Three Ways to Keep Amillennials in the Church

aminI have noticed that my Facebook feed that there is great concern over how to keep amillennials in the Church.  My own district in the LC-MS has identified this as the prime concern upon the minds of the clergy and laypeople.  Let me offer three ways to keep amillennials in the Church.

1)  Keep them away from false teachers.

Amillennials are really only likely to leave the church if they become enamored with false teachers like Lahaye and Scofield who embrace false eschatologies.   Such false teachers encourage people to use such questionable interpretative methods such as: 

  • Using the unclear passages in the Scriptures to lampoon the clear passage in Scripture. Deny the clear words of Jesus through speculation into the imagery of Revelation.
  • Choosing the interpretation most likely to sell books .and movies.  Amillennialism does not lend itself to a sequel.  It is a one and done deal by definition.
  • Focusing on current events more than the events of the past such as the death of Jesus on the cross.  Put the New York Times in one column and the funny parts of Ezekiel in another and have fun.

Such terrible interpretive methods can lead people to embrace all sorts of false beliefs such as:

  • I don’t need the church. Jesus and I are fine.  I am too busy reading the news looking for the fulfillment of ancient prophecies to come to the gathering.
  • I think meditating on the basics of the faith is boring.  I would rather try to develop my own formula for end time dating
  • John Hagee is my homeboy.

Such beliefs lead Amillennials away from the Church.

2)  Don’t outsource their instruction in the faith.  Parents must teach their children.

Amillennials believe correctly about the end times.  However, that can lead parents and pastor alike to think they are prepared to be thrown out into the ever-changing  waves of Christian writings, movies, and music.  They can believe that since they understand that Jesus will return once and all things will be made new, they will also be able to swim through all of the stuff sold in the Christian book store. 

However, trends have a way of pulling people under quickly.  Soon even Amillennials are weighed down by all the things floating around out in those waters.  They can be tricked into thinking the faith is about hipster pastors, heart-tugging plots, and a killer 5 word chorus repeated over and over again.

Parents must keep their Amillennial kids grounded in the scriptures daily.  They must make use of aids like the catechism in order to guard their children against much of what is sold in your local Christian bookstore.  They should fill their minds with the awesome stories of the Scriptures and their ear with songs that calm the conscience with truth about Jesus.  They must take them weekly where Jesus is in water, words, bread and wine.

Amillennials left to their own devices will usually end up alone.  Someone will find the right temptation to keep them away from Jesus.  And that is the definition of alone.

2)  Call them away from sin and to Jesus in his Church

If Amillennials are constantly called to repentance and faith in Jesus, they will remain in church.  Amillennials understand that Jesus’ imminent return means that they are always to be ready for his return.  If reminded of their failure to keep God’s holy law and understand that Jesus comes to them in His Church with his grace and mercy, there will remain.  They will not leave because they will understand that to be without Jesus is to be left in sin and woefully unprepared for Jesus’ return.

Failure to do this might leave Amillennials trusting in their own holiness.  This might lead them to believe that they should sit at home posting psuedo-Christian memes on their Facebook feed manifesting their superior holiness and understanding into the scriptures.  It might also lead them to stay away their congregations in order to not be dragged down by those who are not as good or wise as them.  Such trust in one’s own piety can only lead people away from Jesus and his church.

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I hope these thoughts will help people consider how to keep Amillennials in the church.  Keep them daily aware of their need for Jesus and they will stay in the Church.

What?  People are worried not about keeping Amillennials in the church?  It is Millennials?  Well, shoot. Thankfully, the same rules apply.   Jesus is the way to keep anyone in the Church that will remain.  Things that will certainly not keep Millennials in the true Church include:

  • Removing five overused phrases in the church
  • Changing you worship to be more exciting
  • Making your sanctuary more traditional
  • Getting a younger, cooler pastor
  • Leadership training 
  • Taking kids to a stellar youth conference once a year
  • Being comtemporary, relevant, authentic, non-judgmental, or whatever.

We preach Jesus to sinners.  Those who have ears will remain.

