Marx’s Mistakes and Christianity’s Answers

 

What must we think of Christianity and Communism?

To begin, these worldviews at their core are diametrically opposed. Marx teaches that man is the author of his own faith, but is undergoing oppression by the economic order before him. While, Christ points to a sovereign God who is the author of history. Jesus was a man who came to seek and save the lost. To reconcile people back to the Father and save them from their sins.

However, maybe where the Christian and Communist meet at the crossroads of life is a great concern for the future of mankind. I would argue this is far as we can go together. Marx believes solely in fulfilling the material needs of the person and his ideology rests in a mere rationalistic hypothesis, while Christianity is based on the revelation of a personal God. As Augustine put it “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”


Mistaking the Man: 

Marx denied the existence of God. As a result, he postulated that man was a social product rooted in nature. As Lyell put it ‘man becomes just a cog in a vast soulless machine’.

This appears to claim that an individual is something expendable; an object for a means to an end. I think this emerges as exploitation at its worst.  The Christian conception of the world places value on the human because they are made in the image of God. In contrary to Marxist thinking, one actually has dignity in Christianity. Sure, Marx desired an equal, utopian society. But humans are expendable units on his path of undetermined history.

Mao Tse-Tung clearly demonstrated the essence of Communism and the expendable nature of humans during his reign in the People’s Republic of China: “we believe in dialectics, and so we can’t not be in favour of death”. Mao knowingly starved and worked millions to death. All at the desperate attempt to please the dialectic (the forces that drive history along a predestined path).


Ignoring Man’s Problem: 

Instead of seeing a divine sovereign hand throughout history, Marx rejected a Judeo-Christian notion of history and replaced it with the concept of Dialectical Materialism. Marx clinged to a mechanical view of social development rooted in the past which does not appear to include much solid evidence. Further, the evidences which he selected strangely appear to suit his aims perfectly.

Western Europe was his choice of data and the ancient roots of the Middle East were entirely neglected. Marx’s historicity is too general and superficial. His dialectical is not born in all contexts. Moreover, why does this process just stop apparently when Marx’s utopia has been reached? Surely, there should not be a conclusion but a continuation.

Marx concluded that evil is a consequence of the unjust social order that exists. Yet, he misses the real origin of evil that lies within the sinful human heart. Which, Jesus himself spoke of in Mark: ‘For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person’ (Mark 7:21-23). 


False Future: 

Marx’s view of the future does appeal to our pleasure ridden and satisfaction seeking hearts. No war. No poverty. No class divisions. But, this will only be enjoyed by those who are alive when the utopia comes. All of this revolutionary struggling, labouring and sacrifices for a favoured majority of the human race.

We can agree with the Marxist on the importance of principles of justice, peace and stable governance. However, Lyell indicates we must ask important questions of the Marxist tradition – “Can you prove that war and violence ever produces true peace? How do you know the dialectical process is absolute? What makes you think man can control his own destiny? Marx promoted a system of thought requesting people to seek atheistic materialism. Marxist thinking is no doubt religious. Additionally, its practical problems relate to morality, while its theoretical problems are ultimately theological. One might not think it, but Christianity is more realistic than the Marxist tradition in answering the fundamental questions in life. Within the person of Jesus, one finds the answers to these questions.


A man who claims that ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’ (John 14:6) is more worthy of thorough investigation and discussion. Jesus understands man, he addresses his problem of sin and offers hope for the future through the assurance of salvation.

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Trading Truth for Treaty

treaty

What do I mean when I say ‘trading truth for treaty’? Well, it is the open expression of agreeing with people you know/do not know on certain moral and cultural issues that stand contrary to biblical truth. This is partially explained by the pluralistic and postmodern culture we live in. Where we tend to get too comfortable.

Further, we might consider agreeing with people on everything as a loving practice. A beautiful expression of tolerance; avoiding the possibility of infringing someone’s liberties. Trying not to offend people. However, we have to realise “the truth claims of Christianity, by their very particularity and exclusivity, are inherently offensive to those who would demand some other gospel” (Mohler, 2017).

