A common thread running through heresy is that it places man at the center of our faith, rather than the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 12:2) The worship of the golden calf by the Israelites who had just been rescued from Egypt was little more than an excuse for rampant and obscene sexual immorality, and the heresy of works-based salvation allows us to proclaim our own righteousness rather than rely upon Jesus' sacrifice to atone for our sin.
The "health and wealth gospel" (HAWG from here on) follows this same path. While pretending to worship God, HAWG proponents actually worship their own bellies. They turn Almighty God into a genie with unlimited wishes, and we only have to ask "god" to provide us with whatever we want and he will give it to us. If we have enough faith, we will have material possessions, good health, children and more.
Now, of course God loves to give His children good things. Luke 11:11-13 is a wonderful example of that. But we are not entitled to anything simply because we have faith. The people of God have always experienced suffering, from everyday heartaches to war, famine, disease, natural disasters and so on. Jesus promised us in John 15:20 that we will be persecuted by this world for following Him. Proponents of HAWG would call Jesus Christ a liar.
Man was created to worship and glorify God. That is what we were meant to do, but HAWG reverses that. In the backwards world of HAWG, our Father in Heaven exists to please and glorify us by giving us whatever we want! Instead of obeying and serving God, we are served by a divine Santa Claus in Heaven. It is perverse and disgusting. Do not fall for the anti-Biblical heresy of HAWG and run away from preachers and churches that teach this blasphemy.
If you turn on the television to a religious channel or attend certain churches, you will hear that if you pray hard enough or have enough faith, that God will grant you good health as well as financial success. This is commonly called the "health and wealth gospel" and, as with many heresies, there are scriptures one can find to support it. Matthew 7:7-11 is an example. But the idea that we can pray our way to earthly riches and good health is simply not supported by Scripture.
First, we have the example of the Apostle Paul. One of the greatest servants of Jesus Christ who has ever lived, Paul wrote 13 books of the Bible that are critical to our understanding of the Christian faith, especially justification by grace through faith. But Paul also had what he called a "thorn in the flesh", which many Bible scholars believe was a serious physical ailment. If one could be healed if he only had enough faith, wouldn't Paul be the first one to be relieved of his ailment? But The Lord told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Of course, Jesus Christ was poor throughout his life, noting at one point that "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." (Matthew 8:20) If all that is standing between us and earthly prosperity is simply having more faith and praying, then why was Jesus Christ Himself basically homeless? Did Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God who was without sin and whose death takes away all of the sins of the world, simply not have enough faith in His Father?
Of course, there were more examples. David, who was chased and persecuted by King Saul; the prophets who were murdered; Steven, who was stoned to death for preaching the Word; and the violent deaths of the Apostles. The list goes on and on, with the most obvious refutation of this heresy being the Book of Job. According to the "health and wealth gospel" heresy, all of these great men would have enjoyed prosperity and healing if they only had more faith. How arrogant is it to claim that earthly prosperity is ours to claim, as if the great men and women of God throughout all time who suffered in this life did not have enough faith?
In fact, in Psalm 73 the writer speaks of how he is jealous because the wicked prosper here on earth, and his faith was shaken. If earthly prosperity is the result of faith in and obedience to God, why would the wicked prosper while the righteous do not? If financial prosperity was a sign of faith and obedience, then why did Jesus say that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24)? According to the "health and wealth gospel", being rich is evidence that someone is following God.
Both physical health and financial success can be idols to our hearts. Furthermore, we can become filled with pride (which is a form of idolatry) if we believe that earthly blessings are a result of us somehow "deserving" them by having enough faith. As if the Creator could ever owe anything to the created! Everything we have is a result of God's wise and holy will, and we do not "deserve" anything from Him. And in truth, that is the most liberating thing of all, because we know that God is in absolute control.
The Monroe County Council's decision to give another handout to Planned Parenthood shows a fundamental lack of seriousness about the community services grant program and a lack of respect for both taxpayers and other social service agencies.
In the application PP submitted to the council, they admitted they took in $160,000 more than they spent up to that point in their fiscal year. PP's revenue over expenses was 160% of the total the council distributed on November 12.
This is shameful. Planned Parenthood clearly does not need the money they got from the council, and that money could do much more good elsewhere. If we are going to subsidize social service agencies, the money should go to organizations that actually need it, not organizations that have a huge budget surplus.
Since PP did not need the money, why are they asking for a handout? They already get a grant every year from the city of Bloomington's social services funding program. This handout was a political endorsement, nothing more.
Finally, Planned Parenthood performs the barbaric act of abortion, and pro-life taxpayers should not be forced to fund such an organization, regardless of whether or not the grant goes to "abortion services."
In the aftermath of the Steubenville rape case, several school officials have been charged with crimes.
If we want a real and meaningful punishment for criminal behavior by government school officials, then severe and draconian financial penalties for the school itself is by far the most effective way to terrorize the school into making sure no employee of the school ever covers up a crime like this again.
