Review of John Wesley’s “The Use of Money” (1760)

This is probably the best-known sermon by Wesley on economic ethics. It was this one that Kathleen MacArthur heavily relied on for The Economic Ethics of John Wesley. There are three main principles that Wesley uses in his formula of economic ethics:
   1. Gain all you can.
   2. Save all you can.
   3. Give all you can.
Under the heading of “gain all you can,” he says that you should work as hard as you can, and as honestly as you can, in your business. You should also save as much money as you can, to meet the bare necessities of life: providing for your family, food, clothing, and shelter. Wesley believed that surplus earnings or savings should never be spent on superfluities or luxury items. He believed that money should only be spent on needs; and never on wants. Any amount of “overplus,” or surplus of money, should be donated privately to the poor, widows, and orphans. Anything that could be called an unnecessary desire that does not involve the bare necessities of life, he called a superfluity, such as a lake house or speedboat. Such things only encourage a lifestyle of Epicurean pleasures. For Wesley, there appears to be no middle ground. You can’t have the best of both worlds: you can’t serve both “God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24), is interpreted to mean, you cannot both give to the St. Vincent de Paul Society and own a lake house with a speedboat. You can’t have a both/and view of having some luxuries and doing some philanthropy—you have no choice—you need to have an either/or view of these things. You can’t be a luxury-loving philanthropist, but must afford yourself no pleasures at all—giving 100% of your surplus money away to those who are less fortunate. Philanthropy should be calculated from the “overplus” of your monthly income; and be put into a benevolence fund. The St. Vincent de Paul Society and street beggars should be the priority—Christian poor and non-Christian poor; and after that, orphans and widows.
   On this point, Calvin and myself would differ from Wesley. I think he was too extreme on this point; and most likely because he was never a father, and wasn’t a husband for more than eight years. And he wasn’t the most attentive, nurturing husband there ever was, from the looks of it: he was often away from his wife on ministry trips. I would say that the dynamics of family life call for a moderate allowance of wants and superfluities, in order for there to be a sense of joy in the household, in order to remove the spirit of drudgery from the home—so that the children are free to play; and the wife and husband have recreations, and can relieve themselves from the anxieties of the work week and school week. Solomon supports Calvin’s view: “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart” (Eccl. 5:18-20). It seems that Wesley would refuse to view such superfluous possessions as “gifts of God,” even though they might enable families to relieve the burdens in their lives. His commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:18 says: “His portion—Of worldly goods; he hath a better portion in Heaven. This liberty is given him by God, and this is the best advantage, as to this life, which he can make of them.” There seems to be a degree of reasonableness here, at least with eating and drinking, but he enumerates no other kinds of worldly goods as liberties; and says that living in Heaven is far better than any worldly goods we may have down here, (which is true,) but as if to divert your attention away from the subject that Solomon is considering: that it’s okay to enjoy some worldly goods in this life as gifts of God! It looks to me, as if Wesley expects Christian families to live like an order of Catholic saints, living in complete self-denial. I don’t think this is a practical recommendation for the economics, or the psychology, of the Christian family. Would you have them to live like the Amish? No television, no pool tables, no ping pong tables, no video games, no guns, no volleyball nets, no cheap fishing boats? Some of the extreme independent fundamental Baptists and holiness people live this way. Wesley did found the Kingswood School for Methodist children—and from what I know, it was overly strict like those groups are, and was almost run like a monastery.
   All things in moderation, said Calvin; and I have to agree with him. But I agree with Wesley in his later sermons, when he associates “riches” with millionaires. The luxuries enjoyed by those men would likely go far beyond the boundaries of this moderate view held by Calvin. Richard Baxter also supported the moderate view of entertainments, even to the point of saying, “There are many shows that are desirable and laudable, (as of strange creatures, monsters, rare engines, activities, etc.) the sight of which it is lawful to purchase, at a proportionable price”—although he would have likely supported only watching cleaned up movies on ClearPlay or VidAngel—“but when the exercise is unlawful (as all stage-plays are that ever I saw, or had just information of; yea, odiously evil; however it is very possible that a comedy or tragedy might with abundance of cautions be lawfully acted), it is then (usually) unlawful to be a spectator either for money or on free cost” (Chapters from A Christian Directory, p. 132).
