Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Active Choice of Salvation...

Heavenly salvation is inconceivable. What set of terrestrial circumstances can equate to a mortal man savoring in Heavenly delights for all eternity? Could such unimaginable joy be a reward for a lifetime of do-gooding. Inept as I am to unravel the mysteries of eternity I concur with the Apostles of old who deemed it impossible to attain such wonderment through a life of religious observances: Eph 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” How implausible it seems that everlasting joy could be bestowed as a gift. A benefaction beyond all belief should inspire the upmost humility and reverence and possibly confusion.

There have been those who were naturally inclined to contribute unto this gift. Historically many have been accused of formulating religious dogmas that equated to a works based salvation, essentially concocting religious methodology in order to be co-contributors of the gift they received. An opposite extreme was birthed by those who sought to alienate themselves from this perceived error. This next group viewed salvation as completely irrelevant to human actions, so much so that not even human will is a factor. The underlying thought was that consent equated to work and as the gift of salvation had to be void of work to be valid, then consent forfeited the requirements. This reactive assembly taught that God saves by forcibly bypassing His subjects' will in order to bestow this gift.

This conflict begs the question “does man save himself by consenting to be saved?” or another way to ask, “is choosing to be saved a works based salvation?” Let us use the fine art of etymology to shine some light on our query. Picture yourself on a beach, suddenly you spy a distressed body in the water, whaling and beckoning for immediate help. Promptly a toned Baywatchesqe lifeguard zips by with beeline precision and swift motion into the water, pounces on the engulfed fellow, locks the drowner in his muscly arms and drags him to shore. The lifeguard gently lays the limp body on the sand; the quick thinking lifeguard descended his square jaw and perfect teeth to puff life into the suffocated sufferer. After moments of powerful CPR the limp body jumps to life sucking precious air and a crowd of onlookers cheer for crisis averted. The half-drowned fellow is saved thanks to the trained efforts of our lifeguard. Later that night a crowd gathers as the lifeguard regales all with his tale of heroic bravery. Just as our hero winds down from his climatic conclusion a frail voice interrupts
yeah, well, you may have pulled me from the water but, seriously, I totally didn't resist you. Like, had I have started kicking I would have been in big trouble. And, yeah, you may have given me CPR but once I started breathing I kept on breathing, I mean, that's the key right? If it wasn't for me I'd be dead. Sure, you helped but, strictly speaking, I probably saved myself.”

Such a conclusion could not be the mental fruit of any rational individual. Approbation is not a saving action. The victim may have vehemently resisted and lost his life doing so but his unimpeded submission is hardly saving oneself. The retrieved swimmer should have been kissing the feet of his rescuer; acknowledging that his salvation was the sole product of one individual and it wasn't himself. The approval to save is not part of the saving. The individual is having an action done onto to him, 100% of the saving action is committed by the deliverer. If party A saves another party B, then party B has been acted upon. If party A gives party B a gift, party B is strictly a beneficiary and party A is strictly the benefactor. In relation to being saved in the Christian sense, we can safely say that God is the sole author of salvation regardless of consent. God gives the gift and we are merely the donee. Our will is not a contributing factor in the gift of salvation but it is necessary to exercise. The gift is composed without it but received upon it. God has this gift for all, we have only to accept; and know the limitless love of the Lord of Heaven and Earth.

God Love You -- Rev. Sheen

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Condoms and Eighth Layer of Hell

Great Buzz has been generated by the Pope's recent and revamped statement on condoms. Historically the Catholic Church has been an unwavering opponent of the use of artificial contraceptive devices. Whether from Naturalists, Liberal Theologians, Eugenicists, or Moral Liberals, criticism of this controversial position has never been in short supply. In recent years the devastation that AIDS has wrought on the world has opened a recent wave of attacks on a Church, who have sought to align themselves with the poor and oppressed. Some quarters suppose education and condom use would reduce the spread of AIDS and the Roman Catholic Churches opposition is hindering the noble cause. Coupled with a changing world that views monogamy or large families as irresponsible or a hindrance, even in Christian circles, few adamantly avoid all artificial contraception. Condoms are no longer illegal in countries with a Catholic majority and the social taboo has come full circle. With a diminishing list of allies it seems the Pope's statement is welcome by all, though some see it as too little too late.
The Papal quote was as follows:
There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.” So now male prostitutes near and far breath a sigh of relief that their vigilant efforts are justifiable. If the last sentence seemed odd, that's because it is. The Churches previous position was actually an impenetrable protector against the spread of sexually transmitted AIDS. A devout Catholic would have no need of condoms, from a protective standpoint as they would abstains from brothels, elude casual sex and only have sex with their spouse throughout their lives. I have yet to meet the small band of ill-informed Catholics who unashamedly partake of orgies and brothels, but Heaven Forbid they use a condom! I mean male prostitutes are sinful enough, but CONDOMS! Oh no! I can just see St. Peter at the pearly gates:
OK, you cheated on your wife nine times … no biggy, spent a week in Fillipino brothel with young boys, we'll let that one go, but...wait a second... this can't be ri...? You used a CONDOM!!?!??! DENIED! Eighth layer of Hell for you buddy!”
An individual possessing Catholic leanings and enough laxity of morality to contravene the rules of abstinence should have the foresight to ignore the dogmas of artificial contraception. One who puts themselves at risk for sexual transmitted diseases has a soul in jeopardy regardless of condom use. One is not extra-super-duper sinful for employing a latex barrier.

