HERETIC ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Divine Right of Kings

The question might well be asked, even though we won the War for Independence ( AKA, 'the Revolutionary War' ); 'have we ever really left the British Empire?' Sure, you may say that we beat them back from our shores & sent them running back to England with their tails between their legs, but did we really become independent of them & their influence, as was our main reason for armed revolt? We may have had our Founding Fathers, signed ( with much danger & hardship ) a Declaration of Independence, drafted our own Constitution & decentralized power, at least, compared to what it was, but have we ever been truly free of their 'evil'?

With the recent unveiling of Britain's own 'exit' from the European Union, one might wonder if the English are not now realizing the same thirst for freedom as our forefathers did, so long ago! Although the immediate circumstances are doubtless somewhat different then they were those many years ago, it is almost without doubt that some of the same principles that caused those brave men of old to declare their independence from Britain's own tyranny & when it became necessary, to take up arms against their 'mother'. Why exactly Britain chose to leave the EU may be up for interpretation, but one thing is clear, the EU, like our own U.S.A., was clearly going someplace the English people were loathe to go!

Now, understanding that the circumstances are much different back then, we should understand that they are not all that different when it comes down to it! I would be hard-pressed to tell you exactly why they chose to leave & even an internet search would probably yield as many conclusions as the day is long. The point of the matter is that they left for much the same reason as we did, so long ago; the question though ( again ) is, 'did we truly leave?'

Ask the average 'Joe' in America today where the Federal Reserve is headquartered & their ready response would most likely be, 'New York, of course. Ask the same question of one who has been 'awakened', however & the response would be some variation on the theme of 'Britain, England, or Europe'. Whether this is really true or not is somewhat beside the point; most of the tyrannies that we now face in this country, have direct or indirect ties to our English roots!

While freedom from tyranny may be a rather pert answer for why our Founding Fathers deemed it necessary, along with the majority of the populace, to declare independence from Britain, it is clear that Britain itself, after several hundred years, found itself staggering under the same sort of tyranny, though maybe in a different form & to a lesser degree. Opinions as to why the majority of Brits voted to leave the EU may vary & indeed, there seem to be some doubt as to whether Britain will actually leave, but whatever the case, it is clear, at least to this blogger, that the English peoples are experiencing many of the same fears & concerns that our forefathers did!

The Continental Army, under George Washington, although meagerly outfitted, & in many cases, I'm sure, under-staffed, along with a plethora of brave men of all ranks, pushed those damned red-coats back into the sea; of this we can be sure! At least, that's what our history books tell us! Although many are the witnesses to these facts of history & many are those who will attest to their continued bravery, we are no freer now then those forbears of ours who labored under British oppression! Most Americans, those who blindly follow the U.S. Inc. into its quagmire of death & destruction, would doubtless object to this line of reasoning, but the facts are clear, if one must get permission to exercise rights granted by the Creator, then we are not truly free, as far as that goes, anyway!

A wise man once said, 'if you wanna be free, be free'; as simplistic as that sounds, it really IS that simple! If you want to exercise your God-given rights, exercise them, government be damned! If you want to be led like a sheep & told where you may go, what you may do & when you may do it, then by all means, continue to be a flag-waving citizen of the good ole U.S. of A.. If, however, you would live as a free man or woman, then declare your independence from this tyrannical government & get ready for a fight, 'cause Lord knows it's coming!

Charles Haddon Shank


Monday, June 27, 2016

The Barren Woman ( a Parable for True Israel )

Sing, O barren,
You [ who ] have not borne!
Break forth into singing, and cry aloud,
You [ who ] have not labored with child!
For more [ are ] the children of the desolate
Than the children of the married woman.
Isaiah 54:1 

Adam & Rebecca had what might be called the perfect marriage. Even though Rebecca had a fairly rough start in life, having been abandoned & left to die at an early age, she had been found by a very gracious host, nursed back to health & grew into a very lovely young lady indeed! As she continued to thrive, however, she grew more beautiful every day & began to lust after the many young men that surrounded her. These young men lusted after her as well & therefore, before long, Rebecca began to take full advantage of the power she held over these young men, who were all but helpless before her amorous wiles!

As is often the case with these sorts of non-committal dalliances, Rebecca began to run short on funds & seeing how others like her were able to sate their lust & fulfill their needs, monetarily speaking, at the same time, she embarked on a rather illicit venture, selling her body to anyone willing to pay the price! Enter Adam; Adam was a fairly well-to-do bachelor, neither young nor old, who had been waiting for what seemed an eternity for a mate, one with whom he could share the blessings of life. Seeing Rebecca struggling in her own blood, so to speak, Adam determined to make her the perfect wife & soon thereafter, 'took her home to mother' & they were joined in holy matrimony!

For the first few years, Adam & Rebecca lived together in wedded bliss; Rebecca bore Adam a few children & everything seemed to be going swimmingly until one day Adam woke up to an empty house! Adam searched high & low for his wayward wife, but, for whatever reason, she had returned to her old ways, those she was comfortable with. Through no fault of his own, Adam had lost his former lover to the wiles of the world that had previously been her home!

Enter Eve; Eve, like Rebecca, had started life with several counts against her! Although she understood that the world & all that it contained had been formed by the Creator, she did not seek to follow the Laws of the Creator & thus was in the habit of engaging in illicit intercourse with whomever she pleased. As such, not unlike Rebecca, Eve moved from house to house, from realm to realm, staying only till her lust was sated & then moving on to the next willing victim. Unlike Rebecca, though, Eve, not having the advantage of a good & gracious upbringing, was more appreciative of Adam's offer of his hand!

After Adam had rid himself of any evidence of former ties, he & Eve began their marriage on a note of endless joy! Never had either known such love & communion; though Eve had hitherto been unable to bear children, from that time forward she was fruitful & began to multiply exceedingly. Adam had met his match; he was supremely happy with this new life he had found & the wife he had finally married. The Marriage of the Ages had been sealed & Adam knew, through his gracious Host, that this was One that would persevere for all eternity, for at the Heart of this Marriage resided a Resolve that would never perish!

Adam & Eve, though their Marriage was the very height of Perfection, did not not have an easy time of it; their Way was often fraught with danger & difficulties, trials & tribulations! Eve, being a beautiful woman in her own right, was often tempted by the favors & attentions of the useless idols that continued to surround her, but at the end of the day, so to speak, she always returned, unscathed, to her True Love, the One who fulfilled her every need. 

