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Reclaiming Occupied Territory: Christianity and the Cultural Mandate
BreakPoint with Charles Colson ^ | June 3, 2004 | Charles Colson

Posted on 06/03/2004 11:20:45 AM PDT by Mr. Silverback

Some weeks ago I spoke to a gathering of pastors about engaging the cultural battles of the day. Afterward, the pastors had a lot of questions—but they were also a bit confused. One asked: “But won’t engaging the culture this way interfere with fulfilling the Great Commission? Isn’t this our job—to win people to Christ?”

That people still think this way left me momentarily speechless. “Of course we’re called to fulfill the Great Commission,” I replied. “But we’re also called to fulfill the cultural commission.” Christians are agents of God’s saving grace—bringing others to Christ, I explained. But we are also agents of His common grace: We’re to sustain and renew His creation, defend the created institutions of family and society, and critique false worldviews.

As I spoke, I saw the pastors’ eyes light up in a great “Aha!” moment.

This is a matter on which the Scriptures are very clear. In Genesis, we’re told that for five days, God created the universe. On the sixth day, He created human beings—and ordered them to pick up where He left off. They were to reflect His image and have dominion—but from then on, the development of the creation would be primarily social and cultural: It would be the work humans performed as they obeyed God’s command to fill and subdue the earth.

The same command binds Christians today. We bear children, plant crops, build cities, form governments, and create works of art. While sin corrupted God’s created order, it did not obliterate it. And when we are redeemed, we are both freed from sin and restored to do what God designed us to do: create culture.

Remember, every part of creation came from God’s hand, every part was drawn into the mutiny of humanity against God, and every part will someday be redeemed. This means we must care about all of life. In Colossians 1, Paul notes that “everything” was made by and for Christ, and that everything will be reconciled by Christ; it’s clear that Christians are saved not only from something (sin) but also to something (Christ’s lordship over all of life).

This is why Christians must never limit themselves to evangelism alone or to the “feel good” church. We must not stand by while our culture is hijacked by alien philosophies hostile to the created order. Look at the issues before us: gay “marriage”—an oxymoron which will undermine the family; the creation of life in man’s image, that is, cloning; abortion; and terrorism driven by religious extremists, to name just a few.

If Christians do not seize the moment and act on the cultural commission, there soon will be no culture left to save. But when we do our duty, we can change the world. Look at Christians like William Wilberforce, who spent most of his life fighting—and winning—the war against slavery in Britain.

We need to do the same thing. It means voting wisely, contending for truth, and helping redeem our neighbors and our neighborhood.

Yes, Christians must evangelize the world. But each of us must also work out our role in the common grace in our own lives, glorifying God by helping restore His creation. In so doing, we will bring the majesty of God and His righteousness to bear against the crumbling structures of a fallen society.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: breakpoint; charlescolson; culturewar; greatcommission
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The Religious Left is busy "Winning people to Christ" by telling them Jesus was a hippie. We can do better than that.

But when we do our duty, we can change the world. Look at Christians like William Wilberforce, who spent most of his life fighting—and winning—the war against slavery in Britain.

Thank God he didn't buy into the "stay inside the church walls" mentality.

1 posted on 06/03/2004 11:20:46 AM PDT by Mr. Silverback
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To: agenda_express; BA63; banjo joe; Believer 1; billbears; Blood of Tyrants; ChewedGum; ...
BreakPoint/Chuck Colson Ping!

If anyone wants on or off my BreakPoint Ping List, please notify me here or by freepmail.

2 posted on 06/03/2004 11:21:29 AM PDT by Mr. Silverback (Pre-empt the third murder attempt: Pray for Terri Schindler-Schiavo!)
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To: 2nd amendment mama; A2J; Agitate; Alouette; Annie03; aposiopetic; attagirl; axel f; Balto_Boy; ...
ProLife Ping!

If anyone wants on or off my ProLife Ping List, please notify me here or by freepmail.

3 posted on 06/03/2004 11:23:54 AM PDT by Mr. Silverback (Pre-empt the third murder attempt: Pray for Terri Schindler-Schiavo!)
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To: Mr. Silverback
If Christians do not seize the moment and act on the cultural commission, there soon will be no culture left to save.

This sentence assumes that Christians do not create culture themselves.

4 posted on 06/03/2004 11:25:47 AM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Mr. Silverback

A clear definition of sin is part of the gospel message. Otherwise we are saved from what?


5 posted on 06/03/2004 11:27:48 AM PDT by The Ghost of FReepers Past (Legislatures are so outdated. If you want real political victory, take your issue to court.)
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To: Mr. Silverback
Fulfilling the Great Commission is not a "stay inside the church walls mentality". The Commission is to teach the nations all the things Jesus said.

But, the evangelicals' hesitation is based on the undeniable New Testament assumption that the first and indispensable step is personal repentance and faith in Christ.

If that step is skipped or neglected or marginalized in the midst of some sort of "culture war", then you may be doing your own definition of good works, but it is not what Jesus enjoined on the church.

A "culture war", if that means legal or political action, is NOT WHAT JESUS TOLD THE CHURCH TO DO.

If you dispute this, you simply haven't read the gospels.

6 posted on 06/03/2004 11:33:08 AM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Mr. Silverback
but from then on, the development of the creation would be primarily social and cultural:

This is an assumption, and as such is bad exegesis, and this bad exegesis colors the rest of his theology.

The truth is, he does not know, any more than anybody else, what the pre-lapsarian plan for the earth looked like. He ASSUMES it meant have families, GOVERNMENTS, create art -- but that is an assumption, mainly because that is the only sort of culture we know. Now. After the Fall.

