would have failed. I do not know if he had a Plan B, but it hard to imagine what it might be, once his son was dead (Matt 21:33-45).

The gospels say that Roman soldiers nailed Jesus to the cross. Paul explains that it was the spiritual powers of evil who did it (1 Cor 1:2). That is why the world was so dark. The crucifixion was not just a nasty incident by a brutal political power. It was a tense moment in a brutal struggle that had been going on since the beginning.

The situation on earth was desperate, so desperate that the God who had created it had to die. It had been desperate from the time of Adam’s sin until Jesus was raised to heaven. God had limited authority on earth. He had to do what did, or just surrender the earth to the spiritual powers of evil as a permanent possession. God refused to do that, so he did what did, even though it was nasty at times.
Modern critics are looking for the cross-like behaviour in the Old Testament. This is the wrong way around. They should be looking at the Old Testament and seeing the desperation that made the cross necessary.

Some of the things that God had to do in the Old Testament do not reflect his character, except for his desperate love for the earth and the people that he had created. When he did what needed to be done, he acted in a way that is contrary to his character. That was a cross he had to bear to deal with the mess that humans had made. He loved us so much, he was willing to appear evil to rescue us.

The cross does not really reveal his full character either. It was a clever trick that fooled the spiritual powers of evil. They walked into it and deserved what they got, because they are tricky, but deceit is not what a good person does. The cross caused terrible suffering for God’s son. That is not what a loving father does, but in this case God was desperate.

I see his character more fully revealed in the ascension and outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost that allow him to work in the hearts of a people who love him because he loves them. That is his true nature.

Humans put God in a situation where had to act in ways that are contrary to his character. It is a bit rich for us to criticise him for not complying with our standards of behaviour.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

God and Violence (7) Purpose

God had to use the spiritual powers to accomplish his purposes. Of course, he can use evil spirits if they do his will by mistake, but he cannot make them do things they do not want to do. They are in rebellion against God, so they prefer to do the opposite of what he wants. However, they love violence so they are quite happy to engage in violence, even against other evil spirits that are opposed to God too.

The spiritual powers of evil are not very smart and mostly do what they have done before. If God puts an idea in their minds, they will usually run with it, if it provides an opportunity for them to be violent. The powers of evil love violence so they are quite happy to use violence against their own side. One was happy to be a deceiver when God suggested that to him, because he wanted to destroy a king (1 Kings 22:22).

God uses powerful evil nations to accomplish his purposes. He uses bad nations to destroy evil nations. For example, he used Cyrus of Persia to destroy the Babylonian empire. So while God, might not have organised the violence, he colluded with violent nations to accomplish his purposes. He had no alternative, because he had such limited authority on earth. No other means were open to him in the situation.

While the spiritual powers are doing evil, God seems to trick them into doing what he wants them to. He can accomplish his purposes by manipulating them to destroy other evil. He does not make them more evil. Instead, he gives them ideas to change the direction of the evil that they would be doing evil anyway. They switch from meaningless evil to doing evil that allows God to achieve his goals in the world.

God uses the spiritual powers of evil to accomplish his purposes. They are often extremely violent. They led Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea, where they were destroyed. Could God have stopped this from happening? I don’t think so. He did not have any authority once the Israelites had departed, so the powers of evil had a free hand to destroy the Egyptian army. I presume they did it for their enjoyment. However, it did have the benefit of protecting the children of Israel from being pursued by the people that they had escaped from.

Political Power

Christians are ambivalent about political force and power.

  • They want a political force to control bad people. They want people to be forced to do the right thing.

  • Christians do not want the political powers telling them how to live. They do not want to be forced to do things that are contrary to the gospel.

  • Because political power is so influential, Christian want to be involved in its exercise. They believe that they can use political power to do good.

  • When Christians get involved in politics, they are often ignored, because they are not tough enough to get things done.

  • When Christians get involved in political power, they often get corrupted by it. To get things done, they have to use manipulation and intimidation.

We need a new society that does not depend on political power. I describe how this can happen in Government of God.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

God and Violence (6) Limited Authority

During the Old Testament age, God had limited authority on earth. He had given humans authority over the earth, but they surrendered it to the spiritual powers of evil. God had given this authority without recourse, so he could not demand it back when humans messed it up. He had to deal with the spiritual powers of evil, but they had more authority on earth than he had.

To change the situation on earth, God had to fight an enemy that he did not have authority to fight, because humans had given the spiritual powers of evil permission to operate on earth. He could not attack them directly or destroy them, so he had to deal with them obliquely in the spiritual realm.

God’s lack of authority severely limited the scope of what God could do on earth. He was fighting against a ruthless and violent enemy with very little ability to fight back. He sometimes had to resort to using violent nations to hold back the worst of evil and protect his growing work on earth.

God could not touch the spiritual powers of evil while they were working on earth, as they had authority to be there. However, he still had authority in the spiritual realms, so he had to work there, by deceiving and manipulating the powers of evil. Because they are evil and love violence, he was mostly limited to getting them to stir up violence on earth. They were not interested in doing good things, of course.

By persuading the spiritual powers to fight against each other, and getting the strong nations to attack evil nations and empires, he was able to constrain the worst effects of evil on earth. Working in this way was not ideal, but it was better than letting the spiritual powers of evil get out of control.

God does his own dirty work. Humans had allowed the evil powers in, but God did not expect us to force them out. He chose to do the necessary violence himself, so we would not have to engage in violence. He initiates violent judgment when it has to be used so that we do not have to be violent.

Environment

Environmental issues create a huge amount of hypocrisy.

Here in New Zealand, city people are really agitated about the pollution of rivers by dairy farms. Immense hostility to dairy farmers has emerged, despite a large share of our overseas income coming from the sale of dairy products. Could we still afford our iPads and iPhones if the dairy industry was shut down?

In the city, pet cats do terrible damage to our native birds. They have almost disappeared from parts of the cities. Yet if anyone suggests that people should keep their cats in the homes, there are cries of outrage, as if people were being robbed of a basic human right.

On the environment, it always seems to be easier to point the finger at someone else, rather than cleaning up our own act. That is classic Pharisaism.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

God and Violence (5) Unavoidable

God gave authority on earth to humans. When they rebelled against God, they unwittingly handed authority over to the spiritual powers of evil. God was unable to work on earth because the spiritual powers of evil were in control. They embarked on a millennium of evil as they sought to destroy God’s good creation. God could only intervene on earth if humans gave him authority to act and that did not happen very often, so he was limited in what he could do to turn the situation around.

Once God has chosen Abraham and brought his people into the promised land, he had a place where he had authority to work. However, he had to protect his work from the spiritual powers of evil trying to use the power of empires and nations to destroy it. He could not destroy the spiritual powers, because they had authority to be on earth, given to them by humans. So, God had to resist the armies and kings of the nations that tried to wreck his work.

