THIRD Friday of every month, at the College of Insurance, 101 Murray St. between Greenwich and West Sts. This was the location of the New York Division of the Electric Railroaders Association, the railfan club I have been apart of for almost 12 years, where in the rented auditorium, we would watch slides of transit vehicles around the world and sell each other old maps and other artifacts. The meeting would begin at 7:15 or 7:30, but hours before that, one could go to the cafeteria and hear the latest rumors about subway service changes, or shop for transit memorabilia laid out on the stage. For the last 9 of those years, I worked walking distance away. So on those Fridays, I would leave the NY County Court House at Foley Square at 5, and then work my way over to the West Side. I would usually head down Centre St. to Park Row, cross over and stop at J&R Music World, which is basically a record store that has expanded into several outlets, including Computer and Electronics. (It had also recently made a beautiful expansion into a new building on the corner of Ann St.) I would check both of those for the latest CD- or DVD-Recordable devices, which this store seems to have the jump on. (I bought my CD-RW drive and most of my blank discs there). I would also check the magazine section of the computer store for articles on CD/DVD technology, especially the latest E-Media Professional magazine, (www.onlineinc.com) which I had discovered there (as CD-Rom Professional), when it had a lengthy article on rewritable CD (Called "CD-E" in its formative stages). It always has news on the latest disc technology. Anyway, if J&R didn't have the latest issue, I would head across Vesey St., alongside the graveyard of St. Paul's chapel, and then cross Church St., dodging many commuter buses, to the Borders Bookstore at 5 World Trade Center. It was a modern store with a cafe upstairs; I had found two books there I used for my Traditional Correctness page, rightwing.html (Regele's Death of the Church, and Rowan's The Coming Race War). There was another one, Rush Limbaugh and Common Sense, (picks apart many of his logical fallacies) which I wanted to use for that page, but I couldn't find it again, not even in the store's computer. (It was probably Logic and Mr. Limbaugh: A Dittohead's Guide to Fallacious Reasoning by Ray Jr. Perkins that I was thinking of). My wife and I had bought other stuff there. She liked the place even though she didn't get down there that much. Continuing my monthly circuit, I would sometimes go to the mall downstairs to check out the Warner Brothers Store to see if there were any new books on animation out, and watch a couple of cartoons played on a 9 part screen that showed several different shots at once. But I would usually cut over to the Krispy Kreme donut shop, the new NY sensation from the South, a few doors over, at the corner of the building and the WTC plaza. I found them much taster than the long established Dunkin Donuts; especially the plain glazed ones you get warm right off of the belt. (Next to the window looking over to the Plaza) After getting a couple, and checking the digital clock across the street on the East River Savings Bank building (Century 21 Dept. Store), I would usually take a shortcut through 5 WTC (there was also a small Krispy Kreme stand in the lobby for a while, I would stop at if I didn't feel like waiting in the lines at the other). I would lake a long hall leading to a back door to the plant-lined space between 5 and 6 WTC, and head over the shiny chrome and glass bridge over Vesey St. to 7 World Trade Center, a shiny red marble building with a gleaming interior. I would take an escalator to down to the street, (wishing there was a back exit on Barclay St.) I would have to go around the building, either on West Broadway, where there was some sort of concentric circular sculpture etched into the marble walls, or the short section of Washington St., (next to the huge Phone Company building) which had been made into a walkway, also with sculptures. I would come out near 125 Barclay, which was my union building (DC-37), where we had meetings, elections, and dinners, and I had taken a computer course a few years ago. There was a narrow alleyway between this building and the huge bank headquarters at 101 Barclay (I had applied for a job there once, and visited a friend who worked there, and it has a huge central shaft, visible from Barclay and Murray, in which the elevator plaza was located, and bridges on each floor led to the perimeter of the building, where the offices were located. You needed to swipe an ID through turnstiles to enter.). This alleyway would bring me right to 101 Murray (now part of St. Johns University). Years before, I would cut through 1 World Trade Center to the bridge to the new World Financial Center across West St. I would pass through the Winter Garden, with its square arrangement of palm trees, which would remind me of being in the Air Force in California a few years before. I would check out a CD store, which had since closed. This complex too, part of Battery Park City, was a beautiful, airy wonder. Also recently added was the huge multi-storied movie theater.
So then I would arrive at the meeting. Afterwards, usually around 9 or 10, on mild Spring or Fall nights, it would be pretty cool as I walked up Murray St. back to the subway. I would pass Greenwich St. and West Broadway, both of which end a couple of blocks south at the WTC complex, with the huge twin towers looming above. Those short streets would be quiet and peaceful, and at the same time futuristic looking; a cool urban scene. In fact the whole area was becoming a futuristic marvel, lacking only monorails. The West St. revitalization was finishing up, with new green medians of little bushes in the roadway. A far cry from the dark space under the abandoned elevated highway alongside vacant space along the waterfront, I remembered from my youth, as talks of "Westway" went nowhere. I had even planned to take a tour of the whole strip from midtown to the Battery, when finished.
Even after I left the courts in February, 2001, for the New York City Transit Authority (my dream, as it involves my interest), I would make the same circuit, either stopping at the old office to say hi to people, or picking it up at J&R. The whole area had become a familiar part of my life. On the afternoon of 12-31-81, in celebration of the coming new year, my family took its first trip to the 110th floor observation deck of one of the towers. (And I remember going there at least one time after that). Within four years, my mother would have a job at the NY State, Division of Housing and Community Redevelopment, on the 59th floor of 2 World Trade Center. It was a temporary deal, as it was hard to lease space in the buildings, so various state agencies would use the space. In summer of '85, when I was home after my first year of college, my mother helped me get a summer job in another part of the office. It was my first paid job, as a payroll file clerk. The huge main elevators gave you the sensation of being on another planet. You would be heavier on the way up, and coming down, you would almost float in the beginning. You had to take these elevators to the 44th floor, where you would transfer to local elevators or other express elevators to go further up. Everything was carpet lined, and cool. Car #50 was the only one that stopped at every floor (and went right through my office), but it was for freight. I would always hope to catch it and see if they would let me get the direct ride up or down. The following year, during the Statue of Liberty Centennial, we all got front row seats at the tremendous fireworks display over the harbor, from our floor. It was the best view one could have. Later that year, the office moved. The MTA had space in the building as well, and around 1997, I attended a hearing of the East River Crossings and Manhattan East Side Alternatives study, which was proposing plans for both the 2nd Avenue subway, and improvements or alternatives for the troubled Manhattan Bridge subway tracks, which regularly close and reopen, constantly being fixed, but may need to be replaced. It was from this meeting I got the material I used for my page on these plans: East River Crossings Study plans. By this time, security was pretty tight, after the 1993 terrorist attempt (I was at work in the courts during that).
July, 4th 1999, my friends and I were not able to get to the crowded South St. Seaport to watch the fireworks, so we headed across to the office of one of them, in the World Financial Center. We stopped at Borders, and then cut across the WTC plaza. It was a nice peaceful evening in that area away from the crowds. You could see the reflections of the fireworks off the sides of the towers. Then the show ended, so we never did get to the friend's office, but did catch a smaller fireworks show over the Hudson, from the ferry docks behind the WFC. Once again, I marveled at the shiny beauty of the whole area.
Sometime after that, a former pastor came to town to visit, staying at the Marriott hotel in the complex. A bunch of us former Church members came to have fellowship in his room. It too was strikingly beautiful inside.