When you cannot separate your own assumptions from what the biblical text actually says you cannot avoid error.

7 posted on 06/03/2004 11:39:39 AM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Taliesan
A "culture war", if that means legal or political action, is NOT WHAT JESUS TOLD THE CHURCH TO DO.

A faith that dangles in space by itself, in isolation from the rest of life, is gnostic, not Christian. See Eph. 2:10 for the why of our salvation.

8 posted on 06/03/2004 12:22:04 PM PDT by TomSmedley ((technical writer looking for work!))
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To: TomSmedley
Let's let the NT define the heresies, and not the other way around, thank you very much. No one is advocating a faith "isolated from the rest of life". To pose the argument as a choice between Colson's "culture war" and "gnosticism" is to pose a classic false dilemma. There are other choices, which are not necessarily widely practiced. (For the record, I share Colson's apparent distate for a focus on "winning souls to Christ".)

Fulfilling the Great Commission is a task not in any sense "isolated", but it is personalistic, since abstractions and institutions are not Jesus' interests at all.

In fact, the tendency to disdain any object of concern other than the individual person is just about the defining element of Jesus' personality -- as depicted in the words of the canonical text, not the one we wish we had.

As an aside, I think you wanted to call me a docetic, not a gnostic. Gnostics were often un-isolated, to a fault.

9 posted on 06/03/2004 1:04:02 PM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Mr. Silverback

"If Christians do not seize the moment and act on the cultural commission, there soon will be no culture left to save."

Hmm. I dunno...I wonder if perhaps the resulting 'absence' of culture implied in the above statement might not better reveal the need for a return to a 'nobler' culture (for lack of a better word).

Perhaps our present culture, with mega and mondo churches and evangelicals falling all over themselves trying to blend in and engage in silly modern ideas such as 'marketing' and 'seeker-sensitive' ploys, needs to just go ahead and disintegrate, leaving nothing but dust and ashes. What will finally wake people up or be the danged last straw? I mean, personally, I find constant commercials in the midst of prime time television shows about erection problems and/or the lack thereof about as offensive as it gets and wonder what the heck is next.

When "culture" crashes and burns and nothing is left, perhaps Christianity can rediscover what it was really all about in the first place and what it is of value it has to say, and begin doing something worthwhile again besides building little pop-music kingdoms, 20 acre mini-cities (megachurches, and now they want their own STATE, fer cryin' out loud), etc.

Ah well. Rotten tomatoes will start flying now, I suppose! Heaven forbid one should critique evangelicals.


10 posted on 06/03/2004 1:27:51 PM PDT by bluejean (Support the USA - Convict Democrats of Treason)
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To: Taliesan; Mr. Silverback
This is an assumption, and as such is bad exegesis, and this bad exegesis colors the rest of his theology. The truth is, he does not know, any more than anybody else, what the pre-lapsarian plan for the earth looked like. He ASSUMES it meant have families, GOVERNMENTS, create art -- but that is an assumption, mainly because that is the only sort of culture we know. Now. After the Fall. When you cannot separate your own assumptions from what the biblical text actually says you cannot avoid error.

Talk about "bad exegesis" and errorist assumptions!

You actually think you can get away with saying, "he does not know, any more than anybody else, what the pre-lapsarian plan for the earth looked like. He ASSUMES it meant have families..."?

Hey, Gen 1:28 and 2:24 are pre-fall purposes clearly outlined in Scripture:

"Be fruitful and increase in number." (Gen. 1:28)

"...a man will leave his father & mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." (Gen. 2:24)

Jesus Himself sanctioned Gen. 2 when he said: "Haven't you read that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'. They are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together let no one separate." (Matt 19:4-6)

So I ask you the same question Jesus asked, "Haven't you read...?" What's this gobbly-goop about whether or not the culture of families was intended within God's plan for the earth?

11 posted on 06/03/2004 1:30:52 PM PDT by Colofornian
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To: Taliesan
it is not what Jesus enjoined on the church. A "culture war", if that means legal or political action, is NOT WHAT JESUS TOLD THE CHURCH TO DO. If you dispute this, you simply haven't read the gospels.

Talk about not reading the gospels! I suppose you're going to pull out some unrevealed manuscript citing Jesus' rebuke of his cousin, John the Baptist, after John engaged in direct lobbying:

"But when John rebuked Herod the tetrach because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother's wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison." (Luke 3:19-20)

Poor John. He hadn't read Taliesan's Commentary on the Gospels. Maybe if he had that opportunity, he would have stuck to "doin' what cuz Jesus told him to do" and he wouldn't have lost his head.

12 posted on 06/03/2004 1:39:01 PM PDT by Colofornian (How dare the greatest man alive til Jesus (Mt. 11:11) engage in political lobbying! What nerve!)
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To: Taliesan
the evangelicals' hesitation is based on the undeniable New Testament assumption that the first and indispensable step is personal repentance and faith in Christ.

The first and indispensable step is one you or any other evangelical had no part of initiating...Hence, he gets all the glory for it! (See 1 Cor. 12:3; John 6:28-29; John 15:16).

And by the time we get around to responding in faith triggered by His love, mercy, compassion, and grace, He doesn't try to compartmentalize acts prompted by the grace of His faith like so many evangelicals do. Otherwise, the sheeps and goats would be separated according to your standard of "repentance and faith" and not how our faith bleeds over into the public square (Matthew 25:36-45).