Once the spiritual powers of evil had seized control of the world, violence became necessary. The worst violence was that done against Jesus on the cross. He surrendered to violence in order to break the power of violence and evil. Prior to Jesus, God had to use violence to constrain their actions and prevent them getting out of hand.

The spiritual powers of evil use God’s justice against him. God’s character requires justice. He is publicly committed to doing justice. Even though they do not believe in it, the powers of evil demand justice on earth. Once God said that life is in the blood, they demanded blood for all sins. They used God standards for justice against his people. They demanded that God punish all sin, and if he showed mercy, they demanded the right to execute judgement and punishment on sinful people. In the incident with the Golden calf, God showed mercy, but the powers of evil demanded plague and death (Ex 32:14,35).

Once humans surrendered to the powers of evil, they were owned by them. The spiritual powers of evil refused to give them back to God unless humans paid the price they demanded, which was blood. If humans had done that, they would be dead, which would not help them. God sent Jesus and allowed the spiritual powers of evil to kill him and take his blood to pay the price that they demanded. His death redeemed us because it met the demands of the powers of evil.

Jesus’ violent death destroyed the authority of the spiritual powers of evil to be on earth. The outpouring of the Spirit allowed him to work through love. The spiritual powers of evil still trespass on earth, but God now prefers that we engage in spiritual battle and use the power of the cross to prevent them doing evil, because that is more effective.

Monday, August 28, 2017

God and Violence (4) Our Sake

The truth is that humans are the ones responsible. God created humans and gave them authority over the world. Humans invited the powers of evil into the world, so we are really the ones responsible for the consequences. Humans love to point the finger and blame God for evil, but we are the ones responsible for evil getting a hold on earth, so we cannot shift the blame back to him. Humans are responsible for every evil that occurs on earth. When God takes responsibility for things that humans caused, he carries our burden.

God takes the blame for what the powers of evil do because, if he spoke the truth, he would have to put the blame on humans. He does not want to do that because it would give the powers of evil another reason to accuse and attack us. God does not want to give them any more grounds for hurting us, so he takes the blame to protect us. He is still speaking the truth, as he is ultimately responsible because he created the powers of evil.

This is another situation where God took our sin and carried it. Humans allowed the powers of evil to seize authority on earth, but the scriptures do not put the blame on us. Instead, God carries the responsibility. For example, the spirit of wrath is called God’s wrath, but he should really be called humans’ wrath because it was humans who gave him a place on earth. God chose not to point the finger at humans during the Old Testament age in order to protect them. If he had accused us, that would have given the spiritual powers of evil extra ammunition to use against us.

God carried our burden by allowing the spiritual powers and the people world to blame him for evil. This foreshadowed Jesus carrying our sins and allowing the powers of evil to punish him. He allowed them to punish him, so we would not need to be punished. This is what the Lord had been doing through the Old Testament age. He accepted unjust blame for evil to prevent humans being further harmed by the powers of evil.

God could carry this burden without lying because he created humans and the spiritual powers, so he is ultimately responsible as their designer and maker. If he had not made them, they would not be able to do evil. He takes responsibility for the way that he set up the world.

Election Bribes

Keynesian economics says that governments should run deficits during tough times and surplus during good times, so they have reserves to meet the next crisis.

This is a version of the advice given by Joseph to Pharaoh, after the dream about seven good years being followed by seven bad years. Joseph’s interpretation of the dream was correct, but his advice was wrong, because it forced the Egyptian people into slavery, when they sold their land to Pharaoh in exchange for food rations (Gen 51). The people would have been better to save their own grain surplus to survive the seven bad years. They might have done that if Joseph had warned them.

Getting back to the current time, New Zealand is well recovered from the global financial crisis. Unfortunately, wages have not recovered much, so people do not have the capability to save for the next crisis.

However, it is election year. The political parties are not interested in building resources to deal with future crises. They are committing instead to huge bribes to buy the election. A billion for this. Billion for that. Billions here. Billions there. Here a billion. There a billion. E I E I O. The sound of the pigs slapping their jowls in the trough is disturbing.

I hate being bribed with my own money. And the whole circus is very short sighted. Their only long-term goal is to stay is in power.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

God and Violence (3) Responsibility

God does not shirk his responsibility for the beings that he created, even when they do evil. The spiritual powers of evil were created by God and then rebelled, so they belong to him. Therefore, responsibility for their actions can be linked back to God. This is why the scriptures often say that God will do something, even though it later becomes clear that it was one of the spiritual powers of evil that did it.

For example, the scriptures often say that “the wrath of the Lord is aroused”. This makes it sound like God is angry. However, wrath is not one of God’s emotions, but an evil spirit called Wrath who loves doing evil on earth (Ps 78:49; 1 Cor 10:10). He is called God’s wrath because God created him, but he is not under God’s control.

In the same way, the destroying angel that killed the firstborn of the Egyptians is one of the spiritual powers of evil. He is called God’s angel because he was created by God and he does not deny his responsibility for doing that. The spiritual powers do great evil, so God takes responsibility for them, even though they had rebelled against him. They were able to kill and destroy because humans had given them authority on earth. Nevertheless, Moses sheets responsibility back to God, because he was their creator. That is a burden that God is willing to carry.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

God and Violence (2)

We must recognise that God created a world in which violence is possible.

  • Angels are powerful and have freedom to make decisions and rebel. The fall of some angels was almost inevitable. Rebelling against a good God naturally made them evil and violent.

  • Humans were created with free will and have the ability to organise and implement violence.

  • Humans have the capacity to form powerful nations and armies that can inflict great violence.

God gave freedom to humans and angels, so he deliberately created a world in which it was always possible for evil to break out. I presume he went ahead anyway, because he knew that he could work it for good bringing benefits that far outweigh any harm that rebels could do on earth.

Statues

Americans are getting really stirred up about statues. They are pulling down statues of people they no longer like.

I do not like any statutes, particularly those of politicians. They are usually made at the peak of their influence, so they are designed to make the politician look good. A statue cannot tell us what the person was like in real life. They cover up their flaws, foibles and mistakes.

If people want politicians to be remembered, they should record their history. That way the good and the bad can be recorded.

The problem with a statue is that two generations after it was made, people have forgotten the politician. They just attach their own myths to it. These often have nothing to do with who the politician really was. The myths connected to statues from the past are frequently used to support one side in current disputes.

The big issue that is not discussed in the United States is the second commandment.

You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them (Deut 5:8-9).
God does not want his people making carved images of people. He does not want us worshipping them.

I would say that if people are willing to fight over a carved statue of a politician or military leader, someone has slipped into worshipping it. Honouring statues of political and military is idolatry and an insult to our God.

