Lex, Rex

Understanding current events, philosophies, politics and worldviews in light of God's unchanging Word!
Monday, February 25, 2019 • Gary Fox • Violence
Scriptures: Isaiah 9:6

Is Violence Ever OK?

Christians and Self-Defense

"Jesus said to turn the other cheek…" that is, of course, the most common reason given as to why Christians should restrain themselves from physical self-defense. Another reason given is taken from the life of Jesus Christ Himself, who like a lamb led to the slaughter, never resisted His unjustified arrest and certainly didn't use force to prevent it. Peter, in fact, did use violence to defend the Lord (and himself), and he didn't just strike out, he attempted to unleash deadly force! Try to picture the scene in you mind. Peter knew what this midnight arrest was all about, the whole thing was a sham and was only intended to thinly veil the conspiracy to kill Jesus...and Peter got brave. Peter got very brave, pulled out his sword and swung violently at the head of a nearby soldier, barely missing him yet coming close enough to hack the man's ear off! Think about how close of a shave that swing was!

And Jesus rebuked Peter for it. Jesus then healed his captor and followed them willingly to His fraudulent show-trial.

There are other examples we could mention as well. Take the life and behavior of the Apostles, almost all of them were martyred and none of them took up arms in self-defense (at least we have no record of them doing that if they did). None of them organized militias, none of them had security forces and none of them even suggested such a thing. They were persecuted people writing to and serving a persecuted people and no such measures were ever instructed.

It is not at all hard to understand how a Christian can assume a "soft" pacifism at the very least, if not hard and fast pacifism.

To further buttress that argument, take the character and life of the Christian who is being led by the Spirit. He is peaceful. He is forgiving. He is gracious. He is slow to anger. He is not quarrelsome .

Unlike Islam, Christianity was spread peacefully by preachers and teachers who by grace convinced others to willingly follow Jesus.

I think I'm about to convince myself that I should be a pacifist! It is truly hard to argue with, especially upfront. Christians are peacemakers!

But does this really mean Christians are to never take up arms to defend themselves or others? No, the Bible nowhere commands a totally pacifistic ethic. In fact, it commands otherwise. Take the time Jesus commanded His disciples to walk around in undergarments if need be in order to buy themselves swords. Also think of all the many commands in the OT regarding defending the weak. There is only one way to do that and that is to be prepared to get physically violent, if not lethal. Nowhere in the NT are these commands and expectations lifted off of God's people. We are still to defend against oppressors, and that includes those who would oppress us.

So, what are we supposed to do and when are we supposed to do it? I'll share with you what I believe are the best ways to think about the use of violence and how to harmonize it all with those passages calling us to peace. These principles have been commonly accepted throughout Church history and are related in some ways to what has become known as the Just War Theory.

First, our disposition must always be peaceful. Christians are never to look for physical confrontations and certainly never start them. It is never appropriate to return an insult with a punch. It is never appropriate to seek out vengeance (physical or otherwise). It is never appropriate to threaten force as a means to intimidate others into complying with our wishes. It is never appropriate to lose self-control in outrage.

Second, commands for God's people to use force have a high threshold to meet before they can be justified. Certainly, violence to fend of oppression, rape, murder, maiming, serious bodily harm and even theft of vital/valuable property all fall within the Scriptural bounds, in fact, we are commanded to defend against such actions. The threat, however, should be imminent, clear, direct and serious, otherwise the Christian should restrain himself. Every idle threat does not justify a physical confrontation. And there is never a justification to retaliate with physical force or threats of physical force to verbal insults, mocking, unfair treatment, or discrimination. The only Christlike way to respond to nonviolent persecution is to turn the other cheek. In fact, unless one can reasonably conclude that a particular slap to the face has created a real and imminent possibility of oppression or may lead to serious harm, even a physical slap in the face should not only be tolerated, but the other cheek should be offered as well. There is nothing in the context of that passage or related passages to suggest Jesus was simply being metaphorical. He was being very literal. Unless life, health or liberty is in peril we should not retaliate with violence. The Christian threshold for justifiable violence is HIGH.

Third, while the use of violence may be Biblically justified in certain (rather extreme) situations, the means and degree used may or may not be justified. The Christian ethic is always to use the least of amount of violence necessary to stop an immediate or imminent assault. There is never room for retribution, payback, punishment or vengeance within the Christian worldview. Once the assault has stopped and the assaulter is neutralized the justification for further violence instantly evaporates. Of course, lethal force may be justified in order to stop an assault, no doubt about it, but that would mean nothing short of lethal force could have been reasonably attempted to stop it (or that non-lethal efforts already failed). These lethal decisions are not always provided much time to contemplate and weigh. Hesitation in an out of control and dangerous situation could end with someone including yourself getting killed, so when lethal force is used we need to keep that in mind when evaluating the situation after the heat is off. The bottom line is this: The Christian is not out to personally punish anyone, that's why we have courts. If violence is necessary, it is only justified up to the point when the assault is stopped, anything beyond that point is sin (and should be lawfully punished).

Lastly, go back up and read the first principle. Christians pray for peace, long for peace, and seek out peace. It is no secret that liberals in this country are constantly pressuring the people to disarm and such pressure can cause many of us to overact with emotion. Certainly, we should react to such charges, we should just avoid emotional overreactions. We absolutely should tell them in very clear tones to forget it, disarming is a nonstarter for Americans. However, without really noticing the heart-change, we can become calloused to the use of violent force. I think the reason for this is our not wanting to in ANY way validate the stated concerns of the left (thereby, the fear would imply, validating their solutions). The truth is that the left expresses many concerns which we ought to share with them! We should all hope for a more safe and peaceful society, as far as that goes we do agree with the left. It seems as if in an effort to convince ourselves how right we are about the need to defend ourselves, we can find ourselves admiring the use of force instead of regretting the need for it. Glorifying violence as we talk about it instead of lamenting that a situation required it. We can even get into fantasizing if not hoping for the chance to employ it rather than praying no such requirement in our lives ever arises. I need to hear these reminders as much as most of you do. Many of us need to check our hearts and remember who we are. We're Christians. We follow Jesus who it the Prince of Peace.