Finally, on August, 27, 2001, after finishing up an early AM A train job out of Far Rockaway, I
headed over to Newark, which had just begun running its new Light Rail Vehicles on its
"subway" (actually a street car line that runs underground for a stretch) that day, replacing the
50-60 year old Presidential Conference Committee cars that were retired the prior week. So I
went down to the World Trade Center concourse mall, and accessed the PATH train to New
Jersey. (Right there, I began comparing their signal system and train controllers with ours)
I would never have imagined that this would be the last time I would ever see all of this in one
piece. Just 15 days later, or approximately 348 hours later, it would all be gone. I would be
waking up on my RDO (day off) the day after working a long F job which includes the subway's best view of the WTC and lower Manhattan skyline from the high Fourth Avenue station (!!!), not realizing this would be the last time I ever saw that skyline as it was! That next morning, I would be awaken by a phone call from a close friend, who usually calls my wife in the morning as they leave for work. But this time, she told me there was some sort of
bomb at WTC. I wasn't too surprised, as I figured the terrorists would try again. Figuring on
probably another small bomb from below, I turned on the TV to find the tops of both towers
ablaze. "Oh, boy, they really got us this time!" I thought to my self. The live telecast carried an
eerie silence. All of this was clearly visible, from a distance, from my roof. The fires blazed on,
while little anyone could do, so in the meantime, all the channels began repeating over and over
what had happened: full sized planes were commandeered into the towers! At first they only
showed us the second, but then an amateur video of the first showed up! Meanwhile, another
plane took out a fiery chunk of our nation's military headquarters-- the Pentagon. It would be a
short time that this would be declared by the president as "an act of war"! I knew things would
be different in the city now. But the worst was still yet to come. Figuring they would eventually
find a way to start tackling the fires, perhaps bring in water spraying helicopters or something, I
watched on. At one point, the smoke got heavier, and then started rapidly descending to lower
floors. The first tower was crumbling to the ground, leaving a "tower" of dust and smoke in its
place! It was unbelievable. There was only one tower left! Within an hour, you saw the huge
antenna start to plunge straight down into the smoke, and that tower was gone too. From videos
from the ground, it looked like a huge volcano eruption right in the middle of the city, and on all
these streets I frequently graced. They had finally gotten us, after years of trying.
My friend who worked in World Financial Center was on his way to work, coming up out of the subway. He saw the fire in the first tower, but didn't realize what was going on, and tried to go around it. Then he saw the second plane hit, and the realized something was up. He says he had to dodge a large falling piece of metal. He arrived home later in the afternoon, and we both picked up a friend's child from school (his mother, the person who first called me, was stranded in midtown Manhattan, as the subways ground to a halt. I even listened to this on the radio I was issued for the job). A person who lives right across the hall in my 6 family building worked in one of the towers, and usually went to work real early (I would often see her on my way to early assignments). We didn't hear from her for awhile, but then she turned up OK. I have an aunt who works in the Pentagon. I couldn't reach my family as the phones were down, but later on I heard she didn't go to work that day. All three of these people are fellow Christians, and we of course praised God for His hand of protection. Later, finally, 7 WTC collapsed. All of these collapses damaged the buildings around them. There were fears of other collapses. The other buildings I was familiar with are still up, but were damaged, or at least inaccessible. Our ERA meetings had moved to Cooper Square as the College Of Insurance building (now apart of St. Johns) was used for the emergency workers.
A very eerie irony was that the night before, on the railfan message board Subtalk, someone
started a thread "NYC 100 Years from Now", in which they mentioned "The World Trade Center...will still be around (along with other landmarks). Who would ever know that it wouldn't be there ONE DAY from then. It had only about 12 more hours left after that message!
The next morning, or the one after, I awoke to a loud clap of thunder and lightning, and immediately jumped thinking we were under attack.
My next day of work, Thursday, the 13th I worked on the 6th Avenue shuttle. It ran from Queensbridge to Broadway Lafayette, stopping at West 4th Street. This was about as close as one could get at this time. Houston St. was like the national border, roped off and guarded by both police and military. But I gut my first whiff of the smell that would blanket the entire area-- sort of like a burnt rubber pot handle, but a bit more metallic, and mixed with plastic or roof tar.
Saturday, after finishing up another A Far Rock job (the skyline really looks like another city from across the Jamaica Bay), and passing under the area all day, I went down, and you could only get as close as William St. and the Fulton/Nassau subway exit. The first thing you saw was the blasted out and rusted upper floors 5 WTC (the police moved you along. And then there was another scare of 1 Liberty (a huge black building about half the size of one of the towers), collapsing, and everyone ran), and I had to go all the way around PACE and Foley Sq. to go west, as far as Hudson St. north of Chambers, and then all the way up to Hubert St. (near the Holland Tunnel) to get to West St. Then, I was able to get down as far as the Chambers St. overpass, which is frequently shown on TV. Then I returned during the week when Broadway was opened and saw the shell of the bottom 12 or so floors of 2 WTC from Liberty St. and then, Maiden Lane, which gave you the view of 4 WTC ripped in half, with the left (south) half (which was a bit wider, and had an additional corner at that point) bent back and buckled over like a table with one leg missing, and two large pieces of the tower leaning against it. When I first saw the B/W picture of this in the Daily News the day after the incident, I became anxious to see the ruins before they were cleared also. (There was a color picture of this in TIME)
On the morning of Monday, the 24th, at 6 AM, I had to REPORT to the E train World Trade Center station, one block from "Ground Zero"! It was closed to the public, being adjacent to the site, and connecting to the mall, but as that was where the sign-in sheets for the switchmen are. So I got as close as Park Pl. and Church St. when it was still dark, and only had to show my pass, and then find which entrance was open. We were supposed to relay the trains into the station, and then back out to Canal St., but then the dispatcher decided they needed people to empty out the train instead (The "road" TO's would run to WTC themselves and wait for the next train). I did get to see the end of the WTC station. The entrance to the mall was boarded up, but there was a gap, and I saw the glass doors, with total darkness behind them.
When I left, I was able to walk down Vesey from Church (the corner where the burned out 5 WTC is) along the church yard. I didn't want to try to get even closer (with my orange vest that fit in with other workers), as it would be pretty dangerous. So I just went back down Broadway. I thought of a fellow baptistboard.com poster (who seemed to be on my side in debates on music and America's judgment). He was a fireman from New Jersey, who was at the site helping with the rescue and recovery. Also, a person in my train operator's class which ended July, had been called by the Navy reserves for a couple of weeks and worked on the site. My next job, that Thurs. was as a road E train operator, and I had to keep getting off at the station before heading back. The subways had been drastically rerouted, as several tunnels were closed; one for almost a year due to a total collapse. Others slowly were reopened, but with nearby stations closed.
Over a month later, Rector St. and Battery City were reopened to the public, providing views from the West and South.
The jagged shell of 2 WTC kind of resembled one of those avant-garde sculptures from the 70's. I wished they could have left it as a monument to the tragedy. (at least until they build again there, or whatever) But it had to be removed as it was too unstable, and a threat to the workers, as are the other WTC buildings, (4, 5, 6) which they were bringing down.
So it was like a giant hole torn in the soul of the city. It was so strange seeing such a big space, and in
various places you would get glimmers of sunlight where and/or when you never had before. By December 31st, a ramp had been built alongside the church on Fulton St. with platforms above Church St. I went for the 20th anniversary of the first time I ever went to the towers, but the lines were too long, and I didn't have much time. Weeks later, they were giving out tickets at the south Street Seaport, and I then got to see from the ramp. Eventually, Church St. was opened up, and a fence built around the perimeter with the history of the site. The area is slowly coming back, with the new PATH station being rebuilt near the second anniversary of the attack, 7 WTC being completed less than five years later, and the design of the proposed new tower being approved.
