Is Donald Trump a Narcissist?

Some of my Trump-supporting friends concede that President Trump is a narcissist.  Just about all of my anti-Trump friends argue that he is a dangerous narcissist.  And that is the issue of issues for them.  This presses me to Scripture for how to approach those in power and government and the biblical teaching on how to deal with those in government power.  But first, there are real problems in this claim.  It also shows an arrogance that can bring us into disfavor with God.

1.  If one is to claim this on the grounds of professional psychology, then one should know that it is not ethical to make a diagnosis from afar, without a clinical evaluation in a clinical setting.

2. There are too many people close to Trump that remain friends after many years for this to be true.  Some behavior indeed may be like such a person, but how do I account for his wife, what his x wife says, his children and friends. These friends of decades and include the great black football player Herschel Walker and the social justice warrior Geraldo Rivera.  And so many more can be named.  It includes men and women.

So it seems to me that the issue is that humans have amazing ability to compartmentalize in mind and behavior One part can be good and compassionate and another part may be immediately violent and vengeful.  One part may be generous and the other part so defensive when criticized.  As a pastor, I have seen this so much fo so many years in people.  We have to address the whole person and see every thought come into conformity to Yeshua. We are to pray for our President to come into all that God would desire. I so prayed for Obama and do also for Trump, and regularly. 

However, according to the standard of the New Covenant, we are warned consistently to not vilify and rail against leaders.  Unless a leader is fostering genocide or terrible crimes, we are to pray and be humble in speaking correction.   I think it is valid in to raise character questions, and to raise policy and voting records and even conclude that policies are radial.  But cursing the personhood of the leader or vilifying can bring judgment to the person who does this.   Here are the texts that should guide us.

I Tim. 2:1   “First of all, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made on behalf of all people–for kings and all who are in authority–so that we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and respectfulness.  This is good and pleasing to God our Savior.” 

Acts 23:5   “Paul said, I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest  for it has been written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a rule of your people.”

Judah (Jude) “But when Michael the archangel, disputing with the devil, was arguing about the body of Moses, he did not dare to render a judgment against him for slander, but said, “May the LORD rebuke you.”  But these people slander whatever they do not understand.”

How does this apply?  We can strongly disagree with policy and should try to represent the policies we criticize fairly.  We can point to behavior that shows character issues.  However, we should not curse the identity of the person.  We must avoid arrogance and cursing the person, “He is a narcissist, he is an evil predator, She is a Jezebel, etc. etc. ”    There has been way too much arrogance in the debates and way too much lack of understanding the positions of the other, way too little engaging.  Do we understand the position of the other to their satisfaction?

And finally, for those on this page who follow Yeshua, do we really believe that the future depends on this election, or do we believe that repentance and revival are the only things that can turn things around, yielding the spirit of love and compassion as the motive for seeking justice?   As the U. S. spins out of control in our cities, I still am looking from Israel and waiting for that great contingent of spiritual leaders of all colors and ethnicities to stand together with thousands and thousands calling for love and reconciliation, who will preach the Good News of reconciliation. 


The Power of the Gospel and the LGBTQ People

Many Christians and Messianic Jews find themselves in a political battle with LGBTQ people.  They do not want to be forced to endorse the lifestyles or be accused of hate speech or be so accused by reading the Bible on these moral issues. They don’t want to see artists forced to create works that promote the LGBTQ lifestyles.  They also don’t want to see transgender women (biological men) compete in women’s sports.  Other than that, many would support basic civil rights for all LGBTQ people and would stand with the LGBTQ people for that.  However, the political battles should not be the center of our concern. 

Our central concern should be the power of the Gospel and compassion.  A generation ago the great Anglican healing minister, Leanne Payne reported amazing progress in caring for homosexuals.  Many were able to find power through the Gospel to completely change their orientation.  Some entered successful marriages.  It may be that I am ignorant but I just don’t know of great evangelistic success with this group.  More important than the political issues is serving this group with love and compassion.  Our hearts should be broken with their pain and their struggle.  It is praying and receiving the power of God at a much higher level than we are seeing.  Maybe some of my friends can let me know where the ministries of compassion are successful to the LGBTQ community.   What are the stats?

The first thing that we should project from a real place love is a compassionate face, but also confidence in the power of the Gospel.  If the Gospel is really the power of God unto salvation, which means more than going to heaven, but victory over sin in this life, then we should see healing and deliverance with these people. 

The Israel Political Crisis Never Ends

Israel has two moderately conservative newspapers that for many years were quite positive to Prime Minister Netanyahu.  That has changed. Why?  There are several reasons. and the issues they write about now take us to another crisis.

First, the editors did not think an indicted Prime Minister should run for Prime Minister or be in office of P. M.  The Supreme Court ruled that he can do so.  The issue is as the editors stated, that his attention would be diverted, and that he would develop policy directions tainted by the upcoming trial and then during the trial.  This seems to be exactly what is happening.  One of the issues is that in Israel it is possible for the Knesset to pass a law that a Prime Minister cannot be indicted but only removed by the Knesset. However, passing that law after an indictment is problematic indeed.  We recall that Prime Minister Olmert stepped down when indicted and afterwards was convicted and served his time.