Trading biblical truth for your truth results in the practice of mentally or physically putting an asterisk beside what you do not like and associating it with words such as ‘inapplicable’, ‘irrelevant’, ‘inept’, ‘outdated’ or ‘uncomfortable’. Cultural appeasement leads you to pursue a biblical interpretation and understanding that eases the arduous feeling of handling hard truths in Scripture.

In John 17, Jesus utters the words “sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). In this verse, the word truth is not an adjective but a noun. Jesus is not claiming that God’s Word is ‘true’ in the modern sense but rather it is truth itself.

Why do we trade truth for treaty?

We think we are loving people by telling them what they want to hear. While, simultaneously preventing our image from being broken down. I understand it is mentally and emotionally laborious sometimes when we encounter tough truths in God’s Word. Yet, we can trust that the Creator of the world knows what is best for us. He is for us and not against us; working all things together for our good according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Even when we might be rejected, mocked and persecuted. Even when the world finds the truth intolerable.

We should not want to live in a world where truth is watered down to some pluralistic mush. Absolute truth of God’s Word means absolute assurance and peace of heart in a relative realm. Leaving behind biblical truth leads to a long, dangerous path of false wisdom. Even when you think that your authentic and loving approach to the Christian faith is for the betterment of others. Ultimately, it is for your happiness. For your soothing truth. I am guilty of this no doubt. We stray from the teaching of the faith in order to receive acceptance.

The Truth of the Gospel:

“If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself” (St Augustine of Hippo). You cannot preach Christ crucified without addressing the true statement that man is a depraved wretch in need of redemption.

The Christian faith requires us to carry our cross, living out the truth of the Bible in loving obedience to Christ. Not out of duty but rather a heart so glad and thankful that God would save a sinner such as I.

 

Depression: Running to the Wrong Well

wellWhere do you go in times of doubt, struggle and depression? As humans, we run to multiple things in times of difficulty. Two common wells in today’s culture are others and pleasures.

Wells we run to in today’s world do not satisfy. They are either empty, dirty or decomposing. We are inclined to comfort ourselves and find satisfaction in the simple, menial and temporal things. This is why we find ourselves coming back to the same wells over and over again.

Expecting a breakthrough, yet encountering the same outcomes. Shame. Guilt. Remorse. And greater thirst.

Others: In times of isolation, we start to put expectations on others around us. I think I am right in saying we all act in this way. We need friends and family to save us from the abyss of depression. This attitude is spread across our culture. Other people will save me. You hope to find something in the well of others that completes you in this pursuit of satisfaction.

We want people around us to live in such a way that they become a tool to erase the dissatisfaction within us. What is the problem here? You are asking others to bear a weight which would crush them in an instant. The expectation of another sinful human being solving your problem of depression will inevitably result in conflict.

However, I am not claiming friends and family are a bad thing in times of struggle. Talk and learn, laugh and weep. We do need each other. What you have to realise is that people are not an ultimate thing in these struggles and they make terrible idols.

Pleasure: We run to things such as sex and drink in order to quench our thirst. As fallen human beings, we use and abuse the good gifts we have been given. Perverting them in unjust, selfish and greedy ways. We are individualistic junkies.

The pleasures of this world do not satisfy the heart that longs for meaning and security. When we are tempted to run to the well of worldly desires, we should approach pleasure from a certain standpoint.

As we participate in “every good gift and every perfect gift” (James 1:17) that comes from God, we should be drawn towards gratitude. Further, praise to the one who has given us those good gifts. There are certain boundaries that Christians have regarding pleasures such as sex and drink. The reason for that is because God designed them to be that way.

Many have misconceptions that Christians despise these things, seeking to place strict moral boundaries on them. However, it is actually within the Christian faith where these things find their ultimate purpose and satisfaction.

Partaking in the pleasures of this world should result in a greater focus and reflection on the one who so graciously provides them. As Matt Chandler puts it “the pleasure rolls past the experience and into the giver. It does not terminate on the experience itself.” When the pleasure terminates on the experience, one gets emptiness, but when it terminates on the giver, one gets life. 

Here is the reminder we all need:

The true fountain of life is Christ. Words such as: “I came that they might have life and life abundantly” (John 10:10) echo the promise from eternity that the only one who was ever going to truly satisfy was him. The living spring of water. So, when tough times hit whether it be anxiety, depression, suffering and doubt. Do not run to the temporary, feeble things of this world.

