Not long ago, my friend Earl gave me a book on blogging. It was called, understandably, Blog, and it was written by a blogger par excellence named Hugh Hewitt. Hewitt is a successful conservative talk show host, and a teacher of Constitutional Law at Chapman University in Orange County. If you want to understand what blogging is, and why it is in the forefront of the communications revolution, read Hewitt’s book.
The word “blog” simply means weblog. A log is like a diary as in “Captain’s log, Star Date, 4045” etc. etc. A blog is a diary maintained on the web by one or more regular contributors. Hewitt explains that the first blog appeared in 1999, or thereabouts. Now there are more than 4 million blogs. Subjectwise, blogs are all over the map. There are poliblogs about politics and warblogs about war, etc. etc.
On a recent visit, I gave Ken Westby a copy of Blog. He decided to start one on the ACD website (www.godward.org) and he invited Ken Ryland and me to participate, which we gladly did. The three of us, and two others, quickly made some contributions and the pump was primed. The ACD blog was off and running.
Now that we’ve had a couple of weeks to think about it, I began to ask myself, what should be the focus of my own comments on the blog? What do I have to say that is going to be useful to others who want up-to-the-minute information?
I am naturally drawn to world events, geopolitics, and the goings on in the religious world. The world is the “field” in which the Church does its work. I thought about writing about changing world conditions as they affect the Church. Then I realized that not everyone who checks in with the ACD site defines the Church the same way.
Some Christians do not view those who do not observe the seventh day Sabbath as true Christians. Trinitarians do not view Sabbath-keeping Binitarians as true Christians. Catholics do not see Protestants or cultic Christians as real Christians either. On and on it goes.
Equal Opportunity Persecutors
As I have written before in this column, the enemies of Christianity – and they are many – do not care about denominational distinctions. A Christian is a Christian. They don’t care whether we keep Sunday, Saturday or no day. Nor do they care whether the Christians they are targeting believe that God is a Trinity, a Binity, or a Singularity. They just know they hate us and they want us outta here.
I have often expressed the conviction that a true Christian cannot be identified by his theology, but rather by whether or not he has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him (or her). The apostle Paul expressed this thought clearly in his first letter to the Corinthians: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:13). In II Timothy 2:19b, Paul writes: “The Lord knoweth them that are his.”
Whether or not we can accurately identify fellow Christians, we know that the Lord, who is the Head of the Church, can do so with ease. Just as God knew who his true followers were in Elijah’s day (I Kings 19:18), so God knows those of us who are his today. Our job is not to judge each other’s doctrine, personal theologies, attitudes, affiliations and organizational structures; it is to love one another as Jesus loved his original disciples (John 13:34-35). When it comes to beliefs and doctrines, we should give each other the benefit of the doubt. About 99% of us are not trained theologians, and we have few, if any, exegetical skills. We simply know what we “b’leeve.”
Some of us, unwisely I suspect, say things like, “Well what do I need exegetical skills for when I have the Holy Spirit? Doesn’t the Bible say that the Spirit of truth will lead us into all truth?” Think that one through. Why do so many people, all claiming to be led by the Holy Spirit, say and believe things that cancel out what others who also claim to be led by the Holy Spirit say and believe? How do you tell which of all the truth claimants is true and which is false? Most of us wind up thinking that the true folks are the ones who agree with us. Something wrong with that thinking!
Back to Blogging
Ken Westby, Ken Ryland, and me, are brothers in Christ. Our wives are “cistern” in Christ. Yet, I suspect that we could all sit down and argue about whose “b’leefs” are true and whose are in error until either the cows came home, or until Christ returns. In that discussion, we probably wouldn’t resolve anything, or change anyone else’s mind. We are a microcosm of the larger Church.
What matters is that we have all been bought with the same price – the blood of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 6:19-20), and therefore we are all called to glorify God in the time we have left. We are not called to fight with each other, hate each other, or spend our lives and energies in high-visibility disagreement with each other. We were not called to form exclusivistic enclaves of like-minded, pugnacious, “true believers.” We were called to serve God.
In my way of thinking, anyone who has, and who produces the fruit and gifts of, the Holy Spirit is a real Christian. When I hear people speak, as I did recently, who have been willing to lay their lives on the line in dehumanizing Chinese Communist prisons for the sake of the faith, I know I am in the presence of great faith. When I think about “the Church,” I don’t think about some denomination of closed-minded Sabbatarians or Trinitarians, but rather about the Body of Christ that transcends all denominational constructs. I think of a spiritual organism, not an organization. I think about my brethren in lands where just being a Christian can cost you your life.
The Case of Chen Jingmao
When I write about the state of the faith around the world, I think about people like Chen Jingmao, a 73-year old Chinese Christian who was sentenced to four years in prison for practicing “illegal evangelistic activities.” When Mr. Chen’s daughter visited him in prison last year, she saw that her father’s legs had been both beaten and broken. Two other prisoners had to carry him to see his daughter. He has been, and continues to be, repeatedly beaten for the “crime” of having led 50 other prisoners to Christ. He told his daughter, “While I am still alive here, I will not stop sharing the Gospel.” (If you want to see a picture of Mr. Chen, check out Voice of the Martyrs website: www.prisoneralert.com.)
I don’t really care or know much about Chen Jingmao’s personal theology, but I consider him a noble brother in Christ. He’s laying it all on the line for his conviction that the Gospel needs to be preached in any and all situations. He is one of many Chinese Christians who live under an oppressive, atheistic, totalitarian regime that has no compunction about abusing old people, women and even children who do not tow the Party line. These brave, faith-filled Christians need our prayers and our solidarity with them. Great will be their reward in the world to come!
When I “blog” about world news, or the shifting balances of power in the world, I am not so much concerned about “fulfilled prophecy” as I am about the plight of God’s people wherever they might be. My focus is the Body of Christ, not this or that denomination. I am also deeply concerned about the Jewish people worldwide. They too are God’s people – his first people. As Paul pointed out, we have been “grafted in” to them, not vice versa (Romans 11:17). He then wrote, “Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee” (v. 18).
Christians and Jews the world over ought to express, and daily reinforce, solidarity with each other. In times like these, when 100,000 Christians a year are being martyred, we need to stick together, intercede for each other, and support each other in any way we can. We are all part of the “household of God.”
A Word about Phonies
I realize of course that the “wheat and the weeds” grow together. Not everyone who fellowships with Christians is a true followers of Christ. Some are bogus, counterfeits, insincere exploiters of the brethren. Some see religion as a way to make a good living (I Timothy 6:5), especially if they claim the tithe. For others it’s a power trip. They enjoy dominating a small group of gullible followers. We will all have to account to Christ for what we did in his name.
When it comes to doctrine and dogma, the Lord himself will have to straighten us out. We certainly can’t do it for ourselves. For nearly 2000 years, Christians and Jews have been bickering with and picking on each other over doctrine. The winners of ecclesiastical battles for dominance have invariably declared the losers “heretics.” But this year’s heretic can be tomorrows orthodox, and vice versa. Power balances have a way of shifting.
I’m encouraging you to think outside of the box – the box I call the Churches of God Pod. Think about your brethren around the world, and pray for them. They need it: daily, intensely, and passionately. Become informed as to the situation of God’s Jewish and Christian people around the world.
And if you’re hung up about doctrine, don’t waste time arguing with people about it. I guarantee they’re not going to change their mind, and neither are you. Just pray for them and ask God to enlighten them – or to enlighten you; whoever needs it most.
And check in daily with the ACD Blog. You’ll find lots to pray about.