Posted by Philip Hoppe on November 15th, 2014 under Humor, Theology and PracticeTags: , , , , ,  • No Comments

God’s invisible creations…more than angels

viWe confess in the Nicene Creed that God created all things, visible and invisible.  But sadly when someone asks what we mean by God’s invisible creations, we usually have little to say.  We speak quickly of angels, trying not to say more than we really know.  After that, we go silent.

But I would argue that we actually have much more to say about the invisible creations of God.  For God did not just create a bunch of things apparent to any functioning eye but also ordered those things perfectly as well. 

And so he created not only the visible stars in the sky but also the invisible forces that hold them all place in the sky so concretely that a child can look up and behold the same constellations night after night.  He created the gravity that would push his creatures firmly against the dry land.    He created the unseen components of the air that would give life to plants and animals alike.

But even with these thing discussed, there is still more to say about God’s invisible creations.  And what is left to discuss is perhaps even less visible than forces present in nature or the air which floats around us at all times.

We all know that God created Adam and Eve.  Their descendants we readily perceive all around us.  They are the crown of visible creation.  But what we do not often note is the invisible orders God created to be active within humanity’s daily interactions.  While some of these orders would not be revealed right away in Genesis 1-2, all of them would be evident soon enough.  Orders like placing man and wife together in marriage.  Orders like placing pastor and people together in the church.  Orders like rulers and citizens placed together in nations.

And orders are by nature ordered.  It is not just that God created marriage but he ordered it so that it would be composed of husbands loving wives and wives respected husbands.  It is not just that God created the church but he ordered it so that it would be comprised of pastors serving their people and people being persuaded by their pastors.  It is not just that God created government but he ordered it so that it would be made up if of rules benefiting their people by rewarding good and punishing evil and citizens obeying their rulers.

These things are all part of the "Very good" that God declared about his creation.  It was not just that his visible creation was perfect but the invisible ways he crafted for that creation to function as well.   It is also all of this that was destroyed when sin came in swinging to demolish all God had created.  Not only did all flesh begin to die but the orders meant to be a blessing became a burden because of sinful desires which reject such order.

Thanks be to Jesus that he has come to make all things, visible and invisible, new through his life, death, resurrection, ascension, and coming again.  For this creation, all of it, is groaning and in need of restoration.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Posted by Philip Hoppe on September 8th, 2014 under Marriage and Family, Theology and PracticeTags: , , , , , ,  • 1 Comment

Is anyone really single?

single“To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am,” writes Paul in 1 Corinthians 7.  Or does he?  Well in the original language, the word “single” is nowhere to be found.  Paul simply says people should remain as he is.  He does not say they should remain single or that they should remain alone.  He simply says that they should stay unmarried (assuming the have the gift of being content with celibacy).  The English Standard Version here places our cultural assumptions right in the middle of their translation of this verse.

Let me ask a question?  When does one become single?  If you have a single’s group in church or just in the community, who is it targeting?  Is the four year old boy a single?  Is the thirteen year old girl who has hit puberty? Or  how about the 19 year old off at college?

It seems that we most often use the term for those who could in a culturally acceptable way be married but for whatever reason are not.  But should we use the term? 

It seems to be that the term single is synonymous in our mind with alone.  And I would contend that almost no one is really single in that sense. First, one is and always remains a part of one nuclear family.  Either you are part of the family you were born into (or adopted into) or you are a part of the new family you have by virtue of marriage. 

We have created a space in between these two that I would argue does not really exist.  One does not leave behind their family when they turn 18.  One does not leave them behind because they go to school.  No, they do not leave them when they move out into their own place.  God intends everyone to know that they are part of one family.  They are never single, never alone.  They may be unmarried but not alone.

The Scriptures never say, “And one will grow up, leave their family, and then be bound to themselves alone.”  It only says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

And this should be food for thought both for those who consider themselves single and those parents who have children who think of themselves in this way.  Those who consider themselves single should take comfort in knowing that they are not truly alone for they still have a family.  They should also remember that they owe to that family everything they always did.  Parents should take joy knowing that their nest may not really be as empty as they had supposed.  But they must also take seriously the responsibility they have towards people who may not necessarily live with them.  