13 posted on 06/03/2004 1:48:14 PM PDT by Colofornian (Don't let a doctrinal cookie cutter approach blind us from practicing justice & mercy (Mt 23:23))
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To: Taliesan
Fulfilling the Great Commission is not a "stay inside the church walls mentality". The Commission is to teach the nations all the things Jesus said. But, the evangelicals' hesitation is based on the undeniable New Testament assumption that the first and indispensable step is personal repentance and faith in Christ.If that step is skipped or neglected or marginalized in the midst of some sort of "culture war", then you may be doing your own definition of good works, but it is not what Jesus enjoined on the church. A "culture war", if that means legal or political action, is NOT WHAT JESUS TOLD THE CHURCH TO DO.

It's easy to label our sins of omission in the public square as "political." That way, every face behind every abstract "social issue" can be excused away as to why we didn't act on their behalf.

14 posted on 06/03/2004 1:51:07 PM PDT by Colofornian
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To: Taliesan
A "culture war", if that means legal or political action, is NOT WHAT JESUS TOLD THE CHURCH TO DO.

Certainly the Church-at-large misses out on following the heartbeat of Jesus' agenda. But Jesus wasn't as quick to squash zealousness in the public square as you might think.

Nowhere is Simon referred to as "Simon the ex-Zealot." Nowhere is there a hint of the elitist attitude within Jesus that we find among many evangelicals who would not ever want to be caught in the same picture or the same heaven with a Jerry Falwell type. No, Jesus didn't stay at arms' length from Simon the Zealot. Rather, He picked him as a disciple.

15 posted on 06/03/2004 1:59:18 PM PDT by Colofornian
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To: Taliesan
So much of this article is vague. "Fighting the culture war" means a thousand different things to a thousand different people.

A "culture war", if that means legal or political action, is NOT WHAT JESUS TOLD THE CHURCH TO DO.

You're dead on. Certainly on can participate in politics, but, ultimately what will change the hearts and minds of people is Christ, and Christ alone.

16 posted on 06/03/2004 1:59:32 PM PDT by Lost Highway (The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.)
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To: Colofornian
after John engaged in direct lobbying:

To me lobbying, in the political sense, is different than preaching. Which is what John was doing with Herod.

17 posted on 06/03/2004 2:04:02 PM PDT by Lost Highway (The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.)
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To: Lost Highway
To me lobbying, in the political sense, is different than preaching. Which is what John was doing with Herod.

Yup, just give the same act a religious label and it's biblically sanctioned; but commit the exactly same act under a different pretense or a different umbrella, and, yup, that's out of bounds.

18 posted on 06/03/2004 2:06:45 PM PDT by Colofornian
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To: Colofornian

So are you saying that if I to tell Ted Kennedy that his marital infidelity is contrary to the will of God it's lobbying?


19 posted on 06/03/2004 2:08:58 PM PDT by Lost Highway (The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.)
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To: Colofornian
To me lobbying, in the political sense

If you haven't realized it by now, there are victims covered under Jesus' "least of these" focus of Matt 25 that are entirely politicized in today's environment. You can't even talk about abortion w/out it coming under the political umbrella.

Therefore, somebody could always maintain that loving our pre-born neighbors as ourselves in the public square is a political activity and also a lobbying activity; hence, these folks conclude, we're not called to do that as our primary focus.

20 posted on 06/03/2004 2:11:09 PM PDT by Colofornian (I just love the evangelical compartmentalists!)
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To: Lost Highway
So are you saying that if I to tell Ted Kennedy that his marital infidelity is contrary to the will of God it's lobbying?

I'm saying let's consider what would be some contemporary and historical parallels to Luke 3:19-20. "But when Colofornian & Lost Highway rebuked Politician John Doe because of his embracement of same-sex marriage, and all the other evil things he had done (including infanticide--which is abortion, etc.) Politician Doe added this to them all: He locked lobbyists Colofornian & Lost Highway up in prison." (Revised Luke 3:19-20)

Or how about when 19th century Mormon politicians like Brigham Young (Gov of Utah Territory) was rebuked for embracing polygamy? This wasn't just a personal rebuke upon Young, but rather a political attempt to slam the door on an entire lifestyle that would contagiously spread and continue to infect coming generations!

21 posted on 06/03/2004 2:18:15 PM PDT by Colofornian
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To: Colofornian

I'm not maintaining that a Christian will never venture into politics. What I am maintaining is that there is no law that will win the culture war. A ban on abortion, while a good thing, will not win the culture war. What will is bringing people to Christ so that, hopefully, they wouldn't even consider such a thing.


22 posted on 06/03/2004 2:19:08 PM PDT by Lost Highway (The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.)
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To: Lost Highway
To me lobbying, in the political sense, is different than preaching. Which is what John was doing with Herod.

Herod responded kind for kind. Herod's locking up of John was a political act. Herod was responding to a clear political threat of open lobbying. John didn't preach vs. what Herod was doing behind closed doors. He engaged in an open rebuke.

Are you trying to tell me that pastors & prophetic types go around "preaching" personal rebukes in open forums in the public square? Tell me who and when.

23 posted on 06/03/2004 2:24:09 PM PDT by Colofornian
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To: Lost Highway
What I am maintaining is that there is no law that will win the culture war. A ban on abortion, while a good thing, will not win the culture war. What will is bringing people to Christ so that, hopefully, they wouldn't even consider such a thing.

Hey, doesn't a person have to be alive in order to be "won to Christ?" (Hint: yes!)

Does abortion kill? (Hint: yes!)

Can people who have been aborted be "won to Christ?" (Hint: no!)

Do laws in any and all lands that protect people from murder help facilitate the Great Commission? (Hint: yes!)