Fix your eyes on “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and it is in his arms where the burdens of life will find rest and peace (Matthew 11:8) in a fast paced culture.

Something Unique

ChurchWhat do we make of the church? A building? A social mishap? An institution that has damaged the lives of many people? A place for religious things? A location for people who cannot cope with the realities of life? This may well sum up a lot of what we feel and think of the church.

Moreover, what about the people within it? They have been termed backward, regressive, bigoted, hypocritical, liars, cheats. An endless list of negative terminology. However, that is not the true church: “you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). The image of the church has been distorted, misconceived and misinterpreted both by the people within it and the people on the outside. The church at its core is not what you think. Only the Bible provides a true and holistic explanation of the beauty of the church body.

The real church is unified, set apart, sanctified and graciously and mercifully adored by God. Who, in reality, we are not worthy to seek counsel with. Yet, he seeks us. Grants us faith to believe and trust in his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. This was not something we deserved but an unforgettable and breathtaking gift of grace.

Church. You are the body of the living Christ. We wrestle individually with our own sins and struggles, yet together we confess to each other our sins and pray for one another that we might find healing (James 5:16) and bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). There is no other place on earth that displays the type of dynamic found within the embrace of God’s people. If you have not discovered that church environment then I plea that you would investigate the claims of Jesus. Not the scandals, the scars or the bruises. Rather, the one who through “all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible… all things were created through him and for him.” (1 Colossians 1:16).

Due to the grace we have received from God, the church should seek to honour and glorify God in service. Loving obedience to the body of Christ. We keep his commands, not out of duty, but as a demonstration of the love of God. His commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). No matter what the world claims us to be – economically, socially, politically – at the end of the day, the body of Christ will transcend all of these temporary things. Keep on serving and embracing the unity that only exists in the church body. May we work and serve one another until the day of Christ. Church you are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Chosen, redeemed, justified, sanctified and soon to be glorified. The church is something unique.

 

‘Celiac Catholic Attacks Leave Protestant Churches in Anarchy’

Babylon Bee

World News – Recently, the Roman Catholic Church announced that gluten free bread will stop being served during communion. Some New Testament scholars have reacted in protest to this statement, as gluten was found to be the root of all evil back in November 2016.

Moreover, there have been widespread reports of aggressive attacks on Protestant churches across the globe. Windows were broken, chairs turned over and communion tables wrecked. These attacks have caused incalculable amounts of damage.

Local police across the US blame these recent offenses on Protestant churches as a direct result of celiac Catholics being denied the right to gluten free bread.

One local pastor in Dallas, who wishes not to be named, condemned the attacks, calling them “a despicable threat to the safety and well-being of the local community”. While a young pastor, Geoffrey Bread, a victim of one of the attacks, called for peace and straight thinking from celiac Catholics.

“They stormed into my office in church, demanding communion bread free of gluten. One of the men held a knife to my throat and I received numerous threats for the key to the food storage room. After complying, they ransacked the place. Truly, I pray they turn from their wicked ways and attend a service in a civilized manner”.

Pastor Bread has set up a GoFundMe page for his attackers in the hope that enough money will be raised to satisfy the needs of the celiac Catholic community.

FOCUS

Well now that summer is most certainly underway and the focus of studies and classes begins to fade away there is a tendency for one to stick faith to the sidelines for a spell of relaxation. However, I think summer calls for a special time where we can freely focus and make an additional effort to develop our understanding and relationship with God, whether that is through reading the Bible, prayer or fellowship with friends. Moreover, all of us can make a greater effort to develop a missional mindset.

Summer can be dangerous in the sense that we end up in a lazy routine where we spend all our free time on pretty mediocre stuff. Whether that be sitting down and watching tonnes of television, or spending hours on our phones talking and updating people on how fantastic life is. 

Do not abuse the freedom you have during summer, rather keep yourself busy serving for the gospel. This could be helping out more in church, helping at a kid’s camp or going abroad on a mission’s trip. Serving comes in all shapes and sizes. Also, you do not bear the label of Christian to sit around, but to be active in sharing the love experienced through faith, justification and forgiveness in Jesus.

