Beliefs aside?

I heard recently that people who are willing to put their beliefs aside to consider the beliefs of others are more creative thinkers and better listeners.

The idea that putting my beliefs aside can make me objective, or more creative, or a better listener, seems to work at first.

If I have to go before a judge who hates skinny people, I would definitely want him/her to set aside that prejudice before taking my case.

So it seems like setting my beliefs aside could be a good thing.

But can I say it is always good to set my beliefs aside?

I’ll look at an extreme example to see if it still works.

Suppose I am sitting next to a man in the plane terminal, and he asks me if I would consider putting my beliefs about terrorism aside to take a bomb onto the plane.  Should I even consider this?  Would it be creative thinking, or destructive thinking?  Would my willingness to accept that this belief might be plausible show that I’m a good listener–or a fool?

If a theory doesn’t work in even one fair example, it doesn’t work.  I’ve given one example of a breakdown, but we could all think of a bunch more: a white supremest asking me to consider lynching an African-American, a pyromaniac asking me to burn down a house, a rapper suggesting in his song that I go kill a police officer, and so on.

There are some things I’m just not willing to set my beliefs aside to consider.

I guess that makes me intolerant.  But I want to be intolerance to someone who’s trying to convince me to do something evil.  I don’t think this makes me less creative.  Maybe it makes me a worse listener, but maybe that’s a good thing.

So is it sometimes right for me to set aside my beliefs to entertain a notion and sometimes wrong?

Going back to the original example of the judge prejudiced against skinny people–why is it good for that judge to set his/her belief aside about skinny people?  Because it’s a bad belief.

What if the judge is “prejudiced” against murder, meaning (s)he believes murder is wrong?  A judge shouldn’t set that belief aside.  Why?  Because it’s a good belief.

About a month ago, I was at a gas station trying to get my hood open.  I hadn’t probably done that since about the time I bought the car, years ago, and I couldn’t remember how to open it.  A man came up and proposed to help me.  I welcomed with open arms his belief about how to open the hood, because I didn’t know what I was doing. In that case, it was a good idea to listen to him because he had the right answer.  That was a risk I took, because I was pretty near clueless.

But what if I knew just how to open the hood, and a man came up and proposed that if I hit the windshield with a sledgehammer, the hood would come open?  That would not be a good time to set aside my beliefs and consider his.

Of course, if I did set aside my beliefs and consider his, I would (hopefully) still go back to mine.  But–is that step really necessary?  Do I really need to evaluate whether I should break my windshield in an attempt to get my hood open?

We all have beliefs about a lot of things.  We have beliefs we’re unsure about (Can bacon really be bad for you?), beliefs we’re pretty sure about (The oil in my car probably does have to be replaced, even if I would rather use the money to buy sushi), and beliefs we’re really sure about (God is in control).

For most of these beliefs, I could set aside what I think for a while to hear someone else’s opinion, especially if my belief provably wrong, like when I thought drinking soda all day would make no difference to my health.

Polite debate can, in and of itself, be an interesting way to pass the time.  I’m fascinated by logic and argument strategies, and I might could spend a few quaint hours arguing whether the sky is blue or dogs are cats.

But then there’s the beliefs we’re not willing to part with.  Ever.

Some of them are extremely important beliefs that nearly everyone assumes, like It would be wrong to murder my friends and I must feed my children.

No one is usually accused of being intolerant for holding these beliefs.  But there are exceptions.  There are a few psychopathic people who would hold extremely important beliefs like It would be right to murder my friends or I must not feed my children.

Just because a belief is extremely important doesn’t make the belief right to hold.  It goes back to good and evil.  Good beliefs are good to hold onto, whether they’re little-bitty in their importance (like how to open the car’s hood) or super important (like how to treat human life).

How do I know when I should set my beliefs aside so I can be tolerant and intelligent and creative and when I shouldn’t?

I will have no way of answering that if I don’t believe in good and evil.

And I will have no way of answering that if I don’t know which is which.

I find the backstory to my natural belief in good and evil explained in Genesis 1-3.  And I find the ability to distinguish which is which on every page in God’s Word.  I might be intolerant for thinking so, but that doesn’t actually matter at all if God is right.