While I shan't conjecture if condoms will indeed reduce the spread of the AIDS virus I will theorize on a pestilence more deleterious than any STD's known to man. A major symptom of this disease is the existence of the prostitutes spoken of by the Pope. Prostitution exists because there is a demand; enough people are convinced that they can use fellow members of humanity solely for sexual gratification. Enough people find it not only tolerable but advantageous that their siblings in humanity are subjected to such degradation. This group may find condoms shield them from certain disease but it appears that these shields have evolved into an unholy cataract. This cataract will not blind the individual from the sultry seductions of the flesh but instead conceals the basic beauty and dignity that shines from every creation of God. This cataract is actually tumorous, a cancer of the soul. Worse than a disease of flesh, this cancer devastates that which makes us human, which makes us beautiful. As St. Augustine once said “Therefore, the prostitution of women for the gratification of sinful passion, is condemned by the divine and eternal law. To purchase the degradation of another, disgraces the purchaser.” While STD's may prematurely end our time on earth, cancer of the soul follows us into the next life. Alas condoms are impuissant against such maladies.
Protecting the world from AIDS is noble but contraception is a bandage whereas holiness in an inoculation. Even those currently infected with cancer of the soul can rids themselves of this disease by asking forgiveness from the Father of the children they degraded. Their Father in Heaven is God almighty; not only will He forgive people of their wrongdoing but also heal them of their cataract and guide us to view our siblings in humanity as God sees them, beautiful and dignified. I will finish with a quote from the great Christian author Lacantius:
But if God only were worshipped, there would not be dissensions and wars, since men would know that they are the sons of one God; and, therefore, among those who were connected by the sacred and inviolable bond of divine relationship,... here would be no adulteries, and debaucheries, and prostitution of women, ... Nor would necessity, compel a woman to dishonour her modesty, to seek for herself a most disgraceful mode of sustenance; since the males also would restrain their lust, and the pious and religious contributions of the rich would succour the destitute... How happy and how golden would be the condition of human affairs, if throughout the world gentleness, and piety, and peace, and innocence, and equity, and temperance, and faith, took up their abode! ... But now men are wicked through ignorance of what is right and good.

God Love You -- Rev. Sheen

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Christian Response to Being Born Gay..

Few issues ignite such a motley of reactions among the religious as the proper and holy response to homosexuality. From the embracing Anglicans who elects openly gay Bishops to the vicious bile of the Westboro Baptist Church who spew there heinous rhetoric to grieving families. The lines are being drawn and the Iron curtain is rising. Many a book has been written on the subject (very few are any good) but one element is the focus of our discussion today: what is the Biblical reaction to the concept that people are born gay?

I disputed the conjecture that individuals are born gay one day in college. A young lady irately retorted “If people were born gay then it would be gone within one generation because they don't have kids to pass the gay gene on to.”
This enlightenment was so stupefying that I was speechless. For those of you unaware no one suggests that there is a genetic predisposition towards same-sex attraction. Most theories revolve around fetal development. For example one theory suggests that a woman's body treats a male child as if it were an invasive foreign body. To compensate the woman's body increases estrogen production, and hence the child is prone to effeminacy. There are some tremendously scholarly folk who trace homosexuality to this process. The validity of this hypothesis and others is for wiser men than I to substantiate.

First we will demonstrate what it means to be born a certain way. There are two categories of birth traits: physical and tendencies. Physical traits relate to a persons anatomical make up, things such as eye color, skin color or even the size of your nose. Those traits can be inherited, such as big ears whereas others are not inherited but are still present in our DNA such as Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome).
Tendencies are the ways in which we respond to our genetic make-up. For example one may inherit strong lungs and vocal chords, symmetrical nasal passages as well as exceptional ear drums. Mix this with consistent exposure to the arts and our subject will have the makings of a fine singer. Now this individual was not born a singer but had a tendency toward such. A singer is someone who sings but until our subject produces melody they are no vocalist. In a similar fashion a pile of bricks is not a house although such a structure maybe itching for construction.

