Thursday, August 07, 2008

BIG Media, BIG Science, BIG Religion

Everything seems to be BIG these days. Instead of small, medium and large, it is increasingly BIG, BIGGER, and BIGGEST. Everything is in CAPS or BOLD, or underlined. A Deluxe car used to be top-of-the-line. Later it was the stripper model. Now, even the cheapest car isn't worthy of being saddled with that name. The country used to be filled with mom-and-pop businesses. Restaurants with interesting names. Now small hardware stores, individual restaurants, and family stores are a disappearing breed. You have Home Depot's or Lowe's, Mc Donald's or Applebee's, Macy's and Target's from one part of the land to the other. If there were no signs and it was not in the middle of summer or winter when the weather might yield a clue, you would have no idea whether you were in Iowa, Florida, Kansas, or even in Connecticut.

Such is the case with BIG Media. The old networks used to hold sway, but now the cable outlets have proliferated. The BIG Media seem to be every-where. Whether on radio, in USA Today, or TV, people are getting largely the same predigested information. The electoral map is changing as people everywhere are beginning to believe the same things. Oh, there are differences, but it is not nearly as clear as it used to be. The challenge is that BIG Media drums ideas into people's heads and censors out inconvenient news and ideas. It is like a large snowball. While there are some who assiduously consult alternative media and the more diverse opinions on the Internet and do some critical thinking of their own, most still trust sources with thinly or unveiled bias that is embarrassing to thinking individuals. BIGGER is not always better. The ability to marshal large resources can also result in huge dependencies on those who do not wish certain truths to be expressed in the media. It is shocking when you consider how much news is NEVER spoken, shown, or published. The censorship is not from the government, it is from BIG Media mavens and the culture that is selective about what is newsworthy and that is reluctant to report what doesn't fit in with their preconceived notions. There needn't be any conspiracy - it is simply that those whose god is this world think alike – they have the same father, and he isn't the heavenly one!

BIG Science is much the same way. While educated people like to perceive of themselves as not agendized, but impartial people committed to the truth, that is often not the case at all. Some of the most quoted scientists have extreme prejudice based upon their own belief system. "We cannot let God get his foot in the door" hardly seems an appropriate sentiment when considering monumental evidence that the world had a designer. Insisting on ever more exotic beliefs such as "punctuated equilibrium" by Stephen Jay Gould when the evidence was not supporting classic evolutionary philosophy is hardly an objective way to approach things. The mantras of BIG Science are so consuming that the slightest deviation, even by one of their own, which happened at the Smithsonian, is seen as treason and betraying the cause. This is not the stuff of objective science; it is the stuff of religious bigotry and a narrow-mindedness that dwarfs that of even the most legalistic Christian. The facts are that it is hard to get a research grant if you do not bow at the altar of man-made global warming. It is difficult to get a university teaching position if you do not mindlessly repeat evolutionary mantras and "millions of years" in any context regardless of the facts, the evidence, or the relevancy. At least one professor refused to write a letter of recommendation for medical school to any student not enamored with the theory of evolution despite the fact that evolution has nothing to do with the necessities of medical education or practice. A six-day creationist was one of the best professors that the renowned Washington University School of Medicine ever had, and he says evolution never contributed anything to medical education. Not a popular position. BIG Science, like BIG Media, can be most oppressive, and truth is ignored for conformity with presuppositions and religious bigotry.

That brings me to BIG Religion. Oh, boy. The growth of the mega-belief systems interestingly has many parallels to BIG Media and BIG Science. You note I did not say mega-CHURCH. While to be sure, some mega-churches stifle anything not fitting the script, other churches are large because God IS doing something great there, and there can be considerable diversity within that large assembly. There are some storefront churches as well as the big boys that subscribe to mega-belief systems that are stifling and unbiblical. Whether the deviation comes from wanting to be inclusive to avoiding offending anyone contributing to a seven or eight figure annual budget, or whether the deviation comes from an unfounded interpretation of the Bible or a refusal to run the church the way God has ordained, the results are the same — weak Christians who have little life in their relationship with God, a daily lifestyle that whether too rigid or too loose that fails to spread the righteousness, peace, and joy of the Holy Spirit, and division based upon insisting on that which is alien to the Kingdom of God. Some will castigate you if you do not fall in line with the big gurus of Christianity, even when much of what they say is either a gross distortion of the Bible, is rooted in cultic beliefs, or is actually contrary to sound Bible doctrine. Others will castigate you if you do not follow man-made rules, which are of no value against fleshly indulgence. Still others will poke fun at you if you do not worship in a contemporary and animated style but love the older style hymns and choruses while still others will mock you if you DO worship in a style, which involves moving your body, expressing your emotions, and raising your hands. BIG Religion does not like dissent. Just try to ask some basic questions sometime - here is a "baker's dozen"... not all apply everywhere, but I haven't been ANYPLACE where at least one or more is not an issue. Let me know how you make out —