Friday, April 26, 2019 • Gary Fox • Ethics & Values
Scriptures: Acts 20:35

Christians Shouldn't Act Like The World In Business...

The Christian Business Ethic

As we covered last time, "free market capitalism" is not an economic system based in greed, but it does allow for it. And that means just what is says, a free market based economy will allow people to be greedy under certain broad parameters. In a truly free market economy, the only justifiable prohibitions in commerce would be for things such as fraud or extortion.

That means people can engage in commerce being driven by nothing more than profit. Businesses can operate solely for maximizing the bottom line. People can seek something for nothing. Companies can pay as little as an employee will accept, employees can demand as much pay as a company is able to afford. In a free market economy greedy behavior is allowable so long as the terms of the negotiation are transparent and accurate.

But greediness is not required.

Christians are forbidden to be greedy, ever. We are forbidden by God to be greedy in our personal lives and we are forbidden by God to be greedy in business decisions. We are forbidden by God to be greedy when negotiating deals, seeking discounts, quoting jobs and paying employees.

Being in a free market economy which allows greedy behavior by law does not mean Christians are free to be greedy according to God's LAW. It would be a good thing to remind ourselves of that every now and then. Just because something is allowed by civil law does not mean it is morally permissible for a Christian to do it. God's law is much higher than civil law, His standard is much higher than man's standard.

Christians are called to that higher standard, and that standard applies to business. Christians ought to conduct business differently than the way the world conducts business. There ought to be a noticeable distinction, I'm not so sure the peculiarity is very apparent overall these days. Far too often Christians make business decisions simply on the basis of what will maximize profits alone. Far too often Christians are driven by profit above all else. That, loved ones, is called idolatry.

"So, what are you saying? That we shouldn't pursue profits? We shouldn't attempt to save money by negotiating a better deal?" No, not at all. Profits are a good thing! We all need to make a profit on our investments of time and money, or else why invest time and money in the first place? In fact, if we are not profitable, we cannot care for our families, cannot support our churches, cannot pay our taxes, cannot hire new employees, cannot give raises or bonuses to current employees and could certainly never be generous with the poor! These are the "Christian" motivations behind seeking profits. Nothing in the life of the Christian is about "me", that goes for business just as much as anything else.

Christians are living on this planet to be a blessing, period. At home, at church, in business. There is no sphere of life where the Christian is not being motivated to bless first and foremost. We are to seek out how to bless God with our lives in worship. We are to seek out how to bless the people we cross paths with. The Christian motivation in business, as in all of life, is to be a blessing.

So, if a Christian lives to honor God by blessing people, how will that affect business decisions they must make? The world obviously operates according to worldly standards, how is a Christian approach to business different? Here are a few examples to think about: The Christian employee desires to be paid for his work, but more than that he works as unto the Lord which will result in him being a blessing to his employer, coworkers and clients! The Christian employer desires to grow her business and to be profitable, but more than that she desire to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, knowing in faith that as she does, He will add all of the things she needs in order for her business to glorify Him. She can't do that and be greedy, she can't do that and contrive ways to get away with paying her employees the absolute bare minimum in order to maximize her profit margins. Her driving aim as a Christian isn't to maximize profit, it's to bless. Do you see this distinction? She can't bless unless she's profitable, so yes, she must be profitable. But her drive to create profit is not for the sake of profits. Profit isn't KING in the mind of the Christian businessperson, Christ is! Her drive to be profitable is to honor God, to reflect His values to her employees, venders, clients and even to her competitors.

She should hope her employees genuinely feel that working for her is a blessing to them. Her clients should feel like her service is a blessing to them and adds value to their lives. Her venders and partners should also feel blessed for their relationship with her and her business.

A free market system allows for greed, that however is no green light for Christians to conduct business the way the world does. Just because it is legal to do something, to charge something, to pay someone something, to cut costs doesn't make it right. Business decisions are only right if they honor God. Sometimes God honoring business decision are hard, somethings it means someone gets laid off or doesn't get a bonus. A business is not a charity, it cannot operate at a loss. The point is that the Christian's allegiance is to the Lord, not to maximized profit margins. This may mean the Christian business owner pays her employees more than she could get away with or charges clients less than her competitors do, clears less for herself personally or operates her business at a smaller profit margin than she potentially could if she applied wordly standards to her business decissions. That doesn't mean she must do those specific things, but she might.

Christians are called to a higher standard. Christian business owners are called to a higher standard. Christian employees are called to a higher standard.

Christians are called to bless others (even in business).

Christians are called to generosity (even in business).

Christians are called to put others first (even in business).

Christians are called to serve others (even in business).

Christians are called to glorify God (even in business).

Tuesday, April 23, 2019 • Gary Fox • Economics

If Capitalism Is Based In Greed How Can A Christian Ever Be A Capitalist?

Is Capitalism Biblical?

First of all, I don't like the term "capitalist" all that much, especially when it just hangs there all alone. I'm into "free markets" and so if I'm going to have the 'capitalist' label put on me, at least qualify it by saying, "free market capitalist" (historically "capitalism" was a system which protected the elites who controlled the "capital"…the qualifying term "free market" makes enough of a distinction for me to live with).