I would be quite happy if all statues of political and military leaders were taken down. The place to remember the is I history books, where their full story can be told, and where we can ignore them if we do not like them.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

God and Violence (1)

Discussions about God and violence are becoming quite common. Many writers are reacting to the violent portrayal of God in the Old Testament and rejecting it because it does not fit with the picture of God that Jesus gave on the cross.

Types of Violence
Before rushing to judgement, we need to distinguish between at least four types of violence that are contained in the Old Testament:
  1. Prophetic warnings of what would happen, if the Israelites rejected God and lost his spiritual and physical protection. It would be very ugly because the spiritual powers are evil and would do terrible things to God’s people. An example is Deuteronomy 28:54-55.

    Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children, and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating. It will be all he has left because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of all your cities.
    During a siege of their city, some men would eat the flesh of their own children and refuse to share it. It was a warning of what would happen if they rejected God and lost his protection. This was not God’s will.

  2. Poetic expressions used to make a point. Numbers 23:24 is an example.

    The people rise like a lioness;
    they rouse themselves like a lion
    that does not rest till it devours its prey
    and drinks the blood of its victims.
    Balaam prophesied that Israel would be like a lion. He was not saying that God wanted Israel to drink the blood of its enemies.

  3. Descriptions of how Israel behaved. Israel engaged in some terrible violence, which is recorded in the Old Testament for the sake of the history, but was not God’s will. For example, Jacob’s sons played a trick on the Shechemites and slaughtered them when they had just been circumcised (Genesis 34). This was not God’s will, but human cunning. There are many other situations in the Old Testament, where the Israelites did evil, which was contrary to God’s will. He is not responsible for this violence.

  4. God’s commands and actions. This is the only violence that we should be concerned about. God commanding or doing violence could be a problem.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Making Kingdom Real

In recent years, Christians have become fascinated by the idea of the kingdom of God. “Kingdom” is now the most popular adjective in Christian writing. Yet the political side of the kingdom has been strangely neglected. This is surprising, because a kingdom is a political institution and a form of government. Therefore, a right understanding of politics and government is critical for understanding of Kingdom of God.

The Old Testament tells the story of government. Mostly it was a mess.

Jesus had a very staunch attitude to government. Before he ascended into heaven, he claimed all authority on earth and in heaven. Yet his followers have been confused about their attitude to politics and government.

Politics and government are important, because kings and governments claim authority to exercise legitimate force and coercion. They can pass laws or proclaim regulations and punish anyone who does not obey them with fines or imprisonment. Kings and governments can force people to join their military forces and die fighting wars. They can impose taxes that take income and wealth from people by compulsion.

Governments claim that their authority to use force is legitimate because they are working for the greater good of society. This raises a related question. If a government’s right to use force is legitimate, who should control it? If it is going to be used for good, shouldn’t Christians get into the game? God is the source of all good, so how can he influence the way force is used for good?

Government of God explains how all authority can be submitted to King Jesus without the need for political power.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Elections

In an election, the people vote, but the people do not win.

Political power always wins an election.

And the spiritual powers of evil that manipulate political power never lose.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Donald Trump

Bill Bonner seems to sum up Donald Trump better than anyone.

Just a few short years ago, in 2015, Mr Scaramucci told Fox Business that Mr Trump’s palaver was “anti-American” and that he was just a “hack politician.”

That must have been the most inaccurate assessment of his future boss ever made. “The Donald” is the opposite of a hack. Hacks are reliably dull and serviceable, like a kitchen faucet. Trump is more like a loose fire hose, shooting water all over the place and soaking everyone.

Nor is Trump a politician. Politicians are smooth operators who will say whatever they need to say to get what they want. What is endearing and refreshing about Mr Trump is that he is not a politician.

As near as we can tell, the president is more like a playground bully. In and out of scrapes all his life… failed casinos, failed marriages… vulgar, indecent, and mean… he is as “The Mooch” described him – an “inherited money dude from Queens County” who somehow ended up in the White House.

And anti-American? Wrong again.

Mr. Trump captures the zeitgeist of his era better than anyone – when middle-aged Republicans long to hear the F-word in public... law-abiding Christians from Iowa can’t wait to send a drone to kill people in the Hindu Kush... and every geezer, coast to coast, seems happy to have the feds pay for his pills with money his children and grandchildren haven’t even earned yet.

Mr. Trump is a brawler. Now, he’s in the fight of his life, and he loves it.

Around him, his lackeys, sycophants, and handlers scrap for places at the table – the Goldman guys on the left, protecting the fake money system... the generals on the right, protecting the crony empire.

A third of the country loves him. A third of it hates him. And a third – the most intelligent group – doesn’t give a damn.

Meanwhile, the whole spectacle is entertaining for everyone, like a traffic accident or a nasty divorce. The press can’t take its eyes off Donald Trump.

It’s Trump. All Trump. All the time.

And more.
Donald is a lot of things. He is a skilled street fighter… a practised brawler… a lusty scrapper. But he is woefully unprepared for the battle now upon him.

The president spent his entire career building his brand – big, brash, bold… and somewhat buffoonish.

Like a professional wrestler, he was able to charm the crowds with his brawling style and winner image.

Pick fights. Say outrageous things. Stay in the public eye. Slam his opponents with scurrilous or irrelevant epithets (“Little Marco” Rubio… “Bleeding From a Facelift” Mika Brzezinski… etc.).

Substance didn’t really matter. Trump steaks? Trump University? Trump Airlines? How could any human being possibly be good at so many different things?

Of course, he couldn’t. He just had to be good at building the Trump brand. And that meant sticking to his swashbuckling, confident style.

He was even able to take his brand all the way to the White House, using the same techniques on the campaign trail that he used on his reality TV show.

And once he took office, the plan was simple. He would surround himself with the top guys from the Deep State – the moneymen and the gunmen… the Goldman guys and the generals – and he would go on being Trump.

But something went wrong.

Mr Trump seems genuinely perplexed by it... And he, the president, is doing exactly what he is supposed to do – distracting the crowds while zombies feed upon them and cronies pick their pockets.

People should be happy, he thinks. They should be enjoying the show. Instead, the battle grows more intense and mean.

And the mainstream media – which was supposed to play along by engaging in pointless, showy squabbles with the president – has turned vicious.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

American Nationalism

Anatol Lieven has an interesting book about American nationalism called America Right or Wrong. He says,

America enjoys more global power than any previous state. It dominates the world not only militarily, but also to a great extent culturally (p.1).
Despite this reality, many Americans are frustrated and angry. Lieven explains that they hold deep-rooted beliefs that often conflict with each other, and also with reality.

Most believe that Christian faith has made America great. Yet...