The role and teachings of Islam
To be dealt with now is the Islamic side of the whole thing. I don't want this to appear that I am just "attacking" Islam or Muslims "out of anger" at the events. As a Christian writer, I had for some time been planning to write a page on our differences with Islam, since both the Koran/Qur'an and various Muslim leaders throughout history have made certain assessments about Christianity that need to be addressed. Also, some Christians' responses I also see as problematic. Since some of these do come up in the terrorists' rhetoric, this seemed a good time, or at least I felt the inspiration to write this now. It will probably become a separate page in the future. As Muslims have been quite vocal in their disagreement with Christianity; placing Jesus in a lower position that we do, and questioning our scriptures, please bear with our disagreement with Muhammad's teachings.
First to address is the debate over whether Islam is a religion of "war" or "peace". The militants and terrorists all cite Qur'anic scriptures telling Muslims to wage "holy war" (jihad) against "the infidels", which include Jews and Christians, who are referred to as "the people of the Book", and sometimes granted protection, but are nevertheless condemned for not following God properly. Many are also angry at us for our siding with Israel, and rape of the land (see below), something the West has a whole reputation for.
The response, both by the peaceful Muslims in this country (rebuffing retaliation), as well as the media, is that the Qur'an really teaches peace. The words "Islam" and "Muslim" are said to mean "peace". From what I remember reading, the scriptures on jihad are said to really be discussing Muhammad's own dealings with people in his day. I've seen the word interpreted as "strive", as in our own Jude 3: "Contend... (or strive) earnestly for the faith...". It is not telling Christians to go and wage physical war for the faith, but rather to strive in preaching, teaching, exhorting, etc (2 Timothy 4:2, 3). Yet Christians have often justified war on the scriptures, such as in the Crusades against the Muslims, or during the Cold War. Many point out "God told Israel to kill off the Canaanite tribes and take the land". Pacifists cite Jesus command, after Peter struck off the ear of one of His arresters, to "put your sword in its place. For all that take the sword perish by the sword" (Matthew 26:52), and "My Kingdom is not of this world. If it my Kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I would not be delivered..."(John 18:36), but then their opponents point to Luke 22:36 "Let him who has no sword sell his garment and buy one" (But this was before His arrest). So the conflict between Muslims over the interpretation of the Qur'an bears a great resemblance to the various battles between Christians over the interpretation of the Bible. This further convinces the world that religion is just subjective, because no one has the right "interpretation" in the first place.
This connects with the proclamation, agreed with by the media, the president and other political leaders, that "true Islam" is "about peace". It is also claimed that "true Christianity" is "about peace", as well as all other "true religion". This becomes the definition of "religion", and what this is leading to in the secular context, is "all religions are essentially the same", therefore "none have any exclusive claims to truth". All religions are "about peace", and also "love", so there is no room for "judgment", "morality", and all of these other "subjective" issues. A Christian can be having an argument with a non-Christian, and if he raises his voice a bit, the other person may say "Oh, you're supposed to be a Christian! Where's the 'love' at? That's what your religion is supposed to be about. You're just another 'phony'", or similarly point to some personal flaw that person has. So the definition of a Christian as one who places his trust in Jesus Christ as forgiving his sins is thrown out the window, and redefined (and thus manipulated) by an opponent of Christianity to win an argument. So this whole secular definition of "religion" as "peace and love", is often used to discredit those who take their scriptures literally when they discuss morality, judgment, and exclusive claims to truth; in other words, what gives those religions their distinction! Conservative Christians are well aware of this reductionistic, eclectic/ecumenical tendency, but Muslims who agree with these definitions of Islam should also be aware of this, and realize that their religion, when taken literally, may not be as peaceful with the world, as they think. People bent on retaliating against all Muslims won't buy it anyway. (It really seems the Qu'ran goes both ways, according to the time. At one point, Muhammad was being peaceful, but after he had gotten more power, and Jews, Christians and pagans continually refused to accept him, then he got hostile).
My initial feelings after the attack was
What annoys me the most is the people we're sure who did it. How they like to take innocent people out with them (not the government leaders who did he things that angered them.) Almost all of those people going early into eternity, and the people who did this smugly thinking they are going to Heaven, with the highest rewards! Imagine, people who think pleasing God means killing people, to spread your belief system, or get revenge. It is basically what I call a "God and me" complex. They see themselves as on God's side against the world of "infidels". Picture them leaning up against God's throne, shouting out towards the listeners "OK, all you infidels in the world get into line with us". God's whole plan just so happens to coincide with their cause (Getting the West out of their land, and eliminating Israel), and doing His will to them is blowing themselves up to take these "infidels" out with them. Where we teach that following God's will means us subjecting ourselves to Him, to them, it means subjecting others to themselves, as "God's vicars". They claim to be the true religion the Bible Yet their 'gospel' is pure self-preservation! They call us "the Great Satan", yet they compete with us for power, rather than waiting on God to bring down the evil system of the world, like their Qur'an says, as well as the Bible. (I guess they feel they are God's soldiers, but like with any other legalist feeding upon works-righteousness, they have no concept that they have sins that offend God and bring them under His judgement as well.) Their leaders are just as rich as ours. Until Bill Gates, they even had the richest man in the world. But they too ignore the poverty at their feet, but instead will use the angry poor masses to help fight their battles against the West. Then they have called us "materialistic" or "earthly" because we are not willing to die like they are. But do you know what motivates them to die like this-- what one of their heavenly "rewards" is? 70 MAIDENS IN HEAVEN!(Qur'an 55:56ff) Can you get any more "earthly" or "fleshy" than that? Imagine our Bible promising us something like that. Everybody in this society would want to be a Christian and die for Christ. (And has it ever occurred to them what rewards do women get?) I hate such hypocrisy, (just like when we called the USSR "materialist"). Yes, we certainly are materialistic and decadent, but their criticism of this is a joke. They too, like many Christians fail to recognize that this is all because of man's sinful nature. They too are full of earthly pleasures, such as the male dominance (women walk behind them, etc), as well as multiple wives in some societies; the palaces of the rich. And just like Christian leaders were long accused of promising their followers "pie in the sky when you die", while the leaders prospered here on earth as well, this is exactly what leaders of suicidal Islamic terrorists are doing. It is all summed up as "the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life" (1 John 2:16) They are just like us, so if we're "infidels", then they condemn themselves as well. This just shows that no matter how righteous man thinks he is, and how much on God's side he thinks he is, he is still a self-serving sinner who will do anything to get his way, whenever the right buttons are pushed. This is what proves to me the Christian Gospel message, because it is the only concept that addresses man's utter failure to have peace and get along, and be moral, (even though many Christian leaders may have made it seem as if it was all about moral perfection. More on this later!). James asks us "Where do wars and fightings come from among you?" Because we're the chosen, and those other people over there are stealing our rights! NO! "Do they not come from your lusts [desires for pleasure --Gk. "hedone"], that war in your members [nature]? You desire and do not have. You murder and desire to have and cannot obtain. You fight and war, yet you have not because you ask not [Phil.4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication make your requests known to God]. You ask and receive not because you ask [with wrong motives] that you may spend it upon your lusts" (4:1, 2) Any assessment of the world situation must begin with the doctrine of man's sin, or it will always lead back to the "we're right, you're wrong", or "we're the good guys, they're the bad guys" mindset, and possibly justify taking it upon ourselves to attempt to wipe out the "evil" through war and terrorism. God never supports this, as we see in Bible prophecy, where all of the warring sides are thwarted by God, who will "destroy those who destroy the earth" (Revelation 11:18).