   Money in this sermon is called the “mammon of unrighteousness” (Luke 16:9), because it is usually made by evil means and used for evil purposes. This does not mean that money is evil in itself: only to say, that as a tool in the world, it is often misused by evil men. Wesley said that “we ought to gain all we can gain, without buying gold too dear, without paying more for it than it is worth” (1.1). That is to say, not only that we should buy gold coins as a tool for saving and investing in the literal sense; but also in the symbolic sense, that we should not allow ourselves to be pushed into jobs that make us work harder than is necessary for our paychecks. Wesley said that people should avoid getting involved in sinful businesses that involve robbing, cheating, and stealing from people; to avoid doing business activities which are unhealthy, for example, leaning on your stomach at a desk for too long—and we may suggest he would support the use of these new adjustable stand-up desks which have been on the market for a few years now; to avoid doing dangerous jobs that might expose you to harsh chemicals, or extremely hard manual labor, and frequent exposure to workplace injuries, which is what Comenius sees in his vision he called, “The Pilgrim Examines the Order of the Tradesmen,” in ch. 9 of The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart. Algebra, believe it or not, is for the first time here spoken against as something that Wesley felt could have drawn him away from God, and into deism or atheism. I can see what he means, because whenever a person crowds their mind with too much of something—even if it is a harmless scientific activity—that person runs the risk of distancing his mind from God, the Bible, and theology. But he also says that some mathematicians can find the time for faith in God and Bible study; and allows for a diversity of dispositions, gifts, and callings in the economy.
   Vice industries should be avoided—alcohol, tobacco, and gambling businesses—or anything that produces harmful addictions. Surgeons and doctors often harm their patients with bad side-effect medications: and so even a medical career should be pursued with certain cautions. Bars are bad places to work. Idleness is out of the question, because it allows people to get into silly and unprofitable diversions, to procrastinate about important things, indulge in too much leisure, take too many naps, and not be guided by common sense. Christians, however, should improve on their business skills and knowledge, and read and study to be the best businessmen they can, while at the same time applying Biblical ethics to their work activities.
   Under the heading of “save all you can,” he says you should have a safe at home and a safe deposit box at the bank. He once again underlines that all forms of luxury should be avoided: Epicureanism, gluttony, drunkenness, the desire of the flesh, delicacy, variety, expensive clothes, expensive furniture, expensive home décor, and expensive friends—what we today call “keeping up with the Joneses”—all of which is vanity, and sensuality, and should be avoided. Spoiling children with too many superfluities, or what Baxter called “need-nots,” are nothing but temptations for them. By doing this, we only train them to be materialistic and open them up to be demon-possessed children of Mammon (Matt. 6:24). Jesus said, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matt. 18:6). I agree with this view. Immoderately spoiling children with expensive toys, the kind which most other children do not have the advantage of enjoying, is to train them up in the way of the snobs, who look down on their inferiors. Children should be taught the value of a dollar; and to be humble, and meek, and thankful for the gifts of God.
   Under the heading of “give all you can,” we come back to providing for your family as the number one priority: charity begins at home. But if you have an “overplus,” or surplus of money that goes above and beyond the necessary expenses of the month, then some of that money should be given to the poor of the church, to beggars in the street, to widows, and orphans. You should do this in obedience to Scripture as a financial and spiritual sacrifice; and expect a reward in Heaven for it, if you go about it privately. There should be no sloth, no waste, and no covetousness in your life.