Why do you think Paul writes to Timothy the following? "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives..." (1 Tim. 2:2).

Paul knows that the gospel operates best in a context of a culture of peace. Or are you trying to tell me that it's best to wait for every country to endure a Rwanda event and then, perhaps, we can win them (at least the survivors, that is) to Christ?

24 posted on 06/03/2004 2:32:07 PM PDT by Colofornian (What Christ marries--the Gospel & kingdom action--we should not divorce!)
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To: Lost Highway
What I am maintaining is that there is no law that will win the culture war.

Hey, I was a one-time staff member of a church directing evangelism and outreach, so I know where you're coming from...And let's face it, it has a biblical underpinning:

"They triumphed over him [the accuser] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony" (Rev. 12:11)

But Rev. 12:11 doesn't stop there. It adds, "they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death."

Why? Because the Body of Christ follows their leader, who did not love His life so much as to shrink from death--even death on a cross (Phil. 2:8). Jesus didn't rescue us spiritually from afar; He did bodily. He committed a social act of rescue by carrying a cross and then being nailed to it. And He expects us to pick up our own crosses on behalf of the "least of these."

Folks can say no laws will win the culture war. But so what? No single proclamation of the gospel will win the spiritual war or the kingdom wars afoot, either.

But ultimately, accumulatively, the Kingdom does advance by both word anddeed;

Don't hold the bar so high for other folks' worldview ("no law will win the culture war") and then think that a low bar of a smattering of testimonials is going to win the spiritual war.

Let us not forget the "batting averages" of the original apostles: Only one died a natural death (John).

25 posted on 06/03/2004 2:46:40 PM PDT by Colofornian (What Christ marries--the Gospel & kingdom action--we should not divorce!)
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To: Taliesan

Uh, and just how do you spin what Jesus did to the money changers? Walk in your own shadow and you will never see the light.


26 posted on 06/03/2004 2:58:45 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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To: MHGinTN
Uh, and just how do you spin what Jesus did to the money changers?

Why, uh, uh, uh, Jesus got to point (a) on His sermon notes (preaching the law), but the moneychangers ran away before they could hear point (b) (preaching the gospel). Yes, that's the ticket.

27 posted on 06/03/2004 3:03:04 PM PDT by Colofornian (What Christ marries--the Gospel & kingdom action--we should not divorce!)
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To: Lost Highway; Taliesan
ultimately what will change the hearts and minds of people is Christ, and Christ alone.

True. But don't reduce what Christ is doing through His people. He's doing more than just preach the gospel thru them.

We need to get back to the purpose & reason Christ came. What does John say that reason was in 1 John 3:9? "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work."

What was the devil's work? Sin, as manifested in countless ways. But let me define some of those ways: Abortion, homosexuality, lust, pornography, trafficking of people, gambling at the expense of the poor, etc. etc. etc. Are not acts of murder, abortion, etc. among the kingpins of Satan that Jesus came to destroy? (And are we only to fast-forward the halting of carnage to some rapturous moment?)

Now, true, Christ alone acts, but He is embodied now in a people (John 17:23; Acts 9:5; Eph. 2:19-22). He chooses to act both directly (Acts 9) and indirectly through His Body. Was all of the devilish destruction accomplished at the cross? Not according to John (John 14:12) or Paul (Col. 1:24,29).

28 posted on 06/03/2004 3:15:10 PM PDT by Colofornian (What Christ marries--the Gospel & kingdom action--we should not divorce!)
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To: Lost Highway
ultimately what will change the hearts and minds of people...

Hey, if there's any reason the two books of the Corinthians exist in Scripture, it's to let us know that while a major transformation already took place in the lives of these folks (1 Cor. 6:9-11; 2 Cor. 5:17), they were far from injecting that inward transformation into their relationships (tolerating a man sleeping with his father's wife--1 Cor. 5:1).

Do you mean to say that "presto, upon conversion, all Christian male teens & young adults are thereby not bothered by easy access to porn since we've changed their hearts & minds & therefore why bother changing porn laws?"

29 posted on 06/03/2004 3:24:55 PM PDT by Colofornian (What Christ marries--the Gospel & kingdom action--we should not divorce!)
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To: Colofornian
Nowhere is Simon referred to as "Simon the ex-Zealot." Nowhere is there a hint of the elitist attitude within Jesus that we find among many evangelicals who would not ever want to be caught in the same picture or the same heaven with a Jerry Falwell type. No, Jesus didn't stay at arms' length from Simon the Zealot. Rather, He picked him as a disciple.

Interesting the way our Lord chose His disciples. On the one hand, Simon le terroriste, as the French Bible calls him, an ultra-nationalist. OTOH, Philip, named after the dad of the dude who'd conquered Israel, bringing in hellenic ideals of beauty (and sodomy), and leaving the expression "apakorish" (epicurean) as a term of hebraic contempt that has endured to this day.

30 posted on 06/03/2004 5:09:28 PM PDT by TomSmedley ((technical writer looking for work!))
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To: Colofornian
Calm down. I appreciate your thoughtful responses. At least we are reading the bible together.

Obviously, God's plan for the world some kind of family life from the beginning and still does. I have a wife and son. But there is no indication what that pre-Fall family was supposed to be like in enough detail to pin Christian hopes on it -- precisely because the focus of biblical narrative is on creating a redemptive event EVEN WHILE WHILE FAMILIES WERE DOING WHAT THEY DO. Whatever families were supposed to be, God apparently felt the need to proceed on and redeem creation by additional means!!!!