1) Why are messages in tongues or prophecy prohibited when the Bible clearly lays out the protocols for these gifts of the spirit (increasingly, not just classical evangelical churches, but also Pentecostal churches restrict these gifts in the main services)?

2) Why are women in positions of authority over men when the Bible clearly prohibits that?

3) Why are Christians who divorced as Christians without Biblical grounds being remarried in the church?

4) Why are persons living together who have attended the church for some time never confronted about their sin? Or practising homosexuals? Or dishonest businessmen? Or persons who swear or gossip or tear down a brother?

5) Why is tithing pushed and mandated when the New Testament clearly teaches that we are NOT to give under compulsion, but voluntarily in accordance with God's blessing (not a "seed" we don't have!) and according to what he has placed in our heart? Why are Old Testament rules SELECTIVELY preached when we have a better covenant and the freedom in Christ who set us free from the law?

6) Why are religious acts that are more entertainment than ministry promoted and supported as "ministry" and not simply as wholesome entertainment you pay admission for? (And while you are at it, why are neophyte entertainers who become Christians idolized over the mature saints who have labored in prayer for years and been through the fire?)

7) Why are rich people with good jobs given a disproportionate number of influential positions in the church? Why is the rich man still honored more than the poor man as James warns against?

8) Why are the rich in the church not encouraged to share their wealth with the poor of the church so that no one has too much and no one has too little? Why is conspicuous consumption by Christians celebrated in church when Jesus and the Apostles gave the OPPOSITE direction? And why are riches linked to spirituality when Jesus said it is HARDER for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle?

9) Why when it comes to building programs is it that a million dollars can easily be raised, but to spread the gospel through missionaries giving up everything and going to an unfamiliar land, a hundred thousand dollars seems to be a much too aggressive goal?

10) Why are services choreographed with all attention on the platform when I Corinthians 14 clearly states what is to occur EVERY time we come together — with the BODY of Christians participating in the service flowing in the diversity of gifts of the Holy Spirit has given to them?

11) Why are Pastors richly compensated in many cases while those with the gift of Administration given by the same Holy Spirit are paid little if anything? Those who teach ARE worthy of DOUBLE honor, not TEN-FOLD or more honor.

12) Why are leaders with obvious faults and strongholds never confronted about them as is commanded in the Bible, as we are not to be partial toward an elder who sins?

13) Why are being "slain in the spirit", "soaking", or other non-Biblical experiences (which interestingly have parallels in eastern religions), wild emotional outbursts, references to the Holy Spirit at a force or an "it" with supposed manipulation of that "force", and highly amplified (sometimes almost to the point of pain) "worship" that has more to do with us than with him becoming the new liturgy, with devotional worship oriented toward God and his attributes and our relationship with him, solid Bible teaching, prayer for our leaders and each other, and calls to repentance given a minor role if any at all? After all, we are commanded to preach the Word, pray with respect for our government leaders (no rants allowed!), intercede, flow in the gifts of the Spirit, and call all people to repent of their sins and live Holy lives.

I think you know the answers to many of these questions. Christians are being pounded into conformity with so much that is contrary to the gospel ONCE delivered to the saints. It can be political conformity, cultural conformity, religious conformity or even ALL THREE. Romans 12 tells us not to be conformed to this world, but to be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of our minds that we would prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God! We must strenuously avoid the spirit of this world wherever we find it!

Let's be conformed to GOD and his infallible word and not BIG Religion. After all, the Book of Revelation tells you all you need to know about where BIG Religion will lead us. EVEN THE ELECT are vulnerable, so be sure to stand for the eternal WORD OF GOD. Many have died for the truths we know today. Yet few are willing to stick their necks out to defend the church against enemies old and new. Let us contend for the faith and enjoy the good fruit of a faithful relationship with Jesus.


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