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Review of Daniel Defoe’s “The Complete English Tradesman”

The Complete English Tradesman: Defoe, Daniel: 9780862994648: Amazon.com:  Books

This is an excellent sourcebook on the views held by businessmen in the 18th century. Defoe, you may know, was the author of what some consider the first novel, Robinson Crusoe (1719), which is about an English sailor who gets stranded on a desert island and has to learn how to survive. In that book, we see some of Defoe’s views come through, such as his Puritanism, work ethic, survivalism, self-defense, self-reliance, Bible study, and respecting the Sabbath day. But you can also see a degree of liberalism in him as well, as he allows for drinking alcohol, and smoking tobacco; and the commonly accepted master-slave relationship with “savages,” and the duty to teach them English, the Bible, and Christianity. Defoe attended a Puritan school–the Stoke Newington Presbyterian Academy led by Charles Morton–for the children of dissenters, along with his fellow classmate Samuel Wesley, the father of John Wesley. The unique thing about this book, when compared with the economic ethics of St. Antonino, Luther, Calvin, Perkins, Baxter, Steele, and Wesley, is that all of those men were academic theologians and clergymen. None of them were involved in the daily grind of business activity. Daniel Defoe, however, was personally involved in business every day of his life from the late 1600s to the early 1700s. His book is really the best for gaining wisdom from the firsthand experience of a Puritan businessman. Yes he was a writer, but that was only a hobby. Most of his time was involved in his various business activities as a merchant that traded goods like stockings, oysters, and wool. He once became an agent for marine insurance, but it made him go into such debt that it rendered him bankrupt, probably from the chargebacks aimed at him, once a few of his clients cancelled their policies. The main pitfall of being an insurance agent! After that, he became an accountant; then a trustee for the royal lottery; and then after that, he tried to manufacture bricks, which was successful for awhile until at the age of 42, he decided to publish The Shortest Way with Dissenters (1702), which got him pulled into a defamation lawsuit, accused of libel against the Church of England, put into a pillory, and then prison, which caused his brick works to fail and drove his family into poverty (The Complete English Tradesman, iii-iv). Seeing that he was a Puritan husband, father of six, amateur theologian, economist, and businessman aquainted with risk, wins, and losses–I can’t think of a single book better than this one to instruct men of God to navigate the realities of the business world. Sure, the pastors that came before him had Biblical insights into economic ethics, but he had the one thing none of them had: plenty of business experience. It was published when he was 66 years old: and contains all the wisdom he gained from his career. If he were alive today, he would emphasize the need for careful bookkeeping and budgeting like small businesses often do with QuickBooks Online; writing clear, concise, and to the point business emails; to avoid working for men like Laban (Gen. 31); getting into a good internship after graduating from school; changing your job categories as many times as necessary, in order to find your niche, and establish yourself in a fixed calling (1 Cor. 7:20); that hard work makes a man rich (Prov. 10:4); that having more than one job is okay, so long as its not “too many irons in the fire,” and that the multitasking does not make you neglect one of your jobs; keeping your business off of online review websites like Glassdoor or Google My Business, so that people can’t attack your online business reputation; to always reply to negative critics with a mild, soft, smooth, and good temper; avoiding expensive friends and expensive living; that engagement and marriage should be done in a context of diligent business activity and frugal bookkeeping; that businessmen should make promises in a conditional manner, informing the person of any unforeseen circumstances, which may change the situation; to avoid lavish spending on an office; that a small business owner should force his wife and children to be acquainted with the family business, because this will provide security for them after he is gone; that owning a small business is a key to financial growth; and lastly, which is the one point I differ with him on the most–that of heavy reliance on business loans–which goes against Romans 13:8: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.”

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Bread and Water Fasts with the Catholic Saints

Venerable and God-bearing Father Anthony the Great - Orthodox Church in  America

He ate once daily, after sunset, but there were times when he received food every second and frequently even every fourth day. His food was bread and salt, and for drinking he took only water. There is no reason even to speak of meat and wine, when indeed such a thing was not found among the other zealous men.” –Athanasius: The Life of Antony, p. 36 (251 – 356 A.D.)

“When a youth of twenty, he fled from his home and became a monk near Tours, resisting all the efforts of his family to withdraw him from his mode of life. Following what he regarded as divine inspiration, he betook himself to Bourges, where under the direction of St. Austregisile, the bishop of the city, he remained in solitude for fifteen years, living in a cell and subsisting on bread and water.”  –Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Amandus” (584 – 675 A.D.)

“Disciples soon gathered round the two hermits, by 989 they were sufficiently numerous to receive a rule from St. Romuald, who was then in that district. This rule seems to have been of great severity. The hermits lived in separate cells and were always occupied with prayer, study, or manual labour. Four days a week they ate nothing but bread and water in strictly limited quantities. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they added a little fruit and vegetables. Wine was used only for Mass and for the sick, meat not at all. They observed three “Lents” during the year, that of the Resurrection, that of the Nativity, and that of St. John the Baptist. During these they fasted on bread and water every day except Sundays and Thursdays, when they were allowed a few vegetables.” – Catholic Encyclopedia, “Fonte-Avellana”

“Led by the Holy Spirit, he went up to a certain mountain with two of his companions where he fasted on bread and water and dictated the rule as the Holy Spirit suggested to him in prayer.” –Bonaventure: The Life of St. Francis, p. 216 (1181 – 1226 A.D.)

