Tag Archives: christianity

Demagoguery and The Human Heart. . .

 

This morning I placed a thought that I have been pondering for quite a while on social media. I stated: “The vast success of demagoguery in American politics is an indictment on our souls.”

 
I want to take the time in this weekly study to speak a bit more about it. There are some who will quickly read it and agree or disagree without pondering the implications of the truth contained within the Scripture that I cited (Exodus 20:5-6). I believe there is a direct implication to our society today, and I encourage you to read further.

 

Introduce Demagoguery. It seems to be a buzzword used by many, but what exactly does it mean? A demagogue is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.” In short, they are telling you what they think you want to hear. We see this happening in the American political system on both sides of the spectrum. Understand deeply the difference between a person aligning with a candidate because the candidate more closely aligns to Biblical principles, and a person aligning with a candidate because they desire to follow that person. These are vastly different ideas. Simply stated: “Don’t take what is right and wrong from a candidate for political office higher than you take The Bible.” Don’t think politicians are theologians, even if they cite Scripture.

 
The concept of idolatry as described in the ancient Jewish and Christian texts that we read seem difficult to apply in our world. We read in Exodus 20:4-6: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

 

This is an uncomfortable commandment. Here we see God saying not to make idols, and worship them. This is idea foreign to us, but the concept still has firm roots in the hearts of human beings. Most people who don’t like what Scripture says like to jump on what appears to be an injustice. How can the sins of the fathers solicit God’s judgment to the children? “It doesn’t seem fair” they cry. I believe it is quite fair, and here is why. The secret is in the final part of the passage. We read “keep my commandments.” If we love God, we will keep His commandments. If we love a political leader we will keep theirs, and finally, if we love ourselves we will keep our own. We instruct our children as we live, and subsequently they receive the reward for their poor instruction that we have given them. It’s not some crazy idea that God will judge your kid for what you do. It’s the idea that your kid will do what you do, and if they make bad decisions they will pay the price just as you and I.

 

Think about leadership in the context of demagoguery. Who is leading who? If a political candidate tells you what you want to hear and you vote for them, are you leading them or are they leading you? Will they use this principle to reward the wishes of the masses? If so, are the masses leading them? If this is the case, then don’t we have the mentality of a modern day lynch mob with our victim’s falling along the way? I believe definitely the answer to the last question is yes.

 

The idea of idolatry here listed in the 10 Commandments is strictly prohibited by God, but I think the conceptual idea of idolatry is, perhaps, most fervently illustrated in Isaiah 44. An excerpt of this chapter that we will read is verses 14-20. “He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, ‘Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!’ And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, ‘Deliver me, for you are my god!’ They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, ‘Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?’ He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, ‘Is there not a lie in my right hand?’ ”

 

It is a very real thing to follow politicians with the fervency of following a god, and it is a very real thing to follow ourselves when we vote for the betterment of our own proclivities. I want encourage you to think differently. I want to encourage you to follow God first and obey His commandments. Then, and only then, will your thoughts be clear enough to ask the question that Isaiah cites. “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

 


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Exodus 20:5-6 – “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

 

Thanks,

Marc

What is Truth?

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I was fortunate enough to speak with a group of people a while back on the topic of violence. I remember looking around the room at a sea of about a hundred young faces. Their eyes filled with the wonder of this new world they were about to encounter. Most in the room were young college students preparing themselves for what they thought the world was going to hand them. As I spoke, I read the faces of these young people and it was obvious that many disagreed with me when it came to the topic of morality.

If the Bible can be reduced into two ideas they would be grace and truth, but sadly many Christians don’t understand either one of them. They are independent ideas, but they cannot exist apart from each other. Grace is the part that people think they like because its nice and flowery. Truth is the part that people don’t like because its controlling, and simply put within the Scriptural lens, it is damning. Grace, Scripturally speaking, can only come when one believes in truth, violates truth and is subject to something unpleasant by a higher power. Subsequently, this grace that people love to love comes only after consenting to truth. This is the part that people miss, especially within the church.

The night before Jesus’ crucifixion at Golgotha he was brought before Pontius Pilate who was the fifth prefect of the Judean province under Roman rule. A conversation ensues between the two and we read in John 18:33-38: “So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’ Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate said to him, ‘What is truth?’ After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, ‘I find no guilt in him.’ ”

The most interesting part of this conversation between Jesus the Christ and Pontius Pilate is when Pilate says “What is truth?” I find this to be exceedingly interesting because he does not ask this question, but he says this question. A word typically used within the Greek to ask a question is ε͗περωτάω, but we don’t see that here. We see the word λέγω, which is used as an opening to direct speech. Pilate didn’t ask this question for an answer, he asked it rhetorically. He asked it without wanting an answer, and perhaps this is why the text does not record Jesus’ answer. Its probable Jesus didn’t say a word back to him. He let Pilate rest in his unbelief.

Pilate didn’t know what truth was even when he was looking truth in the eyes.

Going back to when I was speaking with this group of young people on the topic of violence, I vividly remember a young lady coming up to me after the event was concluded. She asked me if I had any ideas to help her narrow down her studies within the realm of societal morality. I responded that I didn’t believe in societal morality, but believed morality existed apart from all of us. What is right is right, no matter how I feel about it is a short way of saying it. She repeated the question almost to the letter again, as if to say she didn’t like my answer and I should try again. I did, and a third time she repeats the question almost to the letter. This was one of those times that we have all experienced in our lives. We think of better things to say after the conversation is over and our friends have left. I answered her third question by saying she should study the application of the case law system as begun by Christopher Columbus Langdell, but I have so many more answers for her today. I want to tell her that she should study the implications of man making his own judgments of what is right and wrong. I want to tell her to study the rise to power of Adolf Hitler. I want to tell her to study the horrible lynchings that occurred within the history of the world. I want to tell her to study mob mentality, and how mass chaos and riots harm innocent people. I want to tell her to study the lives of all the people who were brutally murdered because other people became illegitimately angered without checking themselves against a standard that should control us all. Most of all, I want her to conclude that society is not the center of the universe. I want her to conclude that societal trends are driven by human beings. I want her to conclude that human beings are not the center of the universe. I want her to conclude that God is.

We live in a world that is dark because people refuse to see the light, and people who have the light refuse to share it. Ladies and Gentlemen, morality is commanded by God. His morality is superior to mine in every facet of this life that He has given me. I encourage you to live as His morality is better than yours. Read the Scriptures and look at this person we call Jesus of Nazareth. Do what God has instructed us in His Word for a year, and your life will never be the same.

 


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John 18:37 – “Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’ ”

 

God Bless,

Marc