After the last election, Netanyahu did not have enough votes to form a coalition without the centrist Blue and White.  The negotiations were hard, but hardly anyone in Israel wanted a fourth election in so short a time.  A new election did not seem to favor Bibi.  So, after hard negotiations, it was agreed in the coalition agreement that they would pass a two-year budget.  When a government cannot pass a budget, the government falls, and elections are required.  The two-year budget assured that this would not happen.  The agreement also stipulated that in November of 2021 there would be a rotation and Benny Gantz would become the Prime Minister.  The Knesset agreed to all this.  The ultra-Orthodox Sephardic party, Shas, said they would guarantee the agreement and would not support moves by Bibi to get out of it.  Now in only a few months Bibi wants to scuttle the agreement on the two-year budget.  Shas said they would not support this move.  Bibi’s excuse is that the virus makes a long-term budget unfeasible.  But the virus was here when the agreement was made.   It looks to almost everyone that Bibi wants a one-year budget and then to go to elections before Gantz has his turn.  Then he can pass the legislation that lets him off the hook with the court.  If the polls look good, he would want an election right away to get out of the court case.  This is the most manipulative political wrangling that I have ever seen.  So, what does Bibi do with Shas?  He offers hundreds of millions in shekels to the ultra Orthodox Yeshivot (religious Talmud study schools) to buy them off to gain their acceptance if he goes to elections for a fourth time.

Bibi has done very, very, good things for Israel. The news editors I referenced say so as well. However, they think things are now over the top.  There is as I write now only 48 hours to avoid an election and pass a budget extension, but that will only delay the problem.  If Likud, Bibi’s party, changed their leader, I think they would do well.

Meanwhile, Bibi’s direction is losing votes to Naftali Bennet of the new Right Party, not to Blue and White or Yesh Atid, the two recent biggest parties opposing him   This is due to Bibi taking sovereignty for the West Bank in part or in whole off the table for the peace agreement with the UAR.  Bennet also sees the integrity issues.  Likud’s Gideon Saar also would like to replace Bibi due to the integrity issues.  However, the Likud members will not yet vote to replace him.   What will happen?   We don’t know, but we are in a political crisis again.  It is a crisis totally created by Bibi.   We are still fighting a spike in the Corona virus.   The new Corona Tsar, Dr. Roni Gamzu, seems very solid and balanced.  In the midst of this, to spend hundreds of thousands of shekels on unnecessary elections seems unconscionable.  As for the budget issue, a two-year budget could be passed and adjustments could be passed later if necessary.   So again, we need much prayer.

Approaching the Victims and the Beatitudes

Recently a famous black sports reporter, Jason Whitlock, expressed his alarm at the tenor of Black Lives Matter protests, including his disagreement on some of the false assumptions (not all the assertions are wrong) and the tenor of the Democratic Convention.  He noted black people were being used through instilling unfounded fear.  Michelle Obama asserted that black people were afraid to go out because, she indicated, of the long list of killings of unarmed blacks by police.  The problem he said was that there just was not such a long list but this year the number was 8 so far out of millions of people and last year, 14.  We should be concerned for every unjustified killing.  His point was that the Democrats were pushing a victim mentality that would lead people to give up; that the deck was stacked against them and that there was no reason for trying.  Unless people are given hope and reason to believe that they can succeed, they will find it very hard to get ahead.  Though socio-economic issues are a continuing problem, for Whitlock, being black was not the major issue for hindering success, but the continued situation victimhood and hopelessness in the underclass communities. I am told that we should listen to the black voices, but often people mean to listen to the black voices that fit their ideology.  Do we listen to the voices of the 81% of poor blacks who want the same police presence or more, or to the voices saying to defund the police?  Then is there a voice that transcends the debates?

His presentation caused me to think.  How did Yeshua address the issue of the poor and marginalized since he spent the primary (not exclusive by any means) thrust of his ministry reaching those we would call the underclass?  He did not rail against the government system under Rome, though it was bad.  He did rail against the religious leaders and their relationship to the needy.  (This would be like our criticisms of the Church for its lack of involvement.)  Rather, He declared the new power of the Kingdom of God.  The key for the marginalized was to enter that Kingdom and to live from a new power in God that made for all kinds of new possibilities.  Many scholars now understand, for example, that Yeshua’s teaching in Matthew 5, called the beatitudes, was misunderstood  He was not calling for us to have life orientations to live so that we could be blessed.  Rather He was announcing a great reversal of fortunes because the Kingdom of God had come.  In Matthew 5:3-5, we read,” Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”  The noted scholar N. T. Wright gives us the keys to these verses.  Because the Kingdom of God has come in Yeshua, the poor are no longer determined by their poverty.  In Luke, the words “in spirit” are not added.  It just says the poor are blessed.  Mourners are no longer trapped in terrible grief.  The meek, who were not able to push their way toward success, would no longer be cast aside, but they would inherit the earth.  They would be changed and no longer meek in a negative way.  Dallas Willard, in his Divine Conspiracy, says that the Gospel of the Kingdom is the invitation in the present to live in and from the Kingdom of God that has broken into this world.  Therefore the passage in Luke 4: 17-21 is parallel and an interpretive key to this Matthew.  Here Yeshua announced that the Spirit of the Lord was upon him to announce a jubilee year for the captives, the blind, and the oppressed. 

Yeshua did not organize a protest against the oppression of the Roman government, the taxes that impoverished people, the collaboration of the Sadducees, and the Jewish tax collectors with this oppressive government. Yet he initiated a revolution that eventually changed the whole Mediterranean world.  It was because the Gospel really brought people into a level of supernatural power and a confidence that came from forgiveness and certainty of God’s favor.  One could not choose to continue in victim status and continue to live in and from the Kingdom.  This is why with all the social problems many argue about in the United States, the followers of Yeshua cannot lose sight of the most important thing always, the Gospel.   It is the power of God to salvation, and that is more than just going to heaven, but victory in this present life.  We may support different approaches by the government that might be helpful more or less.  Some approaches might make the problem worse. But if we put our hope for the underclass in political solutions, we betray ourselves as falling prey to a secular humanistic mind and not really believing and knowing the awesome power available in the Gospel.  How many are the testimonies of the poorest of the poor and oppressed from around the world who triumphed through the power of the Spirit in Yeshua!  May we know that the great answer to the greatest needs of all is in the Gospel.  This is not to say that we do not vote for the best policies, but where do we really rest our hope!