There maybe a few people who rightly might be called single.  Orphans, widows, and people who have lost their parents and have no spouse.  In those cases, when no other family is truly present, the church is supposed to become family to them in very practical ways.  And if we take up this work, then we might be able to say, “No one is actually single.  Everybody has a family. Either you are part of the family you were born into (or adopted into), you are a part of the new family you have by virtue of marriage, or your are part of the family of the Church.

Posted by Philip Hoppe on July 16th, 2014 under Marriage and Family, Theology and PracticeTags: , , , ,  • 1 Comment

Why I’ve got to be so rude

magicrudeThere is a new song right at the top of the charts this day.  It is called Rude by a group called Magic.  Some of the lyrics are as follows:

Saturday morning jumped out of bed
And put on my best suit
Got in my car and raced like a jet
All the way to you
Knocked on your door with heart in my hand
To ask you a question
‘Cause I know that you’re an old-fashioned man, yeah

Can I have your daughter for the rest of my life?
Say yes, say yes ’cause I need to know
You say I’ll never get your blessing ’til the day I die
Tough luck, my friend, but the answer is ‘No’

Why you gotta be so rude?

Don’t you know I’m human too?
Why you gotta be so rude?
I’m gonna marry her anyway

At the risk of being considered aloof, let me answer the hypothetical and maybe rhetorical question asked in the song. Why would a dad refuse to say yes to a boy or man who comes to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage?

Well because his daughter belongs to him.  And no, feminists this is not a statement meant to speak of ownership of but rather responsibility to his daughter.  Fathers have a God-given responsibility for all their children’s wellbeing.  Dads are responsible for their daughters until they are married.

Genesis 2:24  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Once married the primary responsibility then shifts from father to husband but not until then.  The responsibility does not end at some arbitrary age set up for the daughter to begin dating.  It does not end at age 18 because someone decided to call everyone an adult at that age.  This responsibility only goes away with the death of the father or the marriage of the daughter.

And being responsible for a daughter means not only filling her stomach with food and putting clothes on her body but it means being very concerned with her future.  And there is no more important part of anyone’s future than who they will spend it with as family.

mariaFathers (and mothers) should be very involved in making sure their daughters get to live their life not with a perfect man, for there are none, but with a man who will care for them spiritually, financially, and emotionally.   We have for too long asked fathers only to tell the daughters when they can date.  But real fathers are much more concerned with who their daughters may date.  In our world, this is very hard to do since so much of our culture seeks to separate children from parents and encourage them to be independent of their parents as soon as possible.  Fathers while seeking the counsel of fellow Christian fathers will have to each individually decide how to best insure that their daughters do not end up with someone who will damage them spiritually, financially, and emotionally. 

Certainly it will involve raising our daughters in a way that causes them to desire a godly man as their spouse.  Unquestionably it will involve modeling for their daughters what a husband and father should act like.  It may also include things like introducing their daughters to young men who are seeking to walk with Jesus and live in his forgiveness.  It could involve all sorts of other things.

Why call your daughter off of the street when she is playing as a child only to hand her over to a man who will run her over as she ages?  Why teach her the faith diligently each night in your home only to give your blessing to her being placed under the care of one who will never mention the Word in his home?  Why tell her you love her as you kiss her goodnight only to not show any care about who will kiss her goodnight for the rest of her life?

I must admit that the best approach here is unquestionably done in advance of any boy being close enough to your daughter to ask for her hand.  But I would, if ever in that situation, say no to any boy that asked and yet would not care for my daughter.  I am her dad.  I have that responsibility.  That is why I have to be so rude.

___________________________________________________

While many might read this as a post mostly dealing with how males and female relate, I write it much more to speak about how parents and children relate.  Most of what was written would be equally true if speaking about how a father should view his son getting married or how a wife should view her daughter or son getting married. I write it to challenge the ways we think about families in our culture.  Everyone alive is a part of one nuclear family or another regardless of their current living arrangements and we should never forget it.