As a "free market capitalist" I get asked from time to time how a born again Christian such as myself can defend an economic system based in greed. My answer is really simple: I don't support a system based in greed. Free market capitalism certainly allows for greed, but so does every other economic system under the sun. All people struggle with greed and there are plenty of people out there who flat out embrace their greediness! They wake up every morning thinking about how best to keep what they have and how to get even more. Regardless of the system they live under, greed is an active component of the human experience. Greedy people take advantage of what they can in capitalism, socialism, communism, fascism, anarchy and they will do the same thing in any other system we might come up with in the future.

People are greedy no matter what.

While free market capitalism is not based in greed, it is very much based in the pursuit of self-interest. And yes, there is a significant distinction between being motivated by greed and being motivated by self-interest. Unless you understand the dissimilarity, you'll never have a firm grasp on Biblical economics.

Have you ever been watching "TMZ", "Entertainment Tonight" (or for you more seasoned saints, "The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous") as they tour the mansion an ultra-rich celebrity or athlete and think to yourself, "no one needs all that…"? I think we've all had similar thoughts after seeing them with their solid gold toilets and air conditioned dog houses or whatever other opulent extravagance was highlighted on the show. But if you really think about it, do I have the right to determine what another person needs?

How would you like it if I decided to form a committee to determine what kind of income your family needs? Or to determine how big your business needs to be? Or to decide the type of vehicle your family really needs? Think about that. Who under God but YOU should determine all of that? I hope the answer is obvious...nobody. A system which allows for people to determine their own needs and then allows them to work in the interest of meeting those needs is the only system that can maximize the likelihood that all the needs in a society are going to be met. It puts the responsibility of "need meeting" on the individual personally effected by the potential lack, and that's a highly motivating "need meeting" incentive!

This is why economies based upon the dynamic of free markets will always prosper and those based on something other than free markets will always languish. Always. Always. Always. This is true every single time it is ever tried, without exception. People who are free to pursue their self interest are, far more times than not, going to make common sense decisions which benefit their needs and will be willing to provide goods/services/entertainment that will meet the needs of some other self-interested individual in order to attain it. Did you catch that? In order to get what I want and need I have to at some point provide what someone else wants and needs...I can't just take, take, take. Not even the richest billionaire in the country can get way with just "taking", they must provide services which benefit others as well or they will eventually go broke. Those who don't meet the needs of others, those truly "greedy", end up not having their own needs met. They are punished for not providing goods/services which meet the needs of others. Even if they do nothing else but put a billion dollars in the bank they are providing a service to others (because that billion dollars allows the bank to issue loans on that investment to those needing loans).

In a free market based economy those who are able to provide maximum benefit to a society gain maximum wealth. Those who provide modest benefit gain modest wealth. Those who provide little benefit gain little wealth. Those who provide no benefit gain no wealth. Please explain to me how that sort of system is worse than one that rewards those who provide nothing of value to anyone else? THAT would be a system which rewards "greed", the free market based system does the exact opposite of that! A free market disincentives greed and incentives inviduals to provide benefits to others!

But what about those who can't provide much benefit or services for others because of disabilities? The free market has a solution for them as well…CHARITY! And in a free market based system the abundance of wealth will always create an abundance of opportunities for ALL, even the darn near invalid, far more than any other system would! Does a severely disabled person have it better in America or in China? China has a far more restrictive economy and a far more powerful centralized government so wouldn't one be able to reason a disabled person would have it better in China? Well, that person would be very wrong. The disabled have it far better in a free market based economy than in any other system, hands down.

Endless volumes have been written about the benefits of free markets and the reasons why they work, I'm certainly covering no new ground here. All of that is great, but is a free market system Biblical? The answer is a resounding YES. Nowhere in the Bible is government run socialism prescribed or described in exemplary terms. Perhaps no one passage in all of the Bible is as clear about Godly economics than what is found in the parable Jesus told in Luke 19, and I'll leave you with that and we will continue to unpack Biblical Economics next time…

Luke 19:11-26 ESV

"As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said therefore, "A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, 'Engage in business until I come.' But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.' When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, 'Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.' And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.' And the second came, saying, 'Lord, your mina has made five minas.' And he said to him, 'And you are to be over five cities.' Then another came, saying, 'Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit and reap what you did not sow.' He said to him, 'I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?' And he said to those who stood by, 'Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.' And they said to him, 'Lord, he has ten minas!' 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.'"

Wednesday, February 20, 2019 • Gary Fox • Government
Scriptures: 1 Peter 2:13-17

Divided and shared authority is not "a" way to liberty and prosperity...it's the ONLY way...and its basis for doing so is thoroughly Biblical!

Why The Founding Fathers Divided Federal Power

Have you ever noticed that Republicans only care about "executive overreach" when a Democrat is President, and Democrats only care about it when a Republican is President? Neither party minds too much when their guy is in there of course, better he take the heat by himself rather than having to go on record with a vote themselves. The same is true with angst over "judicial overreach". It's cool only if the court is doing their dirty work, it's almost Armageddon when the courts do the dirty work of the other side.

Where do these terms come from, "executive overreach" and "judicial activism" and why are they so bad? Humans have lived under some form of monarchy throughout most of recorded history and there's no such thing as "executive overreach" in a monarchy. The king rules and does what he believes is best at the time he decides. Imagine the red tape that is immediately evaporated under such a system. Often times we hear people complain about how government just "needs to get stuff done", as if all the haggling and debating and maneuvering is really bogging "progress" down. People living under a monarchy never have to worry about things getting bogged down like that, the monarch declares his will and things start to happen with haste.

Maybe people are just more comfortable living under a monarchy, it seems like the societal default of humanity. Even Americans these days are becoming more and more comfortable being ruled over by a kingly figurehead. Liberals stood and still stand at the ready to enthrone Obama, conservatives are ready to crown Trump. I'm sure this has been true to some degree since our founding, but in my lifetime, I've never seen this level of unwavering loyalty to (and hatred for) Presidents.