Let us reapply this observation to a negative situation. Our next case was born with a hormonal imbalance that will lead to depression. Their imbalance diminish their abilities to rationally alter their negative emotions. If our subject matures among individuals who handle the same infirmity with consumption of alcohol this unfortunate is a prime candidate for alcoholism. But they were not born an alcoholic, fetal alcohol syndrome aside, no title could be thus endued on fetus who never set eyes on drink. The descendant of an unbroken chain of addicts is not an addict until the day they decide of their own volition to abandon bulwarks and embrace the folly of their family. The same individual may indeed chose to renounce the tendencies of their flesh and live a life of sobriety. Our dauntless subject can never be ordained an alcoholic, their physical form is unchanged but their tendencies are thwarted.
A person with an uncommonly high level of testosterone is not a sex addict but if this person surrenders to every sexual impulse they are a pervert. The same creature may anger easily but is only abusive when they choose to give in to such anger. They yet again may forbear and will be a virtuous and patient soul. From this we establish that physical traits are inescapable whereas tendencies influence our choice to actions committed of our own volition.

From a Biblical perspective there exists no spiritual hinderance of ANY nature that corresponds to our anatomical make-up. No human was ever judged for their genetic assembly; from the strongest brain to the demented imbecile, from the chiseled beefcake to the incapacitated quadriplegic, all our equal in the eyes of God. As the old hymn goes “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight”.

Returning to our original question “what is the Biblical reaction to the concept that people are born gay?” If there exists a genetic or physical cause for homosexual attraction such a cause does not make one a homosexual. Not until one has a sexual relationship with an member of their gender is such a person a homosexual. The action to enter into such an affair was done by their free will. Under our definitions we find homosexuality may be a led tendency as oppose to a physical trait. One is no more gay at birth than an alcoholic in the womb. But if one is born with homosexual tendencies then they are not condemned. For the desire to sin is not a sin but it is committing a sin that condemns one.

With such considerations the question of being born gay slips into irrelevance. One might indeed be born void of attraction to the opposite sex and a strong attraction to one's own. But these tendencies are void of spiritual ramifications. The Christian response to being born gay is
So what? It is our faith and actions that are of importance
Even so, God is good and so loving. We coldly dissected the poor child born amongst depraved alcoholics but in the eyes of God this infant is purely innocent and precious. Our Lord is more aware of his state than we are and will endow upon all who so choose, the powers of all heaven to subdue the sinful desires of our flesh. God knows where you've come from and knows where you're going. He knows the pains we suffer everyday but will always be there for those who turn to Him.
God loves all and Christ died for all. Christ will save all who call on Him and will guide us to resist all that leads to unholiness, whether we were born with such affirmatives or choose them of our own accord.

God Love You
Rev. Sheen

Friday, November 12, 2010

Introduction and Welcome to Holy Philosophy

Holy, Holy. Holy is the Lord God Almighty.  The facts pertaining to Divinity have been passed to humanity; they are ours to explore.  Let us do so...
Whoa, the times are a changing.” The lines are drawn and Iron curtain is steadily strengthening. The lines divide countries, religions, families and even our own tender souls. War, divorce, violence and treachery stem from a self imposed segregation. A segregation that warrants the philosophy “My ways are superior to your ways; as my inferior I may justly inflict harm upon you.” In theological realms the differences are truly striking. Many have abandoned a pursuit of correctness for the more fulfilling exercise of mudslinging. In the political sphere, intentions are the name of the game. “What were they hoping to achieve?” A politician is only judged by his results positively by their supporters and negatively by his enemies. More common than a standard of success is how dearly did they hold to a fluctuating label of “Conservative” or “Liberal”.
Such unremitting movements cannot advance but by the destruction of their opposition. Since I am right and you are wrong you can produce nothing of value. There is nothing to learn; for how can one improve upon perfection? Hence all our views of our neighbors, somewhere over the curtain can be catalogued into failures. A mental arsenal that justifies our enmity. Ignorance and malice are the fornicators who conceive and spawn their offspring: “Propaganda and Defamation”. With our family established we secure our borders with the the sweet song of affirmation “Everything you believe is right and everything they believe is wrong.” This anthem nourishes our bulwark against ...the enemy. The enemy has done the same.