The Ultimate Clash of World Views 

In one of my recent posts, I distinguished and sought to define the differences between the liberal-left of center Democrat, the leftist Democrat, and the radical far-leftist.  The radical left is based on an integrated world view to a much greater extent than the left of center and the left.  Some of the positions of the last two are incompatible with a biblical world view, especially on abortion.  But the radical left views are almost totally the opposite of Biblical teaching.  When the left of center and left give in to the radical left, they then become an anti- God of the Bible force.  While some may see the whole Democrat Party as propounding such an anti-God world view, I think such claims go too far and do not take into consideration how much these Democrats are pragmatists, seek their own power and preservation without a clear world view.  I don’t think they are coming from a philosophical position, but the leaders of the far left are. There is one point of agreement with the radical left and the Bible.  It is that we are to care for the poor and the marginalized and find ways to lift them up and improve their lives.  The question is how, and for us, the Gospel is the key without which we do not expect success.  The world view of the radical left is built on totally shaky ground.  First, it is built on their subjectively chosen values that have no rooting and are not found in other non-western cultures historically.  The best writers admit to this subjectively.  It is just their choice. Analytic philosophers show this to be the case when they examine the thinkers of the far left.  The philosophy is built from a combination of philosophies.  There is a critical school that began in Germany in the 1920s. The most influential in these leftist movements is Herbert Marcuse and his later writings in the 1960s. These writings are full of pontification but not really grounded.  I will write more about him in another essay. The views of neo-Marxism and Freud are credited though academic criticism of these writers has largely discredited them.  But in an internet age and on the university campus which is rife with subjectivism, any view can gain traction.  In addition, postmodernism has been integrated.  It teaches that there is no meta-narrative like the Biblical world view or natural theology or philosophy on which to base one’s life, but one chooses one’s values with the hope that enough will agree to implement the change desired.  Their approach to history and literature is deconstruction where the claim is made that history is the narrative of the winning powerful and literature as well is by such.  Yet since there is no objective history writing it is all people making power assertions against one another. Therefore there has to be a tearing down of the western canon.  You will see the roots of Antifa in this and the destructive tendencies in the universities.  The great Francis Schaffer lectured on Marcuse and anticipated this some 50 years ago. 

Here is a list of some contrasts in world views, the Biblical and the radical leftist.   This is the foundation of the present clash in America.  The Black Lives Matters official organization is neo-Marxist, though the movement of ordinary blacks would have no idea of all this. 

  1. Human beings are created in the image of God.  All are to be treated as having incalculable worth, with dignity, with respect, and with goodwill.  Every nation is from one original pair and God loves all nations.  We are called to live by the metanarrative of the story of the Bible and its hope for the redemption of all nations. 

Human beings are a product of natural material and energy forces, a product of chance or if there is a higher order, we cannot know anything of it so it is irrelevant.  Human beings are important because it is our species and we claim to believe that human beings are of worth and important.  We should see all humans as equal.  (This view comes from the biblical world view and our view is that it will not last without biblical roots). However, the past corporate sins of white people require them to pay special restitution is now ordering society so that some groups are given special favor to produce greater equality.  There is no metanarrative from which we are to live our lives. Atheism drives this view. There is really no reason for seeking the betterment of human beings and no argument against those who choose a selfish life.  

  1. God is the creator of human beings, the world, and the whole universe and has revealed his will for how we are to live.  This includes the basic principles for organizing society, including marriage, the family, and definitions of justice and love.  Ethics and morals are objectively grounded in the will of God revealed in the Bible.   There is a heaven and hell and a final judgment of people for good and evil. This motivates people to get right with God and live righteously. 

Morality and social relationships are social constructions and based on no objective order.  They the product of choices made by the people in society.  Every human being is free and is to construct their own meaning for their lives.  There is no meaning form above or outside of us.  

  1. God created two sexes, male and female.  Sexual relationships are to be limited to monogamous heterosexual marriages.  Sexual relationships are for the enhancement of the bonding union of love between a husband and wife.  It is also the plan of God that marriage produces offspring. 

Sexual arrangements are a social construction.  All sexual arrangements chosen by consenting adults should be affirmed.  This includes heterosexual marriage, homosexual marriage, relationships without marriage, polyamorous relationships, polygamy, transsexuality, bisexuality, etc.   The idea of biological genetic determinism is generally not credited, but rather there are orientations that can be chosen for many reasons. To not affirm all such chosen relationships is foundationally unjust and constitutes hatred.  It is valid to cancel people who disagree and shut down contrary speech as hate speech.  Biblical norms are hate speech.  

  1. God’s order for raising children is ideally a father and mother in a good marriage.  Those sometimes it is necessary to see a single parent family supported, and they should be, policy should be toward the traditional family as the building block of a stable society.  This means that adoption should favor those in traditional marriage.  

As all sexual arrangements among consenting adults should be embraced, so all types of arrangements for raising children should be equally embraced, including single-parent families, polyamorous arrangements for family, lesbian and homosexual parenting families, transsexual parents, and more.  To favor the hetero-normal marriage as key to the family is foundationally unjust and should be opposed.  Ending heteronormality should be a goal of the quest for justice.  The traditional family of marriage and family is overly restrictive and oppressive.  There should be greater freedom for pleasure. 

  1. The child in the womb is created in God’s image and but for saving the physical life of the mother is to be brought to term and given birth. 

The child in the womb is not to be defined as a human person.  The social construction chosen by the radical left is to see the child in the womb as a physical form that is completely subject to the women’s choice as to whether or not to carry it to term and then give birth to what will be defined as a human person. 