It's also interesting to see how people seem willing to serve under the rule of courts, the Supreme Court is seen as near holy ground for many if not most people today.

The founders weren't so fond of being ruled over, they were not fond of it at all. They knew God had ordained government, so trying to create a society without government would not only be sinful, it would be folly. But they also knew they desperately wanted to avoid the tyranny of a king…and the tyranny of the majority…and the tyranny of courts. You see, monarchy, democracy and kritocracy are all possible forms of government, each promising to be a better option than the other two…but all three create the very real potential for tyranny. The founding fathers of America saw no advantage to being ruled over by one over the other, all three options created the potential for terrible outcomes.

But why? Why were they so pessimistic? Why would they so ardently rule out all three options? Were they paranoid? Maybe, but that's not really the underlying assumption they were working with. They started with the conviction that man is selfish, fallen, and sinful. This was by far the most influential factor in their thinking, it kept them from becoming anarchists (man is sinful therefore needs to be governed) and it kept them from quickly adopting a system which could be dominated by men (man is sinful therefore needs to have his authority restrained). James Madison said "there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust". Alexander Hamilton believed "men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious." This view of man comes of course from the Biblical worldview, as does the axiom "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely". Even the best, brightest and most well intentioned can be corrupted, compromised and manipulated because everyone is sinful. Everyone deals with selfish ambition and can justify and rationalize in their own minds' unjustifiable things in the pursuit of self-interest, self-serving goals and the advancement of personal agendas and preferences. This fallen nature makes everyone prone to self-deception, believing they know what is best, they have the deeper and more clear insight and that everyone out there standing in their way is wrong.

So, they knew they must reject anarchy, but they also needed to reject the rule of man. They providentially insisted a system be instituted where people are ruled by law, not man. That law of course was predicated on the recognition of natural law and natural rights (more on that in future installments).

That's a great thing to aspire to, right? The rule of law, not man…but how is that supposed to happen? How can men govern but not rule? How can men act in the name of the law? The founding fathers, again by nothing short of divine providence, came up with a scheme to use the sinful ambition of men to create a tension in government, a stabilizing tension. The way to do that, they reasoned, was to divide power up and share it among equal branches government…three of them. I can't stress how important that point is, three branches pulling on the reigns of government with shared authority created the desired effect of stabilized tension in mind blowing fashion. Sadly, we've replaced that system with a two party system, with only two sides pulling against the other...and we see anything but stability as a result. The two party system has screwed it all up, it's caused all three branches to move in unison along one of only two party lines OR obstruct movement along one of two party lines, making serving party interests paramount and the sharing of power between branches of government only theoretical, but that's the topic of another article. Suffice it to say for now our government was designed for three distinct branches, equal in power.

Knowing that these three branches would end up at times competitive with the other two, the founders reasoned all three would be careful to not encroach on the natural rights of the people lest they be humiliated, stopped or even punished by the other two branches for doing it. The other two branches, in fear of losing their own influence and power, would be quick to call out and smash any overreach of the other branch. This resulting tension provided maximum protection, liberty and prosperity for the people. The framework was ingenious for that reason alone. But its wisdom went beyond that.

The American founders knew that government always drifted away from the people, that it always sought more and more power. So, this system of government was designed to get bogged down. It was designed to take "forever" to "get things done". It was designed to do that. The idea was that the slower government moved, the better, because any human government will always be totally bent to move in the wrong direction (because humans are involved!). Even if it takes two steps in the right direction it won't be long before it takes three steps the wrong way.

A governing system that is so easily bogged down into deliberate, unavoidable gridlock when it comes to making big changes will always allow for maximum freedom of the people. Of course established norms and laws must move smoothly, but big changes should go slowly and when that is the case the people, overall, will flourish. This system of checks and balances and gridlock and slow, incremental change creates a nearly unchecked people freely moving, changing, developing and revolutionizing in the "private sector". The speed of government to make big change directly affects the freedom and prosperity of the people. This is counterintuitive for half of this country today, people assume the government needs to make big changes with ease in order to straighten things out and nothing can be further from the truth. The opposite is true. There is little or no gridlock in Chinese government for example, the ruling party can decide to change a policy this morning and begin to implement that change this afternoon. This imminent power of Chinese government stunts the freedom of Chinese people. If the government is hindered or at least slowed down in making big sweeping changes the people are left unhindered. If the government is unhindered to make big sweeping changes the people will be hindered. The framers knew that, the insight and foresight they had was incredible.

The boom the American experiment created is not even measurable, it landed us on the moon for crying out loud! We can certainly go back and look into our history and see many evils and injustices which went on for far too long (almost all of which were created by overreaching government which squashed individual liberty), but there can be no denying the overwhelming blessing God has poured out all around the world through America and it all started because the framers deeply believed human sinfulness stifles progress. We will eat ourselves unless we are restrained. And "we" includes those who govern, for the first time in human history, leaders chained and restrained themselves!

So "executive overreach" and "judicial activism" are both steps taken to loosen those chains, and both are great threats to our society. The more it goes on, the less free and less prosperous we will be. It is just that simple. When a President gets impatient with Congress, even for good reason, it is understandable that he'd want to say, "screw this, I'm a leader and damn it…I am going to LEAD!" It is understandable that judges would want to see stupid laws on the books done away with. But these impulses are dangerous because the thirst for more power is an evil instinct and is unquenchable.