Posted by Philip Hoppe on July 14th, 2014 under Marriage and Family, Theology and PracticeTags: , , , , ,  • No Comments

Virginity is meant to be given away

heartlockContrary to how we often speak, virginity is not something that Christians are to guard and keep.  It is something they are to give away.  I know that seems downright wrong to say and is enough to make every Christian parent with growing kids squirm a little.  But before you add this blog post to the list of blocked sites on your teen son’s or daughters internet filter, let me explain what I mean. 

I just finished reading this article, an ode to a twenty nine year old virgin written by a thirty two year virgin.  In Christianity, we have come to idolize such people.  We think it is quite laudable that they have kept their virginity that long.  Such people statistically are a very rare breed and so we celebrate them.  Oh yes, society mocks and maligns them, but we in the Church put them on a pedestal and write blog posts about them.  We proclaim them our chaste champions.

Our sexuality is ultimately not something to be kept for ourselves but to be given away.  Given to our spouse to be sure but still to be given away.  God’s design for sexuality is not ultimately that it would be suppressed for as long as possible as some sort of heroic feat of self control.  It is meant to be used for every good it has to offer one spouse to another in Christian marriage.

I think one of the cruelest things we have done to young Christians is give them the impression that the wisest thing to do is remain chaste (and unmarried) until their late twenties or later when they are hopefully well established and independent.   Such a task is near impossible because it fights against nature  and God’s plan for sexuality.  We tell people during the time of their greatest sexual virility to resist the natural urges they have in order to chase after other things.  We suggest that to let those urges find their proper place in marriage would be unwise.  We end up speaking in a way that demonizes both sex and marriage and then wonder why both are thought of so poorly.  

Lest I be misunderstood, let me say the following.  If you do not have a spouse you should unquestionably remain chaste.  The bible is clear that all sexuality outside of marriage is sinful and does not serve to keep the marriage bed pure.

But please also understand this.  We as the Church need to speak about and teach about marriage in a way that makes our young prioritize it in their lives.  Marriage and family are much more important to life than what one ends up doing as a career or how much wealth they amass by age 40. Rather than speaking about the marriage of younger people as something that destroys lives, we should laud it as that which gives life new purpose and joy to life.

So to all the young Christians out there, I say:  give your virginity away.  Give it away to the one God gives you as your spouse.  Don’t put off marriage and sexuality needlessly.   When you find one who shares your desire to be gathered to Christ regularly, understands the nature of Christian marriage, and has the approval of your parents, go ahead.  Get married and give your virginity away.  God gave you your virginity as a gift to bestow upon your spouse.  He did not give it to you to be kept  for some badge of pride to be lauded by others.

Posted by Philip Hoppe on July 8th, 2014 under Marriage and Family, SexualityTags: , , , ,  • 2 Comments

Ellsworth and Walmart

elsstreetjIn the town where I serve, the battle lines have been marked, the weapons are drawn, and no doubt blood has already been spilled.  The reason?  It has been revealed that Walmart plans to bring a small version of itself to town.  Meetings are being held.  Petitions are being signed.  Unfair assumptions are being made and unkind words are being spoken.

I have lived in Ellsworth for 11 years now but remain an outsider in many ways.  Pastors usually do.  Some have suggested that it takes living in a small town for several generations to truly be considered an insider and that seems about right to me as to the reality.

And that means that when the news came, I did not have a near instinctual reaction to the news.  I was not and am not sure that it is obvious what is best in the short term or long term. 

Here is what I am certain of as I consider it all.  When something like this happens, people quickly move to defend their own wellbeing.  In this case, one side is defending the wellbeing of their or their friend’s businesses which provide a comfortable way of life for their families.  And that is reasonable and understandable.  The other side is defending their right to have access to stores that might provide needed items at a lower price without the need to travel and expend costly fuel.   Again, this seems reasonable to me.

walmart-express-V65BBFF-x-largePaul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

For those in Ellsworth who claim the name of Christ as their own, these words are also for you.  In the midst of the battle, look across at your supposed enemies and see instead other people with reasonable concerns.  Look not only to your own interests but also the interests of others.