  1. Justice is the pursuit of an order of righteousness where every person can pursue their God-given destiny.  Love seeks justice so that all may find fulfillment. Adequate food, housing, education, and medical care is a foundation of justice so that individual destinies can be pursued.  The question of organizing society is an empirical question about which arrangement, politically and economically, will best move us closer to this goal.  Equality is only part of justice in regard to equal standing before the law and the courts. 

Justice is equality.  As such, the capitalist system needs to be torn down so that equality in income, distribution of housing, medical services are given to all.  Medical services should be provided by the state and equal for all. Education should be free and equally offered to all and qualifications for college should be loosened to allow more from minorities to be accepted.  Quotas for ethnic groups are valid.  Justice requires replacing capitalism with socialism. 

  1. A just society requires a strong police force that prevents crime and arrests criminals.  The fallenness of man will make this necessary.  Non-violent criminals should be placed in rehabilitation and restitution structures and not just sent to prison.  Violent criminals should be sent to prison but opportunities for reform should also be provided.  Religious services are key to that change. There is not an agreement on capital punishment for crimes. Policing and the courts must treat all races and ethnic groups with equal justice under the law (Deut. 1, 17)  The biblical world view eschews violence for social change. 

There is generally an acceptance that some policing is necessary, but the idea of tearing down the present order produces an indulgence of criminals, a lack of sympathy for victims, and an anti-police orientation since the police are part of the present order that has to be torn down.  This world view accepts violence for tearing the system down and replacing it. 

  1. On the issue of human society and what is possible, the Biblical world view is that there can be a great improvement when people embrace the Gospel and seek to live in God’s ways.  However, due to sin, human societies at best will always show glory and shame.  Any attempt to produce a utopian order without God will lead to terrible pain, violence, and destruction. 

The present order of American and western free enterprise societies is foundationally evil and unjust.  One sees this in the racism of western countries.  Though there is no clear systematic clarity on how a really just society of true equality and fulfillment can be built, the best way forward is to destroy the present order with the hope that something can be built-out of the ashes. 

There are many other issues that are questions of empirical research.  Balancing the environmental concerns with the need for economic development to lift the poor is a case in point and is seen in the African countries rejecting the Green New Deal.  There are many issues that are a matter of research and evidence and the Biblical world view does not pre-orient us to a conclusion. 

The peaceful protesters the Black Lives Matter movement may be right or wrong about the level of police injustice.  This is a matter for empirical research. They largely are not ideologues that embrace the philosophical position of the radical left.  The violent protesters are influenced by the world view we described.  The universities in America have many professors who are influenced by the radical left world view, and they make many disciples among the young.  This discipling is taking place in our high schools and now even in the materials and teaching in elementary school.  Parents wake up!!

Historically, revivals can change the prevailing world view of a culture and return it back to the Biblical world view. That is our great hope and prayer. 

Complexity of Political Terms and Left and Right

THE GREAT  COMPLEXITY OF POLITICAL TERMS LEFT AND RIGHT, AND EXTREME LEFT AND RIGHT, AND RADICAL LEFT AND RIGHT, AND MODERATE LEFT AND RIGHT makes our discussion of issues difficult.  We use these terms to show that there is a cohesion in identifiable groups of people.  However, as I learned in philosophy, no term is circumscribed with clear lines of demarcation, and terms only describe areas of meaning with fuzzy lines.  My friend Eitan Shishkoff responded to my post on selective compassion where I speak about the far left and radical left and was concerned that I would alienate unnecessarily people who would think they were being pigeonholed.  So, I want to just give some definition.  I want to introduce this by noting that the center hardly exists today in American politics in the sense that there are really people that are almost in the middle between the great parties.  Joe Biden used to be such a person, what we would call moderate left or left of center, but he now seems to be embracing more radical policies that he used to eschew.  Also, Maine Senator Susan Collins would be considered moderate right, very centrist.

No issue has been so clearly a dividing issue than abortion.  There used to be pro-choice Republicans, but now only Susan Collins is known for that stand.  There used to be pro-life Democrats, but now only Senator Casey from Pennsylvania and a conservative pro-life Democrat from the South hold to such positions.  Pro-life people consider the Democratic party to itself have become radical since they do not support limiting abortion to the early months of pregnancy and now almost universally support abortion at all stages of pregnancy for any reason, even up to the point of birth.  The Virginia governor even spoke of letting the baby die after being born alive though the baby could be saved.  No issue has been more polarizing and due to this, many pro-lifers now will not vote for Democrats.  To think that 60 years ago the Democrats were the favored party of Evangelicals, many of whom like my Norwegian family, loved Franklin Roosevelt. Most were pro-life.

One of the problems in dealing with the issues of right and left is that the terms do not mean what they did just a few years ago.  More and more of the people in the Democrat party, in my view, no longer are left of center but are really on the left fully.  Some of the same people who would have been moderate left have moved more to the left.  We also see the more moderate left losing elections to the radical left candidates.  I will speak of this more. Abortion is only one such issue. But we can list many more such issues.   Here are some other key other issues on which Democrats are united.  The Democratic party as a whole embraces the LGBTQ agenda fully.  A few years ago, Barak Obama said he was not in favor of gay marriage.  Now they accept the idea of pregnant men in the men’s barracks (an Obama regulation).  Joe Biden used to support the Hyde amendment that did not allow spending tax payer dollars for abortions.  This is an accommodation to pro-life religious conviction.  Now he has dropped his old position.  This is a position of the left.  The idea that religious conviction for charities is overridden, and they must support health services (like contraception) is the position of the Democrats now.  (This was recently overturned by the Supreme Court, thank God.) The idea that Catholic adoption agencies after so many successful years can no longer partner with the state since they want to place children in homes with mothers and fathers, has been accepted.  The idea that nurses and doctors should not be able to opt out of abortion services in hospitals due to conscience is strongly held.  Democrats used to support charter schools but with the pressure from the teaches union, they are mostly now dropping that support. On the issue of private artistic business being required to be accomplices to gay weddings, what they would consider sin, is a Democratic position (the Supreme Court rule against the Democratic position. They now talk about packing the Supreme Court to get their agenda established.  In issue after issue, the mainstream Democrats have moved more and more left.  They used to be anti-Socialist but desired more spending for the welfare side of the State.  There is now a very strong anti-religious bent now to former party of the Evangelicals.  On the environment, they seek to avoid the answer to the green house issues in natural gas as a transition and nuclear (a best solution) for fantasies of wind power.   They have adopted more of the radical green new deal (AOC) which they used to reject.  I do not think we can talk about moderate Democrats today.  There are a few and some may privately think in more moderate terms, but they have been pushed left.  I now say the Democratic party is leftist with strong socialist influence.  But this is not the same as what I mean by radical or extreme leftists.