The rule of law by way of divided and shared powers in government is not optional, resist any temptation to justify moving away from it, even if it's your guy doing it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019 • Gary Fox • Socialism
Scriptures: Ezekiel 33:1-33

Socialism = Marxism = Mass Death

Christians, and more importantly Christian leaders, must speak loudly, clearly and with great urgency against the rise of socialism in America. The horrors which await not just the American people, but the rest of the (relatively) free world if America were to fall into full blown Marxism would be nothing short dystopian, if not apocalyptic. In fact, since there is little to no mention of the United States in end-time-Bible-prophecy, it might very well be the case that the USA is off the world stage at the time of the very end. I happen to believe the vacuum created by the collapse of the United States and its removal from the world stage is exactly the type of calamity needed to create the desperate conditions to cause the peoples of the world to clamor for a new world order and peace.

Given that the shocking conditions needed to facilitate end time prophecy are being unveiled in a more rapid pace and given there is little (?) to no mention of the United States in end time prophecy AND given the loathsome rise and influence of open and unashamed Marxists in our government, one would think American Christians would be a bit more alarmed. One would think evangelical pastors in America would be pointing such things out to their flocks in a more pressing way. One would think a good many things these days but given the apparent fulfillment of prophesied end time apostasy that is befalling American Christendom we shouldn't be all that surprised that so many evangelical leaders are asleep at the wheel.

We don't want to be kooky, paranoid, sensationalistic conspiracy theorists after all. We seem to think the chief end of church life is to not come off as a weirdos. If we can just show the world we are as cool and normal as they are, then…MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

At this point I freely admit we may well be generations away from the Second Coming of Christ. While the conditions needed to fulfill prophecies never before fathomable are now very much possible, available and active (take a reborn nation of ethnic Jews in Israel for example, or the ability to kill a third of mankind by warfare, or the ability to stop people from buying and selling…none of these things were possible 100 years ago). However, it doesn't seem like a good bet to assume we are yet centuries away from the end of the age. Yes, previous generations believed the end was near in their day…and they were wrong. That doesn't make us wrong for being attentive and it doesn't make us wrong for preparing.

Abraham Lincoln wisely observed that no foreign threat could topple the United States, but an internal crumbling certain could. How much truer is that today than 150 years ago? Even if Russia or China nailed us with an EMP strike, the US military is more than hardened against something like that. Though we the people would certainly be knocked into the stone age from such an attack, the surviving peoples of the attacking nation would be living in a land of smoldering glass. No nation on earth and no collaboration of nations on earth could knock the United States off the world stage…but an internal Marxist revolution could and would do nothing short of that.

Vladimir Putin couldn't orchestrate our demise, but Kamala Harris could. Xi Jinping couldn't knock us off the world stage, but Bernie Sanders certainly would. Kim Jong-un is no existential threat, Cory Booker is. ISIS can not crush America, but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez absolutely could. All of those foreign enemies doubtlessly would love to have the opportunity to bury the United States, but none of them could ever hope to do so. Only an enemy within could slay this nation, but they'd need to do it methodically. They would need to establish a system which would rot the structure and compromise the integrity of America's core and foundation. Even an idiot would have a hard time doing that on accident. It would take a concerted effort to coordinate the flattening of America right off the world stage.

Marxists gaining the controls of American government could do it. Nothing short of Marxists in power could flatten the United States.

And that's a realistic, plausible if not likely scenario now! While Clinton, Obama and probably the Bush's were all Marxists, they were at least closet Marxists. They never showed their cards in the wide open. They never just came out and said what they'd really like to do if they were able. Everything they did to advance their Marxist, globalist agenda was decorated in capitalistic terms and patriotic rhetoric. That's not the case now. Look at every single candidate running for the nomination of the Democrat Party, just look at them. Which one of them is not a full-blown socialist? Which one of them is a nationalist? Which one of them promotes liberty and personal responcibility?

Times have changed. The rise of socialism is legit. It is, by far, the greatest threat to Americans since the Civil War…it is perhaps the more dire threat Americans have been confronted with, ever. If it takes root the United States will collapse. Do you understand that? If it takes root the Gospel will be outlawed. If it takes root Gospel preachers will be imprisoned, churches razed, and dissidents killed. The United States as we knew it will be no more, the shockwave would tear through world. The vacuum such a thing would create would be monstrous, the horrible ramifications would not just be felt here, they'd be felt worldwide like a megatron-bomb.

Not only would freedom be stripped, and prosperity stolen…the bloodshed would be atrocious. Over 100 million people were killed by Communists during the last century and that would be quickly dwarfed if the United States adopted it because only the United States was able to keep the Communists from doing far more during the previous century. If the United States itself became Marxist who would be left to stand in the way of the Marxist new world order distopia? This is a moral issue, a big one, with dire consequences. Therefore, it's the responsibility of Christian churches to speak to it, to expose it and to condemn it.

Christians got active against abortion after it was too late to stop it, God forbid we're late again this time. God forbid it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 • Gary Fox • Socialism
Scriptures: Acts 2:44-47

It Is Nothing Like Christianity...

Socalism is FORCE

"We want to achieve a new and better order of society: in this new and better society there must be neither rich nor poor; all will have to work. Not a handful of rich people, but all the working people must enjoy the fruits of their common labor. Machines and other improvements must serve to ease the work of all and not to enable a few to grow rich at the expense of millions and tens of millions of people. This new and better society is called socialist society. The teachings about this society are called socialism." -Vladimir Lenin, To the Rural Poor

"All who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." -Acts 2:44-47 ESV

Please tell me the difference between these two statements. Look them over again. Isn't what Vladimir Lenin called for exactly what St. Luke described in the Book of Acts?