I already mentioned the double standard of their claims that we are "materialistic", as well as fighting for power in a world that is clearly "passing away". Jews and Christians have certainly been guilty, but the Arabs are doing the same exact thing-- "we're the chosen, and God gave it to us, and we have to fight for it by any means". Even though their Koran also says, like the Bible, that God will ultimately quash evil and wrong. This due to God's actions, not man's, who is fallen, and incapable of bringing in God's kingdom, even if they argue that they are on His side, "following" Him, and "doing His work", etc. They too have this sense of "superiority" to the "infidel", and not getting their rights as the superior culture, as the TIME article cited below shows. But Jesus says "what profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul?" (Matthew 16:26)
It's a shame people are fighting over a little piece of land (on a world that will pass away as the
scriptures from all 3 religions teach), when God is the one who should be getting all that desire,
but instead, He is only used as people's claim to rights.
Over all, what Muslims need to think, especially those who believe in jihad, is what really is God's will for mankind? Spreading Islam? In the sense of "spreading peace", or even "spreading submission to God", these are acceptable missions, provided the latter is not done forcefully. God wants people to love Him, not obey out of terror. It's fallen man, under the Devil, who wants control by fear. Or is his will for his people to bring down the tallest towers of the mightiest nations? The people behind this must be highly proud of doing what nobody else has ever done. But the scriptures repeatedly proclaim that God hates pride. In our hearts, is God the greatest, or is it us and our own egos? Once again, is their "war" really for God's truth, or to compete with the West for the very materialism they condemn the West for? ("All this and Heaven too")
So before you can even ask what is God's will for mankind, we need to ask what is man's problem in the first place? And then how can it be solved?
Many see man's sin, and the logical solution is that we need to be controlled with more rules. Muhammad introduced a new religion of works similar to the Jews. This seemed to be what God wanted, from what you would hear about all the faithful in the Bible. But Romans 4 shows that Abraham ultimately wasn't saved by a prescribed set of rules (which weren't even in effect at his time--Galatians 3:16,17), but by faith (which would yield obedience--Romans 6:1,2), but our work of obeying commands would not be what saved us, because we still have natures that do not want to obey Him perfectly, and we all yield to them). In fact, the entire record of Israel with the Law proved that man was fallen (as was established in the story of Adam), and needed a savior, not a new set of laws. In John 7:19, He tells the people "Did not Moses give you the Law, and none of you keeps the Law"? Not because the Jews are particularly "stubborn" or sinful, as Muslims and others have assumed. This is the fallen nature of all of us. In the Sermon on the Mount, we see that Jesus actually MAGNIFIED the Law, as Isaiah 42:21 prophesied. Killing was not just plunging a sword through a man, but also hating a man without cause. Adultery was not just sleeping with another woman, but even lusting after her, as is divorcing your present wife for unjust cause, and marrying another. Oaths, revenge and hating one's enemies also are not God's will, as well as praying and fasting to be seen of men. It becomes quite clear just from looking at this, that nobody has kept the Law as well as they have thought; at least not up to God's true standard, which is much higher than we thought. Did the Christians make all this up and add these words to the Gospel account? Or are they God's way of showing us His absolute holiness, which we often talk about, but fail to really grasp? Since Muslims, as well as Jews and Christians do not have the old blood sacrifice system, does that mean that we must be condemned? (since if we keep the whole law, but offend in one point, we are guilty of all-- James 2:10) No, the end of Jesus' fulfillment of the Law is that He laid down His perfect life as the perfect sacrifice. So Paul shows that even though Christian do not keep all of the "law of works" (by which people boast), "Do we then make void the Law though faith? God forbid! Yeah, we establish the Law" (Romans 3:31). Take away this, as both Jews and Muslims have done, then what really do you have? Try to keep laws as good as you can, and then maybe you'll make it into Heaven, but you still can't be so sure. Especially since we see that we are not keeping it the way God wants, plus there is no longer any other sacrifice. We just have to hope God overlooks our sins then, and accepts us without a sacrifice. This is a big eternal risk people are taking with their lives. This shows us the basis of the Christian Gospel. As John 13:34 shows, Jesus gave us a new Commandment: love. So He is a "lawgiver" and the true antetype of Moses.
Muslims are said to be not even sure of their salvation, even with all the works. It seems surety of salvation is held only by the suicide terrorists, who take others out with them. But the fact that one could do all those works and still not be sure he will go to Heaven shows that this must not be the way. We know deep down inside our own sinfulness, and that God really detests what's in our hearts, even though no one else can see it. So people actually think it "presumptuous" for one to think for sure he will be saved. But God loves us and has made a way to be made righteousness before Him. He ends His Gospel with the declaration that "these things are written that...believing you have [eternal] life through His name" (John 20:31)
They chide us on our lack of control over society, compared to their countries where there are harsh penalties for relatively small crimes (chopping off hands, etc.) This may appear to keep people in line, but it does not change the heart, evidenced by the fact that they can still produce people who commit heinous crimes. And as is evidenced by recent articles on the status of women, who are basically oppressed, the cracks are there, even in such places as Iran, where women are trying to gain rights. All oppressive rules do is repress people, but eventually, they will revolt. (Especially if leadership is corrupt and self-serving). In Romans chapter 7, Paul shows that this is the result of Law on human nature, and that is precisely what happened in the Western societies they look down on. So they are making the same exact mistake as the old Catholic Church and fundamentalist Christians, who also think they once had this society under control through rules, but have now lost it at the hands of the "godless".
So now once again, we ask, is the "spreading of Islam" God's will for man? Will everyone taking
Arabic names, observing the five pillars, etc solve man's problem and put an end to all sin? Or
would it just make one culture superior? One striking note is that in surahs like 9:5 and 9:29, we
see the monetary aspect of conquest --apparently more so than religious practice! But wouldn't
leaders still fight over who the ultimate ruler would be? This just shows us that man cannot
create a perfect world. Muslims read of Adam, and know he disobeyed, but it's like this means
nothing; it has no real effect on man and his relationship with God. Man can just pick himself
back up, and please God with his works, and also take over the world for God. But once again,
the entire record of Israel proves this false. Muslims are among the first to point out Israel's
failure, but don't realize that this is just a sample of all of man. If you don't believe Adam's sin
has cut man off from God, then just look at how first, man became plagued with guilt, hiding
from each other (shame) and God (Genesis 3:7). We think of man wanting God, but God sending
him to Hell against his wish, but this shows that man, by nature RUNS from God. We cannot
endure His holiness. What we want is the joys of paradise, not God so much; but it is impossible
to have one without the other. Then, God pronounced a judgement on man, (v.16-19) which
continues to this day, and drove him OUT of the Garden, and even guarded it from reentry (v.22,23). How do we figure man can recreate a righteous world for God in light of all of this? Or did
the Jews make this up too? Why would they, when their hope of works-righteousness also
ignores this account? (The Christians certainly didn't make it up, as they got this scripture from
the Jews). People think man is basically good, if he follows the right religion or politics, but
Psalms 14:1-3/Romans 3:10-18 and Jeremiah 17:9 disprove this. Once again, did the Christians
add these statements to the scriptures too? How can anyone establish the government of God or
be instruments of His justice against evil, when they themselves have sinned against Him (i.e.
have you kept ALL of His laws ALL of your life?). You too would wind up wiped out by His
justice. Plus, Satan and his evil spirits are pictured as the real spiritual rulers of the world. By
calling us "Satan", Islamists recognize this to some extent, but still, man arrogantly thinks that
not only is his culture unaffected by this, but that they are some match for the evil spirits, and
can defeat them for God. This just further plays us right into their deception. But of course, if we
identify people as Satan, it makes the feat seem more plausible. But whoever takes over the
world, will also take over the role of Satan's main instruments in fighting God, and will be the
primary objects of His wrath (Revelation 13-19).