“In 1415 he became superior of the convent at Aguilera and, on the death of Peter de Villacreces (1422), also of that at Tribulos or del Abroyo. He observed nine Lents, fasting on bread and water, and was endowed with the gift of miracles and prophecy and of every virtue.”  –Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Peter de Regalado” (1390 – 1456 A.D.)

“Germaine learned early to practise humility and patience. She was gifted with a marvellous sense of the presence of God and of spiritual things, so that her lonely life became to her a source of light and blessing. To poverty, bodily infirmity, the rigours of the seasons, the lack of affection from those in her own home, she added voluntary mortifications and austerities, making bread and water her daily food.”  –Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Germaine Cousin” (1579 – 1601 A.D.)

“She made a public confession of her faults in the refectory, discarded her costly garments, wore an old habit, went barefoot, frequently fasted on bread and water, chastised her body by vigils and severe scourging, and practised mortifications to such an extent that the decree of canonization considers the preservation of her life a continued miracle…She worked numerous miracles, had the gifts of prophecy and of discerning the secret thoughts of others. She was also favoured by heavenly ecstacies and raptures.”  –Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Hyacintha Mariscotti” (1585 – 1640 A.D.)



BIBLICAL PRECEDENTS

Genesis 21:14: “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.”

Exodus 34:28: “And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.”  (cp. Deut. 9:9, 18)

1 Samuel 30:11-12: “And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water; And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights.”

And many many others



UPDATE: 11/8/21

In addition to plain Thomas’s bagels and bottled water, I recommend including “Mean Green Juice” in your fast. Its effectiveness for extreme weight loss was demonstrated in the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (2010) by Joe Cross. The nutritional value of his “Mean Green Juice” enables you to continue fasting for months, so that pounds can be knocked off in 25s, 50s, or 100s. Using “Mean Green Juice” would require you to buy a juicer. I got one at Walmart for around $100 and its called a Nutribullet Juicer. The ingredients for “Mean Green Juice” are the following: 

  • 1 cucumber (remove 2 inches)
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 2 green apples (cored)
  • 1 bunch of kale (8 stalks)
  • 1 lemon (peeled)
  • 1 inch of ginger root

    Thomas' Plain Bagels - 20oz/6ct : TargetBottled Water by Aquafina® PEP04044 | OnTimeSupplies.com


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The Human Origin of the Greek Gods – Athanasius

Taken from hereAgainst the Heathen by Athanasius

335 A.D.

10. Similar human origin of the Greek gods, by decree of Theseus. The process by which mortals became deified.

1. But this custom is not a new one, nor did it begin from the Roman Senate: on the contrary, it had existed previously from of old, and was formerly practiced for the devising of idols. For the gods renowned from of old among the Greeks, Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Hephaestus, Hermes, and, among females, Hera and Demeter and Athena and Artemis, were decreed the title of gods by the order of Theseus, of whom Greek history tells us; and so, the men who pass such decrees die like men and are mourned for, while those in whose favor they are passed are worshipped as gods. What a height of inconsistency and madness! knowing who passed the decree, they pay greater honor to those who are the subjects of it. 2. And would that their idolatrous madness had stopped short at males, and that they had not brought down the title of deity to females. For even women, whom it is not safe to admit to deliberation about public affairs, they worship and serve with the honor due to God, such as those enjoined by Theseus as above stated, and among the Egyptians Isis and the Maid and the Younger one, and among others Aphrodite. For the names of the others, I do not consider it modest even to mention, full as they are of all kind of grotesqueness. 3. For many, not only in ancient times but in our own also, having lost their beloved ones, brothers and kinsfolk and wives; and many women who had lost their husbands, all of whom nature proved to be mortal men, made representations of them and devised sacrifices, and consecrated them; while later ages, moved by the figure and the brilliancy of the artist, worshipped them as gods, thus falling into inconsistency with nature. For whereas their parents had mourned for them, not regarding them as gods (for had they known them to be gods they would not have lamented them as if they had perished; for this was why they represented them in an image, namely, because they not only did not think them gods, but did not believe them to exist at all, and in order that the sight of their form in the image might console them for their being no more), yet the foolish people pray to them as gods and invest them with the honor of the true God. 4. For example, in Egypt, even to this day, the death-dirge is celebrated for Osiris and Horus and Typhon and the others. And the caldrons at Dodona, and the Korybantes in Crete, prove that Zeus is no god but a man, and a man born of a cannibal father. And, strange to say, even Plato, the sage admired among the Greeks, with all his vaunted understanding about God, goes down with Socrates to Pireas to worship Artemis, a figment of man’s art.