Eve had been born & lived in the most natural way, yet had never experienced the Love she was created to enjoy, till she met Adam. Adam showed her that Love & gave her a heritage much greater than her barrenness had ever dreamed; the Love that Adam & Eve shared was One that transcended all barriers, knowing no bounds. Rather than a temporary satisfaction, all that Eve had ever known & that Rebecca had been doomed to, the Love that blossomed like a Fountain in Adam & Eve's Life was One that would spring for Eternity, bringing Life wherever it flowed!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Living the Story

And He has made from one blood[c] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings........
Acts 17:26 

Much has been made lately, in certain circles, of the Story of Scripture; the Story of Israel is contained between the 'book-ends' of our English Bibles, the books of Genesis & Revelation. Though it is the Story of one peculiar & particular people, the relationships that they entertained & enjoyed, both with their God & with the nations around them & the mistakes they made, leading to the ultimate downfall of all but a remnant, it is primarily the Story of how the Creator of all entered the Realm of His Creation, bringing together the seen & unseen realms, instituting the Marriage of Heaven & Earth!

The tendency among most Christians is to read this Story & take it to extremes: on one end of the spectrum, we have those who, to whatever extend, understand everything as written directly to & about us, living in the 21st century & then those who believe that it was all written to & about those living in the first century & previously. The latter group, although this does not apply to all of the latter group, often take their belief to the extreme, right or left & say that, since it is written to & about a people long ago & far away, it is not applicable to us today. The former group, to whatever extent, might tell you that it's all about us, although these usually apply the principles of the Law in an almost haphazard, even willy-nilly sort of way. 

The question of 'how should we then live?' is one that should be foremost in every Christian's mind & the answer to this question, though there is but One true answer, depends largely on one's interpretation of the Story! If one believes & takes to heart all of the principles that Jesus taught, realizing that the Law & the Prophets served simply to point to the Revelation of the Son of God, then that person will do his or her best to live according to the teachings of Jesus, living & loving as He did. On the other hand, if one believes that Scripture is written to & about them, then if they act according to that belief, they will have much unnecessary trouble in this world!

Much if not all of the troubles that human beings face in this world on a daily basis have their foundation in religion! James, in his letter to the Church ( James 1:27 & 28 ), describes true ( 'pure and undefiled' ) religion; against this sort of religion, nothing can be said, but it is 'the religion of man' of which we speak here & which many decry; this is also known as 'organized religion'. The majority of organized religions, in particular, Christianity, also known as the Institutional Church, because of their individualistic & anachronistic understanding of the Story & the Nature of it's Tender, tend to take the the Law & apply it in a way that it was never intended for, leading to many unintended but still irresponsible acts of violence!

 The Christian life, when lived consistently, is one that perfectly fulfills the Creator's mandate; this is what Jesus meant when He said to 'love your neighbor as yourself' ( Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:19 ) & 'just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise' ( Luke 6:31 ). The heart of the problem lies, again, in how one interprets these two commands & in essence, the whole Story itself; 'who is my neighbor?', is the question that comes to mind first. Depending on ones understanding of what constitutes a 'neighbor', one might find themselves in the arms of love, or on the wrong end of a gun! Along the same lines, much of the 'trials & tribulations' that Christendom has experienced during the past millenia or so is due to the fact that they have reaped what they've sown!

How then does one Live the Story; how should we make application of the principles taught in the Scriptures, both in the Greek & the Hebrew? Well, the first thing we need to understand is that it IS One Story! The Bible as we know the Scriptures IS a History of Israel according to the flesh, but it also tells the Story of the Creator God's covenant faithfulness. It is because of His Covenant Faithfulness that the Story continues; it did not End, though they met their End & perished in it. By understanding that our Story is a continuation, a Fulfillment really, of the Story of Israel, we may then live that Story to the fullest, realizing that we are a peculiar people, One that, as 'a nation of priests', are put on this earth to minister the Creator's love to His Creation!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, June 20, 2016

'Live & Let Die'; the Law of the Jungle

And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. 
John 11:26

Jesus spoke these words of comfort to the sister of Lazarus, who had just died. While they were meant to give hope to the believer in Messiah, they ARE a bit confusing: although many people in this world have faith in the Son of God, all of them eventually die, right? Or do they?! We know, from using our logic, that Jesus couldn't have meant that those who trusted in Him would live in this biology forever, so what DID Jesus mean when He gave Martha this hope? I believe that most Christians must admit that Jesus was speaking, not of our individual, biological bodies, but rather of our spirits, which are the part of us that has been given, through the Son of God, 'everlasting life' ( John 3:16 )

Looming largest in the news lately are the despicable events of June 12th, 2016, at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. That this was a known 'gay' or homosexual hangout was no mistake, from all accounts! This may have been the largest massacre perpetrated in U.S. history, targeted especially at homosexuals & other 'queers', but it is by no means the first incident of terrorism within these borders; this country, as well as the world, has witnessed many such attacks in its relatively short but sordid history! 

Jesus told His followers that 'all who take the sword will perish[a] by the sword' ( Matthew 26:52b ). Although this is taken as a 'blanket' statement by many Christians today, the historical context & original audience must be considered before making such an assumption. Jesus' words DO bear a fairly universal truth, though; when one takes up arms against another, that one should expect the same in return; the principle of reaping what you sow is one that will follow a person to the grave! 

In this world, we have two main choices; we can either live by the Law that our Heavenly Father has given us, the Law of Love & be blessed, or we can live by the Law of the Jungle, man's law & be cursed! Man's law tells us that 'if it feels right, do it'; moral relativity has taken us back to the days of the Judges, with every man & woman doing what is right in their own eyes, including some Christians. Many have taken God's Law of Love & tried to redefine it, defining Love as an emotion, a feeling to be used or abused. Rather than treating Love as the Fulfillment of the Law, as the apostle Paul wrote ( Romans 13:10 ), the phrase 'I love you' is callously & carelessly applied almost whimsically, according to one's own feelings!

Feelings are a very real part of life in this biology! Human beings are made such by the Creator & without them, life would be very uninteresting indeed. However, as our Father God warned Cain, the first murderer, in the Garden ( Genesis 4 ), we should not let them rule us, but instead, we should rule them, using them to love one another. The law of the jungle, in essence, is 'kill or be killed', a dog-eat-dog mentality that is all-too pervasive in this day & age. Rather than striving to live at peace with all men, as our Lord commanded, those who refuse His Love have chosen rather to live according to man's law, which is the deadly law of the jungle.

This is not necessarily to say that it is wrong to take up arms against another, say, in self defense, but there is always that warning to heed! Defense, whether of one's country, self or property, will almost without fail bring repercussions of like nature, especially if it ends in the death of the one being defended against. There is a tendency among mere human beings, those who ascribe to the law of the jungle, to 'shoot first & ask questions later'. These often find themselves at odds with what is considered acceptable & thus find themselves on the wrong end of the stick, so to speak!

