Tag Archives: Qur’an

This Is A Call (Part Two)

ichabodAs I mentioned in my previous post This Is A Call (Part One), I was baptized in the Catholic Church as a baby and experienced a sorta-Catholic upbringing as a child.  I find it curious that I remember absolutely nothing from my catechism classes, except for being dropped off and picked up.  Was it so traumatic that I blocked it from my memory?

I spent my time as a young adult seeking spiritual enlightenment outside the confines of organized religion.  But, it was my need for confession that called me back to the Catholic Church thirty years later.  By this time, I had inflicted a great deal of emotional and psychological harm to myself and those I loved.  My marriage and my life were crumbling without Jesus.  Breaking down and confessing my sins was a helpful experience, if not a transformative one.

I met monthly with a Jesuit priest for about a year.  His laid-back personality was unexpected, as was his use of the word “bullshit,” as was his personal library, which I recall included a book about Islam and a DVD of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which he happily lent to my seven-year-old daughter.  Amusing.  None of this sounded an alarm for me.  To the contrary, it made me feel like this whole Catholic thing didn’t have to be so serious.  Here was a Catholic priest no less, who seemed to be an open-minded, regular guy.  I have since learned more about the Society of Jesus and after reading a column this priest wrote recently for the local paper regarding climate change, I view my experience with him in a new light.  I still had my reservations about the Catholic Church and was holding back my complete faith and devotion from God.

My family and I moved to a new town and sampled the local Catholic Church.  The priest was a sincere and gentle Polish man.  He spoke in a meek voice and struggled with his English.  The mass service was very passive.  Having confessed my sins, I was eligible to again receive the sacrament of the Eucharist, which I did.  I was warming up.  I also sought counsel from this priest and, to his credit, he reminded me that all things were possible through Jesus Christ and urged me to pray, in order that my small faith might grow.  He pointed out that a great many saints and even the apostles of Christ lacked faith.

I found myself listening to a variety of radio programs on EWTN, including Catholic Answers Live, which re-familiarized me with the basic tenets of Christianity and Church tradition.  I learned about writer G.K. Chesterton (a Catholic convert) through The Apostle of Common Sense.  I would get excited when I would catch the Fathers of Mercy Hour while running errands in the car.  My mind and spirit was being fed through the impassioned talks about family, marriage, sin, mercy- whatever the topic might be. Essentially, my return to God was supported to a large degree by the Catholic Church.

But as I hungered for more understanding, I was led to a circle of “watchmen” composed of pastors, writers and journalists who were often critical of the Catholic Church, citing non-Biblical practices and their objection to papal authority.  I very quickly found myself in a conflict of faith.  Catholics will insist that the Catholic Church is the original Church founded by Jesus Christ, with Peter serving as first Pope.  Jesus implores us several times in the Gospels to not be deceived.  I had to ask myself, was it the Catholic message I was responding to, or the message of Jesus Christ?  If indeed it was the Holy Spirit guiding me and calling me back, it would make sense that He use the most immediate, effective path to accomplish this.  If we accept that God exists beyond the physical boundaries of time and space and is all-knowing, He can certainly chart that path for us.  For one person that journey might begin with a car accident, for another, a visit from a Mormon missionary, for another, a documentary about Noah.  For me, the Catholic Church was already there.

We mistakenly understand “church” to mean a building where Christians of a particular denomination congregate on Sunday to worship God.  So, Jews call their building a synagogue, Mormons call their building a temple, Muslims call their building a mosque, Jehovah’s Witnesses call their building a kingdom hall, and so on.  What does Jesus mean though, when He talks about His Church? The Greek word ecclesia, often mis-translated as “church” in the New Testament, literally means “congregation” or “assembly.”

And I did consider other churches. I even spoke with an Episcopalian priest, a recovering alcoholic who jokingly described the Episcopal Church as “Catholic Church without the guilt.”  But… I was guilty.  I wondered how one’s guilt could be ignored, when the fundamental requirement for forgiveness and everlasting life- repentance- comes from an admission of guilt?  And what is guilt but an understanding of wrongdoing, which arises from our God-given conscience?  Would I have been better off wandering into a Baptist or Presbyterian church on a whim, asking to be saved?  Why not just go with what I sorta know?  I had to trust that God would meet me where I was at, and take me to where I needed to be.