The orders of creation are broken now and insufficient as agents of grace. Hence, a New Creation. Since we don't know what God intended the family to be like before the Fall in any detail, and clearly the family as an institution never accomplished anything like a "redemption", arguments that imply that God's plan to redeem culture is through the family are not biblical.

The truth is, christians talk about families changing their culture when their churches aren't changing their culture.

Tom Wright's work has demonstrated just how much Jesus' refusal to be a zealot got him in trouble. He may not have changed Simon's name to "ex-zealot" (I don't think he changed John's name to "ex-fisherman") but after they met Jesus John left his nets in the boat with his family -- and Simon was no longer a zealot.

The pattern, again, is beyond dispute: whatever you did as a "zealot" you stopped doing when you met Jesus. In every case.

I agree all the issues you list are important ones. They are addressed and solved by the Gospel.

There is no remedy for sin -- either its power or its guilt -- except a personal response to the redemptive work of Christ. One person at a time. Nothing else. To preach otherwise is not only futile, but heretical.

John called a Jewish ruler to obey the law. There are still prophets in the church, as well, whose office is to declare God's heart and mind out loud.

There is nothing wrong with christians speaking publicly and calling sin sin -- homosexuality, adultery, witchcraft, drugs, etc. But a christian who does not at the same time remember and say that you cannot find power to be free from sin except through Jesus is no longer speaking as a christian.

I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you.

31 posted on 06/04/2004 5:35:07 AM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Colofornian
Let us not forget the "batting averages" of the original apostles: Only one died a natural death (John).

And they died because of the "word of god and the testimony of Jesus." I suppose we are disagreeing about what that includes.

32 posted on 06/04/2004 5:38:23 AM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Colofornian

If a Christian is "bothered" by porn, what he needs is not a porn law. And a porn law will not address his sin problem.


33 posted on 06/04/2004 5:39:59 AM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Colofornian
Folks can say no laws will win the culture war. But so what? No single proclamation of the gospel will win the spiritual war or the kingdom wars afoot, either.

Oh, I see. This is where we disagree. You actually think WE WIN THE CULTURE WAR. Whew.

Not only do I say no law will win the culture war, I say that the gospel will not win the culture war. The bible clearly teaches the course of human society will be from bad to worse, just as it was in the days of Noah. The condition of the world's culture at the end of time is described in Revelation: steeped in the occult, driven by commerce, guilty of the blood of the saints.

Draw a straight line between now and that portrait and you have the course of your future "culture war".

So, in summary, here is the rest of human history: Jesus won the spiritual war, for all who find Him. The church loses the culture war, and wins the spiritual war one person at a time. The culture kills more and more Christians. Jesus comes back, and the culture goes to hell. Then, there is new heaven and new earth.

How is that "culture war" working out for you, by the way?

34 posted on 06/04/2004 5:52:12 AM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Colofornian

Some of the Corinthians were bad christians. Paul, if you noticed, wasn't happy with them.


35 posted on 06/04/2004 5:53:39 AM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Taliesan
The pattern, again, is beyond dispute: whatever you did as a "zealot" you stopped doing when you met Jesus. In every case.

The level of zealousness didn't change; just the orientation of it--from misdirection to God-directed. Prior to Saul's conversion, he was zealous for the law and zealous for the traditions he felt he was protecting.

Post-conversion, he was just as zealous as ever--but now for Jesus Christ, the gospel, and the poor ("...I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles...All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do." Gal. 2:7,10)

Too many evangelicals would reduce Paul's newfound focus to be only Christ and the Gospel. Those are the types who would cite Gal. 2:7 while ignoring Gal. 2:10.

The level of zealousness is not the problem; actually, it reflects part of who God is. Paul told the Galatians that "It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good..." (Gal. 4:18). Paul's purpose was good; only part of Saul's purposes were.

The church loses the culture war, and wins the spiritual war one person at a time. The culture kills more and more Christians. Jesus comes back, and the culture goes to hell.

While it's worth making some distinctions between the culture war and the spiritual war, the reality is they are part of the same fabric. They have the same combatants (although the Church is often AWOL on both fronts). Spiritual weaponry is required for both. The fact is the world is both a battlefield and a mission field.

To treat it only as a battlefield neglects The Great Commission. To treat it only as a mission field neglects The Cultural Commission.

You can say that we'll eventually lose the culture war. So what? That is not breaking news. Even Jesus said the Church would never win the war vs. beating off conditions churning out the poor. He said, "The poor will always be with you." So just because that's a war we can never win, we're simply supposed to lay down our attempts to feed, clothe and house them, and concentrate on only their spiritual condition?

No, we can no more neglect the condition of our culture than we can neglect the condition of the poor around us. Paul didn't compartmentalize his eagerness to remember the poor (Gal. 2:10) from his stewardship of the Gospel (Gal. 2:7). So why do evangelicals do that?

The "culture war" has many different types of victims: The poor, the possessed, the addicted, those embracing false identities, etc.

Let us stop trying to reduce the Gospel to mere words floating about: "...our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction." (1 Thess. 1:5).

The fact is that the Gospel is embodied in these clay vessels of ours. And how we respond to those in bondage to specific cultural minefields is relevant to our corporate reputation: "The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia--your faith in God has become known everywhere" (1 Thess. 1:8). Paul was specifically commending their "work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance (and suffering) inspired by hope" (1 Thess. 1:2,6).

You started off playing down stewardship of our culture as mere "good works"; Paul also was impressed by the Thessalonians' good works...but he didn't see them as "mere."

36 posted on 06/04/2004 8:28:07 AM PDT by Colofornian (What Christ marries--the Gospel & kingdom action--we should not divorce!)
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To: Taliesan
There is no remedy for sin -- either its power or its guilt -- except a personal response to the redemptive work of Christ. One person at a time. Nothing else. To preach otherwise is not only futile, but heretical.