So with the reality of sin, (plus the fact that God is so much greater than we are), any walk with God begins on one's face in humble submission and repentance. Islamists may go through the motions of this five times a day, but in their hearts, they are still leaning up against His throne like they're on "His side" against everyone else.
Another question they need to ask themselves is; we allow them to proselytize in our nation, but why are Christians arrested and often persecuted, with death penalties for preaching Jesus in their countries? Christians have to hear Jesus, the Bible and their faith dogged left and right, including by Muslims, yet we don't respond the way many Muslims do when Muhammad is attacked. Sure, they may believe Christianity is false, and they would want to guide against error coming in (especially, unfortunately, since Christianity has also brought with it a demand of submission to the West, and adoption of Western ways). But why are many so violent about it? What are they afraid of? What is the threat? Is this really a cultural issue more than a struggle to maintain divine truth? We should all think of this when we get defensive about other belief systems, especially in light of God's promise to put away all falsehood and fill the earth with His truth, in His timing.
Further theological treatment of Islam can be found here
Us Christians argue with them on the Sonship of Christ, the Trinity, and many spend a lot of time trying to discredit the name Allah. They claim this is a totally false deity that has nothing to do with the God of the Bible; just some "moon god" chosen out of a pantheon. (360 gods worshiped at the Kaaba and Muhammad picked one of them). But the word allah actually means ("the God"); al is the definite article, and ilah is "god", and is directly related to the Hebrew el, or eloah, from which we get elohim, and also the Aramaic elah. All the other 'gods' were actually attributes of the one true God (rahman-- "the merciful"; rahim, "the compassionate", etc. and some of these words are even the same as in biblical Hebrew!). The Arabs began worshiping them as separate gods. It was just like in Israel and all other human societies, where the true God would become "unknown" (Acts 17:23), lost amidst idols. (Someome could have accused Paul of picking "Theos" out of a Greek pantheon.) So attacking the name Allah is starting from the wrong angle. Now of course, the other charge is that Allah "has no Son", so theologically, Allah, as defined by the Muslims is not the same as the God of the Bible. But then YHWH-Elohim ("Ha Shem") as defined by the Jews has no Son either. In fact, Jesus is not even a prophet of his, and especially not his "messiah" or "word", but rather a false teacher at worst (even though some may refer to him as a "good rabbi"). But most of these Christians would never accuse the Jews of worshiping a false god. So likewise we should be fair, and challenge the Muslims on theology, not a name (and I have yet to see what they suggest Arabs who receive Christ should call the Creator).
But we really need to like as at no other time stand up in one accord and trumpet the true
Gospel, (and not just as a tool to pacify them.)
Is this an occasion for Christians to Gloat and Wag their fingers at society?
Does this prove we're "superior"?
Speaking of "fellow Christians" and "God's hand of protection", some, as I figured, would
callously turn this whole tragedy into a moral judgement upon this country, for abandoning
"Christian values" such as sexual morals, prayer and 10 Commandments in the classrooms, etc.
In fact, all across the entire Right, the events were seen as an opportunity to engage in an open
season on left-bashing for every policy the right was against, from morality to education to
military spending, to immigration and making all cultures equally as good as others; blaming
these things for supposedly weakening our power, our morale or our "divine protection" earned
by our past righteousness. But the Christians focus primarily on sexual morality and public
acknowlegement of God. My former pastor, a mild independent fundamental Baptist, soon
forwarded me David W Cloud's "End Times Apostasy" newsletter, (www.wayoflife.org, or
www.whidbey.net/dcloud) as he had been doing for months. He does it as sort of a joke,
knowing this rambling rhetoric against the modern church and its contemporary music (both
rock and "jazzy" stuff for its "African" influences), worship and Bible translations gets me all
fired up (he has since unsubscribed). Well, Mr. Cloud, the new self-appointed spokesman for
"Bible believing fundamentalism" would now offer his two cents on the nation's tragedy. I had
used to respond to him, and he responded back a couple of times, just saying that I was "wrong
in every point" (but without a single Bible or logical proof), and concluded that he didn't have
time, and would "leave [me] with [my] opinions" (i.e. my scriptural responses to his opinions
which he couldn't answer). This is how all of these vociferous critics would respond, if you
could get them to respond. So I stopped responding, but this I couldn't let go:
There was a time when tragedies like this did not happen in America. There was a time, and it wasn't that long ago, when God had His hand of protection upon this lovely land. It was a time when churches preached on Hell and demanded repentance, when even unsaved women dressed in a modest and feminine attire, when the Bible was taught in public schools and most women did not even dream of killing their own babies, when only a tiny number of children were born out of wedlock and divorce was scandalous and rare. That was a time when school children did not shoot each other and mass murderers did not roam the countryside and homosexuals did not march in the streets and presidents did not obstruct justice and policemen were not called pigs and pop music did not use gutter language.
This is precisely the problem in our assessment of the present versus that past-- that everything was perfect, just because of those handful of virtues. But this same society that was so outwardly modest and pious stole its very land from its original inhabitants, and enslaved another group. (The sensuous "barbaric" nature of these people and their music was used as a main excuse.) Husbands/fathers were often overdominant. Hell was used to scare people into submission, rather than to make people love God. The ignorance about sex caused a lot of problems. In fact, all of this is what caused people to revolt and go in the opposite extreme in the first place. So it's ridiculous to compare one age to another. All after the fall are equally sinful, even though the outward manifestations of sin change. But since the Bible was supposedly preached so much, and taught in public schools, they had even less excuse for their sins! They should have known better! Where do we get off thinking just giving Him lip service made society so good? What good is this to God? But this shows we have not understood the total righteousness that God demands. We make up our own list of what we think is most important to God, and then judge both ourselves and past society as good and deserving of God's protection, and the present as so sinful and not deserving of His protection. But what happened to all our righteousness --our best works, being filthy rags? Even if you say "well, we do it to please Him, not to earn His favor", still, we are putting to much stock in our works as making us good, and in fact, earning His favor. We have failed to realize that If we keep the whole Law and offend in one point, we are guilty of all! America ALWAYS deserved judgment, and always fit the descriptions you mentioned in the beginning:
quote: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- America is not a righteous nation and is not innocent before Almighty God. America is proud, and God has warned that pride goeth before a fall. Americans in general are a sinful, pleasure-mad, money-crazed people who make a profession of faith in Christ but the Christ they worship is not the holy Lord God revealed in Scripture. Americans love religion. They have a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof (2 Timothy 3). --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In fact, the religious part of this better fits the past, when even more people were outwardly "faithful". This was the "form" of godliness that lacked the power! This unfortunate tragedy, visible from my roof, is not opportunity to say "see, I told you so" and extol the virtues of the past (when fundamental Christianity had more power).
He, of course, did not respond. But this was not the end of it. The more well-known Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson soon made their comments on the 700 Club, blaming homosexuals, abortionists, adulterers, and organizations like the ACLU, which are seen as promoting all of these "sins" in society.
All of this continues to bring disrepute to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and has helped lead to the very rejection of it by society that these leaders are complaining about in the first place. All of this leads everyone to look at us as backward and ignorant, desiring control over everyone, while we are ignorant of our own shortcomings. Worse yet, it is totally contrary to our Bible, which people also see as backwards because of this. I was disappointed in Falwell, who I thought, if I heard correctly, was trying to change his ways a bit, such as becoming more civil in his dealings with homosexuals. (Ironically enough, people like Falwell are rejected as too moderate and modernistic (and therefore part of the problem) by people like Cloud! Revival Fires magazine said the problem is Christians bringing in the "wicked rock and rap styles" into the church. And so on). The Church today is truly a mess, yet here we are pronouncing judgment in society!