So although I might win popularity by setting my beliefs aside, and although I might be accused of intolerance or stupidity or poor listening for not doing so . . . I’d rather be with the God who is right.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before You. (Psalm 89:14, NASB)

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There is God.

There is no “mother earth”, no tree spirit, no impersonal “force”, no spirit-in-everything, no god-by-many-names.

There is God.

“I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14b, NASB)

His revelation is so simple we can scoff it.  He is so beyond our comprehension we can ignore Him, yet His Word is so clear we have to ridicule Him face to face to keep ourselves from worshiping Him.

And that is exactly what happened at the cross.

This Scripture reveals everything we must know to ever see the real God, if we will just listen.

And this Scripture gives us every reason we will be accountable if we won’t listen.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him. He who believes in him is not judged. He who doesn’t believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil.(John 3:16-19, WEB)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.


The Hebrew Roots Movement

This is not an easy topic for me to write about.  It is not something I have looked forward to writing about, because, very close to the core of my personality is a great desire not to open myself up for arguments, anger, or rejection.

But I have to write about this, because, at the core of who I am, is a longing for all people everywhere to see Christ, to know Him, and to follow Him.

Being a Christian isn’t about confrontation, but it isn’t about nonconfrontation, either.  It’s about telling the Truth.

I want to be very careful when I talk about the Truth, because there is the perfect Truth of Christ, and then there is me, on my journey towards Him.  The words I say very often fall short of that perfect Truth.  That’s why, when it comes to something as serious as the Hebrew Roots Movement, I’m not going to use my own words.  This is far too serious a matter for me to try to guess at words God hasn’t given me.  Instead, I will repeat words God has given me, words I would trust my life, my death, and the eternity of my soul on: the Word of God.

I had heard a little about the Hebrew Roots Movement, but it wasn’t until I had very personal encounters that I began to explore and seek answers.  Suddenly, this wasn’t just a movement out there on the internet somewhere . . . it was a movement encroaching upon the church like a dark shadow, with people being invited to walk out of the love and safety net of Christ and into an abyss of legality and condemnation.

The Hebrew Roots Movement can be subtle or more open in its presentation, but the basic idea, when all the layers of reasoning are peeled away, is that Jesus saved us from our sin so that we could go back to the Law.  The Movement highly esteems Mosaic law and the Old Testament Jewish way of life.

The Movement, for example, follows Mosaic diet restrictions, appealing logically that science has proven pork, for example, is not good to consume, showing that God knew best all along.

The Movement believes in observing Old Testament Mosaic festivals as a way to worship Christ.

And the movement believes in following the Mosaic law, not because we are justified through the law–from the little I have observed, the movement assures its followers that they are justified only through Jesus Christ.  Therefore, the following of the Mosaic law is only like keeping a child inside the boundaries of a fence to protect him or her from the traffic oN the road.  The Mosaic law, would be the argument, is for our protection, because we have been grafted in to the family of God.

The tree of the family of God is Jewish, they say, and it is only logical that we have become Jews–or that we always were Jews, and we had simply wandered away–giving the message if you want to be a Christian, you are most likely a long-long Jew.

The Hebrew Roots Movement claims that when Jesus came to earth, He did not do away with the law.  The word “fulfill” does not mean to complete, but, more like to pay the penalty for those who broke the law.  To illustrate with something I can wrap my mind around, it would be like if a parent grounded a child for a week.  Another child came in and stayed inside for a week to fill up the punishment for breaking the rules, but did not change the rules themselves.  The child must once again follow all the rules.

The Hebrew Roots Movement, I have found, has been created by someone far more brilliant than me.  I don’t know how to refute it with my own words, because the arguments are clever and what I see as the “mosaic” (meaning artwork–I’d never realized this was spelled the same as Mosaic) of Truth and lies is so ingeniously bound up together, I simply don’t have the brains to sort it all out.

But, thanks be to our God and Savior Jesus Christ, I don’t have to.

There’s Galatians.

I beg you to read Galatians all the way through.  Here are a few riches of the Word’s glory.

Since one of the claims of the Hebrew Roots Movement is that the Bible is often improperly translated, I wanted to share from The Original Aramaic New Testament in Plain English–with Psalms & Proverbs by Reverend David Basucher, a man who believes the original New Testament was in Aramaic, not Greek.  This is therefore an excellent translation for people to read who believe modern translations from the Greek have become corrupted.