The religious beliefs of large sections of this core population are under constant, daily threat from modern secular culture, above all the mass media.
The extreme tension between fundamentalist religious values and the modern America mass culture, which now surrounds them is an important cause of the mood of beleaguered hysteria on the American right, which so bewilders outside observers (p.9).
Wealth
A “moral economy” prevailed for most of American history, whereby a man who worked hard, was honest and did not drink or take drugs could be assured of a steadily rising income, enough to support himself and his wife in their old age and go give his children a head start in social advancement through education (p.219).
Unfortunately, this seems to have stopped working.
Perhaps of equal importance in the long term will be the relative decline in recent decades in the real incomes of the American middle classes where these groups are situated socially.
This decline has had the effect of forcing more and more women to work, thereby undermine traditional family structures even among those groups most devoted to them (p.9).
Goodness
Like European imperialists of the past, Americans genuinely see their country’s national interests as coterminous with goodness, civilisation, progress and all the interests of humanity (p.28).
This belief in American innocence, of “original sinlessness” is both very old and very powerful. It plays a tremendously important role in strengthening American nationalism and in diminishing the nation’s willingness to listen to other countries, viewed in their turn as originally sinful (p.53).
Other nations are declared to be irrationally, incorrigibly and unchangeably hostile. This being so, it is obviously pointless to seek compromises with them or try to accommodate their interests and views. And because they are irrational and barbarous, America is free to dictate to them or even conquer them for their own good. (p.17).
Openness
Americans believe they are an open nation, welcoming refugees. Yet the long-standing tendency in American culture and politics reflects an expression of social economic, ethnic and above all racial anxieties.
These anxieties stem from the progressive loss of control over society by the “original” White Angle-Saxon and Scots Irish populations, later joined by others. Connected to these concerns are class anxieties.
In America, the supremely victorious nation of the modern age, large numbers of American feel defeated. The domestic anxieties this feeling of defeat generates spill over into their attitudes to the outside world, with 64 percent of Americans in 2002 agreeing that “our way of life needs to be protected against foreign influence”.
These fears help gives many American nationalists their curiously embittered, mean-spirited and defensive edge, so curiously at variance with America’s image and self-image as a land of success, openness, wealth and generosity. Over the years, the hatred generated by this sense of defeat and alienation has been extended to both domestic and foreign enemies.
Unfulfilled dream
This sense of America not just as an unfilled dream or vision, but also as a country with a national mission, is absolutely central to the American national indemnity and forms the core of the nation’s faith in its own “exceptionalism”. It was inscribed on the Republic’s Great Seal as America’s birth as a united nation Novus Ordo Seclorum: A New Order for the Ages (p.33).
Informally, an important part of the creed is also the belief that the United States embodies and exemplifies the only model of successful modernity in general: “Americans see history as a straight line and themselves standing at the cutting edge of it as representatives for all mankind”.
The myths attendant on the Creed include a very widespread belief that the United States is exceptional in its allegiance to democracy and freedom, and is therefore exceptionally good. And because America is exceptionally good it both deserves to be exceptionally powerful and by nature cannot use its power for evil ends. The American Creed is therefore a key foundation of belief in America’s innate innocence (p.49).

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Keith Giles

I recently listened to the podcast of an interview of Keith Giles by Preston Sprinkle. I was amazed and impressed.

  • Keith Giles is a trained theologian who has served in many church roles, choosing not to take a salary and working with a church in his house. That does not happen often. Especially one that would consider it a failure if he ended up pastoring a thousand people. He seems to be working out some of the principles that I described in my book called Being Church Where We Live, which describes a radically different model for doing church. It focuses on shared leadership with balanced gifting.

  • Keith goes on to talk about his book called Political Entanglement. The clarity with which he exposed the problem was stunning. Looking from the outside, it is obvious the church’s entanglement with politics is wrong and damaging. So it is great to hear someone from the inside, challenging Christian entanglement with politics.

His talk is worth a listen.

I agree with Keith that politics is not the solution to the problems that Christians are using politics to solve. In my book called Government of God, I advocate a solution based on voluntary sharing and caring, rather than political power. The book explains how a radical model of church can resolve the problems of politics.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

US Foreign Policy

Last weekend, I read a coup of interesting articles about US Foreign Policy.

Michael Brenner argues that American governments assume that, because they are the most technologically advanced and richest nation ever, any objective they choose will be achieved if enough resources are committed to it.

There are features of how the United States makes and executes foreign policy that help to explain why Washington is repeatedly thrown into confusion by unforeseen developments. Most significant is a certain linearity of thinking and action.
Every objective must yield to American know-how, ingenuity and strength of will.
He calls this linear thinking. This belief has several unfortunate side effects.
1. Policy failures caused by contingent developments are not recognized as such – neither the negative outcome, nor the disruption of the original plan by unforeseen developments. Hence, nothing is learned.
2. Unforeseen impediments are treated not only as troublesome surprises, but as somehow illegitimate and offensive…. Of particular interest is that developments which are entirely natural and logical given the circumstances are pronounced are unnatural and surprising because they disturb the linearity of American thinking.
3. In other words, the linear mindset blocks out all non-conforming realities in the present and those contingent elements which might arise in the future. Nor does it pay the slightest attention to how achievement of that objective, or some approximation to it, could provoke reactions that carry new dangers and new threats down the road.
4. Yet another tack taken by linear thinkers to avoid confronting the full implications of their limitations is the insistence on “another try.” That persistence has little to do with cool-headed determination of the objective’s importance. Nor is it justified on the grounds that the fly in the ointment (monkey wrench in the gears) that doomed previous efforts has been identified and removed. Rather, it is an expression of a primitive belief in the ultimate triumph of the will. That is an attitude that fits well the deeply rooted American “can-do” spirit. And that failure is not an acceptable word in the American lexicon.
5. The most extreme method utilized by the linear mindset to prevent constructive or ambiguous factors from disturbing their pre-set plans is to negate them – to ignore their existence.
6. A variant of this particularly immature psychological ploy involves the disparaging the importance of unforeseen occurrences.
Brenner gives examples for each side effect.

Harvey M Sapolosky gives further explanation.

Absent a rival on the scale and power of the now dead Soviet Union, the United States is a very secure country. We are the richest country in the world, protected by two big oceans and a military that is second to none. Our population is big (we are the third most populous nation) and resourceful, claiming the leadership in nearly every line of science and technology. And we spend a fortune on our defense, and have done so for decades. So mostly we meddle....
Our wars, though constant, are without victory... There are no wins because we really don’t care that much. Our security isn’t at risk. Win, lose or draw, we are safe. The other people live where we fight.
One president gets us involved in some distant conflict because he fears being shamed for not leading a global posse to right the wrong. The next president tries to get us out because our allies in the fight are shirkers and/or totally corrupt and the costs of buttressing them are too high. Mostly we are half in and half out of every crisis. Nothing requires a fight to the finish... we are drawn to—and easily distracted from—every fight.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Political Change

Some time ago, I sensed that a spirit of destruction had set up a throne the gate of the city of Wellington (the capital city of New Zealand).