The election of Barack Obama was supposed to mark a major step forward in race relations, but Rush Limbaugh was right when he predicted it would do no such thing. It has made things worse, and that should be no surprise.
Enter the latest hand-wringing about racism and the "racist backlash" against the election of Barack Obama, courtesy of the New York Times. Racism is worse than ever, Leftists would have us believe.
Well, race baiting is worse than ever, that's for sure - and this could have easily been predicted. For five years, we have heard the constant drumbeat of claims that opposition to Obama's policies are due to the fact that conservatives cannot stand the fact that a black man is in the White House. It's all nonsense.
Does anyone really believe that if Hillary Clinton or John Edwards had been elected President in 2008 and proposed legislation identical to the "Affordable Care Act" that Republicans would not have opposed ClintonCare or EdwardsCare just as aggressively as they opposed ObamaCare?
Far from being an answer to racism or an improvement to race relations, Obama's election has made things worse because Obama's race has been used as a cudgel against any criticisms of Obama. If you disagree with Obama, it cannot be because you have legitimate philosophical objections to Obama's policies. No, it is because you are racist.
If Obama was serious about improving race relations and opposing racism, he could put a stop to this by denouncing the shameless race-baiting that happens within his own party. He would tell his supporters privately to cut it out and admonish them publicly when they do not. The fact that he does not illustrates that he supports such irresponsible tactics, and that is just as guilty of race-baiting as his worst supporters.
If anything, all this hand-wringing about "racism" and all of the shameless race baiting that has followed the election of Obama has enabled real racism to flourish. By overusing the accusation of racism, Obama apologists weaken the charge and enable real racists to squeak by as a weary public starts ignoring the accusations. This does not help anyone, and Obama is more to blame for this situation than anyone.
When former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, it was something that I believe he richly deserved. Despite my philosophical differences with Lugar, his accomplishments as a senator - especially in the area of foreign policy - are worthy of praise and adoration. It's too bad that the Herald-Times could not honor Lugar without being childish and petty.
The H-T editorial board whined that Lugar was well respected by both Republicans and Democrats, "with the exception of the tea party wing of his own party who beat him in a primary election." It was not only petty, it is not true. Many of the people who worked against Lugar in that primary - including the candidate who defeated him - have a great deal of respect for his accomplishments.
Couldn't the Herald-Times use the space they used to whine about Lugar's 2012 loss to tout Lugar's efforts on nuclear nonproliferation? Even more importantly, Lugar's efforts to secure the nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union were a huge benefit to world security and likely kept those weapons out of the hands of terrorists. They just could not do that, and that speaks volumes about the maturity of the H-T editorial board.
The fact of the matter is that Lugar lost an election. The voters of Indiana chose Lugar's opponent by a margin of 400,321 to 261,285 - an astonishingly firm rejection of an incumbent Senator who had been in office since 1977. There had been an undercurrent of frustration with Lugar among the conservative base that preceded the Tea Party movement by fifteen years to the 1990's, when Lugar voted for the assault weapons ban and the Brady Law in addition to President Clinton's far-Left nominees for the Supreme Court.
It's long past time for Lugar supporters to get over it and move on.
The following was submitted to the Indianapolis Star as a letter to the editor.
The institution of marriage is discriminatory by its very nature. State government does not recognize polygamy, marriage between close relatives or marriages between adults and children. While we have been told that discrimination is inherently bad, that is not always the case, and those examples illustrate where discrimination is a positive thing.
The question that the legislature is considering with HJR-6 is not whether to discriminate, but to what extent state government will discriminate in how marriage is recognized by government.
Marriage was created by God. Man does not have the right to redefine what God has defined for us. Jesus reinforced His Father's plan for marriage in Matthew 19:5 when He said "for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh."
If we abandon the traditional Christian definition of marriage, what rational basis is there for not further expanding marriage?
Homosexual marriage threatens freedom of religion and association. We have already seen government punish private business owners in Colorado and New Mexico for refusing to participate in homosexual weddings. Recognizing homosexual marriage is about mandatory acceptance, not tolerance.
Political correctness is a silly philosophy, especially when it places feelings above reason, logic, facts and history. This is common on university campuses, which is precisely where it should never happen. Such is the case with the most recent complaint about swastikas in the Wildermuth Intramural Center, formerly known as the HPER building.
Ironically, the IDS columnist calling for the removal of the symbols refutes the primary point in the editorial: The Wildermuth pre-dates Nazi Germany and the swastika (which is visually different from the Nazi symbol) was a positive symbol in the Hindu religion. While the sight of the swastika might be a bit jarring, it is inoffensive (or at least should be) once one learns the history of the symbol and why it is there.