In the same way that YHWH saw Israel, not as a particular strip of land along the Mediterranean, but as His chosen people, Jesus regards His Church as His people.  The modern nation of Israel is therefore not synonymous with the chosen people and those that show up to worship at 10 a.m. Sunday morning are not necessarily Christ’s people.  Now, maybe my logic isn’t air-tight here, but it seems ridiculous to me that God would consider our particular denomination, or whether we were Catholic or Protestant, or whether we showed up every Sunday, at the time of our judgement.  At that time, God examines the condition of our hearts, whether we were repentant and accepted the gift of salvation from His Son, Jesus and kept His commandments to the best of our ability.

“The one who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father.  I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him…

… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”

[John 14: 21, 23]

In addition to calling non-believers, God is calling His faithful servants out of the churches because they preach a compromised Gospel.  To one degree or another, most churches have embraced the wisdom of the world in an effort to be more tolerant and open.  Both Catholic and Protestant churches have become infiltrated and impotent.  For the most part, pastors, priests and parishioners alike are mindlessly going through the motions when they participate in church service, but how many truly love God?  We are called upon to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind [Matthew 22:37].  As Christians, we are not to assimilate with the world and blend in, we stand apart as witnesses for Christ.  Dare I say, most Christian congregations are not in alignment with Christ, and that is tragic.  Where the Word is not preached and practiced, the glory of God is not present- ichabod.

enochI understand the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura, which holds that the only legitimate source of truth can be the Holy Scriptures, but is everything except the Bible beyond consideration?  And I’m not talking about Little Red Riding Hood here, but what about the Book of Enoch, which is mentioned in the Bible [Jude 1:14-15]?  Excerpts from the Book of Enoch were discovered as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The Catholic Church rejects the doctrine of sola scriptura; they contend that there are many Church traditions which date back to the time of Jesus, or the first few centuries after his death and resurrection, which are not specifically outlined in the Bible, so they also rely on the writings of the early Church fathers, etc.  I tend to agree.  For Christians, knowledge of the Bible should absolutely be central to the practice of our faith, but it cannot be the sole source of wisdom.  I have come to believe that God and His principles can be observed in all of Creation, even if not specifically referenced in the Bible, but we must be careful to check our understanding against the Scriptures to ensure there is no contradiction.  Indeed, there are potentially thousands of works of literature or art or music which extol the wisdom of our Lord, and yes, we can wonder in His Creation by spending a day fishing on the lake, but Satan is always attempting to cloud our perception and direct us away from Truth.  That is why we need discernment, to protect us from diluting the Word with secular ideology and polluting the Word with witchcraft, astrology, idolatry and the false religion of the fallen ones.  Discernment is a gift of the Holy Spirit and we can pray for it.

Because the shepherds of the Lord have not been vigilant, the flock has been led astray. Whole denominations have adopted practices that are not only non-Biblical, but are non-Christian.  “Mega-church” is an oxymoron.  The only way to attract hordes of well-wishers to your church building or sell millions of self-help books is to dilute and pollute, preaching a false, new-age gospel which does not call on its adherents to repent of their sins, does not teach about the Blood and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and does not speak of the prophets and Revelation.  Pay attention to the titles of some best-selling books by mega-pastor Joel Osteen: You Can, You Will, The Power of I AM, etc.  Now certainly the Lord wishes for our lives to be enriching, but through Him.  Joel Osteen would like you to believe that if we invoke the name of God, we can attract power and wealth to us.  This is nothing more than witchcraft.  The Lord is not our servant, sent to fetch whatever our heart desires.  We do not pray for material things and worldly influence.  Christians pray for the discernment to recognize where Jesus is directing us.  We are His servants.  The masses flee when they hear the real message of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is not a motivational speaker; His message is not a self-help message, it’s a message of abandoning the self and turning to God.

The prophets spoke of a day when the world would embrace a one-world religion and one-world government, one in which all teachings have value and morality is relative; that monstrosity will be headed up by the Antichrist.  Christians are being primed for this day.  The global governance of the Evil One will seem like an attractive solution to the chaos and destruction set to be loosed on the Earth.  All that God created is being desecrated and Christians are being pressured into accepting it, including sexual perversion of all kinds, idolatry, blasphemy and the corruption and destruction of life.