We appeared to be heading up to a boring election, but in the last two weeks, we have seen the careers of two national political leaders being destroyed.

The first leader to be destroyed Andrew Little was the leader of the main opposition party in New Zealand. He was a sincere man, but his position was weakened by poor opinion polls, and some unwise comments to the news media that exposed him to a move to replace him. The new leader of the Labour party is a younger woman with charisma and television presence.

The second leader to be destroyed was co-leader of the Green Party. She resigned after coming intense media pressure. She had announced that twenty years ago when she was a sole mother she had given false information when applying for a benefit.

This is not politics as usual, but a sign of what the spirits of destruction and confusion when working together.

The general election is only eight weeks away. I suspect that another national political leader out of Wellington will be destroyed before that day comes.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Prophets to the Nation

God has been restoring his prophetic ministry. He now has many prophets to his church, but still very few prophets to the nation.

Prophetic people should be clearer about who they are addressing. Many say they have a word for America (or the United States) when really it is a word to the Christians in America, ie the church.

The destiny of the church and the nation can be quite different, especially when the church is a minority.

Many Christians in America feel like they are under pressure. God is telling them to press in and he will turn their situation around and lift them up. Many prophetic people are speaking that way to America, but this is actually a message for the church in America.

God's message to the nation and its political leaders is different. America is the most powerful nation in the world, but it seems to have lost its way. The leaders of the United States need a clear word from prophets to the nation, not an encouraging, but irrelevant word from prophets to the church.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Surprised

When Peter and John healed the crippled man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, the people were astonished. Peter said,

When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you (Acts 3:12).
That’s an interesting question, one that we all need to think about. The crowd were astonished, but Peter was suggesting that it was not surprising. This was normal, now that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Peter explains:
You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see (Acts 4:15-16).
God has raised Jesus from the dead. He is the author of life. The crippled man has been completely healed by in Jesus.

Jesus has been raised from the dead, so healing of the sick is now normal. Peter and John were applying Jesus’ standard method for sharing the gospel.

  • Go to a public place
  • Heal the sick
  • Wait for the crowd to gather
  • Proclaim the good news of the kingdom.
We should not be surprised if the method that Jesus told us to use actually works. Peter does not seem to have been surprised. He had seen Jesus use this method. He had used it when he was sent out with the Twelve.

If we think that a crippled person being completely healed is surprising, we are standing with the unbelievers in Jerusalem, not with Peter and John.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

War Zone

Here is a question?

Would you walk across Afghanistan on your own (with a pistol in your pocket). Most people would say “No!”, because there is a war going on and it would too dangerous. That is sensible.

Here is another question. Which is the most dangerous? The physical war in Afghanistan or the spiritual war in the place where you live and work.

I don’t know what you would answer, but I believe that the spiritual war is more dangerous than the physical war. More people are hurt and injured by spiritual war than physical war. Yet we spend most of days wandering around on our own (with our bibles in our pocket).

Actually there are plenty of secure place in Afghanistan. There are large pieces of territory that are secured and controlled by the side that you identify with. If you stay on this territory, you will be relatively safe (nothing is guaranteed in life and war).

Getting back to spiritual war, where is the territory that has been secured by your side. In the days of parishes, churches took territory seriously. Now Christians drive to church, so no one cares about territory. There is very little territory that has been secured by the people of God. This makes life dangerous for followers of Jesus.

Government of God explains the importance of territory for Jesus, and how his people can secure territory for him.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Positive Vision

We live in a culture where everyone is critical. Televisions screens and newspapers are full of material critical of the powers that be. Twitter takes this to a new level.

I believe that sharing a positive vision, and of course, living it out so the world can see is more important.

When I was re-writing my book Being Church Where We Live to correct some things that had been misunderstood, I felt the Lord tell me to remove all critique of the existing church and concentrate on sharing a positive vision. I think I succeeded, but funnily enough, some people said they preferred the previous version. Sadly, I think their enjoyment of the critique, prevented from seeing the vision being articulated.

In my recent book Government of God, I had to include some critique of the existing establishment, because the vision is so radical, but I put it in a separate section at the end, where it can be ignored. I wanted to concentrate on communicating a positive vision.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Peter

After Peter and John were released from prison, they prayed and quoted a prophecy by David.

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together against the Lord
and against his anointed one (Acts 4:25-26).
Peter understood that the rulers of the nations are opposed to God’s purposes. God responded to the prayer by re-filling them with the Holy Spirit.
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly (Acts 4:31).
God was doing something much bigger than the nations and their rulers. He was bringing in the Kingdom of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Many Christians still hope to use the power of the nation state to establish the Kingdom of God. Peter understood that God could do something more powerful through the Holy Spirit.

Government of God

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Chosen Nation (4) Kingdom of God

Actually, there is no hierarchy of power in the Kingdom of God. Neither for people or nations. The Kingdom of God looks like this.

The Holy Spirit can speak to every follower of Jesus. They can all hear his voice and know Jesus will. They do not need another person to tell the what Jesus is saying.

Distinctions between nations break down, as loyalty to nations is replaced by loyalty to Jesus. Citizens of the Kingdom have no nation.

The only special role in the Kingdom of God is that of elders (some are pastors, some are apostles, some are evangelists, some are prophets, others are judges). Their role is to serve the people that God has entrusted to them. This mostly involves watching from a distance, praying for them, giving advice and warning about possible mistakes. The elders do not control the people they are caring for. Their only authority is what people have freely submitted them. Because it is freely submitted, it can be freely taken away again at any time.

So the Kingdom of God really looks like this.

The elders are at the bottom, because their role is to serve the people. That have no authority, except what people gave to them.

I describe this more fully in Government of God.

Chosen Nation (3) Self Chosen

Some Christians actually think that the Kingdom of God looks like this.

They assume that God want the chosen nation controlling all the other kings and nations of the world. For many people, the chosen nation is the United Sates. God has chosen it to dominate the world to make it a better place. This view does not come out very well in the book of Revelation.

Johns Vision
John saw a vision of a Woman riding on a Beast. In this vision, the chosen nation is the woman and the nation that controls the other nations of the world is the Beast (Rev 17:1-6). The woman is Israel (Rev 12:1-6), and the Beast is a powerful nation that dominates the nations of the world.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Chosen Nation (2) Incorrect Views

Many people have a distorted view of the Kingdom of God. They think it looks something like this.

They assume that Kingdom of God comes into reality when the King or President is a Christian, or at least lead by God. This is why contesting elections have become such an important objective.