What happened at that nightclub in Orlando, whatever truly happened, is a very real atrocity; the death of any of our Father's human creations is to be abhorred! However, we must understand that most if not all of those who felt the weight of this Judgment were living according to their own whims & by the law of moral relativity. Like it or not, agree or not, the homosexual lifestyle is prohibited by Scripture; therefore, it is not subject to ones own feelings. Though Christians have themselves suffered violence in the past & will continue to suffer it in the future, there IS this one difference: we are promised that WE will never die: those who spurn the Law of Nature & Nature's God have no such promise!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Noble Infidel, the Inglorious Christian

'Is it better to die free, having lived, or to exist, though in chains?'

To some, this question might have an easy answer; a quick acquiescence to the former platitude would suffice! To others, the answer may not come so quickly or easily, while on the other end of the spectrum, there are those who would rather exist in the relative comfort & safety of their chains, than to break free of those bonds, to live free, though dangerously! It seems that Christendom, for the past millenia or so, has adopted a policy of dying for principle rather than living at peace with those of another faith, or belief.

Over the past number of years, it has come to my attention that Christianity has officially become A Religion of Hate; now before you blow a gasket, keep reading! We are, as Children of our Heavenly Father, to hate every evil deed; I'm not denying that. There seems to be a growing trend, though, especially among certain of our Christian brethren, to castigate those who don't hold to the same principles we do, Muslims in particular. One might as well say that all terrorists are Muslims as to say that every Muslim is a terrorist, but this is just what some, Christians in particular, seem to be saying.

I have been reading a book by Montana's own Anthony Goodman, entitled 'The Shadow of God'. This is a historically fictitious novel concerning the siege of Rhodes in the latter half of 1522. The Muslim Sultan, known as 'The Shadow of God ( on Earth )' was pitted against the Christian Grand Master of Rhodes, who belonged to the Order of St. John. While the island of Rhodes had been home to the knights of the Order for two hundred years or so, it also played home to many other residents, citizens of this Greek isle which had changed hands many times over the years.

The rulers of the Ottoman Empire had, for years, suffered much loss through piracy at the hands of these Knights & had been plotting for some time to rid themselves of this pestilence. Having tried & failed, about 40 years previously, to take the Fortress of Rhodes, the siege of 1522 involved almost a limitless supply of troops & weapons on the side of the Muslims, against several hundred knights & little more mercenaries & citizens. The Cause was Just, according to the Christian Knights, who looked at the Muslim Infidel as a scourge that needed to be stamped out by any means necessary, even piracy & outright murder!

Now, war is hell; the citizens of Rhodes would agree! The Muslims themselves, according to Goodman's novel, suffered very heavy losses, maybe better ( ? ) than ten to one, but they were much more able to pay the toll that this siege exacted. The Knights of Rhodes, on the other hand, though they had some distinct advantages, eventually crumbled under the heavy bombardment of the Muslim cannons & the Janissaries as well as regular infantry of the Ottomans. While realizing that theirs was a lost cause, the Grand Master of Rhodes refused to capitulate, even though the Sultan continually offered peaceful terms of surrender, which involved the knights laying down their arms & living at peace.

The question of whether or not Islam is a religion of peace has been answered both in the negative & positive, though I might add, the same might be asked of Christianity over the past thousand years or so! Now, again, before you tear my head off, let me finish; I realize that the Coming of Christ & the New Covenant changed things for a lot of people, but the 'majority' of Christians for the past millenia or so have held to the same principle. Even though Islam claims the same God, though under a different name, as the Christians, both thought the other was the Infidel, but while most of the Muslims were willing to live at peace with the Christians, most Christians would not recapitulate, thinking they were 'doing God a favor' by ridding the world of the Muslim Horde!

'Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that Islam has just as much verity as Christianity ( remember, things DID change in the first century! ): all I'm saying is that as many Muslims as Christians & other People of Faith, even no faith, just want to live in peace! Like the fictional Muslims in Goodman's story, though they had their own agenda ( the Empire ) & committed many acts of terror themselves, yet in the end, as in the beginning, they offered terms of peace, rather than war & destruction.

Our Holy Book is part of the Holy Writings, along with the Q'uran, as I understand it, of Islam. I would venture to say that maybe things are a bit different when it comes to, say, the writings of Peter, Paul & the apostles, but then again, I could be wrong, even there! However, as not every Muslim is a terrorist, not every 'Christian' wants to live at peace, it would seem. ( Using 'Christian' as a very general term, of course! ) The History of Violence in the world, in particular between Islam & Christianity, has witnessed to bad blood on both sides; if we are ever to see peace in that ancient struggle, we must bear the ascendance in our own hearts, minds & lives first!

It IS more honorable to die free than to live in chains, but is honor everything? More to the point, 'is it truly the honor of our Heavenly Father that we're seeking, or is it our own?' By killing or wishing death upon the Muslim because of their religion rather than seeking peace, as Jesus taught, are we not seeking our own honor & that of the Empire of Man rather than the Kingdom of God & Heaven? In order to seek first His Kingdom, we must ask ourselves & answer this question; 'is it better to live in peace, or to die in war?' I believe the question answers itself!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, June 17, 2016

Corruption in High Places

'Politics is ( a ) dirty business'!

How often do you hear people, especially Christians, utter these famous last words? It is hard to disagree with this statement, given the dastardly fact of what goes on in those hallowed halls, whether it be at the federal, state, or even sometimes, local level! Politicians have become infamous for speaking out of both sides of their mouth, with a forked tongue & often, believe it or not, out of their ass, metaphorically speaking, of course!

'How do you know when it's really cold out? When the politicians have their hands in their OWN pockets!' So goes the now-famous joke. Though just a joke & told in several different, but still hilariously ( or is that 'sadly? ) true ways, it is only a sign of the times; though it is without doubt that most politicians fall into this category & they must bear the brunt of the responsibility, we must first look at ourselves, Christians in particular & ask this all-important question; 'how have we allowed things to get this bad; how did such evil men & women get into these positions of power?

Those in the know can tell you horror stories about the Rothschilds & the Rockefellers, the Bilderberg Group & the Zionist Conspiracy. One might hear these names linked with such ancient evils as Freemasonry & the Illuminati, all leading to the New World Order. Before we scare ourselves 'spitless' though, we as Christians especially, should ask ourselves this question, 'who's REALLY in charge here?' Most Christians would answer this question with surprising ease & velocity ( or should that be 'veracity? ); 'Satan is the ruler of this world ( 'for the Bible tells me so' ). No wonder this country & politics in general, is in the mess it's in. If this world is truly ruled by 'Satan', then maybe our best hope IS to 'give up & go home'!