How would Barrack Obama answer a question like that? Bernie Sanders? Elizabeth Warren? AOC? Surely, they would preface their answer and qualify it by assuring us they would NEVER condone the harsh way Lenin went about enforcing Socialism in Russia…but there can be little doubt that they would agree that what Lenin was ultimately calling for in that section of To The Rural Poor is in harmony with what the Book of Acts is describing…and they'd be totally wrong.

Neither Acts 2:44-47 nor any other passage in Scripture prescribes what Lenin or any other Socialist has called for. So, what is the difference then? Isn't it true that both statements are describing a society where materials are redistributed from those with means and given to those with needs? Yep, both do describe redistribution of wealth, no doubt about that. But the means by which the wealth is distributed and the motivation behind it could not be more diametrically opposed to one another. One way is of God, the other way is of the Devil. One way reflects grace, the other way reflects control.

Acts 2 is describing a remarkable outpouring of charity. Lenin is describing bone-crushing submission. Acts 2 is describing free markets and then voluntary alms motivated by compassion. Lenin is describing iron fisted confiscation and acquiescence motivated by fear.

Notice the Bible describes the ancient Christians "selling" their possessions and belongings. They were "selling" their stuff. Their stuff wasn't being appropriated, commandeered or seized. It wasn't being taxed. One cannot sell something under compulsion, strictly speaking you can't force someone to sell something. The act of selling can only be done voluntarily, volitionally and intentionally…or else it's theft. Strong-arming someone to "sell" something is fraud and extortion. The ancient Christians were selling their stuff and then distributing the proceeds to those in need. The context and the way in which Luke describes this certainly leaves one with the impression that both the selling and the distributing were done face-to-face. Later we do read about the Apostles coming up with a system to distribute charity to those impoverished in the church (and that was a Church, not government, program), but that was later. It is almost certain that in Acts 2 Christians were selling their stuff and then giving the proceeds in the form of alms to those in need...personally. These Christians were not forced to sell anything they didn't want to sell, and they were no forced to give the proceeds to people they didn't want to give proceeds to. The whole process was private and done by conviction, compassion, love and benevolence.

Compare that with what Lenin said about socialism! Scroll back up and read over Lenin's comments again. Look at the strong terms he used… "There MUST be" … "all WILL HAVE TO" … "all the working people MUST" … "MUST serve" … "NOT to enable" …do you get it the picture?  

Socialism is FORCE. It is THEFT. It is SLAVERY. It is TOTALITARIAN.

Socialism is utterly contrary to the way of Jesus so don't let the Democrats confuse you when they try to justify it by sprinkling in out-of-context Bible verses into their rhetoric!

Christianity is totally personal, not one bit of it can be forced upon someone against their will. It starts with the personal desire to be forgiven by God for personal sins. It quickly proceeds from there to a personal desire to worship God as a result of being personally forgiven and personally born again. Christians then have birthed within them an intense personal desire to personally do good works, especially personal good works on behalf of the needy. Christians have been doing so with tremendous, unparalleled generosity for 2,000 years. At no point has there been a need for the government to hijack their work with the poor. God never once called the government to feed the hungry, He called His people and His Church to do that.

What Lenin was describing is socialism, not Christianity. Socialism is incompatible with Christianity because Socialism is entirely based upon compulsion. Socialism is theft. Socialism is FORCE.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 • Gary Fox • Rights

What exactly are "rights" and how are we to identify them?

In 2015, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo famously said, "Rights do not come from God". Well, where then do they come from if not from God? In fact, if not from God how can there even be such a thing as "rights" in the first place? If you think about it, taking God out of the equation really messes the whole idea up and leaves it very hollow and ultimately meaningless. That is not to say atheists can't or don't operate as if rights are real, but they're doing so for no reason beyond personal tastes and social idealism.

In our last installment we confirmed the Bible makes it clear that we do in fact have rights and those rights come from God. The question for this edition of Illume is how are we to know what is and is not a right? For example, is free healthcare a right? Is so called gay marriage a right? Is owning an AR15 tactical rifle a right? We ought to be able to answer these questions with clarity. We ought also to be able to answer this one as well: How do we know for sure? If we believe healthcare is a right, what are we basing that belief on? Who told us it is a right? And conversely, if we do not believe free healthcare is a right, how are we so certain?

How do we sort these things out?

The first place to start, of course, is the Bible. The Bible is God's Word and has everything society needs to know regarding ethics, freedom, rights and responsibilities. The Bible specifically lists out a number of rights, making our task of classifying these things much easier. Take for example:

The right to disobey unjust laws
The right to self defense
The right to own weapons
The right to think and speak freely
The right to not be murdered
The right to a just trial
The right to remain silent while investigated or on trial
The right to own personal property
The right to not be forced into slavery
The right to not be defrauded
The right to not be raped

I'm sure there are other rights detailed in the Scripture and there are other Scriptures which define the rights listed above. I want you to notice how these rights pertain to human dignity, freedom and individual autonomy. And also notice what the Bible does not mention as rights, that is perhaps as noteworthy as what it does mention. Take for example free healthcare. The Bible says nothing about people having the right to free healthcare and so that alone is good reason to question such an idea right off the bat. The only way for any of us to discover the Will of God for society is to study the Scriptures. But with that said, there are other congruent, common grace, philosophical ways of thinking and reasoning about rights as well...not in substitution for what is declared in the Bible..but in complement to it.

It is easier to think about rights in terms of what you can force others to do for your personal benefit rather than to think of them in terms of what you'd like to be able to do or have done for yourself.

I simply cannot stress how important that principle is. If you can't say you believe it a moral obligation to force someone to do or not do something, then that ought to be a major clue that you don't have the right to it. Rights are worth dying over. Rights are worth killing over. If whatever it is that you desire does not rise to either level of seriousness then it's likely not a "right". Of course, being willing to die or kill over something does not automatically make it a right, but being unwilling to do either indicates it probably isn't.