The problem with this view is the duplication of kings. A kingdom cannot have two kings. If Jesus is the king of the Kingdom of God, then other kings cannot have a role in his kingdom. A kingdom with multiple kings will be a divided kingdom, that cannot stand.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Chosen Nation (1)

Before Jesus came, God worked through a chosen nation. God did not choose the children of Israel, because he liked them better than other people. He chose them because Abraham was faithful and he had a task for them to do in the world. God needed Israel for two key reasons.

  1. He needed a place on earth where he had permission to operate freely. That place was the promised land. He would eventually make this a safe place to send his son.

  2. God wanted Israel to demonstrate the benefits of living under his law (Deut 4:6-8). If Israel had applied God’s system of government, local judges applying his law, the nations would have seen how well it worked and copied it.

Israel failed to live up to its calling.
  1. They rebelled against God, and went into exile. The promised land was ruled by foreign empires: Babylon Persian, Rome. God’s authority to operate in the land was significantly constrained. He had to wait a long time before it was safe to send Jesus.

  2. Israel rejected God’s system of government and chose to be ruled by a king, like the other nations. The wisdom of God’s law was never demonstrated.

This difficulty did not hold God back, because it was only the first step in his big plan. He sent Jesus to get the second stage of his plan underway.

Jesus did not come to restore the chosen nation, although that was what was expected (Acts 1:6). The chosen nation was just a step on the way to God’s much greater plan for redeeming the entire world. Jesus announced the Kingdom of God, which is a much broader concept than a chosen nation, because the Kingdom of God covers the entire world.

Jesus did attempt to restore the chosen nation. He announced that it would be destroyed soon after his ministry on earth was complete and the Kingdom of God had been inaugurated (Luke 20:9-15; 21:20-24).

Jesus explained that the Kingdom of God does not need a chosen nation, because it would be within them (Luke 19:21). This does not mean that the Kingdom is invisible. Rather Jesus was saying that the Holy Spirit would be within each believer, telling them Jesus’ will and empowering them to obey it. God’s kingdom comes as Jesus will is done. Jesus’ will is done, as people obey the leading of the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, he poured out the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit did not just come on the chosen nation. Rather, Jesus poured out the Holy spirit on people from all the nations who had gathered in Jerusalem (Acts 2:5-11). They would take the gospel of the Kingdom back to their homes and spread the Kingdom of God into all the world. They would teach the people of the nations to do Jesus’ will (Matt 28:20).

The outpouring of Pentecost and the inauguration of the Kingdom of God made the chosen nation redundant. A few years later, in AD 70, the chosen nation was destroyed by the Roman Empire and the Jewish people scattered among the nations into exile. A chosen nation was no longer needed, because the Kingdom of God had come.

God no longer needed a piece of land on earth in which to work, because the Holy Spirit could work in people all over the world. He would be a river of living water flowing out from within them into the surrounding people (John 7:38). The ministry of Jesus shifted God’s scope of activity from a small piece of land to the entire world (Matt 28:19).

God will eventually save the chosen nation, but not by restoring them as a nation with their own king. Instead, they must become part of the Kingdom of God, through trusting in Jesus, and obeying the Holy Spirit (Rom 11:26).

The chosen nation no longer responsible for bringing salvation to the world (apart from proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom). Rather it finds salvation by coming into the Kingdom of God.

God has been happy to let his Kingdom run on for 2000 years without a chosen nation. Clearly his kingdom can function without one. Not that different people have not tried to become a chosen nation for him. The kings of the Holy Roman Empire thought they were the chosen nation for a couple of hundred years. Then the people of British thought they were the chosen nation. Now many people in the United States assume that it is the chosen nation. Some believe that the United States and Israel have this role together.

The truth is that when God scattered Israel amongst the nations, he did not appoint a chosen nation to replace it (except in the sense that all citizens of the Kingdom of God are a chosen nation (Rev 1:6)).

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Mary's Prophecy

When Jesus was still a baby in her womb, Mary gave a wonderful prophecy. She said,

God the Mighty One has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
The prophecy has not been fulfilled yet. Mostly because the church has colluded with the rulers sitting on thrones.

Government of God explains how kingdom communities can lift up the humble, so that human rulers become redundant, and Jesus becomes the only ruler, from his throne in the heavenly realms.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Missing the Boat

I became a Christian in the early 1970s. It was an amazing time to be a follower of Jesus. The Holy Spirit was moving in amazing ways. People were coming to faith all over the place, in the oddest ways. Demons were being cast out and people were being set free. We went to conferences where people were being healed. The worship was amazing. There were no worship leaders cavorting on the stage, but the presence of God was so strong, you could hardly stand.

Our generation’s experience of the Holy Spirit in the 70s and early 80s was unprecedented. A few heroes in earlier generations had greater intensity, but not the widespread move we experienced. It was like the Spirit was “poured out on all flesh”.

Yet looking back to that time, it feels like our generation has missed the boat somewhere. This generation received so much, but we do not have as much to show for it as we should. The church is stultified and the culture is going down the gurgler. That is not what I would have expected following such an amazing move of the Holy Spirit.

Much is expected from those to whom much is given. Something must have gone wrong.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lamp of the Body

Luke 11:33-36 is an interesting passage.

One meaning is that we must be careful about what we look at. If we fill our eyes with evil things, it can contaminate our entire being and living.

However that message does not seem to exhaust the meaning of the passage. The context of these words is that Jesus had just finished comparing the Queen of Sheba and the people of Nineveh with the current generation of his nation. The former sought wisdom and repented, but Jesus own people did not.

No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light (Luke 11:33).
The message of the lamp is a challenge to his nation. It was supposed to be a light to the nations, but that light had become dark hidden under a bowl of sin. In our time it is a challenge to the church, which is also supposed to be a light to the nations.

The church is a lamp that must not be hidden. It should be on display, so that people will come to see its light. What causes the church to be hidden?

The eyes are the lamp of the body.

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness (Luke 11:33).
Jesus was referring back to the words of Isaiah the prophet.
Yahweh has poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep,
and he has shut your eyes, the prophets,
and he has covered your heads, the seers (Is 29:10).
The prophets are the eyes of the church. The prophets are the eyes of the nation. If the prophets are doing their job, the church and the nation will be full of light. If the prophets are distracted or deceived, the church and the nation will be filled with darkness.

The Pharisees were like prophets in Jesus time. They claimed to know the right way, but they were filling their nation with darkness.

If there is darkness in the church and our nations today, it is because the prophets are not fulfilling their role.