If 'Satan' truly ruled this world, that would explain a lot though; I mean, if our God & Father was really in control, this poor world wouldn't have to suffer all the evil that it does, right? Though there might seem to be some sort of wisdom in such an argument, we should remember that, according to our own Scriptures, there are & always have been 'snakes in the garden'! Men & women have always had a choice set before them; to do good or evil. If we do good, then good will undoubtedly come of it, but if we do evil, we can be sure that our sin will find us out! There should be no question, especially regarding politics, which we have done, or at the very least, allowed to persevere.

Politics is, put simply, the decision of the people. Just as one's religion is simply what one believes & thus, how one acts, so the purity of politics depends on the religion of those wielding its power; if they do evil, their politics will be corrupt & if they do well, then their politics, like themselves, will be good & good will come of it! When two or more people, or groups of people, as the case may be, of the same or similar religious convictions gather together to advance toward a common goal, this is often called a conspiracy. Whether for good or evil, though usually it has a bad connotation in this day & age, a conspiracy is formed out of religious beliefs!

Politicians, in themselves, are not necessarily a bad sort! Even though the actions of the majority of politicians that we like to stigmatize are often what we would consider evil & are thus based upon that person's religious beliefs, the person is not themselves, necessarily evil. Many politicians are blindly, whether out of pure ignorance or fear, just doing their jobs, striving to take care of their families & maintain their chosen lifestyle. On the other hand, there ARE those politicians who are simply power-hungry. They truly get high on the misfortunes of others, especially when it serves their own aggrandizement!

Everyone has a story to tell; to whatever extent they have suffered evil in their own lives, their beliefs & thus their politics will be affected. Christians, throughout history, have played a major role in the way this has played out; time & space does not suffice here to recount all the suffering & destruction this world has seen, much of it in the name of Christ & Christianity! Much, if not all of the evil that we bear witness to in the world today, including the corruption of politics, can be linked inextricably with religion. Many Christians complain that politics is corrupt & indeed, so it is, for the most part, but it is only so because the politicians themselves are corrupt; there are good politicians out there, though maybe few & far between, who actually dare to mix their religion & their politics!

When the above happens, though institutionalized religion is & has been the cause of much pain & suffering, we catch a glimpse of how things should be, of what politics done rightly looks like! Christians, in this day & age, have been taught from early on that politics & religion shouldn't be mixed; to some extent, one might say, they're right, but only to the extent that bad, or evil religion shouldn't be mixed with politics. One can neither separate their religious conviction from their politics nor their politics from their religion; one drives the other!

The heart of the matter, therefore, is not corrupt  politics, but corrupt politicians; when the politicians are good, so then will be the politics, but when the politics are bad, we can only blame ourselves, whether directly or indirectly! As Christians, we are the leaders of the culture & from the shape our culture is in, though it IS arguably in better working condition than some, it should be easy to see that, for whatever reason, we have not exerted either the influence that we bear or have shouldered in the gloried past. We ourselves, now as always, have the choice before us; do we let evil persevere & run its course, distancing ourselves from such matters, or do we, through politics & religion, redeem the culture around us, for the Glory of our Heavenly Father & the advancement of His Kingdom?

Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, June 12, 2016

'The Water of Life' & the Coming of the Age of Aquarius

Jesus, during His earthly ministry, accrued several different titles, but none was more fitting, metaphorically speaking, than the one above! The importance of water to the human body cannot be denied; without that most necessary of ingredients, our bodies would, sooner or later, dry up & blow away. Okay, so technically, Jesus was never referred to as the water of life, but He did say that He would give us this precious Gift, through His Spirit! At the Well in Samaria, as recorded in John 4:1-26, Jesus told a certain woman that 'Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life'. The Story here recorded alluded to the transition that was taking place during the ministry of Jesus, from righteousness through the Law to Righteousness through the Spirit. The ordinary water found in say, a well or a river, will nourish the body for a time, but this biology is only meant to persevere so long, then even water will do it no good!

Water is a necessity of life! Though I have never personally been there, basic science will tell even the most casual observer that because of a lack of water, many areas of the Dark Continent, also known as Africa, are well-nigh useless for such basic needs as growing crops. Steps are being taken as we speak to remedy this situation, such as drilling wells in those areas, but there are still certain regions that simply will not support biological life. Even in our own country, certain regions are less arable than others, not just because they have a much shorter growing season, being further north, but because of less rainfall, they simply will not naturally support the kind of biological life that others will.As in other areas of biology, though & with the aid of Science & Technology, mankind has taken giant leaps in bringing water to those areas less fortunate.

For hundreds of years, orthodox Christianity has, to a degree, spurned astrology as 'worldly', or even 'of the devil, but this was not always so! Astronomy, or what might be called the study of heavenly bodies, is akin to astrology, but it pretty much stops there; astrology, on the other hand, bring a bit of mysticism into the mix, with the claim of being prophetic, or telling the future. It's rather interesting that the word 'astronomy', when broken down, would mean, more or less, 'heaven's law', whereas 'astrology' would be more true to 'the study of the heavens'. But astrology his more or less taboo among more traditional, conservative Christians, while astronomy is accepted!

The apostles, Paul in particular, often referred to 'the ages'; though we usually think of only two 'ages', it seems that there was a multiplicity of eras wherein certain things occurred in a certain manner, to a certain people. I am by no means an astrologer, but wiser men & women than me have made studies of these different 'ages' & found that, indeed, they seem to have been ruled by different spirits, with different motives. Several of the constellations are mentioned by name: the books of Job & Amos make mention of 'the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades'. Taurus is the astrological sign that the Bible calls 'the Pleiades' & the first two beasts of Daniel's vision correspond to 'the Bear' & 'the Lion', or Leo. This is not a coincidence; the fact that Jesus told His followers that, until His Kingdom came, they would be 'fishers of men' ( Matthew 4:19 ), should not be lost on those who follow the 'signs'; that was the age of Pisces, or the fish. After the age of Pisces comes the age of Aquarius, also known as the water-bearer!

When Jesus told the woman at the well that those who metaphorically drank the 'water' that He provided would become vessels of Living Water, He referred to the fact that the age of Pisces was almost at an end & that they were at the dawning of the age of Aquarius.Although the age of Pisces was a fairly short age, as ages go, lasting only forty or so years, this era is also known as the transitional period between the Cross & the destruction of Jerusalem & the Temple in AD70: this period witnessed the birth of the early church, during which the disciples of Jesus were known as 'fishers of men', pulling men out of the metaphorical 'Sea' ( Gentiles ) into the Kingdom of God, or Heaven. During His ministry, Jesus taught His disciples to be 'fishers of men', but that in the New Age ( in Him ) they would be water-bearers, or (ad ) Ministers of the Spirit!