What do I mean by extreme left or radical left.  The radicals have embraced a host of directions that align them more with types of revisionist Marxism.  In some ways what is being put forth is more like Hebert Marcuse’s later book on Revolution written in 1969.  Here are some aspects of this.

  1. A fully socialist agenda
  2. Cancel culture.  Those who espouse conservative views are to be canceled and not part of the discussion. Religious and political views that used to be within normal dialogue and debate are now to not be permitted.  Free speech is questioned.  The Constitution is not valued. This will lead to religious persecution.  In today’s Jerusalem Post, Zalman Shoval spoke out strongly against this and worried that this orientation is totalitarian and leads usually to Anti-Semitism.  He gave several examples.  Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and Denins Prager are only a few that are sounding the alarm.
  3. Traditional religious moral teaching on sexuality and marriage is defined as hate speech.  You can see this with the radicals that last night burned Bibles in Portland.  Also, former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s called for Churches that do not support LGBTQ lifestyle legitimacy to lose their tax exemption.  (He was not speaking about civil rights, but about what the churches are allowed to believe and teach).
  4. The doctrine of intersectionality where all oppressed people are one and their oppressors are to be identified together.  This includes vilifying white men as oppressors of women and minorities, white women called karens who do not fully embrace the cause, seeing Israel as the oppressor of the Palestinians which is leading to Anti-Semitism (witness Congresswoman Ilhan Omer), ending the favoring of the hetero-normal nuclear family.  Then there is demanding minority hiring to the percent they have designed (23% black hiring in Seattle), defunding the police, allowing criminals to be released form jails, even if violent).
  5. Legitimizing violence in the protests for racial justice.  Note that 81% of Blacks polled said they want more police presence or at least the same amount.  The anti-police radicals do not represent the Black community.
  6. Claiming that America was born in sin and America is from first to last an evil nation. They claim that the founders were not good people even though some founders were abolitionist.  They have torn down statues of Washington and Grant!  There is an anti-American thrust that is painful to watch. All nations are mixtures, more or less, of good and evil.  Selective research can make any nation into evil incarnate.

One sees this sweeping the college campuses and also popular culture. Teen Vogue just had an article calling for abolishing private property.  One sees it in the response to Heather McDonald, the researcher on statistics for how police treat blacks, banned on social media.  She may be wrong, but she is a serious researcher who does not think the racism with police is as great as claimed.  She should be part of the debate and the questions do need more research.

What is sad is that the former moderate Democrats are not speaking out strongly against the radical leftist views.  And in addition, the racial leftists are winning primaries against the mainstream.  Somehow the mainstream Democrats are now less mainstream and do not speak out firmly against those in the protests that are violent, against Antifa, against police defunding.  Any words have been mere qualifications, tepid, almost as if they need the radicals as part of their vote.  The university campuses have largely been lost to  radical views.

I think the country is in very bad straights.  So due to all of this, I have concluded that only mighty spiritual revival can stem the tide.  The darkness is very dark right now, but as promised to Israel in Isaiah 66:1,2, the light can arise and has before in history in times of great darkness.

Selective Empathy And Biblical Compassion

A family relative is a strong supporter of the Black Lives Matter protests and has played down the violence and riots that come more from the mostly white radicals that have hijacked the movement.   My daughter in law wrote a response.   Then she was taken to task for not agreeing with the millions of aggrieved black people but pointing out problems with the protests.  Then my daughter in law wrote a response, and it was brilliant.  She noted that she is a person of color, from Guatemala with Sephardic Jewish, Spanish and native American roots.  She knows well about discrimination.  She was being treated as if she was from white privilege!  How bizarre was that?  She shared personal information on the trials of growing up, coming to America for high school and then becoming an overcomer.  Then she married my son. She gave a valiant defense of her experience, knowledge and right to speak up as a minority person.  Of course, Yeshua made all the difference.  However, the essence of her post was a critique of the selective empathy and rage that ignores the suffering of others that do not fit into the political agenda of the left.  It was brilliant and inspired this post of mine.

When people respond to Black Lives Matter by saying All Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter, they are vilified.  The right answer instead of vilification might be to say, “Yes, all lives matter, but we are highlighting the injustice done to blacks.”  That would be a valid response.  Then we can look at the stats to see the evidence for how bad the police treatment of blacks is.  We can also examine prejudice otherwise in education, jobs, housing, (not on the basis of stats that show disparate levels of attainment or imprisonment, etc. but on the basis of unfair treatment compared to other people of races in parallel situations of crime or qualification for work, etc..  We will find problems.  What offends some is the callousness toward some who are suffering due to the violent aspects of the protests that do not fit into the narrative of the leftist agenda.  Where is the empathy for the small business people whose businesses have been destroyed by the rioters, and this includes black and other minority business owners?  Where is the empathy for the police who have been killed in the rioting, and indeed this includes black police?  Where is the empathy for their wives and children?  The left media mostly ignores this.  Where is the empathy for those who were employed by some of these businesses and now have lost their jobs?!!  There is also little empathy for those who have been killed in black on black violence including innocent children, 7,500 per year!  Those in these neighborhoods cry out to not defund the police who protect them, even if they sometimes act wrongly. In some cities now there are many black police, in Atlanta a majority but still they are attacked.   Why?  The radical left seeks revolution and reject the black police as part of the evil establishment.