See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you (Luke 11:35-36).
When the prophets are functioning, the body of Jesus will be full of light. People will also be drawn to its light.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker was a guru of business management. He taught at Wharton School of Business. He was a Christian, and was involved as an advisor at the beginning of the mega church movement. Lance Wallnau (at 46 min) described his views as follows:

Peter Drucker said that the local church should be the deliverer of the community. A non-profit organisation (501(c)3 in America) is the only entity without a self-interested agenda. You cannot trust the government. If you give money to a government, it expand inefficiently, because it is non-profit motivated. If it fails, it demands more money.
The only safe way to solve our city’s problems is for Christians to start non-profits and plug the gaps that governments cannot meet.

This was Drucker’s dream for the mega church, but it has not happened.

Strong churches could extend services into social problem, and become the bridge between what government cannot do, and the citizens need to do. No one is philanthropy motivated like a kingdom person to get the job done.

Drucker said we could transform cities if non profit organisations became mega economic powers, with people with an agenda to fill the gap.

It never happened, due to self interest. Mega churches are only interested in increasing the number or people, number of views, number of staff and the square footage, because growth is a sign of success. They are only interested in serving their constituents, with a new building, a new program, or new gymnasium. The dream that Drucker had for the mega church was never tried.

Churches are not known as the people who have solutions to the problems of the city. They are known for their programs. These are five churches a good reputation, but they are not known for having solutions.

Creative non-profits should be coming up with newsworthy solutions to problems that the world will never solve. They should have solutions that other will copy. They should be problem solvers for the city.

This is a Jewish thing. The Jews got to be safe from persecution by being indispensable.

If Christians were smart, rather than just having big buildings and big gatherings, we would be indispensable to our city’s welfare. We should be the last people they want to persecute, because we would be the first people with the answers to problems.

In Government of God I explain how local community-based churches can provide services to the people in the community in which they live. They have an interest in doing this, because that is the only way they can survive and grow.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Gospel Healing

In the New Testament, healing and the gospel go together. However, Jesus said something challenging to the seventy-two disciples.

When you enter a village, heal the sick who are there (Luke 10:8-9).
Jesus does not say to pick someone out by word of knowledge and pay for them to be healed. No. He says to heal all the sick people who are there.

That is a challenge for people of faith that few of us have even considered. I guess that is why Jesus told his disciples to wait until they had received power from on high.

But if all the sick people in a village were healed by a pair of disciples, the gospel of the kingdom would be hugely welcome there.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Prophesying to Political Leaders

When a prophet has a message for a political leader, they must ask the Lord how it is to be delivered. Jeremiah’s words got through to the king, even when he was under guard. The prophet should be asking the Lord how he wants your message to be delivered. If it is important, God will have a pathway and establish connections to get it there. God will establish relationships for the prophet to link up to the right people.

There is more to being a prophet to the nation than announcing judgments on political leaders. Often the political leader is not the problem. The heart of the nation is more important. The heart of the nation will usually have allowed an evil person to rise to power. A nation gets the leaders it deserves. An evil leader might be the judgement on the nation, rather than the one who need to be judged.

Jeremiah spoke to the people of Judah first, because their rebellion against God was the real problem. It had brought on the attack of the Babylonians and the despicable kings that preceded them.

Speaking to the political leader perpetuates the idea that political power is ultimate. It makes an idol of political power. It assumes that a change in political power will solve the problems. That is never the case, because the principalities and power that control the nation remain the same.

The prophet should be asking the following question. What principalities and powers control the nation? Why are they there? Who gave them authority to be there? How does God plan to remove them? If you want to see you nation changed you will need to understand the spiritual situation and how God plans to change it.

A prophet should understand God’s plan and purpose for the nation. How is this going to work out in the current situation? How is God going to bring it about? These are things that a prophet to the nation needs to understand. A message that judgement is coming is incomplete. An effective prophet will share a vision of God’s plan for the nation. They will explain to the people of God what they need to do to be prepared for what is going to happen.

What is the state of the church in the nation? When the political situation in a nation is a mess, it is usually because the Church is not doing its job. Is the gospel being shared effectively? Is the church proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom? I would expect that change will have to come in the church first. How does it need to change? Are the prophets speaking God’s word clearly to the church?

A true prophet will share a gripping vision for the future, and a strategy for how to get there. They do not just give warnings of judgment.

A prophet warning of judgment must have an understanding of the stage the nation is at? I have delineated the stages of judgment at Prophetic Events. The type of judgment varies depending on the season the nation is in. I explain this in Discerning Seasons.

The role of the church is different in each type of season. It will usually need a prophetic warning to prepare the events in the right way. God wills often not send judgment until his people understand and prepare for what is coming. His prophets must assist with that.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Spiritual Struggles

The spiritual powers of evil are a powerful hierarchy of evil spirits, but they are not united. They do not like each other. Throughout history, they have fought with each other for control of the hierarchies of power. At different times, different strong spirits have been in ascendancy. Often two powerful spirits have operated alongside each other.

I have just published an article on Kingdom Watcher that describes some of their conflicts and struggles. This article is a bit speculative, as the Bible does not give the spiritual powers of evil glory by describing their activities in detail. It just gives odd hints of what is happening. I have tried to spell out some of these hints.

To read more, follow this link.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Dutch Sheets

In a recent talk, Dutch Sheets said,

Authority is government. All government on earth is supposed to be a direct extension of the government of God, flowing through human beings into the earth, to release his justice, his righteousness, his peace, his salvation, his ways into the earth.
However, Dutch did not explain how this would happen. Government of God describes how the authority of God flows through his people to bring his peace and justice to earth.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Healing and the Gospel

When Jesus sent out the seventy-two disciples, he told them what to do when they entered a house.

Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a person of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. (Luke 10:5-6).
We need to think about what Jesus was saying here. When the disciples declared “Peace to this House”, peace will rest on the person of peace in the house.

How does this happen?

The Holy Spirit is our peace. The fruit of the Spirit is peace. So when a pair of disciples made the declaration, the Holy Spirit passes from them to the people in the house. These people will have the Holy Spirit resting upon them for the entire time that the disciples are in the house, even if they not yet know Jesus.

With such a strong presence of the Holy Spirit, speaking faith, bringing conviction and offering peace, these people would soon to follow Jesus and trust in him.

If the owner of the house is not a person of peace, the peace will return to the disciple. The Holy Spirit will flow back to the disciples who are visiting. Matthew says that in this case, the disciples should shake the dust from their feet and leave the house (Matt 10:13). They should go to a house where they are welcome.

Jesus approach would only work if the disciples are aware of the Spirit of Peace flowing from them to the people in the house. They should also be aware of the Holy Spirit returning to them, if he is not welcome. That is a challenge.

If we are serious about sharing the gospel in the way that Jesus recommended, we need to learn how to declare peace to a house with faith, so that the Spirit of Peace flows out from us to the people in the house (John 7:38).