Without the Water that Jesus promised, there can be no Lasting Life! It follows that to be born of the Spirit, in Essence, to inherit Everlasting Life, one must first be born of the Spirit. Jesus, in John 3, told Nicodemus as much. As, according to the fulfilled Book of Revelation, there is no more 'Sea' ( actually, the apostle Paul said the same earlier ), the disciples of Christ are no more 'fishers of men'; now they are simply water-bearers; unfortunately, many Christians believe were are still 'fishers of men'; maybe this is the heart of the problem with Christian missions today?

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, June 10, 2016

Divided Tongues; a New Look at the Tower of Babel

We're all more or less familiar with 'The Tower of Babel' Bible Story, found in Genesis 11:1-9, but how many have ever seen it as a prophesy of the giving of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2? 'Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech'; as the Story goes; this was the Creator God's response to His Creation when they thought to become gods themselves. From this plain in what we now know as Central Iraq, Yahweh scattered abroad His children, in effect cursing them by separating them. In sending His Spirit, at Pentecost, in the form of Divided Tongues of Fire. The Hebrew 'balal' translated as 'confuse' in the Story ( depending on the version ) & the Greek 'diameriz┼Ź', translated as 'divided' the Acts 2 description of the Holy Spirit, while having slightly different definitions & uses, are very similar in meaning.

Speaking of 'division'; in the early 13th century, the Archbishop of Canterbury introduced what we now accept as the chapters & verses of our present-day English Bibles. Whatever the reason for these divisions, it is most important to understand that these divisions are not original & thus, in some ways hinder our understanding of the Story of Scripture. Previous to the story of the Tower of Babel, in what we know as Genesis 10, is a genealogy of the sons of Noah. In this genealogy, when the sons of Ham are mentioned, we see that the beginning of his grandson Cush's kingdom, or dynasty, was Babel. At the end of what we know as Genesis 10, we read that 'from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood.' It is natural to assume, then, that the Story of the Tower of Babel is the story of this division.

From the 'Division of Nations' as elucidated in the 11th chapter of Genesis, we understand that the whole earth was populated, though the Scriptures focus on the nations that we know as the Middle East. From the Middle East, of course, what is often called 'the cradle of civilization', was peopled, as the story goes, the rest of the earth, including Europe & the Americas. Australia, for those who miss the implications of a universal understanding of this passage of Scripture, also bears mention here; the question might be asked, 'from which of the sons of Noah did the Australian Aboriginals come?' Enough about that, though, this post is about the Coming of the Holy Spirit & the Reversal of the Curse, right?

The Fall of Adam & Eve in the Garden produced a long-lasting Curse, one which plagued the children of Israel for generations. Most notably, the Division of the Nations, as recorded in Genesis 10 & 11, was in essence, a result of the separation that our first 'parents' experienced in the Garden. Genesis 3::22 & 23 reads for similarly to Genesis 11:6. In the earlier reference, Yahweh observed that 'the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken'. Because of their desire to be as God, they were separated from His Blessings for a time, so that His Purpose might be Fulfilled!

The Curse that plagued the generations of the children of Israel was brought on by the Fall of Adam & Eve, there is no question, biblically speaking! Because of the curse that Yahweh pronounced on the ground
( Genesis 3:17 ), Noah planted a vineyard ( Genesis 9:20 ) since nothing grew of its own, as had the Garden, and further unleashed the Curse against his son & grandson. That it was the grandson of Ham who at least authorized the building of the Tower is speculative, but it seems possible, even likely.

In the Greatest Sense, one might say, the Division of Nations was a Blessing in Disguise, as was the Curse itself ], which plagued the children of Israel from the very beginning till the End! The End, of course, was Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. He it was that truly reversed the Curse through the Power of the Holy Spirit! By sending His Spirit in the visible form of divided tongues of fire, He showed, both that this was the Baptism that John had promised during his ministry ( Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16 ) & that this Spirit was the same One who had confirmed the Covenant with Abraham ( Genesis 15:17 ). This is not to resolve the children of Israel of any responsibility, but all that transpired in the History of Israel happened according to Plan and led to the Revelation of the Son of our Heavenly Father!

One problem, as mentioned previously, with modern Christianity is that, because of the chapter & verse divisions, many often seem to forget that the Scriptures are One Story! The division of the Genealogy of the sons of Noah & the resulting Tower of Babel is just one example among many that could be given. For instance, because of this separation, we are disinclined to remember that Genesis 11 is simply a continuation of the Story that began much earlier in Genesis & the same Story that continued with Abram in Chapter 12.

In a previous post ( several years ago ), we explored the notion that the Tower of Babel was significant of the beginnings of the Church; even though the Curse was still operative, everything was going according to Plan, even back then! Israel was spread abroad, in much the same manner, during the Dispersion, or 'Diaspora', as well as centuries earlier, when they descended into hell ( went into exile ) at the hands of the Babylonians ( Babel ), so, cursed as they were, it was all part of their Heavenly Father's Plan for the spread of the Gospel!

The Tower of Babel, evil as was the purpose of those building it, actually served the Creator's Purpose! From this Story, then, as well as many other similar ones in Scripture serve to remind us that, as evil & grand as wicked people's plans may be, they all serve our Heavenly Father's Purpose. There is no tower that men or women can construct, no plan that evil minds can devise that is not eclipsed & encompassed by that of the Creator of Heaven & Earth!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Expanding the Borders

Let me just make this disclaimer; this post IS inspired by one that I came upon this morning, one written by my little sister, Mrs. Virginia Wallace. It's NOT all about me, My relationship with MY Creator, MY journey, MY success! It IS about OUR relationship, OUR journey, OUR success, as the Body of Christ! We are His Beloved One, His arms, legs & feet to do His Will as we travel through this world. In answer to the oft-asked question, 'why are we here?', we can answer truthfully & gloriously, 'we are here to expand the Kingdom of the Creator God & our Heavenly Father!"

Many Christians seem to have settled into a routine! This routine involves 'going to church' on Sunday, then the rest of the week, going about their own business, however mundane it might be. 'I just don't have the time or resources to do much more,' some might complain, 'in fact, there's barely enough, sometimes, to do what I do get done!' Too, often, this attitude sums up our thoughts. There IS more, though, SO much more!