Tis agreed. But it's a little more complex than that.

You can say that the 1/3rd or so who survived Titanic were actually rescued "one person at a time"--for that is how people were loaded into the boats. But in reality, there was also a corporate dimension about it. People were saved en masse--both corporately one boat at a time--and also corporately as one major salvation thrust coordinated from the top on down.

Likewise, we only see the "one person at a time" strategy of God played out; but it's more complex than that. He's arranged for manned lifeboats (churches) to be strategically placed next to our culture's sinking ships. He's coordinating the entire major campaign from the top down.

Those sinking ships are our cultures in this world. The icebergs are real corporate sins like abortion, internet porn made available to our children and their parents, greed, etc. These "entities" (cultures) are corporate dimensions. And Jesus treated them as such:

"I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgement than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up the skies? No, you will go down to the depths." (Luke 10:12-15).

We Westerners put the focus on one-by-one personal evangelism and personal repentance. Jesus saw repentance as corporate ("they would have repented long ago"...see also "you and your household" of Acts 16:31).

The word "you" in our culture is individualistic; the word "you" in the original Greek or even today's cultures (like the Japanese culture) is treated as plural (as in you, yourselves).

Just as Abraham negotiated with God if a city would be saved for having X number of righteous people living in it, God looks on us as both individuals and as corporate creatures who either take on attributes of our culture or attempt to redeem aspects of our culture. (We either are part of the cultural problem or seek to be a redemptive part--Ezekiel 9:4-9).

When God at times handed the Israelites over to other nations (e.g.Ps. 106:40-42), he did so on a corporate basis even though there no doubt were righteous men in their midst.

Therefore, we are our brother's keeper in more ways than one. If the Church does not act like what salt's purposes were in Jesus' day--to be a preservative--then it is good for nothing and only fit to be tossed out with the rotten food.

We've all read the history books about cultures that died out. Jim Black wrote a book called NATIONS THAT DIE. It was important indeed for Christians in the Roman culture that died to proclaim the gospel; but there is also a Generational Commission. Our children (and their children, etc) are missionaries we send to a time we'll never see. And so it will be important for me to know that my children and their generations of offspring actually have a vibrant enough culture for them to be salt and light in; I do not desire to be partially responsible for fostering a culture that will one day doom saltless Christ-ones to be tossed out with the rest of that declining culture.

To bring it back to where I started with the Titanic illustration: Too many churches are catering only to the wealthy just as the Titanic's lifeboats neglected those travelling in "steerage." Where are the church lifeboats that target the 40% of women in our nation who've had abortions? Where are the church lifeboats who realize that due to the easy accessibility of porn, that a young teen can become an addict just as easy in a culture of spiritual revival as it can in a culture of red-light districts?

I'll tell you where those church lifeboats are. They're lining up to welcome the first-class passengers.

37 posted on 06/04/2004 9:14:16 AM PDT by Colofornian (What Christ marries--the Gospel & kingdom action--we should not divorce!)
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To: Colofornian
I do not think good works are "mere" good works.

"Zealot" is not simply a descriptor of a personality type, but of a political activist. After you meet Jesus, you stop being a political activist. That is the evidence offered by YOUR example, Simon.

Why? Because you no longer believe in the value of political action.

In spite of all that has been said, I get the sense you and I are talking past each other and may agree more than we realize.

38 posted on 06/04/2004 9:16:44 AM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Lost Highway

"Fighting the culture war", to me, means being politically involved and taking action to clean up our culture wherever possible.


39 posted on 06/04/2004 9:22:22 AM PDT by gal522
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To: Colofornian
I agree with about 98% of what you say. I especially amen that there is a corporate dimension to salvation, and that God does indeed "see" entire nations and cultures, not just individuals.

I think we only disagree on what kind of change God values. Does it make a difference to God that babies are murdered in their mothers' wombs? Of course. Would a law against it be a good thing? Of course. "Thou shall not kill" has never been repealed.

But "Thou shall not kill" was still in force when Jesus walked around. His MAIN FOCUS was not to call "society" back to the law; it was to call people (individually and in large crowds) to return to a love of God which would, of course, reconcile them to the moral law.

This passage struck me as odd:

And so it will be important for me to know that my children and their generations of offspring actually have a vibrant enough culture for them to be salt and light in; I do not desire to be partially responsible for fostering a culture that will one day doom saltless Christ-ones to be tossed out with the rest of that declining culture.

I don't think the ability of the Christian to be salt and light is dependant on the surrounding culture.

40 posted on 06/04/2004 9:31:01 AM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: gal522
clean up our culture wherever possib

The point of the New Testament is that no actual persons are "cleaned up" until they encounter Christ. This view was formed and articulated in the midst of a horrendously corrupt culture.

41 posted on 06/04/2004 9:33:15 AM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Taliesan
If a Christian is "bothered" by porn, what he needs is not a porn law. And a porn law will not address his sin problem.

Are you consistent? Let's play out this principle in your neighborhood:

Let's say you find out there are 5 sex offenders--all of whom have molested boys--living in your immediate neighborhood. But that's okay, you think; you also hear that your Christian neighbors are witnessing to them on an ongoing basis.

The homosexual community has tried to reduce the age of consent law for years. You hear that their lobbyists are on the verge of reducing the age of consent; but you take no action in this "culture war" activity because you've properly prioritized your spiritual agenda by joining your Christian neighbors in witnessing to these sex offenders. You witness to them all the while your son grows from age 10 to age 12, a year in which the homosexual lobby finally comes through and gets what it wants: The age of consent is now age 12.