For example, let's think about the right to have sex with someone you want to have sex with. Mentioning sex always gets people's attention, so let's bring up sex. Is sex a "need"? I suppose one could argue that most people do need to have sex, God created us sexual beings, after all. So, sure, sex could be thought of as a need, or at least as a potential need (depending on the constitution and disposition of any particular individual). Do adults have the right to have sex or would the government need to license adults or to somehow make it legal for for consenting adults to have sex together? Well, since consenting adults have been given the right to control their own bodies and while they will answer to God one day for how they treat their bodies (and the bodies of others), they should only answer to God for it. In other words, no special license is needed for an adult to have sex. Nothing in the New Testament would suggest civil authority includes regulating the sexual habits of consenting adults...so no civil permission is needed for adults to have sex with each other. But what if someone wants to have sex with a particular person yet that person does not consent to having sex? Ahhh…now you see where this line of thought is going. Just because someone wants something…even desperately wants it and perhaps in some way "needs" it…does not mean they have the right to demand it (or take it!) from someone else. One's right to have sex with someone they want to have sex with ends exactly where someone's right to not have sex with someone begins. People do have the right to pursue their desires AND people have the right to say no to personal conduct they do not want to involve themselves in.

Our rights end where the rights of others begin.

Take speech as another example. I have the right to speak, my neighbor has the right to not be slandered. If I violate his right to not be slandered, then my right to speech is immediately halted and I should be punished for it.

In the same way we can look at the question regarding a right to healthcare. Certainly, we all want and need healthcare, but in order to receive it someone must provide it for us. Someone must labor for it. And someone must pay for the labor, technologies and medicines in order for us to benefit from it. Someone being forced to perform labor is a slave, period. Someone forced to pay for the goods and services of another is also now a slave. Your right to healthcare ends when someone must potentially become a slave to you in order for you to receive it. No one can morally force another into their service. There is simply no way that any ethical person can conclude that healthcare is a right when such a position could potentially require slavery and theft!

"No one can morally force another into their service."

Rights are the stuff which makes a person free. Rights define what humans are free to do and not do. Rights establish full personhood. Rights allow people the opportunity to reflect the image of God before all of creation. Man may and often will take advantage of that opportunity and use it for selfish reasons, but any act of obedience must be done freely and rights provide the framework for people to be free. Rights are not necessarily about ensuring things that make us happy or healthy or wealthy or comfortable…just free. This freedom is limited, remember that. People have the right to be their own person, to own their personal property and to protect both his person and his property (and to willingly assist others in protecting theirs). But, our rights are relinquished, and our freedoms end when we presume to take actions which violate the rights of others.

"Rights allow people the opportunity to reflect the image of God before all of creation."

Understanding that rights are what God gives every human in order for society to safeguard individual freedom (and thereby affording humanity the opportunity to display aspects of God's nature and character) will provide anyone with a functioning head and moral heart the appropriate framework to determine what is and is not a "right".


Friday, June 28, 2019 • • Abortion
Scriptures: Jeremiah 1:5

And Everyone Knows It...

Abortion Is Murder

Abortion is, by far, the most heinous legalized human rights violation in American history. It is worse than the betrayals and hostilities shown the Native Indians, it is worse than the slavery of Africans, it is worse than the internment of Japanese Americans…nothing can compare to the abject wickedness and atrocity of legalized abortion on demand. What makes it different and worse than all other American atrocities is the helpless nature of the victims. Throughout history slaves have sparked uprisings and double-crossed nations have retaliated. Albeit the odds of success were not likely, African slaves could have attempted to revolt and the Native Indians could have refused to give up land by putting up even more of a fight. Unborn babies have no chance to defend themselves whatsoever. They have no way to try to reason with their attackers, they have no ability to retaliate or fight back.

Unlike any other people group we could mention, the unborn is the most defenseless. They are totally unguarded; in their agony they cannot be heard, their screams are real but silent.

Any sane person instinctively understands this. People are naturally protective of pregnant women and are concerned for their health and safety. People intuitively recognize that a pregnant woman is sacred, her body is sacrosanct because she is carrying a rapidly growing baby in her belly. It's a miracle and no stable person questions that, we all understand it and act accordingly.

And this awareness is not a new thing, people have been protective of pregnant women since the dawn of time itself. Every people group, every sect, every tribe at every point in human history has universally honored the inviolability of pregnancy. No society in history has ever treated babies with disdain, acted as if having children is a curse or thought of pregnancy like a potential disease that needs prevented…until now.

Have you ever listened to someone try to justify an abortion? I have engaged with abortion defenders many, many times. The first thing you'll notice is how badly they want to keep the topic off the baby. More than anything they need the focus to remain on the woman and her "rights". Often times they will make an impassioned case for how a woman shouldn't have to carry the baby of her rapist (which is a tremendous burden of course, and one which Christians ought to have overwhelming sympathy and support for). But even in that case, the issue is the woman…not the baby. Whenever you discuss or debate this issue you can be sure they will do whatever they can to avoid talking about the baby. The next thing you will notice is that if you continue to force the issue onto the baby the abortion advocate will almost always begin to get agitated if not hostile. They'll very frequently get mad.

They get mad because they're human too, with human instincts and a conscience which they are trying to suppress. Being dogged about the life of the baby penetrates deep and forces them to deal with what they are defending which commonly leaves them feeling ashamed and with anger as their only cover.