Jesus never said all paths lead to God, he said the way to eternal life is narrow [Matthew 7:14].  Pope Francis however has boldly proclaimed that Muslims worship the same God as Christians.  How is this possible when Muslims reject the divinity of Jesus Christ?  I was shocked to hear this.  I was shocked to learn also that Muslims were invited to conduct Islamic prayer services inside the Vatican and that the Qur’an is openly being read there.  Excuse me?  In addition, according to Pope Francis, Jesus’ death on the cross was a failure.  Talk about shocking.  Now I understand he means in the earthly realm, in other words, Jesus failed to convince all whom he encountered that he was the Messiah.  But was that the purpose of Jesus being sent to Earth?  No.  Did not God the Father already know that humanity would reject His Son?  Yes.  He was not sent to persuade all to follow Him, He was sent to die for our sins.  It was the apostles who were instructed to spread the Gospel throughout the known world.  This is fundamentally Christian and fundamentally Catholic.  So why is the Pope suggesting that Christ failed in any capacity?  Apparently Christ also failed by excluding extra-terrestrials from salvation when he died for the sins of man- the descendants of Adam and Eve.  Pope Francis said that the Catholic Church would baptize Martians if they ever visited the Vatican, “Who are we to close doors?”  These sorts of statements represent a severe lack of understanding regarding the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is frightening for a man of such power and influence.

poprahIs the Pope evil, as in purposefully malicious and deceitful?  I do not think so.  But, he is incredibly gullible and instead of trusting in the Word, he has lent his ear to his cabal of advisers, all of whom are focused on specific political agendas which have nothing, it seems, to do with Jesus Christ.  So, perhaps the Pope himself is not evil, but he is certainly being used by those with evil intentions.  Does the Pope scour the internet at 2 a.m. doing his own research?  No.  Does the Pope study global climate patterns?  No.  Does the Pope study the links between certain vaccines and auto-immune disorders?  No.  Does the Pope even comprehend that “aliens” are demonic in nature, and have not traveled here from distant planets but have been alongside us all along?  Nope.  He consults with his experts, who have been culled from Marxist, atheist and environmentalist circles.  They offer up discussions on current events, popular trends, scientific consensus- the prevailing wisdom of the world- that which is causal and temporary and falling away.  If the Pope really is the vicar of Christ, shouldn’t I expect him to sound a little more like Jesus and a little less like Oprah Winfrey or Deepak Chopra?

We should not be shocked because this has all been forecast.  Last month, the Pope visited the United States and before speaking at the UN, met with the Resident of the White House and spoke before a joint session of Congress and the Supreme Court, not to condemn the recent redefinition of marriage or the seventy-million aborted children since the Roe v. Wade decision, or our nation’s rampant perversion and wickedness, but rather, to push for the UN’s Agenda 2030, which aims to build the platform upon which the Antichrist’s global government will be hoisted.  The deception is multifaceted and orchestrated.  Who can argue with such noble goals as saving the planet from environmental destruction, ending war, poverty, famine and unfairness in every form?  We have lost sight of the fact that only the Lord is capable of just rulership.  Human societies will always be flawed, because human beings are flawed.  The United States, with our Constitution and Bill of Rights may be the closest any human civilization has come to creating a equitable society, but it does not approach the perfection of God’s Kingdom.  The promise of utopia is a lie, as is the idea that salvation will come from our space brothers and their technology.

My need to define myself as a Catholic or Protestant ends in Jesus Christ.  We don’t go to church, we are the Church, assuming we are in alignment with Christ.  God is calling His faithful servants out of the church buildings and into His army, those who reject the wisdom of the world and stand, washed in the Blood of Jesus, to defend the faith.  This is the remnant.  I’m not suggesting people stop attending church services, I am suggesting we start inviting Jesus Christ to attend as well.  There are many who will prefer to sit in their pew, surrounded by those who compliment them on their charity and holiness, allowing gentle messages of comfort and joy to wash over them, drowning out their calling, their mission and their duty as Christians.  These apostate Christians will spearhead the persecution of the remnant Church, by characterizing true followers of Jesus Christ as radical fundies.  When Christianity falls under persecution in America, like in China, the Middle East and other parts of the world (Sweden!  Germany!  France!  Britain!), the Church will go underground.  Christ’s people will continue their worship in small groups in the relative safety of their homes.