That is, after all, the purpose of a university - to educate people about history and culture. A university should not be covering up history because people find it offensive. Instead, a university should be seeking to expand knowledge wherever possible. Students are here in Bloomington for the sole purpose of expanding their knowledge through the classes they take here, so they should be the first to defend the swastikas.
It has been said that the answer to hate speech is more speech, not censorship. That is the case in spades here, because the symbols in Wildermuth are not symbols of hate. The answer to people misunderstanding shat the symbols means is not to hide it, but to educate them about it. The university should never cover up history to protect the fragile feelings of immature "students" who are actively opposing education.
With several prospects for the 2014 NBA draft that could potentially be franchise players, the debate about "tanking" has come to the forefront again. Michael Rosenberg makes a distinction between patience and tanking his his recent editorial, and it's an important (if subtle) distinction to make. His proposed solution to a lottery that encourages lottery teams to be intentionally bad certainly merits consideration.
There is one aspect to this issue that no one is considering: The NBA has too many teams. The league has expanded several times since the late 1980's, and every time you add another team you dilute the talent pool by adding twelve players who would not otherwise be talented or skilled enough to play at the highest level.
Because there are seven more teams in the NBA than there were in the 1987-88 season, there are 84 players who would not be in the NBA if the league looked like it did then. This means the worst teams are much worse than they would be without expansion. Reducing the number of teams would improve the quality of the game.
Of course, contraction is not realistic and (barring a major financial crisis for pro basketball) is not going to happen. So what can be done to discourage teams from intentionally being as bad as possible?
Rosenberg's proposal merits attention. Relegating teams to a lower division (as is done in European soccer) sounds interesting, because that would give the worst teams a strong motivation at the end of the season and would make their games much more interesting. That would also make the regular season mean much more. That is not a realistic solution for the NBA, though, because of the difference in facilities, fan base, television market and so forth between the NBA and the NBA Development League. The biggest factor, of course, is arena size.
Whatever the NBA comes up with, this issue needs to be addressed. It is an embarrassment to the league to see teams intentionally putting together bad rosters to secure a high draft pick, and the current weighted lottery is too strong of an incentive to be intentionally be bad. This is a broken system and it needs to change soon.
The institution of marriage is inherently discriminatory. The question on the table is not whether government should discriminate in what unions it recognizes as marriages, but how discriminatory it should be.
A death penalty case in Ohio makes a mockery of capital punishment and places the Republican governor in direct rebellion against the clear commandment of Almighty God.
Twenty years ago, Ronald Phillips committed a horrific and unimaginable crime for which he was sentenced to death. He is forty years old now, and has spent half of his life behind bars. Now, Gov. John Kasich has delayed this evil man's long-overdue execution to see if the condemned man can donate a kidney to his mother.
The fact that this man is literally twice as old now as he was when he committed crimes worthy of death shows that the death penalty is a complete joke. The death penalty is meaningless when it is applied in such a manner. This man should have been put to death by the civil magistrate many years ago.
Almighty God makes it very clear in Scripture what He thinks of child murder and what He expects to happen to child murderers. God warns the nation of Israel in Leviticus 20:1-5 that those who sacrifice their children to the demon Molech are to be put to death, and that He will set His face against the Israelites if they do not execute those who commit this abomination. God further says in Jeremiah 7:31 and Jeremiah 32:35 that this crime is so horrible that it never even entered into His mind that men would do this.
It is good that Gov. Kasich has compassion on the condemned man's mother. But as my high school principal would say, "it is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right." Delaying this man's execution cannot be excused or justified. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 13:1-4 that God has given the sword to the civil magistrate to be the agent of God's wrath upon the wicked. Kasich should repent of his rebellion against God and use that sword.
But what of the condemned man's mother? Is the omnipotent Creator of the universe so weak and helpless that He cannot provide another donor to save this woman's life? Of course not. Kasich, who claims to be a Christian, should trust in God's power to provide what this woman needs and follow through on his obligations through faith.
I almost never agree with the New York Times when they editorialize about campaign finance reform, because their position leans toward more restrictions on free speech. However, their concern about "dark money" and their call for stronger reporting requirements is one area where I agree with them wholeheartedly.
It is the public's interest to have all campaign donations and expenditures be part of the public record. There is no more effective weapon against corruption than sunshine, and when campaign finances are fully disclosed we can see who our elected officials may be beholden to - and what interest groups may influence candidates who are seeking office.
While some may have privacy concerns about making such things public, those concerns are overshadowed by the compelling state interest of preventing corruption as well as the public's interest in making a fully informed decision when they vote for candidates for elective office. Because of the power government officials hold, full disclosure of who is spending money is very important.
This is one area where we should have bipartisan agreement. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives should quickly move on legislation requiring full disclosure of all campaign contributions and expenditures - from political action committees, so-called "527" groups, political parties, candidates for office and even private individuals. If they do not like the "Disclose" act, they should come up with an alternative in time for the 2014 elections.