There is much to be done! Sometimes, often, it gets a bit overwhelming & even the best of us is tempted to murmur & complain: sometimes we are driven almost to the depths of despair. When such moments come upon us, we must prayerfully remember that we are not alone. we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, both seen & unseen, that we really have no cause for worry or despair. There IS much to be done, but with every member doing his or her part, those hurdles which seem almost insurmountable may be quickly solved by working together!

'The Kingdom of God', Jesus told His disciples, 'is within you' ( Luke 17:21 ). Some translations render the Greek here, 'the Kingdom of God is in your midst'; this translation may be a bit truer to the text, for as I've speculated previously, Jesus was telling His audience that He was, or that He represented that Kingdom. Whether the Kingdom, as Jesus Himself ( John 14:23 ) is indeed within every individual Christian or if its being in our midst is simply a fulfillment of both the tabernacle in the wilderness & the Temple, whereas we have become, as the apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus, 'a dwelling place of God in the Spirit' ( Ephesians 2:22 ), we are, in Essence, the Kingdom of God, or Heaven!

'Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!' ( I Chronicles 4:10 ). This prayer, now made famous by some capitalists, was also referred to by our Lord & Brother in a yet more famous prayer! This prayer spoke of a Kingdom to come, the Kingdom of God, which, as Daniel prophesied, would eclipse, in fact, swallow up ( consume ) all other kingdoms. In the days of Jesus & the apostles, this Kingdom was in the process of being established in the hearts, minds & actions of His disciples, but has now come to fruition & is coming to fruition through His Body in a continuously expanding Kingdom!

We should continue to earnestly pray, as in the Lord's Prayer, that His Kingdom would come, for though the words of Jesus were fulfilled in the first century, when & how He said, they are yet being fulfilled through His Body! The apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Philippi, 'He who has begun a good work in you will complete [ it ] until the day of Jesus Christ' ( Philippians 1:6 ). That Day is here, has been for almost 2,000 years now! The Philippians, the original recipients of Paul's letter, are no more, but we may infer that these inspired words were meant for us as well as them. With Strength of Spirit, we His Body & Members individually, are enabled to rise up & accomplish the change which Jesus engendered, oh, so long ago!

There's nothing inherently wrong with tradition, but when tradition stands in the way of Jesus' simple commands, then that tradition must go by the wayside; 'we must obey God, rather than men' ( Acts 5:29 ). It seems that, among certain sects of Christianity, it has been traditional to focus on doctrine, rather than Jesus' command to love one another. If one doesn't hold to certain orthodox doctrines, then that one is not deemed worthy of the status of 'neighbor', unless that one comes around to acknowledge that same doctrine. Though many Christians seem to have fallen into this 'rut'; it must be said that it is not true of an increasingly large number of those who make up the Body of Christ!

'How are we to accomplish this change?', many might ask; 'what did Jesus mean when He promised, 'he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater [ works ] than these he will do' ( John 14:12 )?' By unselfishly, as He did, serving each other & especially those who are outside the Body of Christ, we encourage the expansion of the Kingdom; through our loving kindness, we may show His Love, the Love of Christ to even our mortal enemy & bring them into the City. The simplicity of the Gospel preached & played out before their eyes will show them, although not all will accept this glorious Truth, that the Creator, the Master of the Universe is not a petty God, as some would posit, but desires to live in Blessed Relationship with His Creation!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Connnectivity

Men & women are made for each other, that is all! The physical nature of their compatibility is only the most tangible of proofs. Spiritually speaking, their make-ups are such that they complement each other perfectly, as well. Not being an authority, or even having studied the science of the matter, I can only speak from a bit of experience & negative experience at that. The positive physical connection, as any married couple can tell you, is a very necessary part of a well-oiled biological machine, but without the supremely important & necessary spiritual component, the physical attraction only goes so far before it fizzles out & implodes upon itself.

Human beings are the primary subjects of this post, but other animals as well need this most basic of attributes to survive, as well. We, as the human animal, with our more civilized decorum,would like to think that our way of meeting our needs is somehow moral, while those of mere animals is not. One might blame this on our greater cranial cavity, or some special consideration from the Creator, wherein we are able to discern the right way, as opposed to the wrong way, to meet this most basic of needs.

Call it covenant, call it relationship, call it what you will; connectivity engages the necessary components to form a most powerful combination, one that Scripture calls 'a threefold cord' ( Ecclesiastes 4:12 ). Any relationship requires some sort of compatibility, or connectivity, in order to blossom. To whatever extent the components of this relationship work together determines how long & even if it will last. Probably the most important element, biologically speaking, though inextricably linked with spiritual matters, is communication. Human relationships without this most integral of elements have a tendency to burn from the inside out!

Physical  compatibility between the male & female of really any species, including plant & animal, is pretty much without question! For the purpose of procreation, which, it might be argued, is our primary purpose, the male & female of the species in question are formed so that they mesh together in a way that is marvelous, almost beyond words.For plants, one can easily see that procreation is a very necessary part of  their existence.For the various animal species, the need is no less, though for the human animal, Science & Technology have enabled procreation to be accomplished in increasingly unnatural ways & for perverted reasons!

Spiritual compatibility, of which communication is a primary ingredient, is of utmost importance! Though the human animal is traditionally the only species to enjoy this attribute, one might question the wisdom of averring the 'dumb' nature of any & all other animals. It is known, for example, that certain other species mate for life, in other words that the male & female of this species are wont to choose a certain mate & remain with that one mate till they die. Again, one might question the wisdom of trying to ascertain, through study & research whether other animals are sentient beings, not unlike us, but as creations of our Heavenly Father, we might ask ourselves whether they deserve many of the same considerations our fellow human beings do!

The spiritual nature of any being, human, plant, or animal, is almost without question! As the Work of One Creator, all that has life, which biology necessarily implies, has, to whatever extent, a spirit. Studies have been done & again, I do not claim to be an authority, but as far-fetched as some research might sound, the notion that even plants have feelings seems not implausible.  This is not necessarily to say that plants enjoy the same sentientality & sensuality as we humans, but certain genus of flora seem to be uncannily able to communicate with each other. While movies such as 2009's 'Avatar' certainly portrayed some very far-fetched notions, some portrayals may not be so outlandish, in particular, James Cameron's interpretation of the 'Tree of Life'!

Whether one has in mind the way of a man with a maid, the way rabbits seem to go merrily about their business ( of the birds & the bees ) or the largest natural organism on Planet Earth, a grove of aspens on the slopes of Pike's Peak in Colorado, the connectivity of biology is without question! Though much of this connectivity is yet unexplored & may actually be unexplainable, the fact that it exists is so clear, even logical, that to deny it would be almost to question the wisdom of the Creator Himself! The Spirit of the Creator, traditionally known as 'the Third Person of the Trinity', has, according to our understanding of  Scripture, made Himself known to the human race alone & so it is to Him that we as humans must look to truly bind us together, for though we may have some sort of physical, even spiritual relationship, without the Father of Spirits as our Guide, no relationship will be a lasting one. Bereft of that necessary Connection, our relationships must be based upon feelings & we all know how feelings are!

Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Redemption Story

The Story of Scripture is the Story of Israel. Most would probably say that the Bible begins with the 'creation' of the material universe, narrows in on the nation of Israel beginning in Genesis 12, then returns to the physical universe again toward the other end. Others are of the opinion/belief that the Scriptures are a Book of Covenant & that, although the Creation Story refers to the Beginning of Time & the End of Time, like book-ends, the Covenant with Israel is/was significant of the Greater Covenant, the Eternal Covenant that the Creator established with His Creation. There are yet others who would posit that the Scriptures are all about the Covenant with Israel, from Beginning to End, from Alpha to Omega!

The Story of Redemption begins in the Garden ( Eden ); interestingly enough, its End also involved a Garden ( Gethsemane ). The End did not Come in the Garden, however; like Moses ( a type of the Christ ), Jesus promised to return within a generation to finish the Work He had begun. Having promised to return within the lifetime of some of those standing there, Jesus came, as He had also promised the Jewish High Priest ( Matthew 26:67 ) 'in the clouds' of judgment, having called for the Roman armies to descend upon Judea & Jerusalem like Babylon & Syria had done in times past. While it is reported that the Jews themselves actually set fire to the Temple, the Roman armies destroyed both Jerusalem & the Temple, effectively bringing an end to what the apostle Paul later referred to as 'the ministry of death' ( II Corinthians 3:7 ).

The Fall, as referred to in the third chapter of Genesis, was perpetrated by Adam & Eve, but instigated by a sentient being known as 'the serpent'. Though this 'Fall' traditionally plunged mankind into the darkness of sin & death, it should be noted that closer & further study will reveal that the Beginning recorded in Genesis, rather than referring to the genesis of mankind, allegorically alludes, in prophetic prose, to the 'creation' or formation of the Covenant, that which God chose to reveal through Israel. The Redemption of Israel was necessary because of the Fall of Adam & Eve, the Fall which had enveloped the children of Israel in a shroud which plagued them for their entire existence, until finally the Creator of Heaven sent His only ( begotten ) Son to bring an End to that Curse.

The Redemption of Israel was prophetic, yes, of the redemption of mankind; as the apostle Paul also wrote, it was 'for the Jew first and also for the Greek', but Jesus came as the Messiah of Israel! Some might interpret Paul's words as referring to Jewish privilege & in some sense they might be right, but even beyond that, he alluded to the fact that Israel was ( to be ) 'a kingdom of priests' ( Exodus 19:6 ); they were the ones entrust with the ministration of Life, though through the Fall & subsequent failures, they became the 'ministry of death'. Adam & Eve, because of their selfishness, had doomed the generations to follow ( thousands of years ) to continually fail to rule in a way that was pleasing to their Lord. Jesus came to redeem His People from the Sin & Death of Adam: through Redeemed Israel, then, would come the redemption of mankind!

The Judgment of AD70, also known as 'The Day of the Lord', not only ended in the destruction of Jerusalem & the Temple, thus bringing an end to the reign of terror that had enveloped the Land, it also revealed True Israel, those who remained true to their calling as priests in the Kingdom of their Lord. Not only Jews, but Gentiles made up this True Israel, 'the Israel of God', as Paul called them in His letter to the Church at Galatia ( Galatians 6:16 ). Beginning with the Ministry of Jesus, the Final Chapter of this Redemption Story was inaugurated & brought to its final Glorious Conclusion ( End ) with the Revelation of Jesus the Christ as the Son of God.

The Redemption Story is the Story of Israel; it is also the Story of Covenant, the Covenant that the Creator of Heaven & Earth made with His Creation. There is no doubt that the One who formed Israel in His image also made the universe & all that it contains. The Fall & Resurrection of Israel affected the remainder creation as well, but it was through Israel that He chose to bring Redemption to birth. 'The Time of the End', that Daniel prophesied of, referred, not to the final conclusion of the covenant that Yahweh had made with Israel, but to Jesus Himself, who was the Goal of Redemption, the Dwelling of God in the Flesh!

The Redemption of Israel IS the Redemption of Mankind! As the Resurrection of Jesus signaled the Resurrection of Israel, so the Redemption of Israel signaled the Redemption of Creation. Don't worry, I'm not advocating the sort of universalism that most people think, but I AM advocating universalism to a certain extent! The sort of Universal Redemption being advocated here is not one that says everyone, no matter their actions, will enjoy the Presence of their Heavenly Father for all Eternity, but rather one that says, as Scripture does, from 'every nation' ( Acts 10:35, 17:26 ), the Creator has brought & is bringing His People to expand His Kingdom. As we work within His Kingdom, then, in Redeeming Culture, let us continue to enjoy & share the blessings of Communion!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, June 03, 2016

'This is My Body'

Jesus uttered these immortal words as He was about to offer the ultimate sacrifice, as He had said earlier, 'Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends'. The Body that the Creator of Heaven & Earth had prepared ( Hebrews 105 ( Psalm 40:6-8 ) from the foundation of the 'kosmos' was 'fattened', just to be offered for a pleasing aroma, well-pleasing to the Lord! When Jesus spoke these words of instruction during His last Passover celebration, He was doing more, gloriously more than telling His disciples how to memorialize His Final Oblation; He was telling them in metaphor what His Body was made up of, the normal things of life, ordinary, though extraordinary people like you & me!

Communion, or more correctly, 'The Lord's Supper', like water baptism, has become one of the greatest issues to divide the Church, although really, this has been so almost from the beginning! 'How are we to baptize?' Baptists, or baptistic denominations would most likely say, almost without exception, that one must be fully submersed in order for it to be a true baptism. Along the same lines, the one being baptized must understand, more or less, what it means ( Believer's Baptism ). Although there are some Presbyterians who follow this form, most would say that sprinkling & pouring are the more Orthodox way. These same Presbyterians, for the most part, also practice paedobaptism, or the baptism of children & infants before they've reached the so-called 'Age of Accountability'.

Speaking of the Presbyterians, including most if not all Reformed & Orthodox congregations, paedocommunion is also a regular practice. As you can probably guess from the earlier explanation, this refers to the practice of including children & infants when the rite, to whatever extent, is observed. Again, it is to be noted that such is prior to the previously mentioned 'Age of Accountability'. Though most Reformed congregations, including the Presbyterian, follow the same basic order of service, there are still differences among the various congregations on how often & in what manner it should be observed.