A sex offender then coerces your son into a sexual activity which prior to that latest cultural skirmish would have been a criminal act. But you've got peace in your soul because, after all, what your son needed was not a proper age of consent law, for that did not address the sin problem of these sex offenders or your son, now did it?

Try on this Scripture for size: "If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!" (Matt. 18:6-7)

Yeah, sin is alive and well, Jesus says. "Such things must come" and culture war or not, those things are a coming. But that doesn't preclude us as responsible citizens from prioritizing efforts that not only protect children but also reflect Jesus' obvious deep commitment to warding off those who would do them harm.

I don't even need to use hypotheticals to make this point. Most states do not have enforced parental consent laws that protect their minor daughters from getting abortions. Why? Because Christians take the attitude of "If a Christian girl is 'pressured' into having sex with her boyfriend, what she needs after becoming pregnant is not a parental consent law, for a parental consent law won't address her sin."

No? Then tell me why in Minnesota in the ensuing years after a parental consent law was passed there that the teen pregnancy rate went down in that state? (Teens are not as dumb as we take them to be; teen girls knew that minus the back-up of abortion availability, they would have to face Mom & Dad). And No? Even if it did nothing for the teen, it would certainly protect my grandchild or yours who happens to reside in her womb.

Law does have both a restraining and teaching effect, even if it doesn't ultimately change the heart. And a Christian-lit culture failing to pour Jesus' passion for little ones into laws protecting its young or doesn't culturally engage the millstone-draped, bottom-of-sea-bound folks are not serving as God's messengers.

We need to culturally intervene by risking our own lives as Lot did to protect those "who have come under the protection of my roof" (Gen. 19:8). And if criminals insist on criminal behavior, we need to pray for the same blindness to strike them so that they cannot prey upon their victims (Gen. 19:11). But I guess that's not very seeker-sensitive or evangelistic, is it? (I guess you can take that up with those two angelic messengers)

42 posted on 06/04/2004 9:53:58 AM PDT by Colofornian (What Christ marries--the Gospel & kingdom action--we should not divorce!)
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To: Taliesan
I don't think the ability of the Christian to be salt and light is dependant on the surrounding culture.

Yes and no. My grandfather was born in Germany. In that 1920s-1940s culture, Christians had largely already abdicated the political arena (Luther's two kingdoms theory). At some point, that culture got to its point of no return, and that any true salt and light activity by Christians resulted in the likes of what happened to Bonhoeffer or Wallenberg (Hungary).

That's where the true Greek word of martyr comes into play--where the only way to flesh out that word in a godly way is to lose your life for your witness.

Since many who call the name of Christ will avoid losing their lives, then, yes, their ability to be salt and light is going to be compromised by the surrounding culture.

Beyond those kinds of cultures, being salt and light may not be dependant upon the surrounding culture, but will be largely influenced by it. If you have water pollution but don't really care about the political reality of clean water laws, then don't complain...the polluters have thereby won the day over whatever salt & light Christians could have been as applied to drinking water.

Bottom line: Christians need to go back and read through all the corporate guilt and corporate responsibility passages oultined in Scripture...Luke 10:12-15; Dt. 21:1-8; Prov. 24:11-12; Is. 1:9-17...all the identifical repentance passages of the prophets--those who identified with the sins of their nation even though they personally may have been innocent of them.

43 posted on 06/04/2004 10:16:00 AM PDT by Colofornian (We need to stop washing our hands of our culture's sins & instead identify w/them & ask 4 4giveness)
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To: Colofornian
Since many who call the name of Christ will avoid losing their lives, then, yes, their ability to be salt and light is going to be compromised by the surrounding culture.

I'm puzzled. If, in a hostile culture, they "avoid" losing their lives for their witness, then they are not salt nor light by their own choice. Nor does He confess them before His father, by the way.

Jesus seems to assume, multiple times in fact, that Christians will be salt and light in a culture that hates them and will kill them.

So...is it supposed to work differently?

44 posted on 06/04/2004 12:28:24 PM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Taliesan
If a Christian is "bothered" by porn, what he needs is not a porn law. And a porn law will not address his sin problem.

Are you consistent? Let's play out this principle in your neighborhood:

Let's say you find out there are 5 sex offenders--all of whom have molested boys--living in your immediate neighborhood. But that's okay, you think; you also hear that your Christian neighbors are witnessing to them on an ongoing basis.

The homosexual community has tried to reduce the age of consent law for years. You hear that their lobbyists are on the verge of reducing the age of consent; but you take no action in this "culture war" activity because you've properly prioritized your spiritual agenda by joining your Christian neighbors in witnessing to these sex offenders. You witness to them all the while your son grows from age 10 to age 12, a year in which the homosexual lobby finally comes through and gets what it wants: The age of consent is now age 12.

A sex offender then coerces your son into a sexual activity which prior to that latest cultural skirmish would have been a criminal act. But you've got peace in your soul because, after all, what your son needed was not a proper age of consent law, for that did not address the sin problem of these sex offenders or your son, now did it?

Try on this Scripture for size: "If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!" (Matt. 18:6-7)

Yeah, sin is alive and well, Jesus says. "Such things must come" and culture war or not, those things are a coming. But that doesn't preclude us as responsible citizens from prioritizing efforts that not only protect children but also reflect Jesus' obvious deep commitment to warding off those who would do them harm.