Why focus on serving during summer? To keep that missional mindset in tact. The same mindset that resulted in the first martyr for Christ (Stephen), that transformed many lives in Acts chapter eleven, that drove the great apostle Paul to preach and the same mentality which resulted in the spread and diversity of Christianity today.

Wherever you go this summer, whether you are optimistic or frightened, excited or weary, remember Christ is always with you. The reason we serve is because of him. Keep focused on mission; as Jesus said in the Great Commission at the end of Matthew “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (28 v 20). Matthew ended his gospel as such because he wanted to show Christ understands our various situations, from the heights to the depths, so we make a missional commitment over summer as Jesus commands us to. We serve because he came and offered up his life as a ransom for many, paying the price for the sin none of us could.

Reading 1 Corinthians has been helpful in encouraging my attitude, where Paul claims “For Christ did not send me to baptise but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 v 17). Christ is the one who sends us out to work the field, to sow the seed. This is not pictured as a luxurious job, but can be hard and toilsome. However, that does not mean we give up. Keep on serving.

When you wake up in the morning, Jesus will be there. When you got to sleep, Jesus will be there. Share the good news about what he has done in your life with some one you never thought you would. He will be there.

JESUS IS ALWAYS THERE, AND HE HAS AUTHORITY IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH. GO MAKE DISCIPLES.

 

Truly Human

 

One way I heard it put before “to be truly human is to be truly know, yet someone who hides can never be known”. There is a lot to take from that statement, yet, after spending a weekend with many other Christians at the CUI Annual Conference my mind has been inclined to reflect upon certain points from the speaker.

To begin, I think it is interesting how we are the most connected people in history, through social media and so many other forums. We can tell what people have eaten for breakfast halfway across the world and feel the need give them a ‘like’ or ‘love’. Yet, it is reasonable to say we are probably one of most disconnected, fragmented, lonely and self-centred group of people in history.

This weekend many young students were challenged with the question: what does it mean to be truly human?

Imago Dei: Latin terms sound sophisticated, so it felt applicable to bring it out. This aside, being a human means being made in the ‘image of God’ (Genesis 1:27). From the creation story, mankind is the displayed as the pinnacle of God’s handiwork. In fact, we reflect His image. This is essential to our humanity, being a representative of the image of God on this earth. Further, within the image of God is a community: Father, Son and Spirit. They act as one, serving together as one, in perfect harmony. The point of being made in the image of God then is to do the same. Serve, commune and love.

Wisdom: This seems like the kind of subject matter we would leave to Gandalf or a wise hobbit, yet it is crucial to who we are as humans. Modern culture might define wisdom along these lines – the ability to recognise the limitations of the world and succeed within those constraints. In comparison, Christianity decides to go against the tide, explaining wisdom as – understanding the world of God and cooperating with it. What helped me this past weekend was examining the book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-8); having truly human wisdom is learning to work and enjoy the beauty and rhythm of a fallen world – a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (v.4). 

Altering Power: Power. A strong word. From governments to the individual, we all exercise it. The contemporary version of power is self-serving. It does not seek to aid the oppressed and lonely. It competes continually in a game for more resources, more control. However, to be truly human is to give this away. To burn this conception of power to the ground. Philippians paints a true picture of power, and that is only found in Jesus.

Jesus “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). True power expresses humility. 

Failure: This is an inevitable part of life. However, in the culture we live in failure is something that is not acknowledged. We are only interested in success and winners. Failure is the plagues of plagues, the worst thing that could possibly happen. Nevertheless. to be truly human is to acknowledge failure and see it as a stumbling block on the ladder of growth. To view it as a lesson to grow, to learn and develop trust with God in a sinful world. Failure helps God to bring about means to mature us in our Christian walk. Moreover, be encouraged greatly when you make errors, stumble and fail; Christ says in John that “in the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

As always you never get around to explaining and thinking about everything you do over a weekend packed with so much banter and fellowship. However, what I can take away, and I hope many others do also, is that true humanity is to ultimately be conformed to the image and likeness of Jesus.

“As we are conformed to the image of Christ, he is made more and more the centre of all things.” – John Piper