Meanwhile, I debated some fundamentalists on the baptistboard.com messages over these assumptions.
One of the things I wrote was : "Well, I guess with all the unrest in the world, I knew we couldn't expect to get by untouched forever. I know people think we were so great and "Christian", that's why God protected us for so long, but now we are losing His protection because of "judgement" of our "sins". But we were never innocent, as a nation. We were always proud and sinful, but we happened to be strong, so we averted this for some time. But this shows that we are still frail, vulnerable humans, subject to the fallen state of the world. We were never invincible. Not even people who are truly on "God's side" are."
And then my e-mail correspondence with an outspoken member of this board:
...No, sin has always been there, and it changes from era to era. But what I've heard from fundamentalism (as well as politically vocal evangelicals), is that because society seemingly was more sexually moral, and publicly "reverent" of God (prayer, Bible, etc.), it was basically good, and only when those two virtues were dropped in the 60's, and people rebelled, THEN was the country so wicked. Watch ROOTS, documentaries on Civil Rights, etc., and tell me how good those people were just because they prayed in school (did Klansmen, racist sheriffs, etc., really even MEAN it?) No one is going to be justified before God because "my sins weren't as bad as theirs". Likewise, neither is this country going to be justified because "our past sins weren't as great as our present sins" (and this based on unbiblical reckoning of which sins are most offensive to God). God says sin is sin, and it all leads to judgement.
[God prescribed punishments of varying severity in His Law for certain offenses. What does that teach us?]
OK, God may punish some sins worse than others. But does that mean that people who indulge in the sins that have less punishment can claim to be "good" compared to the others? I see no room for such a comparison in scripture. And this doesn't even deal with the question of whether the sins that characterize present society are the ones that God hates the most. Plus the fact, that the past had no media to broadcast everything like we do today, so a lot of stuff was more hidden, but it was just as visible to God.
[What, if anything, does Genesis 15:16 imply about degrees of morality? (To me it seems that the Amorites still had a valid claim to the land until a certain line was crossed, and, promise or no promise, Abraham couldn't have it until then.)]
Yes, a people can cross a certain line where His mercy ends, but my criticism is that people think this was triggered only by certain events in the last 40-50 years. This was a sinful and proud nation from the beginning, even though there may have always been good Christians around.
[However, you are a revisionist. You misrepresent your opposition and make sweeping generalizations that are neither credible nor plausible. I have never heard anyone say that America was sinless. Ever]
Nobody ever says that, but what does this whole claim that America "deserves" judgement only now, but in the past was so righteous lead to? The only way ANY human or human institution could be "righteous" in its own right, or not deserving of God's wrath, is by being sinless. And many conservative Christians do seem to define "sin" and "morality" almost purely by sexual matters (as abortion, adultery and homosexuality), so it does seem from them that the past was sinless, so I am only describing the logical conclusions of their rhetoric. I am aware that people can miss this, and see it as "misrepresentation" (especially since we are not usually aware of our own flaws). But that is the way I know how to put it at this point, especially since I am responding to critics who do the same things, so I expect that if they can dish it out, they can take it (i.e. understand what I mean). But I see most can't.
[I have heard many, many historians, Christian and non-Christian alike, speak of America's more righteous beginnings.]
But even historians can be colored by their own issues. People generally see their nation as an extension of themselves, and they like to think of themselves as "good", or reminisce about the "good old days". People, especially non-Christians, but even many Christians do not understand that God sees more than we see. We see sex outwardly covered up in the past, but blown all over the place now and think "oh, society was so good then, but so evil now". But God saw what was in people's hearts, and we see sin purely as acts, when it's really a condition. We are judging acts, comparing those of one age to another. But these are only symptoms of a problem man has had in equal measure since Adam. So "this age or this culture was better than that one" can only be the same self-justifying works-righteousness as the nonbelievers thinking their good will outweigh their bad and get them into heaven. James tells us that "he who said 'do not commit adultery' also said 'do not kill'. Now if you commit no adultery, yet if you kill, you have become a transgressor of the Law". (The world thinks the opposite-- that if you don't kill, you are "good", and adultery isn't killing anyone, so as long as it's consensual, it's OK. But James is here addressing the religious, and the religious have tended to see sex sins as the worst).
[I have heard non-Christian Ph.d's in history speak of the revisionist tendencies in the instruction of history in the public schools.]
I already explained why much of "history" had to be "revised" (seen in a different light). In order to condemn "revision", you have to be sure the people who were giving you your history in the first place had it right themselves. Many people in this last generation woke up to see how the old society lied to them about many things. My parents (unsaved, and full of bad images of "Christianity", which drives my mission), are a perfect example, as well as the rest of the history conscious black movements, for example, who see how they were demonized and Western culture always exalted, unjustly (e.g., all the racist rhetoric and portrayal of Africans as nothing but inferior savages, and Westerns as superior. The colonists were all such good people, and the Africans and Indians deserved to be enslaved or killed by them). Doesn't all of this need to be "revised" (that is, of its gross error)? This is why I get so angry at charges that the past was so good, and anyone who claims otherwise is dismissed as a "revisionist". This glosses over so much sin, and the outcome always seems to glorify a certain culture, when the Bible concludes ALL under sin.
Then, on a different thread, another writer comments:
[Yes, there was sin [in the past], but today it is a much more ingrained and outspoken sinful nature. If you watch ANY channel on television, you are allowing the trash of the world to come into your home (including the children's channels). ]
Well, this is because of the technology that is available now-- sin can be spread much faster. But it is hard to really know if there as "less" sin then, as it is not recorded permanently on audio or video tape. Beside, the concept of "less sin" is totally foreign to the New Testament Gospel (Yes in the OT, God did punish people when they crossed a certain line, But that was at HIS discretion then, not ours now to decide when our society has crossed the line.) One sin is enough to condemn a person (and it doesn't specify which sin--as if sexual sin --abortion, homosexuality, adultery, which keeps getting mentioned, is all God cares about), and God endures sin for awhile, but will put it away finally when He returns. It has nothing to do with one generation/era or nation sinning "more" than another, but that all sin period, and God will put an end to it eventually. We talk about all the filth on TV now, but in the past, the word "pregnant" was not even allowed! This shows that even the "morality" was not completely biblical, but people's own fears and unbiblical shame were involved. Children saw first hand all the hypocrisy covered over with outward righteousness, and by the middle of this century, it got to the point where it was too much already, and they rebelled, but also rejected truth along with ignorance. I'm not "making this up" either, as my own parents and countless others were from the 60's revolution, and they told me first hand how the old morality of the 50's and before really was. This is the basis of my so-called "revision" of the glossed over history I keep seeing. Pregnant was banned from TV, and there's nothing wrong with that, so we can't go by traditional "morality"; so then maybe other things they banned are OK as well; maybe sexual references and even some curses should be allowed. This attitude may not be right, but this is how the unregenerate, unguided mind thinks. Telling America to "repent" is essentially expecting non-believers (the majority of citizens) to act Christian, and without even getting them saved. This is why much of our moral rhetoric is flawed.
[If I am doing my job, I should not be ashamed of the answer and I for one Am ashamed of MY job. Therefore, I for one, may have at least partial responsibility in those attacks. I for one am praying for repentence. ]
THIS is the attitude we should have. Not "This happened because of those other people's sins [which are worse than mine]".
At least this last writer was more balanced, and had it more in perspective. And the debates continued.