Abortion is an atrocity; it contradicts everything in human nature. To defend it one must mischaracterize both what it is and those who oppose it. God created people with the desire to marry, make love and have babies. No matter how hard our ever increasingly demonized society attempts to shame those impulses (especially in women) the reality is that we are created in God's image. That will not ever change because it cannot change. People instinctively know killing the unborn is sin, is brutal, and is murder. That's why those who favor legalized abortion will fight so hard to keep the discussion off the baby…don't let them do that. Always, always, always drive the talk back to the baby. The baby did nothing wrong. The baby has the right to life and make her own way. Killing her is cruel and they know that…so remind them.

Proverbs 21:15 ESV
When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.
Wednesday, April 10, 2019 • Gary Fox • Business
Scriptures: Exodus 20:15

Did You Know The Bible Defines Godly Economics?

Biblical Economics

Define the terms "Christian Economics" or "Biblical Economics".

I wish I could see the stumped look on most of your faces right now. When was the last time your pastor spent time on a topic like that? Or how many Adult Sunday School classes in your life have focused on the Biblical ethics of business? Have you ever attended a midweek Bible study that focused on the way in which God desires markets to operate and how capitalistic/socialistic systems line up with the Bible?

Some of you reading this might assume the reason you have heard so little about economics and business in church, Bible studies or in Christian literature is because the Bible primarily deals with more "spiritual" issues.

Many if not most of you believe that Christians can just as easily be economic capitalists, socialists, conservatives, liberals or whatever they care to be because God doesn't really care...so why would we? And if that is you, you're wrong.

God cares about economics, big time.

Leviticus 19:35-36 ESV

"You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 25:13-16 ESV

"You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small. A full and fair weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the Lord your God.

Psalm 37:21 ESV

The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives.

Proverbs 19:17 ESV

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

Haggai 2:8 ESV

The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts.

Ephesians 4:28 ESV

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

These verses are just a quick sampling, there are so many more. We are going to spend a few installments expounding on these verses and many others in order to clearly lay out what Biblical economics are and how Christians are to understand them. Topics will include Christian business ethics, Christian labor ethics, Christian employer ethics and God's plan for markets in society.

This nation is as confused economically as it is, in large part, because Christians have been so ambiguous when it comes to preaching and teaching on Godly economics. And the economic and business practices of a nation matters, they really matter. Ungodly economics result in poverty. Ungodly economics result in the oppression of the poor. It results in suffering. It results in fruitless toiling. Ungodly economics is sin with terrible, immediate, unjust, real-world results. The only hope we have in seeing that change is for Christians (like our forefathers) to bring much needed clarity, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to society through preaching and teaching on economics from the Bible. We are called to be salt and light in society…economics, finance and business morality is not excluded.

Monday, February 4, 2019 • Gary Fox • Social Issues
Scriptures: Genesis 1:26

Understanding where our rights come from will go a very long way towards identifying the difference between "rights" and "wants"...

Do people have the right to bear arms? Do people have the right to publicly speak their mind on controversial matters, to worship as they feel is appropriate and to live their lives in privacy? As Americans we have The Bill of Rights which specifically outline certain behaviors the government will not (or should not) seek to control and since it's called "The Bill of Rights", most just assume those activities are indeed rights…but on what basis are those behaviors deemed as such? Who determines what sorts of behaviors are "rights" and which are not?

Generations of Americans have lived their entire lives not needing to give much thought to questions like these. Rights are rights, everyone knows that. But I assure you, as nearly half of this country lurches hard-left these fundamental questions regarding the nature of rights are going to become hotly debated for the first time since at least the Civil War and probably since the pre-Revolutionary War period (it is worth pointing out the end result both times the nation was this divided regarding the basic nature of rights was the nightmare of war).

Do women have the right to an abortion? Is healthcare a basic human right? Is public education a right? Is a living wage a right? Do same-sex couples have the right to marry? The Democrats believe all of those are so and will be running more and more on the basis of being the champions of human rights. They are framing their entire mission around being the torchbearers of civil morality. For example, we are now told it's immoral to become a billionaire and it's immoral for a nation to allow billionaires to exist when that same nation has poor people living in it. Or how about errecting a border wall, is that immoral? According to liberals and Democrats, it absolutely is.

Remember when it was the "religious right" who was accused of jamming morality down people's throats? Yeah.

So here we are, at another significant crossroads in history were Christians need to, once again, be salt and light in society. Part of what God calls Christians to do is to bring moral clarity to culture, not by force or compulsion, but by the supernatural power of preaching and teaching from the Bible. I'll say it again and again…if the people of God will not bring clarity to society when needed the World will be glad to define terms for us. We need to be strong, clear and quick with deep simplicity.

So, how are we supposed to think about all these new "rights" people now claim? Does something become a right if I claim it as my right? Does it become a right if the government endorses it? How this question is dealt with will determine exactly how rights are treated…and that is no small matter whatsoever. This is a big deal.

There is actually a deeper question still which probably needs addressed and that is regarding if rights are a "thing" in the first place or are they just a social construct? Do people have ANY rights by austere birthright? The answers to such questions are found as you might imagine in the Bible. Here are a couple Scriptures which explicitly confirm for us that people do in fact have "rights"...

Psalm 82:3 ESV

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

Proverbs 31:8-9 ESV

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

There are a host of other Scriptures which detail specific rights but suffice it to say here at the outset that "rights" are "real" …and people have them. No matter if they are rich or poor, strong or weak, male or female, sinner or saint, people have rights.

And since the Bible confirms for us the reality of rights it is not a hard step to take from there to understand that those rights have come from God (because all good gifts come from Him). They are not invented, they are discovered. They are not developed, they are recognized. They are not devised, they are identified. If this way of thinking regarding the origin and nature of rights is not understood and respected chaos will ensue, it has always ensued, it will always ensue, and it did not ensue in America because it was understood and respected! Next time we will begin the hard work of determining which rights God has granted to people and which claimed rights are usurpations.

Genesis 1:26 ESV

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

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