11. The deeds of heathen deities, and particularly of Zeus.

But of these and such like inventions of idolatrous madness, Scripture taught us beforehand long ago, when it said, the devising of idols was the beginning of fornication, and the invention of them, the corruption of life. For neither were they from the beginning, neither shall they be forever. For the vainglory of men, they entered into the world, and therefore shall they come shortly to an end. For a father afflicted with untimely mourning when he has made an image of his child soon taken away, now honored him as a god which was then a dead man, and delivered to those that were under him ceremonies and sacrifices. Thus, in process of time an ungodly custom grown strong was kept as a law. And graven images were worshipped by the commands of kings. Whom men could not honor in presence because they dwelt afar off, they took the counterfeit of his visage from afar, and made an express image of the king whom they honored, to the end that by this their forwardness they might flatter him that was absent as if he were present. Also the singular diligence of the artificer did help to set forward the ignorant to more superstition: for he, perhaps, willing to please one in authority, forced all his skill to make the resemblance of the best fashion: and so the multitude, allured by the grace of the work, took him now for a god, which a little before was but honored as a man: and this was an occasion to deceive the world, for men serving either calamity or tyranny, did ascribe unto stones and stocks the incommunicable Name. 2. The beginning and devising of the invention of idols having been, as Scripture witnesses, of such sort, it is now time to show you the refutation of it by proofs derived not so much from without as from these men’s own opinions about the idols. For to begin at the lowest point, if one were to take the actions of them, they call gods, one would find that they were not only no gods, but had been even of men the most contemptible. For what a thing it is to see the loves and licentious actions of Zeus in the poets! What a thing to hear of him, on the one hand carrying off Ganymede and committing stealthy adulteries, on the other in panic and alarm lest the walls of the Trojans should be destroyed against his intentions! What a thing to see him in grief at the death of his son Sarpedon, and wishing to succor him without being able to do so, and, when plotted against by the other so-called gods, namely, Athena and Hera and Poseidon, succored by Thetis, a woman, and by Aegaeon of the hundred hands, and overcome by pleasures, a slave to women, and for their sakes running adventures in disguises consisting of brute beasts and creeping things and birds; and again, in hiding on account of his father’s designs upon him, or Cronos bound by him, or him again mutilating his father! Why, is it fitting to regard as a god one who has perpetrated such deeds, and who stands accused of things which not even the public laws of the Romans allow those to do who are merely men?

12. Other shameful actions ascribed to heathen deities. All prove that they are but men of former times, and not even good men.

For, to mention a few instances out of many to avoid prolixity, who that saw his lawless and corrupt conduct toward Semele, Leda, Alcmene, Artemis, Leto, Maia, Europe, Danae, and Antiope, or that saw what he ventured to take in hand with regard to his own sister, in having the same woman as wife and sister, would not scorn him and pronounce him worthy of death? For not only did he commit adultery, but he deified and raised to heaven those born of his adulteries, contriving the deification as a veil for his lawlessness: such as Dionysus, Heracles, the Dioscuri, Hermes, Perseus, and Soteira. 2. Who, that sees the so-called gods at irreconcilable strife among themselves at Troy on account of the Greeks and Trojans, will fail to recognize their feebleness, in that because of their mutual jealousies they egged on even mortals to strife? Who, that sees Ares and Aphrodite wounded by Diomedes, or Hera and Aidoneus from below the earth, whom they call a god, wounded by Heracles, Dionysus by Perseus, Athena by Arcas, and Hephaestus hurled down and going lame, will not recognize their real nature, and, while refusing to call them gods, be assured (when he hears that they are corruptible and passible) that they are nothing but men, and feeble men too, and admire those that inflicted the wounds rather than the wounded? 3. Or who that sees the adultery of Ares with Aphrodite, and Hephaestus contriving a snare for the two, and the other so-called gods called by Hephaestus to view the adultery, and coming and seeing their licentiousness, would not laugh and recognize their worthless character? Or who would not laugh at beholding the drunken folly and misconduct of Heracles toward Omphale? For their deeds of pleasure, and their unconscionable loves, and their divine images in gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone, and wood, we need not seriously expose by argument, since the facts are abominable in themselves, and are enough taken alone to furnish proof of the deception; so that one’s principal feeling is pity for those deceived about them. 4. For, hating the adulterer who tampers with a wife of their own, they are not ashamed to deify the teachers of adultery; and refraining from incest themselves they worship those who practice it; and admitting that the corrupting of children is an evil, they serve those who stand accused of it and do not blush to ascribe to those they call gods things which the laws forbid to exist even among men.