Readers, especially non-Christians, the attitudes of those mentioned before are not representative of the true essence of Biblical Christianity. Yes, God will judge sin, but as I have been trying to say, the whole point of the Gospel is not that believers are now "good" people, and our job is to build a "Christian nation" and thunder the "immoral" "heathen" in line, or stand back and call down God's judgement of everyone else's sins. That is contrary to the whole message of Jesus, who describes us as all as prodigals, needing to return to the Father. Believers are simply those who have responded to God's call, and are declared righteous because of Jesus, not because of our staying sexually pure, or heterosexual, or praying, or following the 10 Commandments, or any other "works" of righteousness. Or, as you all know, we do not even follow them perfectly, and therefore have no pure righteousness in ourselves. See Ephesians 2:8, 9, Romans 3:9-31, 4:1-8, 5:6-12, 7:14-25, 11:5-6, 2 Timothy 1:9, 1 John 1:8--2:2. 1 Corinthians 5:12,13. (This letter was written to a church that was far from morally perfect, as in v.1). As I say in rightwing.html,
Jesus' parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt. 18:21-35) clearly warns us about accepting forgiveness from God for all our sins, and what they cost Him, and then forgetting that and turning around and being so hard on someone else. At no point is it suggested that if he really gets his act together he can be "perfect" to the point of having a right to treat someone like that. Even though his debt is forgiven, the crucial point is that it was at a greater cost than anything anyone could do to that person. Has the secular government, media, educational system, ungodly entertainers, truly false religious leaders, [or] the sexually immoral [done anything to us that could] ...possibly equal our sins causing the holy sinless Son of God to go to the Cross and die in our place? Then it looks to me like people are on a bit of a high horse they really need to come down from before they meet Christ!
All of the problems in conservative Christianity are discussed at rightwing.html.
Next in addition to the moral judgment, Christians claim we are losing "protection" because of Israel. Ironically, the reasons the Arabs hate us is because we went over there way back in the 40's, raped the land and people to get the oil, then put the Israelites in to keep an eye on the Arabs, as is claimed by some. We still occupy many of their lands, including Saudi Arabia itself, with its holy sites. The TIME article "Roots Of Rage" (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101011001-175979,00.html) covers this perspective. One good Christian article; Christian Research Institute's "Witnessing to Muslims" by Don McCurry (http://www.equip.org/free/DI225(1-2-3).htm) points out "We need to remember, when seeking to witness to Muslims, that we are working in an atmosphere poisoned by the memories of these and more recent (e.g., the U.S.'s two invasions of Lebanon) Muslim casualties. If we exhibit any form of cultural superiority, religious triumphalism, or selective amnesia concerning the sins of the West, perceived as Christian, we only make matters worse." This has been a major problem in the message of Christians, as seen above in their assessment on their own societies in the modern era.
Of course, we claimed to be fulfilling biblical prophecy by moving out the Arabs to make way for the Jews, but it struck me when I first got saved and was reading the whole Bible through, and looked up prophecies about Israel, that God did say His people would come back to the land. But He said HE would do it, not man and his sword (Hosea 1:7). Even the most religious of the Jews-- the Hasidics, are against Zionism, for this very reason! Yet Christians always uncritically sided with Israel, even though the way they were bombing people out of Palestine didn't seem right, even if it was originally their land, and God promised it back to them, ultimately. Even Philip Yancey, in his Back Page editorial in a recent Christianity Todaysays "In Middle East Conflicts, they always side with Israel, ignoring injustices against the Palestinians--hasn't God promised to bless His chosen people in the latter days?" Gen.12:3 was always appealed to, as if we could siphon "blessings" off from God just by giving Israel political favors, such as land. Yet, a few decades earlier, any Jews in the South (under the "fundamental Christianity" of the same people) would have had to drink at the black fountains, and ride the back of the bus just like all the other "mongrels". And some of them continued to call them "stiff-necked", which had been used all of Church history to justify persecuting them.
Still, some Christians, like the popular Chick Publications, claim the opposite: we are not supporting Israel enough! The Chick tract "Love the Jews" (formerly "Jeopardy") suggests that all the famine in Africa is the result of the leaders of those nations "breaking off diplomatic ties with Israel", and therefore coming under the divine "curse"! This is amazing, as it doesn't even deal with the question of whether a nation is required by God to have "diplomatic ties" with Israel as a form of "blessing" them rather than cursing them, and thus avoiding the "curse". Israel is a nation with its share of wrongs, and it has to live in this world with everyone else just like any other nation. I don't see Christians who emphasize blessing the Jews doing anything for them other than telling the US and Europe to support their political battles (which God said He would resolve upon His return). Sometimes it seems they are using the Jews as sort of a political football, giving the ultimate "scriptural" validation of the age-old notions of "chosen" races and "cursed" races; "chosenness" defined as entitlements to special rights and privileges over others, (it's really a burden of carrying God's message to the world, and being servants), with the Christian West grafted into the chosen family because of their acceptance of Christ. In fact, this even makes them surpass "stubborn stiff-necked Christ-rejecting Israel", which is a stereotype some of these same Christians who are supposedly so "pro-Israel" will turn right around and spew out. This was the whole basis of the covered up anti-semitism in Church history. (paying back the "murderers of Christ", forgetting that all of us are "Stubborn" and "stiff-necked" and necessitated Christ's death).
The whole message of this tract is that America has "turned her back" on Israel, by siding with its enemies, for the sake of oil, and is now going to "lose its blessings" (I wonder if Mr. Chick is looking at this tragedy and saying "see, it's happening!"). But what's funny, is that we are still being attacked for our siding with Israel. The reason, I heard, we do not support Israel all the way anymore, is because once we got them back into the land, they wanted more, and we weren't willing to trample on others' rights but so much.
So here we are today, straddling the fence, sort of; not in full support of Israel all the time, but
nevertheless still hated and attacked by her enemies.
In the Right in general, this has become an occasion to rekindle old arguments with the left. We are told that contrary to what the left says, this proves we are the "better" culture because we don't fly planes into buildings like they do, and we even drop food down to their civilians while we bomb the country. We then shun all the "guilt" of our past, which is just an un-American "excuse" to bring us down from our exalted position.
On the Baptistboard, a "libertarian" named Frederick Meekins began posting links to his website http://americanworldview.tripod.com where liberals were criticized for setting the stage for all of this, by teaching among other things that all cultures are equal and none are "better".
I find it amazing how we take this time of national tragedy as an opportunity of left bashing, and as the ultimate proof that we are "better" after all. And all of this right in the same breath as saying God is judging us for being so bad as like no other time. In Biblical language, there is no such thing as a "better" society, but rather, ALL are concluded under sin. (Rom.3, Gal.3:22). We may be outwardly more "civil" than others, but remember, God judges individuals, and sees the heart, and all of these things are just manifestations of the same SIN shared in common with everyone. Jesus taught (Matt. 5) that to God outward acts and stuff that goes on in the heart are essentially the same. So all of this "This is all you liberals' fault for not admitting we are better" will only further make us more proud and deceived, and set us up for more to come. (provoke more jealousy in enemies, etc; our hearts move even further from God--James 4:6) What next? Maybe Civil Rights was a mistake too. Maybe some more tragedies occur, and Martial Law is enacted, and if the gun loving militia types gain control, we'll go back to segregation and slavery. Who Knows. All of this "superiority" language lays the basis for the people saying it to oppress others when the right circumstances are present. The Muslim terrorists are operating under this very premise-- of their superiority over the "decadent", "immoral" west. Our uncivil oppression was FORCED to cease by the same societal forces that are being criticized, even though they may have gone too far in places (if the Christian West had drawn the proper lines in the first place, maybe people wouldn't be going to the opposite extreme. This is the nature of fallen man). Notice, it's always the one talking who says "WE'RE better". Nobody admits someone else as being better (but I guess we expect the others groups to.)