For the most part, there is general agreement among all Christian denominations, though, that when our Lord poured the wine & divided the loaf, He was instituting a new way of observing the Passover, of which the first was only significant. Though most would probably not think of it in this manner, Jesus' Final Sacrifice on the Cross led us, His People out of the slavery of sin & death ( Egypt ), into the Promised Land of Rest in Christ ( Hebrews 4 ). The apostle Paul, as this blogger has mentioned previously, referred to this revelation in his first letter to the Church at Corinth ( I Corinthians 11:23-34 ). My conclusion was that, rather than referring to Jesus' own biology, Paul was speaking of the Body of Christ, the Church. Understanding Jesus' instructions in this manner would go a long way toward the cessation of much bickering & division in the Church!

Among the Roman Catholics & even certain Protestant denominations, the doctrines of transubstantiation & consubstantiation have taken hold because of a woodenly literal understanding of Jesus' words. It is not because we physically ingest His Body ( that would be like, cannibalism, right? ) that we partake of His Body; that is just common sense! We are part of the Body because we commune with His People, not just when we gather 4 times a year, monthly, or even weekly to follow a certain rite, no matter if we believe it to be an actual participation in the Body & Blood of our Lord, or whether it's just a memorial to be observed!

We are the Body of Christ! No matter how one looks at it, whether it's understood metaphorically or actually ( literally ), it is we who are the subjects of what has been called 'The Lord's Supper' for so long. As the Body of Christ, we have the duty, the privilege really, of communing with each other, to whatever extent, on a daily, hourly & minutely basis! To divide, as we have in the Church, over these issues is pure heresy; these are issues that unite us, they should not divide us!

Jesus used such common elements as mere bread & wine to symbolize His Body & Blood, not just because they were already extant in the Passover meal, but because they pictured perfectly the simplicity of His Gospel, the Good News that it was not a certain elite that would inherit the Kingdom prepared for them by the Father, but that Jew & Gentile alike would bear these blessings. The bread & wine of the Passover meal were significant of the blessings promised to Israel of old for obedience; they were also significant of our daily bread, the simple bare necessities of life!

As we commune with the Body of Christ then, let us always remember that it is not by following some prescribed rite that we partake of or in His Body & Blood, but through our daily walk, through our communion with each other; this is True Communion & it is not what divides us, it is what unites us!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, June 02, 2016

To Restore America

'We can make America great again'! How often do you hear this phrase, or at least something very like it? Among a growing portion of this nation's population, including at least one notable politician, it is becoming more & more popular to echo these words in talking about 'restoring America'. While there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to restore this country to its foundations, or even of making it great again, for the Christian especially, we should ask ourselves a couple questions; what exactly is meant by 'making America great again' & what all does it entail?

During the previous election season, one politician's campaign was largely founded on his promise  to 'Restore America'! That itself brings up a few questions, such as, 'what did he mean by 'restoring America'?' Does he mean to bring back the Christian principles this nation was founded upon, or does he simply mean to return to the constitutional principles our fore-fathers strained to establish? It is somewhat doubtful & highly questionable that he would wish to repent & return to the principles of the Christian God that make up the bedrock of the foundation of this once-great nation, but suppose he actually does intend to dwell, both on a personal & professional level, on the Constitution!

What made, or makes, America great? Delving back into our history, we might stumble upon examples of why foreign visitors to this country in it's newly-formed heyday thought about it. Alexis de Tocqueville, French author of 'Democracy in America', once wrote 'America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great' The same man, however, wrote this as well; 'It is indeed difficult to imagine how men who have entirely renounced the habit of managing their own affairs could be successful in choosing those who ought to lead them. It is impossible to believe that a liberal, energetic, and wise government can ever emerge from the ballots of a nation of servants'. Considering this statement & the obvious degradation of this nation, can or should this nation still be called 'great'?

Speaking of Foreigners, Winston Churchill reportedly once gave his thoughts on the principle of de Tocqueville's last statement ( above ); 'The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter'. The Prussian Karl Marx, revolutionary author of 'The Communist Manifesto' once said , as one who should know, 'Democracy is the road to socialism'. There are doubtless many other examples of how foreigners have noted how this so-called 'great' nation was doomed to falter & indeed had fallen from her lofty pedestal, but this may suffice for now. We are faced with the question, then; 'if, as many Americans will probably tell you, 'democracy made, or makes, this nation great', do we really want to return to those roots?' The constitutional form of government that the average American 'enjoys' is no more than tyranny in its formative stages: Plato once wrote this enlightening statement, 'Tyranny naturally arises out of democracy'. Though America was reputedly formed with a republican form of government, we have seen that even the best-laid plans quickly devolve into what we now see when destitute of the necessary constituents!

It is all well & good to urge a return to the constitutional principles upon which this nation was founded, but we must remember what one of these founders himself said; 'Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.' Another founder, James Madison, stated that 'if men were angels, no government would be necessary'. A return to Godly standards, not to constitutional principles is what will make America great again, according to our founding fathers & a host of foreigners. The Constitution of these United States was well-written, maybe & with good intent, but a document written with pen & ink can never take the place of the Finger of God! It has been said, in other words maybe, that 'you can't legislate morality'. Scripture itself shows how well this works; time & again, the Law was brought to bear, but it was not till the hearts of the People were changed that it had any effect!

So, what really DID make America great? Was it strict adherence to the Constitution? Even a foreigner noted that it was because the people of the nation ( individually ) had been endowed by their Creator with a certain goodness, a certain Righteousness! Without a repentance & national return to that Righteousness, no mortal document will offer any lasting benefit to this country! If ever this nation WAS great, it was because of an adherence to the principles we find in Scripture; but now, the question should be asked, 'should we, as Christians, seek the greatness of America?' In some sense, as established above, we should pursue the principles that made us good, not just in the eyes of other nations, but moreso the Apple of our Father's Eye, but what did Jesus say in regards to nation-building? In a rather famous passage ( Matthew 6:33 ), Jesus said 'seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you'. It is the Kingdom of Heaven we are to pursue, not making any particular politicaal party or nation!

As we ponder these questions & others engendered by them, we should pause to consider our purpose, especially as Christians. We are not hear to spread the borders of this empire, the political entity known as America, or the United States; we are here to spread the Good News of Reconciliation, that all that was lost is now found & we have inherited our Father's Kingdom. Should we be seeking to 'restore America', then, or trying to make her great, or should we be practicing the Righteousness we have been endowed with & teaching others to pursue & rest in Him?

Charles Haddon Shank