I have noted the very selective empathy of the left for a long time.  Has anyone noticed that the leftist movements are really very self-centered?  For example, it is a good thing that women are free to pursue opportunities according to their gifts and desires, but that the feminist movement does not care about the oppression of women in Islamic countries.  Only Christianity is accused of stifling patriarchy when such stifling patriarchy was historically the case in most cultures and worse than in the West.   Is there concern about the oppression of Hindu religion that keeps the poor in their poverty as their just deserts in reincarnation.  Who cares about the persecution of Christians because they have liberated these people form their oppression?  We could go on and on.  Or who cares about the terrible suffering and persecution of Christians in many lands?  Not on the news!

One of the amazing aspects of the teaching and modeling of Yeshua is the empathy for all who are suffering and in need.  The prophetic thrust of God being with the poor, the widow and the orphan (the marginalized) is given the strongest support as Yeshua brings supernatural healing, deliverance and hope to them.  However, He also can show love for the oppressors.  He heals the servant of the Roman soldier.  The Roman soldiers are the oppressors.  He tells his followers to turn the cheek to the Roman soldiers and to carry the load a second mile when they are conscripted for the task.  This shows the love of God to the oppressor.  He not only eats with prostitutes, who are very wounded, abused and deeply damaged, but eats with tax collectors, collaborationists with Rome and despised by most.  Yeshua taught the way of love and reconciliation but in a context that called for repentance and forgiveness by all.  All hatred was to be renounced.  In the present situation of protests, much of it driven by atheists according to a recent poll, we believers have a special opportunity.  Followers of Yeshua are called to stand for justice but in a context of biblical love that is not selective in empathy.  That empathy is given to all who are suffering in the present, the protestors including the peaceful and violent who are so deceived, those who have been ruined by the violent rioters, and finally to show love for those who oppress, for the oppressor destroys him or herself.  We call upon all to repent and submit to the Gospel and then join in love and reconciliation.   Only the Gospel has the answer, and it is the only world view where real justice can be advanced.  We are not to show selective empathy but do emphasize reaching the marginalized as the first priority.

Marshall Mcluhan and a Warning on Media

I first heard the name Marshall McLuhan from the lectures of Francis Schaeffer in the fall of 1967 at Wheaton College.  The late Francis Schaeffer was the greatest popular philosopher/apologist in the Evangelical world of that time.  I wonder how many today have even heard of him.  He taught with great power and authority. Schaeffer quoted the famous Mcluhan phrase, “The media is the message.”   In his summary, the media has the power to create what people see as reality, though it is not really reality.  Schaeffer gave many examples of films and pictures that were total distortions, but by selective editing, were able to create a false narrative. For Schaeffer, this could lead to terrible totalitarian control by the government.  I think of the picture from a few years ago of a Palestinian who was holding his child that had just been shot in the terrible conflict of the Palestinians and Israelis.   The narrative was that though he was protecting his son, an Israeli soldier just shot him in cold blood.  It became a media sensation, especially in France, and produced an intense anti-Israel reaction.  It never happened and was proven to be a death from Palestinian fire.  Over the years, I would read many paragraphs from others of what McLuhan said and how it could be applied, but I did not read McLuhan.  Sometimes I quoted the quotes. 

With the internet today creating narratives so easily, gaining traction for these narratives and gullible ascent from so many, I wondered if McLuhan, writing in the 1960s, could have anything to say to our age.  Finally, I decided to read him directly and downloaded his book, Understanding Media, the Extension of Man.  I also read some reviews.  

McLuhan’s writings are complex and not a simple warning about the dangers of media when not responsibly handled.  Actually, it seems after reading McLuhan, there is little chance of responsibly handling media.  Media takes over man, is an extension of man, and recreates human beings.  How that recreation takes place and what it means is the unspoken message of the media.  Some have said that McLuhan was a media determinist.  His teaching was that media will just remake us for good or evil, and there is nothing we can do about it.  Humans never seem to be able to adequately anticipate or to control the reforming of human beings and society.  McLuhan does not just speak of modern electronic media but traces the effect of the alphabet and literacy in the ancient world, how roads in Rome followed literacy and made empire possible, how movable type and the printing press completely reformed Europe and led to more homogenous arrangements of human life, how the telegraph, telephone, radio and T.V. and the computer (still in an early stage in his day) re-make human existence in very total ways.  McLuhan’s book is mostly descriptive and not prescriptive.  I found it to be brilliant in intuitive insight, ranging over many areas of art and culture.  However, it was at times tedious, redundant, and without the kind of scholarly support that would establish his assertions. Sometimes I did not agree and found myself saying that we can transcend media.  We are in the image of God.  However, the assertions often seemed correct according to my intuitive sense. 

Coming back to Schaeffer, if film and pictures can so distort and do not produce the questioning response of print, what can we say of the internet age (where are the footnotes for assertions?)?  Surely the concerns of Schaeffer and the media shaping us are not unjustified.  McLuhan was prophetic in his descriptions of electronic media being an extension of the human nervous system and being more pervasive and dominant than any media to date.  McLuhan would sometimes revel in the media changes and was not a defender of print or older ways as the better way to truth.  I don’t know that  McLuhan concerned himself with the best way to find the truth.  The theory of knowledge issues (Epistemology) are absent. 