The storeowners are afraid that their wellbeing is at stake.  The people struggling to make ends meet are afraid that their wellbeing is at stake.  Love one another.  Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Consider Jesus who put your interests above his own as he died on the cross for you and for your salvation.  Have this mind in yourself.

Posted by Philip Hoppe on June 19th, 2014 under LocalTags: , , , , ,  • No Comments

The Lack of Villains

isRecently a long time pro wrestling announcer noted how hard it has become to be a villain truly hated by the fans.  The bad guys used to be able to draw heat very easily by cheating.  And there were plenty of rules to break.  One could punch his opponent with a closed fist.  They could throw someone over the top rope.  They could grab a handful of trunks while pinning someone.  They could do any of these things (or many others) and the crowd would hate them for cheating. 

But much has changed.   All of these things are now legal in wrestling and so doing any of them does not guarantee that the fan will consider the one who does them to be a villain.  In fact many fans now cheer the very things that used to be considered evil.

Does this sound familiar?  It seems to me that here art is imitating life.  Many of the things that used to unquestionably make you a villain in life no longer do so.  Deeds considered debaucherous in the past are now thought of as ways to facilitate fun.  Things that used to be mourned with shame are now celebrated with parties.  Things that used to make you a villain in life now make you a fan favorite. Many now cheer the very things that used to be considered evil.   There are very few things left in American culture that are against the rules.  And so we are left with very few villains.  Most everyone is assumed to be a good guy or gal.

And why should we be concerned as God’s people?  Well because if everyone is assumed to be a good guy, we will start to assume the same about ourselves.  We will do many sinful things and not really be alarmed.  We will think the liturgy’s characterization of us as poor miserable sinners is way over the top.  And when we think of ourselves as good guys and gals, we will not feel any great need for One to come and save the day.

The rules (the law) were given by God so that that which is sinful might be recognized as utterly sinful.  And this not as an end to itself but rather so that us sinners might know that without God’s help we would be lost forever.  For in that state, when the Savior came to us, we  rejoice.  We know that we are bad guys and gals without question and rejoice in the One who comes to save us.

This is why we must continue to proclaim the law with all of its ferocity.  This is why we can not change the rules so to speak.  For every time we start to call evil good, we also begin to convince ourselves and others that we are fine without Jesus. And that is the lie that kills eternally.  We need villains in order that we might rejoice when the good guy Jesus wins the match and sets us free. 

We must continue to have rules in order that we know who the villains are, namely ourselves and all other humans.  And we must know who we are so that we rejoice in who Christ is.  He is the good guy beyond all comparison.

Signed,

A Villain

Posted by Philip Hoppe on May 14th, 2014 under Theology and PracticeTags: , , , , , ,  • 1 Comment

The Worst Thing A Modern Girl Can Want

propI talked to a young lady a couple years out of high school today and asked her what her plans were for life.  Her answer was in one way so odd for a girl her age and yet she said it so matter-of-factly.  To be most honest, it was an answer I would be tickled to hear my girls give some day.   To paraphrase she said, “I just want to be a wife and a mother and raise my kids.”  She went on to express that she would pursue other things in life but that this was her real desire.

Many might look at this young lady and conclude that she just doesn’t know  what she wants to do in life.  I fear many would respond to that answer with some version of, “Yeah, but what do you really want to do? Like what do you want to do with your life.”  But the problem is not that this young lady doesn’t know what she wants to do but that our society is not equipped to help a lady like her pursue her dreams.

If she wanted to be doctor, we would lay out a plan to get there.  If she wanted to be a career missionary, we could tell her where to look.  If she wanted to be anything but a wife and mother, we would have a plan.   But with this we are stuck.