The English Standard Version is included after each Aramaic New Testament translation. Between these two translations is the same uncanny, cohesive accuracy as all translations true Christ followers have undertaken over the years.  Note that, in the Aramaic, Jesus is Yeshua.

I marvel how quickly you have been turned away from The Messiah, he who called you by his grace, unto another gospel Which does not exist, but there are some who trouble you and wish to change The Gospel of The Messiah.But even if we or an Angel from Heaven should evangelize you outside of that which we have evangelized you, we or he would be damned;Just as I said to you from the first and now again I say to you, that if anyone evangelizes you outside of what you have received, he shall be damned.  (Galatians 1:6-9, Aramaic NT)

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, bu there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you,let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9, ESV)

Because we know that a man is not justified by works of The Written Law, but by the faith of Yeshua The Messiah, we also believe in Yeshua The Messiah, that we should be made right by the faith of The Messiah, and not by the works of The Written Law, because no one is made right by the works of The Written Law. But if when we seek to be made right by The Messiah, we are found to be sinners, is then Yeshua the Minister of sin? God forbid! For if I build those things again that I once destroyed, I have shown about myself that I violate The Covenant. For I by The Written Law have died to The Written Law that I might live unto God. And I have been crucified with The Messiah, and from then on I myself have not been living, but The Messiah is living in me, and this that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of The Son of God, he who has loved us and has given himself for us. I do not reject the grace of God, for if righteousness is by The Written Law, The Messiah died for nothing.  (Galatians 2:16-21, Aramaic NT)

yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law,because by works of the law no one will be justified.

But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:16-21, ESV)

This only I wish to know of you: Did you receive The Spirit by the works of The Written Law or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish that you began in The Spirit and now you finish in the flesh? (Galatians 3:2-3, Aramaic NT)

Let me ask you only this:Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:2-3, ESV)

But if the inheritance is by The Written Law, it would therefore not be from The Promise to Abraham, but God gave it to him by The Promise.

Why therefore is there The Written Law? It was added because of apostasy until The Seed would come to whom The Promise belonged, and The Written Law was given by Angels in the hand of a mediator. A mediator is not of one, but God is One. Is therefore The Written Law contrary to The Promise of God? God forbid! For if a law had been given which was able to give life, truly righteousness would have been by The Written Law. But the Scripture has shut all things up under sin, that The Promise by the faith of Yeshua The Messiah would be given to those who are believers.

3But until the faith would come, The Written Law had kept us while we were closed off to the faith that was going to be revealed. The Written Law was therefore a guide for us to The Messiah that we would be made right by faith. But when the faith came we were not under a guide. For you are all children of God by the faith of Yeshua The Messiah. (Galatians 3:18-26, Aramaic NT)

For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; butGod gave it to Abraham by a promise.

Why then the law?  It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. (Galatians 3:18-26, ESV)

Tell me, you who wish to be under The Written Law, do you not hear The Written Law? (Galatians 4:21, Aramaic NT)

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? (Galatians 4:31, ESV)

Stand therefore in that liberty with which The Messiah has set us free, and do not be yoked again in a yoke of bondage.  (Galatians 5:1, Aramaic NT)

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1, ESV)

But I say that you should be walking in The Spirit and the craving of the flesh you will never do. (Galatians 5:16, Aramaic NT)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16, ESV)

And bear the burdens of one another, for in this way you fulfill the law of The Messiah. (Galatians 6:2, Aramaic NT)

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2, ESV)

Published in: on November 20, 2011 at 2:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Apologetics

“The presentation of apologetics isn’t always popular.” — Ron Carlson & Ed Decker, Fast Facts on False Teachings.

There isn’t any reason why someone should immediately like to be told they are wrong, save one.

One night after visiting an elderly friend, on the verge of fatigue, I turned on the main street out of the neighborhood to get home.  What I didn’t realize until the car lights streamed into my windshield and the horn screamed in my ears was that I had turned into a two-lane, one-way street.  A median separated me from the other two lanes, the two going the right direction.

I was terrified.  I had that second where I wondered if the car was going to stop or barrel right into me. But the car slowed down, and there was a parking lot on the left side I was able to turn into.