Speaking on the dangers of radio and its monopolistic control of information if taken over, he quotes Hitler, “I go my way with the assurance of a somnambulist (sleep walker).”  Then he says, His victims and his critics have been equally somnambulistic  McLuhan says, “They danced entranced to the tribal drum of radio that extended their central nervous system to create depth involvement for everybody. “I live right inside radio when I listen.”   The power of radio to involve people in depth is manifested in its use during homework by youngsters and many other people who carry transistor sets in order to provide a private  world for themselves amidst crowds.”     (Kindle, Loc. 4236-4260)

How much more would this fit the computer phone devices?  I go to the gym and people are always hooked up.  Music, telephoning, and pop up news from the internet and media form opinions.  Narratives gain traction and acceptance even when they are not rooted at all. This media is shaping people. The effect on the brain has been studied. The withdrawal of some of our youth from normal person to person interaction is stunning. What kind of people will this produce?

In speaking about how media dominates us and takes us over, he says, “Not even the most lucid understanding of the particular form of a medium can head off ordinary closure of the senses that causes us to conform to the pattern to the experience presented.  Purity of mind is no defense against bacteria!”  (Loc. 4280)  

Well, this does not seem too hopeful.  Is there any way to transcend the media flood?  In a time of protest fueled by social media, how can we find a way to truth and to transcend being totally conditioned?  The only answer I have is by immersion in the Word of God and praying in the Spirit.  Then it is to have a level of discernment in the Spirit that was never before so required of God’s people.  We need to disconnect from media for large chunks of time and ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to the source of information and truth.  Time in nature with beauty, time spent with great music, and great biographical stories can help. Then we need to create communities of the people who do the same.  Perhaps the Chinese Church whose society is so controlled by State-controlled media can help lead the way for us.


Corona Thoughts at Mid-July

Back in April, I sought to wade through the many prophetic words being given on the Coronavirus.  If you remember, the prophetic words about what would happen were of three kinds.  One was that it would be an unmitigated disaster that could be the beginning of the plagues of the book of Revelation.  The second was that it would amount to nothing and would fade away quickly after Passover. The third was that there would be a turnaround at Passover, and we would be getting to the other side of it after Pentecost.  One prophet friend had a very vivid vision of the virus and China in early January and said that it would be serious.  As I write this up, I remind you that I was more in agreement with the second view.  I repent of that aspect of my support for this position that indicated that there would not be serious issues after Pentecost, and I ask your forgiveness.  I am not a prophet but have had dramatic prophecies from time to time that have come true.  In this case, I did not any prophecy of my own.  As for the prophets in the second group, I did not read of  them saying, “Thus says the Lord” with confirming signs like, “you will know that this word is true when you see x,y, and z.”  

So where are we now in this Corona fight?  It has been very hard to sort the information.  I am an avid reader of the Jewish English newspapers here.  They report a lot of news from America.  I do get CNN, Fox, and Channel  I24 (a wonderful more objective English news source in Israel). CNN here is the international version and is not quite as partisan as in the U. S. but it is partisan enough.  Fox commentary shows are very partisan, but the news programs are quite good in my view.   From all this, I believe we can make a pretty good summary of where we are at.  In some ways, we have turned the corner, and in some ways, the problem persists.  The economy is opening up and the death rates are down.  Some U. S. states are seeing quite a spike in numbers, but most European nations are not seeing a great spike and are opening up as well.  Their children will go back to school.  However, the partisan divide is affecting how this virus is perceived, what the response should be, and then even allowing the scientific evidence to be publicized. In Israel, the numbers are greatly increasing and there are calls to lockdown again, but this is still resisted by the government committee in charge. 

We know a lot more about this virus but still not enough.  I was amazed to see the report that the stats say that the Corona overall rate of death to infected people in the last CDC report is only 0.5 percent.  As reported by Dr. John Ioannidis, epidemiologist of Stanford University School of Medicine, the rate for healthy people with no-comorbidities under 70 years old is 0.04 percent.  Dr. Scott Atlas of Hoover Institution also quotes the statistics. Reason Magazine summarizes the CDC and its variables. The CDC estimates that the CFR for COVID-19 falls to 0.05 percent among people younger than 50 and rises to 1.3 percent among people 65 and older.  We know that seasonal flu is much more dangerous to children and young people. The number of serious cases in children, though existent, approaches zero statistically.  The stats in general show a much lower percentage than was feared in the lockdown period due to the number of asymptomatic cases now included.  The serious cases in older people are much worse than the flu. Here are good articles to read for more detail.…

What is the problem with this virus?  It is that it is so easy to catch.  If a hundred million get the virus very many will die, though the percentage is small. It is now believed that it is not generally caught from children or surfaces but from droplets in the air.  The problem is also how very dangerous this virus is to the elderly and those with co-morbidities, much more dangerous than the flu.  Yes, some will die from every age group, but this is also true of the flu every year, and we do not shut down the economy. 

My view, therefore, is that we would be on the other side of this if we overcame fear and made reasonable decisions.  Here are some key points on this. 

  1. Since children are hardly affected, schools should be open.  Healthy teachers are at very little risk.  The national pediatrician society of the U. S. strongly supports this position. The teacher’s unions in the  U. S. are resisting this. 
  2. To slow the rate of infections, continued masks and physical distancing are important. 
  3. We should fully open up the economy with the proviso of #2 above. 
  4. We have to work very hard to protect those over 70 and those with co-morbidities.  Many who have died would have died within the same year, but many would not have so died.  I have fanaticized that all older folks like me would be sent to gorgeous resorts with all non-affected people and staff and totally isolated from the rest of the population until the virus is past or until there are highly effective treatments for this age group. We would eat well, go to gyms, swim, and play golf and tennis. I can dream but in reality, it will be a matter of being very careful. 