Most would just dismiss her desire as outdated or not well thought out.  But even those of us in the Christian community are not well prepared to help.  At best, we tell her to wait for the one God will give her and be content with Jesus until then.  And while it is true that we are to find our ultimate contentment with Jesus, it is not altogether true that just waiting is the only thing one who desires to marry and raise a family can do.

momWhat should we be willing to do for a young lady like her?

  • We should be completely supportive of her choice.  We should train ourselves to not be shocked by her answer even though it is sadly rare for a woman of her age.  We should rejoice in her choice at least as strongly as we would of those who pursue other vocations.  Perhaps more.
  • We should open up every opportunity for her to learn the way of wives and mothers.  We should have more resources and opportunities for those who desire this Godly goal.  We should have older women ready to mentor her and younger women willing to share raising their children with her.
  • We should be dedicated to finding her godly men to consider for marriage if she will allow such help.  First and foremost, this should be a concern of her parents but others can help as well.  Churches used to place boys and girls of marrying age intentionally together in group settings to foster this possibility.  We have outsourced all this to the public school lunch room, dating websites, and the bars.  We should take it back. If we do not wish to consider arranged marriages, we should at least arrange events that facilitate the interaction of Christian singles.
  • We should put aside many of our cultural assumptions such as:
    • That a woman must establish an independent life before pursuing the married life.
    • That the level of education one completes is a good measure of the value of that person to society.
    • That being a wife and mother is not a real job.
    • That marrying young is foolish.
    • And probably a hundred other assumptions.

This particular young lady has some of this support already in her life already in her family and church.  But hopefully more and more young ladies will give this answer in the future because the Lord Jesus knows we need more dedicated wives and mothers in our world.  Many of them will not have much support initially for such a counter-cultural desire.  We as Christian people should be ready to affirm and help these young women.

Posted by Philip Hoppe on May 1st, 2014 under Marriage and Family, Sexuality, Theology and PracticeTags: , , , ,  • 3 Comments

Should we treat animals humanely? I say no.

humane The word humane in the English comes from the Latin adjective hūmānus which has as its linguistic root homo (a noun).  And the Latin word homo means human being.  Hence in biology humans as a species are indentified as homo sapiens, literally humans with wisdom.

Therefore, while most modern dictionaries will define humane as being compassionate or something like that, etymologically it means to treat something as a human.  In fact, the first humane societies were formed to rescue humans and not animals.  Only in the last 150 years or so has the word become more and more associated with animals than humans.

We as Christians are not therefore to treat animals humanely.  Why? Because they are not humans.   So how do we treat them?  We treat them as creatures of God given to live under the dominion of humanity.

Genesis 1:26  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."

Does that means that we are free to abuse them?  Far from it.  We are to treasure everything that God has made.  Does it mean that we should not be rescuing them from peril?  Again, not at all.  We value all life.  Does it mean that we cannot mourn the loss of animals that have served as pets in our home?  Of course not.

But it does mean that we understand that they are given to live under the dominion of humans and are ultimately created for the good of humanity like all of creation.

So, yes, we can do things to animals that we would not do to humans.  We can hunt them.  We can control their population levels.  We can eat them. 

Genesis 9:3  Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

So should we treat animals humanely?  Well I suppose it depends on your definition of humane.  Should we treat them as well as is possible while still understanding their proper place in creation?  Yes.

 But should we treat them like humans?  No.  They are not.  To suggest this is to buy into the overall lie of evolution which seeks to declare that there is no real distinction between humanity and the rest of creation. 

Most of you reading this (at least my “regular” readers) do not accept the idea that there is a lack distinction between humans and the rest of creation.  But I fear all of us while denying the premise are buying into the conclusions that those who do not believe in such distinction are making.  

Many speak about their pets in a way that affords them a near human status.  They believe that an animals can provide them the kind of companionship formerly reserved for humans.  They call their animals their children.  I understand that we can get really attached to pets and often the talk is just hyperbole.  But we must keep clear and make clear that no animal can truly be for us what God intends only other humans to be for us.