I was not mad at the driver for warning me.  I didn’t accuse him (or her–it was too dark to know) of rudeness or inconveniencing me.  Because I was headed straight for big-time disaster, and that driver’s quick reaction had prevented me from a head-on collision that would have been totally my fault.

Apologetics aren’t ever going to popular for people who believe differently, unless for the sake of sparring or for people who like confrontation.  But, though I hate conflict, I am into apologetics.  I don’t want hate mail, I don’t want to be cussed at, and I don’t want to be unpopular.  But I do want people who are headed for eternal disasters to be warned of where they are going.

The stakes are too high to worry about popularity.

But I do worry about popularity.  But, more than my worry about popularity, is my worry for the millions of people who have no idea they are headed for Hell.  I worry, because I used to be one of them.  I don’t want to cause arguments or anger or lose friends.  But, more than not wanting those things, I feel the new longing of my heart is for people to come to know Jesus.  Where I used to see bodies, I am beginning to see souls.  Souls of eternal value.  Souls trapped in the wrong lane, souls that could be snatched away by a head-on collision at any moment.

In Galatians 1:10, Paul, a missionary who could never honestly be accused of trying to win popularity contests (what with public beatings and being the object of riots and escaping from a city by being lowered down the wall in a basket), wrote:

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (NIV)

This is key: servants of Christ cannot expect to win approval of those who hate Him.  And those who hate Him . . . is everyone who does not know Him.

Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4b, NIV)

Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. (Jesus, quoted in John 15:20, NIV)

If those who hate God hate His people . . . and if those who hate Him is everyone who does not know Him . . . that’s a huge, vast majority of the world’s population that will hate me if I live my life for and talk about Jesus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So why ever would I want to share my faith, then?  Why not hide away in a monastery until I die and go to Heaven?

Because . . . I don’t know whether my waiter will die that night in a car crash.

I don’t know if the grocery store clerk has just been diagnosed with cancer.

I don’t know if the guy who cuts me off in traffic, the woman who butts in front of me in line, the teenage girl whose phone conversation is being broadcasted through the movie theater . . . I don’t know if their souls are safe with Jesus.

I don’t know when people will die . . . but I do know they will face judgment someday, the same judgment I could never stand up to without the blood of Jesus Christ poured out over every second of my life.

And so . . . it becomes plain old stupid for me to worry about whether somebody has cost me to miss the green light or wait five extra minutes with sore feet or not hear the critical point of the plot in a movie.  And it becomes plain old stupid for me to worry about whether they will say mean things to be or walk the other direction when they see me if I share my faith.

What matters is whether or not they follow Jesus.

Carlson and Decker are right–apologetics aren’t always popular.  The topic isn’t even usually popular.  But sharing the Message of Christ has the power to forever change the life of someone else.

When else do I have the chance to change forever the life of anyone?  I could build a mansion for somebody; I could bail them out of debt; I could break them out of prison; I could get them off on charges of murder; I could find their kidnapped loved one; I could serve them for the rest of my life . . but none of those things has the power to change someone’s life forever.

I cannot by any extraordinary act or by any eloquence of language change the life of someone forever.  I can, at best, improve their quality of life as they drive down the wrong lane of traffic, soon to ram into the eternal consequences of a life without salvation.

I cannot do anything to bring about eternal change.  But, by the grace of God, I can be a pointer to eternal change.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:10:

But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me–and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. (NLT)

Apologetics aren’t popular.  The name is strange, and the ideas hard to communicate to a world driving down the wrong lane.

But killing my pride, killing my fear, killing my laziness, killing my selfishness, and killing my neediness-for-popularity so that I may defend Jesus is totally worth it.  Because Jesus is the only way for anyone to change lanes.

Every day of our life we face death because of Jesus. In this way, His life is seen in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:11, NLV)

“I am the Way,” replied Jesus, “and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, Weymouth NT)

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:4, NIV)

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Photograph by Kelsey_Love_Fusion, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/supersonicphotos/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

The book I’m reading: Fast Facts on False Teachings by Ron Carlson & Ed Decker (c) 1994.

Devotion for the day in my Bible was from the incredible book of Jeremiah, a man given insight into the one and only Messiah who would come, at a time apologetics were very unpopular.