So why bother? Because truth can tear down the walls. When we realized that we are all loved and are designed to love we realize that there are things worth saving. Truth can reignite passion in a marriage and love between parent and child. Truth makes us acknowledge that God loves us all (John 3:16) because we are lovely. We see others as lovely and more lovable. Truth is the syringe of love. The mantra “I'm going to Heaven so you can go to Hell” is demolished by the truthful commandment to love one another as we are loved by God. These joys are fueled by truth and their fruit is procreation of all that is good. Let us express that goodness and sing as the walls come down and love rushes in.

What we hope to achieve is a pursuit of truth. This will mean approaching a bundled mess of ideologies, stripping the lies, reconnecting the broken and weaving the established. That which is thoroughly tested can protect and assault against the vile lies we seek to abolish. When we pass our mind through the fire on earth we will save our self much hay in Heaven.

2Pe 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Together we quest for truth in order to steer a path for towards peace and prosperity for all.

God Love You -- Rev. Sheen

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Charismatic Anger

The other day I noticed an acquaintance published a status making libelous claims against the Catholic Church.  I really do detest Christians defaming their brethren (especially with falsities).  I counteracted by explaining that such aggression and false testimony was not becoming of a Christian.  Although such anger is not uncommon, I found this fellow and his many comrades did little but complain about other Christians.  So much so, that they created videos of struggling Christians burning in hell.
It brings me joy to think of how many of my family and friends would be disgusted by gross abuses of the Christian message. What I find worrisome is the amount of people who find criticism and hatred so charismatic, including myself.  It is so easy to find fault in the people we don't like in order justify our lack of love.  It can be so satisfying to find a few choice phrases of an individual or group, learn those cases verbatim and ignore all else.  Cherry picking some isolated incidents to unjustly condemn the masses is easier than understanding diversity and complexity.
As I stated, I'm guiltier of this than anyone.  Reading a three page pamphlet that conclusively PROVED evolution was false really makes me feel fierce intellectual.  When Kent Hovind told me all that people who believe in evolution are stupid and when no less an authority than 80's heart-throb Kirk Cameron explain the Dr. Darwin hated God because his daughter died I was fully justified in disregarding it altogether.  On top of feeling super smart for being so enlightened you feel incredibly spiritual.  As if fasting from education worked in the same way as fasting from food.  It is pure affectation!
Worst of all, this devotion to arrogance cunningly tears us away from God.  The liar and adulterer know their path will not lead them to heaven, whereas the pridefully ignorant see themselves as first in line.  God, the creator of all truth, fears no questions. The Christian who fabricates propaganda would be like Dr. Hawking writing a literary criticism of the hungry caterpillar. It's beneath them. But the need to make up lies to support a belief must have a base line problem. I suspect we do these things because such passions can distract us from what's truly important. I find that when I'm filled with aggression against particular stance I can become increasingly obsessed with that single factor. Maybe a heresy, fallacy, or immoral practice can catch my attention. I may look at it negatively because it violates God's word or moral code but after a while I hate it for it's own sake. I forget my first love and am left with nothing but hatred for the single project. My passion, conceived in love for God matures to be pure hatred, seeking to not comprehend but the justice my malice. And lies, propaganda and ignorance are the offspring of affectation.
I'm sick of it!
I don't want to distance myself from those who hate you. I'm done creating excuses for their lack of openness that don't revolve around me being a better Christian. It isn't us versus them; it's “but for the grace of God, go I”. If people hate what I believe I will love them more; if they legislate against me I will pray for them, and if they throw me in jail I will buy them really nice shirts. But I will love God all the more.

I don't want to only get excited about verses that disprove heresy. I love the King James Bible because it enlightens Your word for me; don't let me read in order to show I am holier than those who read NIV or the Message. Heresies are real and we're called to counteract them; but I don't let my anger over the abuse destroy my joy of the truth. God, You love Everyone, You died for ALL people, and you will save ALL who will seek you. Let me find joy in this and not passion to subdue and humiliate those who distort your truth.

Lord, I want to help you save your children. I want to love your creation so much that love causes me to want to end abortion. Let not my love for Your children born or unborn turn into a vain passion to discredit liberals. Let me love reach out for heaven sake and not to give hell the finger. Let me minister to the woman and not dream of the abusers judgment. I don't want to be holding a placard about gay marriage; I want all those who are hurting from their sexuality to know my arms are open my love is unconditional. Lord help me to want souls in Heaven more than I want legislation.

I know that conflict is necessary. But I want to fight for love not like the enemy, looking for the taste of blood. I want only to distribute the bread of life. I don't want to make enemies or find fault anymore; I want truth and righteous.

God Love You -- Rev. Sheen