26. The moral corruptions of Paganism all admittedly originated with the gods.

Women, for example, used to sit out in old days in the temples of Phoenicia, consecrating to the gods there the hire of their bodies, thinking they propitiated their goddess by fornication, and that they would procure her favor by this. While men, denying their nature, and no longer wishing to be males, put on the guise of women, under the idea that they are thus gratifying and honoring the mother of their so-called gods. But all live along with the basest, and vie with the worst among themselves, and as Paul said, the holy minister of Christ, Romans 1:26: “For their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise, also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness.” 2. But acting in this and in like ways, they admit and prove that the life of their so-called gods was of the same kind. For from Zeus, they have learned corruption of youth and adultery, from Aphrodite fornication, from Rhea licentiousness, from Ares murders, and from other gods other like things, which the laws punish and from which every sober man turns away. Does it then remain fit to consider them gods who do such things, instead of reckoning them, for the licentiousness of their ways, more irrational than the brutes? Is it fit to consider their worshippers human beings, instead of pitying them as more irrational than the brutes, and more soul-less than inanimate things? For had they considered the intellectual part of their soul they would not have plunged headlong into these things, nor have denied the true God, the Father of Christ.

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Why I Don’t Want to Be a Pastor Before Retirement

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Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment

Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. –Jesus in Matthew 10:15

Gay rights advocates insist that anti-gay theologians are mistranslating, misinterpreting, and cherry picking from the Bible. But gay rights advocates are unfortunately guilty of some of the most lazy, reckless, and careless Bible interpretation ever. The maneuvers they make with Scripture are similar to the way a cult leader would use the Bible. It’s always used to suit their own needs, rather than taking a plain, honest, literal reading of what the text says, and drawing your conclusions that way. People like this are fond of allegorizing the Bible whenever they like, for example on creation and evolution, or pre-trib rapture, or a literal Hell. They pull out the old allegory approach and think that this fixes the problem. All this comes down to is doubting what the Word of God says. Satan asked Eve, “Did God really say…” (Gen. 3:1). This has been a problem that heretics have plagued the church with, at least since the days of A Refutation of the Allegorists by Nepos in the 3rd century.

Matthew Henry (Puritan): “The condemnation of those that reject the gospel, will in that day be severer and heavier than that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom is said to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire, Jude 1:7. But that vengeance will come with an aggravation upon those that despise the great salvation. Sodom and Gomorrah were exceedingly wicked (Genesis 13:13), and that which filled up the measure of their iniquity was, that they received not the angels that were sent to them, but abused them (Genesis 19:4-5), and hearkened not to their words, Matthew 10:14. And yet it will be more tolerable for them than for those who receive not Christ’s ministers and hearken not to their words. God’s wrath against them will be more flaming, and their own reflections upon themselves more cutting.” Henry’s reference to Genesis 19:4-5 is key–and should be the focal point for any gay rights advocate, who may be for the moment contemplating the Biblical city of Sodom. Homosexuality was definitely present there–it was like San Francisco in a way; and it was associated with wickedness. Trying to divert the issue over to inhospitality (Ezekiel 16:49-50), is to leave a glaring oversight of the issue of homosexuality in Sodom, aka SODOMY. Jesus was keen on this; as was his brother Jude, when he said this: “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7). “Strange flesh” is probably a reference to Genesis 19:4-5, when the Sodomites had an “unnatural” lust for gay sex (Romans 1:26), which is most definitely a strange way to go about having sex, since it will never reproduce babies. Genesis 19:4-5: “Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.’” This is the issue. Jesus was referring to this in Matthew 10:15–you can’t get around it. Yes it was a gang. Yes it was inhospitality. But it was also homosexuality…and you can’t, and really shouldn’t ignore that, if you’re going to be totally transparent about Jesus, and his reference to the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah.

We all have to answer to the Bible and God. I guess in the end we’ll all see whose right. But as for me, I’m going with the homosexuality is a sin interpretation.