Others have taken up vegetarianism (nothing wrong with that generally – except the lack of steak) not for health reasons but because they believe it is improper to butcher animals to eat them.  They suggest animals have right similar to humans and yet do not recognize they are buying into the evolutionary premise that there is no real distinction between the two. Again, we must remain firm that there is nothing wrong with humans eating other creatures.  One may choose not to eat them for several reasons but it is improper to suggest that we may not due to some bill of rights they possess that looks strangely like the one only humans possess.

Love your animal.  Eat your animal.  Just don’t think your animal is human.  Don’t in that sense treat them humanely, like a human.  Treat them as they are, creatures of God given to live under the dominion of humanity.

Posted by Philip Hoppe on March 17th, 2014 under Theology and PracticeTags: ,  • 5 Comments

The World is Round, People…or is it?

imageWhile on stage to accept her second Oscar, Cate Blanchett made an impassioned plea for making more feature length films with female characters at their center.  She said that the film “Blue Jasmine” for which she won the Oscar was the proof that such movies were craved by moviegoers.  At the end of her monologue she quipped, “The world is round, people!” 

I have no real dog in the fight she was trying to turn the spotlight on.  I don’t watch enough films to even know if the lack of female centered films is a real issue.  It may well be.  But what struck me was that quip of hers, “The world is round, people!”

Even though most every scholar that researches how people think will tell you we are in a period of thought called post-modernism in which completely contradictory ideas can carelessly bounce off one another without any resulting big bang, statements like Cate’s prove the opposite.

Her little quip sounded very familiar to me.  It was a way of saying, “This is settled everyone.  Move on.”  In her mind, the idea that women are just as able to draw people to a movie is as obvious and decided as the fact that the world is round.  If you don’t agree with he on this, you are a flat-earther.

As I said, I have no opinion on the question at hand but my guess is that many would not consider it a settled issue.   Her very impassioned speech itself suggest that it is not really settled.

debateThere are many things which our supposedly uber-tolerant world no longer will tolerate.  They are settled issues in the mind of most of the culture.  They are obviously not really settled, but the proponents are putting on Oscar worthy performances suggesting that they are.  Here are three such issues.

  1. The world was created through evolution over many, many years.
  2. Women must pursue a career outside the home to be both happy and successful.
  3. Homosexuality is natural and moral.

What the proponents of these views are doing is quite smart rhetorically.  By claiming the debate is over, they gain two things advantageous for themselves and their positions.  One, they no longer have to engage in debates which might expose weaknesses in their positions.  And secondly, they get to quip, “The world is round, people!” at those who do not agree.   They can easily mock their opponents by suggesting that if you don’t agree with their position, you are a flat-earther.

This tactic is meant to silence detractors by making them look and feel like fools for holding a position other than the one presented as the settled truth.  And we must admit that the tactic often works.  It is hard to go to the  science museum and not be silenced by the repetition of the mantra, “Millions of years ago.”  Women who have chosen to dedicate themselves to managing the home and raising children are silenced by the looks and mocking comments made by those women chasing this dream or that.  Young Christians are pressured into silence because every group and program on their college campus threatens them with pleas for quiet tolerance when it comes to homosexuality. 

imageIf we are honest, all of us who do not believe that these are settled issues in our culture are often silent because we fear what the mockery that comes with speaking out.  But cannot be silent.  We need not be vitriolic when we speak but we must speak the truth.  We must with gentleness an respect make clear that the debate is not over. 

When Bill Nye debated Ken Ham recently many in the scientific community were quite upset even before the debate began.  You know why?  They felt that just by agreeing to the debate he gave the impression  that the whole topic was debatable.  Years of pretending it was all settled were thrown into doubt.

We have to continue to keep these conversations going.  While we will never win the culture battles by clever and eloquent words, we can be the means by which God’s all-powerful word goes forth and accomplishes that for which he sent it.  And that should be reason enough for us to refuse to be silenced by this hardball tactic that is becoming quite common.

Posted by Philip Hoppe on March 4th, 2014 under News Clippings, Theology and PracticeTags: , , , , ,  • No Comments