Also, when I visited the page before, I even saw something like "we tell the children America
did many horrible things in the past, [as well as no cultures being better] and then expect them to
defend the country". Does this mean we should cover up the dark spots of our history, and
pretend they never happened? Or maybe, our "superior" culture was incapable of such things, so
they didn't happen. This will just further make the rest of the world despise us as self-righteous
liars, and further bring disrepute to the name of Jesus Christ. The Bible is honest about Israel's
AND the Church's failings, so that is God's policy. Yes, there may be some antiwar people
around, but it doesn't seem people today are particularly unwilling to defend the country. In the
news, it was reported that ROTC enrollment is now on the rise, from grade school on up.
Another poster then steps in with questions:
So, after your first statement, how can you conclude that what we have now is better than if we returned to segregation and slavery? On the other hand, if you reject your first argument, then you can correctly conclude that what we have today is indeed better than segregation and slavery. No offense intended, Eric, but it does seem inconsistent to me.
That's the point. I don't speak in terms of "better". We just traded one set of sins for another. In the past, you had slavery, segregation, and many other civil rights violations, yet there was more sexual morality, outwardly, and God was revered publicly. People saw through this hypocrisy, and revolted, correcting those violations, but at the same time, throwing out public reverence for God whom people were not really following anyway. People who think sexual morality and lip service are all God is concerned about will naturally think the past is "better" than the present, and that our culture is "better" than others. But it is precisely this selectiveness, picking and choosing some of the Law, but never keeping it completely, that is why "by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified". (Gal. 2:16 see also 3:10). So to speak of "better" is worldly talk, not biblical talk.
Meekins, meanwhile, had totally twisted what I was saying and thought I was advocating martial law and an end to Civil Rights, and that many Christians thus "revel in pious ignorance".
But of course, I was not suggesting an end to Civil Rights. What I was implying is that that might just be the logical conclusion of the far right, with its insistence on being the "better" culture (this was the whole basis of racism and opposition to civil rights in the first place), hatred of govt., and emphasis on welfare (if that was what causes all the problems in this country-- but ignoring corporate welfare). While any govt. will go corrupt, given our fallen nature, but still Paul declares that govt. is from God, and that even included the very govt. that persecuted him. "Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil". (Romans 13). Just like we point out that Marx had an ideal that went bad because he didn't take into consideration the fall, so too the right, including libertarianism has these ideals that sound nice, but this assumes, based on the notions of people being "better" that they will always do right, and thus need no government. But here is where we've deceived ourselves. People will take advantage and corrupt that system too. For instance, in the civil war, "individual states rights" was used to try and maintain slavery, and the same issues came up during civil rights. People have resented the govt. for these types of "intrusions of freedom" ever since. The people who ignore this and insist in the works-righteousness of a "better" culture are the ones "reveling in pious ignorance".
The other person responds again:
What I saw was an implication that those who want to curb runaway government and repair the moral decline of our nation would suggest that we return to slavery. I personally know of absolutely nobody who holds this position. Zero. Zilch. None. Nada. Zip.
No, what I was trying to say was that the extension of the logic of some libertarian writers/speakers seems to point that way sometimes. For instance, in light of the terrorist attacks, many are saying "see, racial profiling is good after all". You'll never know what thinking like this will lead when the right circumstances allow. (This is what my reference to martial law was about. I wasn't suggesting that either, but if it does happen, it won't be just a liberal govt. control, but conservatives will try to get the upper hand in it as well.) In criticizing one side, I am not saying they are 100% wrong and the other side 100% right. (This is the way the people I criticize seem to think, and that is the whole problem.)
So, you're thinking in terms of the direction we're headed rather than the present actions taken? Good idea. I guess my only problem is that we can't let that stop us from moving something in the right direction, or reversing the direction of a wrong policy.
Of course we should try to move things in the right direction, or reverse the direction of wrong policies. Just that the arguments range from whether certain policies are wrong or not, and why one thinks so, and the attitude people take towards the issue. People thinking they are better than others (And "culture" is just an extension of the self) will definitely lead to nothing but trouble.
Then, my former pastor, no longer sending Cloud's literature, now begins e-mailing the WorldNetDaily.com links of columnist Michael Medved, with contributions from Pat Buchanan and others. It's tone and message was the same as americanworldview.com. From "Why anti-Americans must focus on the past":
>This analysis [of Arab terrorism] of course begs the question of why so few descendants of black slaves or victimized Native Americans become mass-murdering terrorists.
(Russian leaders, finally "admitting" the superiority of the west upon the fall of communism said the same thing in comparison to their own people). But I'm surprised they could say this, as much as this conservative movement focuses on black street crime. Our "terrorism" is different from the Arabs who have their own lands and IDENTITY, because we were stripped of all that and kept dumb and oppressed. But look at the anger behind black revolutionaries of the past and present, the "gangsta" or "cop killer" style of rap, and the street violence, then you see the same thing, just on a smaller scale. Of course, it's not the black people themselves they are praising for being more "civil" than the Arabs and others, but rather the "superior" American society for making them more civil. But once again, how really was this accomplished?
>Her girlish glorification of Islam reaches for the distant past precisely because the Muslim present offers so little worthy of romanticizing. Reviewing Muslim history of the last three centuries, what, exactly, could anyone praise or admire? Which Islamic society has achieved justice or progress for its own people, or contributed anything of worth to the world at large? We hear endlessly about the medieval Arab invention of the zero, or the glories of 13th-century Spain, precisely because the recent record of this decaying civilization remains consistently dysfunctional and disgraceful.
It is so amazing how boldly one could tear down an entire other culture like this, and Christians blindly accept and pass on this rhetoric. Everything is judged by us (the West). Meanwhile, they forget about the moral decline of the West, conservatives just got through complaining about and blaming for our loss of morale or "divine protection"! I guess they just blame that on Clinton and the other liberals. We are rapidly following right behind the Arab civilization, because we too like them take God as our mascot but ignore what His Word has to say to us. Of course, in the area of morality, we are leading them in decline. This is just the fallen nature of man, and all cultures will fall, either on their own, or by Christ's direct crushing of them at His return.
>In one sense, our present predicament offers a peerless opportunity for American patriots: For the first time since the Cold War, we can compare our country with an implacable real-world adversary, rather than measuring ourselves against some abstract ideal. The struggle of the present remains so clearly focused between barbarism and civilization, liberty and tyranny, that it's hardly surprising that our opponents resort to pathetic attempts to manipulate the past.
This brings out a major point. They are actually happy that there is once again someone "worse" they can compare themselves with, so they can prove themselves "better"! (After the fall of the old scapegoat of communism). We can now justify ourselves by not being as bad as someone else. But in the judgement, nobody will ever be justified by such self-righteousness. Our individual acts or expressions of sin may not be as bad as another country's, but our NATURES are all the same, and stand equally condemned by God, who does not grade on a curve (top 50% of people will pass). Ultimately, it is individuals God judges, so the whole idea of a "righteous" culture won't do anybody any good on the Last Day. Nobody is going to get off any easier because they were from the "good" nation. All this tooting of our own horn serves one purpose: to justify our demand to be the rulers of the world (we're the best, so we would be the best rulers), and this makes us just as bad as the Arabs, Communists, and anyone else who puts their trust in world rulership.
>But if Americans are supposed to feel guilty for their shortcomings, then what other nation should inspire them as an example of greater moral purity and selfless generosity?
Why not forget nations (since scripture concludes ALL under sin), and really look to Jesus instead (instead of demanding everyone else to pray to Him in school whether they even believe in Him or not).
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