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

[Matthew 18:20]

Do not be afraid to take your questioning to the Lord as I have done.  The God of the Old Testament is unfairly characterized as a God of wrath and vengeance.  And while YHWH has certainly administered punishment over the millennia, to know Him is to understand His abundant patience and mercy, His perfect justice and His infinite love.  From the Creator’s point of view, He desires His creation to rejoice in Him.  He desires to share His joy with mankind.  He wants us, through our own choosing, to demonstrate our gratitude by worshiping only Him.  We worship by faithfully following His commandments and honoring our covenants with Him.  It is only after the entire seed of mankind was corrupted that God brought forth the Great Flood to destroy all life, spare Noah and his family and a genetic record of all the beasts of the Earth.  Only after repeated pleas for men to turn from their evil ways and rejoin their Creator, does He rain down destruction.  All of Creation rests, not merely on principles of physics, but on the virtues of liberty and righteousness.  This idea is set forth in the very first chapter of Genesis when God says, “Let there be light” [Genesis 1:3].  Because in order for light to exist there first had to be darkness.  It follows that in order for there to be good, there must be evil.  To be alive is to exist in harmony with the Creator, to acquire everlasting life is to join with the Creator, into the light.  To be dead is to exist in opposition to the Creator, to inherit eternal death is to be severed from the Creator and cast into the void.

For a man there can be no greater calling than to be the spiritual head of his family, a faithful husband and loving father.  Now I hear God speak to me.  I feel the Holy Spirit move in me.  It is no mistake, or accident, or coincidence, or delusion… and it all began with a sincere prayer to know Truth.  You can know Him too.

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Dolly, Google And Original Sin

dollyRemember Dolly?  I do.  I was twenty years old in July of 1996.  Back then, I spent most of my free time smoking marijuana, hiking and recording music in my tiny bedroom studio.  You might say I was on a spiritual quest of sorts (think: Frodo).  So it must have been one evening, feeling more than a little frustrated with the progress I was making on a particular song, when the announcement came across the television that researchers in Scotland had successfully cloned a sheep, named Dolly.  I remember grabbing the first thing I could find and tearing it up- it was my mattress.  Needless to say, I was against cloning.

Ever since, I’ve been trying to understand why I reacted so strongly to the news. My wife jokes with me now, “Don’t go tearing up our mattress” when I get enraged over some bit of disturbing news, and there is a lot of that out there.  Yet, I’ve never quite matched that peak of intensity.  I haven’t become desensitized, just more tempered.  If not, this blog would be full of insane ranting, and there is a lot of that out there, too.  It wasn’t so much a reaction to Dolly herself, I’m sure she was a very pleasant sheep, completely oblivious of her artificial conception, it was the realization that if they could now clone sheep, soon they would move to clone human beings.  In fact, since Dolly, scientists have been successful at cloning other mammals, like horses and bulls and it is fairly routine now for scientists to experiment with chimeras, or creatures made up of elements from more than one species.  For example, mice with human brain cells or pigs with human blood, all in the name of advancing science and medicine.  Surely somewhere, somebody, in a top-secret lab, is experimenting with human cloning right now.  Human curiosity, especially under the manipulation of unscrupulous benefactors, frequently outstrips our sense of morals, with unforeseen, sometimes grave consequences.

There seemed to be a buzzing in the air
The barnyard creatures settled off to bed
All at once they heard the sound
Soft vibration filled the ground
Now it came as they were sleeping

Now the magic science knife
Is cutting up the molecules of gold
Now the magic scientists
Patching up the fabric of the soul
A slip of the coil

From “Clone” by The Meat Puppets [2009]

The line, “a slip of the coil” from the Meat Puppets’ song “Clone” might be referring to the double-helix structure of DNA, with the “slip” forcasting a mistake.  Knowing the Meat Puppets, it could also mean nothing at all.  But the message seems clear enough; science is continually unveiling a universe so complex in its simplicity that we would be foolish to assume we understand any of it, much less seek to control it.

I can’t help but be reminded of the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  We all know it.  Is this not like eating from the forbidden tree?  In the book of Genesis, Satan appears to Eve and lies:

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

[Genesis 3:4-5]

In the Qur’an, the story of Adam and Eve is similar, except that Satan claims Adam and Eve would become like the angels or immortal by eating from the tree which God forbade:

Then began Satan to whisper suggestions to them, bringing openly before their minds all their shame that was hidden from them (before): he said: “Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest ye should become angels or such beings as live for ever.”