We also need to learn how to discern the Spirit of Peace returning to us, when he is rejected by a person who is hostile to him.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bizarre Behaviour

Looking from the outside, the behaviour of journalists, academics and politicians in the United States seems bizarre. I cannot understand how politicians, academics and journalist can make such a song and dance about American democracy, but then work so actively to undermine its results.

They all seem to have accepted the Russians “hacked” the US presidential election story. There is no evidence for this, and no one has explained how it actually happened. Hillary did enough to lose the election by running a weak campaign for the role she believed she was entitled to.

The best suggestion is that the Russians hacked the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and released a stack of embarrassing emails. This was only a problem, because the emails showed that key democratic leaders were engaged in dodgy activities. You can hardly blame the Russians for their bad behaviour. If the DNC emails were boring administrative stuff, as they should have been, they would have been quickly forgotten.

The news media are not stupid, so they know there is nothing in it. The problem is that they hate Donald Trump more than they love the truth.

Before the election, they said that Trump was stupid and that he would not get elected. Trump bypassed them and proved them wrong, about the second point anyway. They like to think they have a big say in who wins the election. They seem to be angry that they were ignored and beaten by a man they do not like.

It seems that they hate Trump more than they love democracy. Trumps character may be a bit dodgy, but he was elected in a national election. None of the politicians, academics and media commentators seeking to undermine him were.

They say that they believe in democracy, but when they don’t like the outcome, they are happy to undermine it. That seems odd, but the elite knows best.

The worst thing about this situation is that the media and many politicians are spewing out hatred towards the Russian. I presume that they like the “Russia hacked the election” narrative, because if that had happened, Trump would not be legitimately elected, so they would be justified in seeking to throw him out.

They are pushing the hatred of Russia to justify their efforts to depose Trump. This is scary. The biggest risk to the word is not global warming, but a nuclear war between the Russians and they United States. A war that caused them to fire off their massive nuclear arsenals would be a huge disaster for the world.

I am old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis. I remember how scary it was, and how relieved the world was when Khrushchev and Kennedy agreed to an uneasy peace deal. The world heaved a great sigh of relief. If McCain rather than Kennedy had been in the Whitehouse, we would still be in the midst of a nuclear winter.

The world does not need confrontation between the United States and Russia. One of the few good things about Donald Trump was that he wanted to stabilise the US relationship with Russia. Unfortunately, that has not happened. Instead the news media and many politicians are stirring tension between the two countries.

Russia is not a threat to the United States. It is massively weaker than the Soviet Union. Its economy is slightly smaller than Italy’s. Russian does not have enough troops to invade and control Eastern Europe, and it does not seem to want to.

So the Russian mania is hard to understand, and the media knows this. The problem is that they need hatred of Russia to support their attacks on Trump. If Russia is not a threat, then Russian collusion with Trump ceases to be a problem.

I can only assume that the media, and many politicians, hate Trump more than the care about the peace of the world. They seem to be willing to risk peace by stirring up hatred of the Russians to bring down Donald Trump.

From here, I see a nation freely submitting to a spirit of deception, by choosing to believe a lie. The sad thing is that the "Trump is Saviour" crowd is surrendering to the same spirit, by choosing a different lie.

The irony is that history shows that great nations and empires are not usually destroyed by an invading enemy power. They collapse from within.

Friday, July 14, 2017

First Sin

Adam and Eve committed their first sin some time before they ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They could hear God’s voice, but had decided to listen to other voices and decide if they really were evil. This was an insult to God, who is good and perfectly wise. Deciding not to trust God was their first sin. When they made this decision, God’s presence left them.

He was already gone when the serpent approached them, because he could not have come near to do evil, if God had been there. The serpent could not tolerate God’s glory, when he was planning to do evil.

Eating the forbidden fruit was not the first sin. It was the inevitable outcome of losing God’s protection. Without God, Adam and Eve were never going to be a match for the cunning of the devil.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Freedom and Truth

To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticise power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.
Timothy Snyder in On Tyranny (p 65).

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Tyranny

Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a repressive government will want, and then offer themselves without being asked. A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do.
Timothy Snyder in On Tyranny (p 17).


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Political Power

Christians have always been uncertain about what to do with political power.

  • The most popular option has been for the church to use political power to impose Christian standards on society. During the middle ages, the Pope was able to impose considerable control over the political leaders of Europe. Because most people believed themselves to be Christian, this was usually accepted. However, when people lost faith, they hated the Catholic church, because they saw it as a controlling organisation, forcing them to do things they did not want to do.

    The same thing happened in the United States, when the Moral Majority gained political influence. Some laws were changed in a Christian direction, but people who did not believe in Jesus started hating the church, because they believed, it was forcing them to behave in a particular way.

    Using political power has not really been a successful option, because it creates hostility to the gospel.

  • The other common option has been withdrawal from political power. This leaves the people of the world holding the reins of power. Unrestrained power often leads to evil. In the worst case, Christians are persecuted for their faith.

  • These days, most churches have adopted a Goldilocks option: not to hot and not to cold. They get sufficient involvement in political power that they avoid persecution and oppose really bad laws. But they do not get so involved that they can be accused of controlling society, or imposing God’s standards on people who do not believe in him.

    The Goldilocks option tends to produce a slippery slope away from the gospel.

Each of these options tries to answer the question, who should control political power. Should it be the people of the world, or the people of the church?

This is the wrong question. The real problem is not who holds political power. The real problem is with political power itself.

Political power allows one group of people to impose their view on another group of people. That is always wrong, even if the group in control is a majority. God has not given any group of people authority to control other people.

Political power also amplifies the power and control of the spiritual powers of evil that control cities and nations.

Political power is always the problem, not the solution, no matter who exercises it.

In my book, Government of God, I describe a system of government that does not need political power.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Redistribution

Bill Bonner writes well, and he has a sneaky sense of humour.

For instance, a robber puts a gun to our head. “Your money or your life,” says the well-read thief. And if you could engage him in conversation, you might find plenty of plausible “reasons” for the larceny.

He was abused as a child. He is a member of a disadvantaged minority. He went to public school. He needs the money more than we do. He is only stealing it to give it to the poor.

“Stealing from the rich,” he says, “will reduce wealth inequality. And since we know from reading Stiglitz, Krugman, Piketty, et al. that wealth inequality slows down growth, making everyone poorer, redistributing wealth will make us all better off. I’m just a facilitator. I’m helping to create a fairer society.”

You see immediately that the robber has a future in politics!

“The risks are lower… and the payoff is greater,” you tell him. “And the work is essentially the same – transferring wealth from the people who earn it to the people who are favored by the robber.”

Back-alley stickup men get caught... or shot... from time to time. The politician, almost never.

Instead, he is re-elected… moved from one committee post to a more powerful one… where he is able to redistribute more wealth.

And when he eventually retires, he has a job waiting for him among the plumy cronies – in the think tanks, lobbying firms, or big business.