There’s lots of anger here coming from the gays. Understood. My only thing is, try to stay focused on the Scripture with this issue of gay sex. Try not to distract away to churches, Catholic priests, child abuse, mental abuse, physical abuse, blasphemy, levels of sins, hell-threats, inhospitality, crap-treating, turning people away, popular opinions, political polls, communities dying off, love, and a host of other side topics. The issue at the core, at least here: is the practice of gay sex displeasing to God? The Bible and Jesus definitely say that it is! That should technically be the end of this conversation. Unless of course, you want to extend it into a conversation about spiritual abuse, and people not loving one another. But then again we’re getting off the subject of homosexuality once again. They say we’re blind. Blind? I’m reading texts in a book that I consider sacred. If that’s blind to them, then maybe I’m blind. Maybe my blindness is faith. Jesus offers grace to people who turn away from being gay (1 Cor. 6:11). So do it if this is you!

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Government Aid and the Bible

The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, ‘Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.’ When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere. –Genesis 41:53-57

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Response to Christianity Today’s “The Things We Do To Women”

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. –Hebrews 13:4

THE PRIVACY AND MODESTY OF BIBLICAL SEXUALITY

Biblical sexuality is meant to be something that is private. It is not something to be flaunted, or publicly displayed, or spoken about openly in detail, graphically displayed in a public church setting. There is no sense of this in the Word of God. We have things like the Song of Solomon in the Bible, but this is clearly a love poem, or a love letter written from a husband to a wife, and vice versa, but it is not something that is being preached in a public setting in a church. Neither do any of the Old Testament prophets, or Jesus, or the New Testament apostles preach at great length, about graphic, sexually explicit activities in a public setting. Anyone who thinks otherwise about sex talk is not familiar with reading Scripture.

Recently, pastor Mark Driscoll has come under criticism for pastoral abuse: he has a track record of this and I’m aware of it. He has incidentally been one of the official leaders of the New Calvinism movement; and has gotten a lot of Gen X and Millennial guys interested in studying theology and the Puritans. But unfortunately, there are some major flaws in Mark Driscoll’s ministry approach. He is one of the many leaders in a long sad history of what could be called spiritual abuse or pastoral abuse–usually marked by unquestioning authoritarianism, bullying, and even profanity in the pulpit. One of the most controversial and probably repulsive things that Driscoll ever did, was release a book called Real Marriage, in which he described graphic sexual activities as being part of the Christian life.

One of Driscoll’s critics, Jessica Johnson, put out a book on him called Biblical Porn, in which she was criticizing his outspoken and explicit sexuality. She says that in his sermons, he was often times very explicit, even making references to sex acts like blowjobs–joking and laughing about this in a group setting! This is shameful and anti-Biblical! Sexuality is meant to be something shared in private, in the privacy of a bedroom, between a husband and a wife; and is NOT meant to be publicly talked about! Definitely not in this way. The Bible refers to sexuality as something that is wholly undefiled within the marriage bed. That means this is something that is private, is not supposed to be outwardly proclaimed, imagined, visualized, or any other such thing in a public setting. The door is locked, the husband and the wife are in their marriage bed…end of story. That is Biblical sexual theology. This is all that is really revealed about sex in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation. It is referred to, but barely ever described–especially not in explicit detail. Even the Song of Solomon, although it is talking about sexuality, is using analogies, metaphors, and allegories to try to make the subject as watered down and non-explicit as possible. For more about Biblical sexuality, see Leland Ryken’s Worldly Saints, ch. 3: “Marriage and Sex.”

BIBLICAL MALE LEADERSHIP OR JUST PLAIN CHAUVINISM?

I want to be very clear here: I agree with some of Mark Driscoll’s views on manhood and womanhood. I agree with the complementarian academic book that was put out by John Piper and Wayne Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Driscoll also subscribes to this view. It advances a complementary view of the Biblical relationship between Adam and Eve, between wives and husbands with distinctive gender roles, and between male church staff and female church staff. It shows that man is the leader; and woman is to submit, provided in a context of love and respect (Eph. 5:22-33). But the pervasiveness of love and respect is what’s missing in the story of Mark Driscoll’s ministry. Instead, we hear testimony after testimony of Mark acting like a rude jerk; a “muscular” Christian, a hyper-masculine football jock–even screaming at guys like a football coach or a drill sergeant. Frequently using war metaphors, provoking an authoritarian leadership model. Intimidating speeches and language, confrontational behavior, and even threats of violence coming from Driscoll towards other men in his church. On the one hand, its noble that Driscoll gets angry when he hears about men abandoning or abusing women in his church, leaving them alone as single moms. But he goes about correcting such problems by showing himself as the more violent and powerful man–displaying a mean-spirited ego trip, an attitude of male chauvinism–that of a macho man.