I don't even need to use hypotheticals to make this point. Most states do not have enforced parental consent laws that protect their minor daughters from getting abortions. Why? Because Christians take the attitude of "If a Christian girl is 'pressured' into having sex with her boyfriend, what she needs after becoming pregnant is not a parental consent law, for a parental consent law won't address her sin."

No? Then tell me why in Minnesota in the ensuing years after a parental consent law was passed there that the teen pregnancy rate went down in that state? (Teens are not as dumb as we take them to be; teen girls knew that minus the back-up of abortion availability, they would have to face Mom & Dad). And No? Even if it did nothing for the teen, it would certainly protect my grandchild or yours who happens to reside in her womb.

Law does have both a restraining and teaching effect, even if it doesn't ultimately change the heart. And a Christian-lit culture failing to pour Jesus' passion for little ones into laws protecting its young or doesn't culturally engage the millstone-draped, bottom-of-sea-bound folks are not serving as God's messengers.

We need to culturally intervene by risking our own lives as Lot did to protect those "who have come under the protection of my roof" (Gen. 19:8). And if criminals insist on criminal behavior, we need to pray for the same blindness to strike them so that they cannot prey upon their victims (Gen. 19:11). But I guess that's not very seeker-sensitive or evangelistic, is it? (I guess you can take that up with those two angelic messengers)

45 posted on 06/04/2004 12:29:44 PM PDT by Colofornian (What Christ marries--the Gospel & kingdom action--we should not divorce!)
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To: Colofornian

Your scenario of the sex offenders is not how I think. So, entertaining as it is, it is an extended straw man and a waste of time.


46 posted on 06/04/2004 12:30:09 PM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Taliesan
whatever you did as a "zealot" you stopped doing when you met Jesus

Correction: whatever you did as a "zealot" you stopped doing when you met Jesus became a fulltime apostle. Not every Christian is called to full time ministry, and it's a good thing, too - where would tithes come from if nobody had secular jobs?

For those NOT called to fulltime ministry, political activism ("zealotry", lawfully expressed), fishing, the arts, carpentry, and all other honest lines of business and cultural engagement are lawful for Christians, and the political realm arguably needs more Christian influence than any other.

47 posted on 06/04/2004 1:02:42 PM PDT by Rytwyng (we're here, we're Huguenots, get used to us)
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To: Rytwyng
Sigh. I'm not advocating the end of "secular jobs".

I have a secular job.

48 posted on 06/04/2004 1:07:03 PM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Taliesan
I'm puzzled. If, in a hostile culture, they "avoid" losing their lives for their witness, then they are not salt nor light by their own choice. Nor does He confess them before His father, by the way. Jesus seems to assume, multiple times in fact, that Christians will be salt and light in a culture that hates them and will kill them. So...is it supposed to work differently?

No, you've nailed it. You've basically given a description of Jesus' seed parable: "The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." (Matt. 13:20-21).

Jesus in this parable described four environmental variables: birds (evil one); rocky soil (persecutors & troubles of life); thorns (worries of life & deceitfulness of wealth); and good soil (crop reproduction).

All four are present in every culture. However, some cultures' soil is more fertile than others. Likewise, some cultures' soil is more rocky than others, especially in the persecution realm. So, if we as Christians, can contribute to providing fertile vs. rocky cultural soil, why don't we do it? Why abdicate the tilling of the soil to those who want to destroy God's seed? Why settle for a rocky soil that you downright know results in joyful folks who have received the word to fall away? (Do not more folks fall away in a rocky-soiled culture vs. a fertile-soiled culture?)

But your underlying premise is correct: We are hated; don't be surprised. "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Tim. 3:12)

But just because Jesus warned us (John 16:2-4) about this doesn't mean that's the optimal environment for witnessing. If it was, Paul would not have asked for prayer from the Thessalonians "that we may delivered from wicked and evil men" (2 Thess. 3:2) as Satan already had stopped Paul again and again from revisiting them (1 Thess. 2:18). Again, I go back to 1 Tim. 2:1-4. The objective of all of these prayers mentioned there is a God "who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (v.4). But this is best done in an environment of "peaceful and quiet lives" (v. 2)--not in the contexts of 'say Nero or Caesar is Lord or you will become a party-torch.'

49 posted on 06/04/2004 1:10:56 PM PDT by Colofornian (What Christ marries--the Gospel & kingdom action--we should not divorce!)
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To: Taliesan
Your scenario of the sex offenders is not how I think. So, entertaining as it is, it is an extended straw man and a waste of time.

The bottom line w/that scenario is that the most important societal laws Christians can invest in producing are those protecting the young. Although in my original mention of porn I said teens and young adults, certainly young adults can fend for themselves whereas I don't think we should leave pre-teens and hormonal-laced teens to fend for themselves when it comes to what can be an overwhelming onslaught of images; otherwise, hard-core porn-sellers right next to high schools? (like I've seen in CA) Well who cares from a Xtian perspective?

But, of course, you only addressed porn as it pertained to those who can fend for themselves. Do we not share a corporate responsibility to deflect some of the vice industries from easy access to our young people?

If a Christian is "bothered" by porn, what he needs is not a porn law. And a porn law will not address his sin problem.

Let's see if we can drive with parallel applications of this principle: "If a Christian is 'tempted' by an abortion, what she needs is not a pro-life law. And a pro-life law will not address her sin problem."

Okay, if my scenarios up til now are "not how I think" then please explain what folks are supposed to derive from statements where you may say that porn laws (or pro-life laws) won't address folks' sin problems.

50 posted on 06/04/2004 1:38:02 PM PDT by Colofornian (Funny, I always thought that lack of access to porn & abortions=a healthier spiritual environment)
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