[Al-‘A`raf 7:20]

It is understood that “bringing openly before their minds all their shame that was hidden from them” means their reproductive parts were revealed to them.  In fact, some versions of the Qur’an translate the Arabic as such.  Might we speculate that becoming aware of their private parts, while causing them to feel shy for the first time, also made them aware of their mortality?  Angels are immortal spirit beings whom God created prior to creating human beings.  They do not possess reproductive parts because they do not need them.  I’m not a religious scholar, but perhaps the shame came not from modesty about their nakedness, or guilt from their disobedience to God, but from knowledge of their inferiority to the angels and Satan (who is not a fallen angel in Islam, but another being called a jinn, made from fire).  In the Islamic account of creation, Satan would not bow down to mankind, whom he considered lesser beings, made of clay, more akin to the animals and susceptible to instinctual drives.  He was jealous of Adam and Eve and vowed to lead them astray.  Part of Satan’s strategy was to make humans feel lowly and then manipulate them though their desires.  Yes, first he damaged their self-esteem, then through careful persuasion along the way, caused them to choose bad relationships and ruin their lives- sound familiar?

In both religious texts, it is recorded that Adam and Eve became ashamed of their nakedness- of their humanness- by listening to Satan and responded to their new awareness by covering themselves.  So, while Islam places no more blame on Eve than Adam and there is no concept of original sin from which a redeemer is needed to free us, it is clear that in Abrahamic thought, evil has its origin in Satan’s defiance of God and his mission to disgrace God’s favorite creation- us.  The creation story is an allegory of the human condition.  Our very existence, at times, seems like an experiment dreamt up in heaven.  Our moral struggles are reflective of a greater struggle going on in the spirit world.  Regardless of your religious tradition, there is a mystical truth concealed here that binds all of humanity together.

It is also taught that Satan is a deceiver.  Christians say that Satan disguises himself as an “angel of light.”  To shed light is to illuminate, to give knowledge.  And who has made “Don’t be evil” their motto?  Google of course; the same company that seeks to create artificial intelligence that will “be like the mind of God”; the same company that recently appointed Ray Kurzweil, the renowned trans-humanist, as their director of engineering.   As a proponent of trans-humanism, Kurzweil believes that we can transcend our own humanity by controlling the aging process:

“We have the means right now to live long enough to live forever. Existing knowledge can be aggressively applied to dramatically slow down aging processes so we can still be in vital health when the more radical life extending therapies from biotechnology and nanotechnology become available.”

– Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near

The September 30, 2013 issue of Time Magazine featured the cover story: Can Google Solve Death?  In it, the article discusses Calico, Google’s new venture into life-extension technology.  Trans-humanists believe human beings can, through the aid of technology, control our own evolution.  They envision a time where human beings merge with technology, becoming post-human, essentially a new species.  If that doesn’t disturb you, then perhaps the announcement that Google has acquired Boston Dynamics will. Boston Dynamics is an engineering and robotics firm which sprouted from MIT in the early nineties.  It is the eighth robotics company Google has snatched up in recent months.  With funding from the Defense Advanced  Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Boston Dynamics has developed some of the most advanced robots and AI software in the world, much of it for military use.  For example, BigDog is a quadrupedal robot meant to accompany soldiers in battle.  It is capable of carrying up to 340 lbs. of gear while traveling at 4 mph.  Atlas is a six-foot-tall humanoid robot designed to cover rough terrain and assist in search-and-rescue operations.  Google’s emerging robotics division is being overseen by Andy Rubin, the executive responsible for the development of Android, the world’s most widely used smartphone software.  Regarding Google’s acquisition of his company, Boston Dynamics founder Dr. Marc Raibert said in a recent New York Times article, “I am excited by Andy and Google’s ability to think very, very big… with the resources to make it happen.”  The internet giant has been suspiciously quiet about what it has in the works, however.

I think I’m on the brink of another “Dolly” moment.  Trans-humanists and proponents of a world increasingly reliant on technology might refer to me as a Neo-Luddite, because of my resistance to these sorts of “advancements”.  Well, sticks and stones.  I’m not against scientific reasoning or human advancement, but with each scientific endeavor, should we not be carefully analyzing our motives, especially considering prior advances in technology which almost always result in more inequality and de-humanization?  Always under the guise of helping people or making life more convenient, technology masquerades as a savior, but really only increases the scope and influence of the power-elite.

I am convinced the true power of human consciousness lies dormant, forgotten.  Only a few enlightened ones throughout history have glimpsed the possibilities of the human mind and have understood our role in the universe.  Technology will never solve the problem of death, because it is not a problem to be solved.  Technology will never succeed at traveling through space or time or contacting alien intelligences, because, these are not puzzles technology can piece together.  I believe we will not advance through better and faster microchips, but through complete freedom from material limitations.  But I’m just One American, what do I know?