Men are to care for, provide for, and protect women, which is totally Biblical, but you have all of this John Wayne hypermasculinity mixed into Driscoll’s ministry as well…so it is reported. Women are looked at, first and foremost, as sex objects. Women are often self-conscious and ashamed of their bodies, because of all the open and shameless public talk about sexuality. Women are often shamed, disgraced, and pressured to think in terms of “pornographic ideals” of womanhood. In a sense, this creates an imaginary rape culture, a frat boy culture, a totally evil, spiritually abusive toxic influence that leads to some people even losing their Christian faith. This hyper-sexualized culture, toxic theology, and bullying–this is the sort of stuff that’s going on there, so they say: a hyper-masculinity, with way too much testosterone, straight out of the high school locker room.

CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S INADEQUATE RESPONSE
TO MARK DRISCOLL’S CHAUVINISM

Although the Christianity Today podcast does a good job at apparently painting a picture of how hyper-sexual, and frat-like Driscoll’s ministry really is–it offers no Bible verses or any sort of Scriptural correction to the problem. Mike Cosper even uses occasional cussing to explain everything, as if this were just how a Christian should respond to this, without any scruples except for bleeping himself out on the more extreme cuss words. Further, the use of melodramatic music, and people claiming knowledge about the “Cold War era,” being the source of all of Mark’s masculine views, was to me essentially their liberalized critique of this; and I say liberalized, because it’s clear that this Christianity Today podcast is coming from an egalitarian point of view–in which there are really no distinctive male and female roles in the decision-making process. “Partnering,” but definitely not submitting to the husband’s final decision–this is just un-Biblical feminism…the Jezebel spirit at work. Citing Mark Driscoll not as an extreme example–but as an actual representative of complementarianism–in order to drift people further away from the Bible’s vision of the genders, and into feminism, into emasculating and feminizing men even more. Feminism has always grown as an overreaction to male chauvinism. People like Mark Driscoll actually encourage feminism to thrive, develop, and grow! If these allegations are true and accurate, then he should definitely acknowledge his wrongs and publicly, clearly, and explicitly apologize to his fanbase in order to self-correct his extremes!

Titus 2:2-5: “Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the Word of God.” None of this exists in this Christianity Today podcast. This magazine claims to be the main voice of evangelical, Biblical Christianity. In my opinion, Christianity Today is not a good representative of Biblical Christianity. If you want better representatives, then go to websites like wesleyanbooks.combanneroftruth.org, and heritagebooks.org. I think Christianity Today is likely overrun by Democrats and liberal Christians, which are merely claiming to believe in the Bible. I do not trust the opinions, assessments, and critiques that are drawn by Christianity Today anymore than I do by those of Charisma. Some of their observations about Mark Driscoll might be realistic, because I have personally seen pastoral abuse at work several times; and I know what it looks like, but I’m not saying that I think Christianity Today’s response to Mark Driscoll’s abuses are adequate.

TCM ROMANCE FILMS:
A PICTURE OF TRADITIONAL SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS

In the 1950s and 1960s, there were a lot of classic romance movies that came out, as are shown on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). People like Jimmy Stewart, and eventually Tom Hanks, are perfect examples of the kind of men that I see being pictured in the Bible. A man should treat a woman with respect; and although he is the leader, he treats the woman with respect, earns her trust–sometimes he might even pull back; and want to be pursued by her. He’s joking around with her, he’s making her feel great about herself, he’s leading, he’s real, he apologizes when he messes up. This is the kind of man that should exist in Biblical Christianity. Such characters often communicate openly and freely with women, back and forth in two-way conversations, lots of communication, sometimes with levity, sometimes with seriousness–but there’s always a conversation going on between the man and the woman. She is extremely beautiful; and the man is extremely confident about who he is. Men are not questioning their looks: they’re merely having conversations about many things; and then they grow together, and do romantic activities with one another. This is a Biblical view of male-female relationships. Genesis 26:8: “Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah”; “Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife” (NIV; KJV).

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Biblical Economics

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Identifying a False Prophetic Spirit – Dr. Michael Brown

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