We should note some other good news.  First, the press has way underplayed the advances in non-vaccine treatment.  The J. Post front page yesterday had a very promising one from a researcher at Hebrew University which he thought could be a cure.  Other treatments and there are several, depend on steroids that suppress the overreaction of the immune system and the cytokine storm in the lungs. In addition, given early on, Hydroxychloroquine does work and cut the death rate in half in recent studies at Yale University Hospital and the Henry Ford Medical Center.  In addition, Vaccine research is going forward, and some promising vaccines are not based on the traditional method of vaccines but are new types of vaccines that produce the anti-bodies needed.  

But clearly, shutting down the economy should not be done.  That is a disaster and the government spending could be headed for an inflationary disaster. In some ways, we are on the other side of this with the new understandings of how to go forward. I am heartened by some of the scientists who agree with what I am saying here such as the ones quoted herein.  

My biggest concern is how followers in Yeshua handle this.  I have connected to some who are quaking in fear. We need to believe that God is our protector and if we walk in the Spirit, He will check us form going where it is unsafe and give us a sense of release otherwise.  He is our protector. We should be a light of courage and confidence to those around us and use this to share the Good News. 


Torah in Messiah and the Present Crisis

Michael Rudolph and I wrote a book on applying Torah entitled Torah in Messiah.   It is our view that Torah is practical but must be applied according to New Covenant fulfillment, primarily through the teaching of Yeshua.  Messianic Jews and Gentiles should have something to say to the difficult social justice issues of our day.  And it must be based on a Biblical definition of justice, not Marxist or socialist which come from a wrong worldview.  This is why I wrote a book on Social Justice.  

I do not have much hope for attaining progress in society without the influence and believers and the transforming power of the Gospel.  So, if you are putting trust in mere human efforts you will fail. Many books have been written on the history of progress in social justice since the first century.  Progress has come from the influence of believers and the Bible, first of all, due to the unheard-of idea that every person is created in the image of God and is due love, respect, and justice on that basis.  

What is love and what is justice?  If you study the whole Bible, you can conclude the following.  Love is the passionate identification with others that seeks their good guided by Law.  Their good is defined by God’s intended good destiny for them. This must always be our motive.  Then justice is seeking an order of righteousness that maximizes the potential of people to fulfill their God-given destinies or that maximizes the fulfillment of love for all people.   We seek an ordering of society that maximizes love and justice.  However, unless there is a great influence of the Gospel by a significant number of committed disciples of Yeshua, history does not give much hope that much can be attained.   I want to now apply this to the life and teaching of Yeshua and what he has to say about the issues of racism and the violent riots.  Richmond is a historic center for the pain of these matters and the Confederate monuments are controversial. Z how do we bring healing?  I approach this message assuming the definitions.  

  1. Love and Justice begin with a call for repentance.  Mark 1:15.  Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand, or available to you.  What does this mean? God’s Kingdom order of love, justice, and miracles is breaking into this world and you are called to repent and enter into it.  Repudiate selfishness and hatred, and vengeance and give yourself to the power of the Kingdom.  The Kingdom influences all of life.  Note the ending of slavery largely came from Evangelicals.  Many books on progress in history show this. Rodney Stark’s The Victory of Reason and British historian Tom Holland, Dominion, How the Christian Revolution remade the World.
  2.  Yeshua calls for submission to the Torah teaching of Yeshua.  This is most clear in the Sermon on the  Mount near the beginning,   Matthew 5:16, 17, and the end Matthew 7, were we are told to build on the rock of his teaching.   
    1. The context of Luke 4 is important.  Yeshua said that “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me to proclaim liberty.”  To whom?  The Gospels is first to the outcast, marginalized, and oppressed.  The year of Jubilee is the context of Luke 4.  It is the year when the slaves go free.   Mennonite J. Howard Yoder in The Politics of Jesus is brilliant on this. 
    2. The Sermon on the Mount’s Beatitudes proclaims the end of victim status. You cannot claim victim status and know the power of God and your life is now in his hands.   Matthew is about the great reversal because the kingdom has now invaded earth. 
  3. Our approach to change must include the rejection of violence:  The Zealot movement and its attempts to overthrow the Roman government by violence was the context of Yeshua’s teaching against violence.  The Romans did practice terrible oppression and racism.  I am not saying that there is no place for just war, but this is far secondary to the way we seek change. 
    1. Yeshua councils turning the other cheek and volunteering to carry a load a second mile when a Jewish person was conscripted by a Roman soldier to carry his load.  This response to Roman oppression and shaming was unprecedented.  It is the way of love.  The oppressed shows love to the oppressor, the enemy. 
    2. Satan comes not but to rob, steal, and destroy.  The false shepherds of  John 10:7,  10:10 were the ones seeking violent revolution.  
    3. When Yeshua wept over Jerusalem and predicted its destruction it was because he knew the zealots would gain control and ultimately go to war.  The chose the false  shepherds instead of the Prince of  Peace  
    4. Romans 13 speaks of submitting to authority during the days of Nero!   Now there are limits to submission and the Apostles made it clear that this did not include obeying sinful commands or shutting down the spread of the Gospel.  
  4. Our approach calls for reconciliation and forgiveness based on the Gospel.  We are to attain a heart of love for the enemy:  Matthew 19:21 councils us to forgive 70 X 7 and teaches this forgiveness on the basis that the debt we owe to God far outstrips any debt another might have to us.  He has given us the ministry of reconciliation to God and one and other.  II Corr. 5:18 
  5. A successful movement that pursues justice has to be driven by reconciled believers.  Jonathan Blanchard (founder of Wheaton College), revivalist Charles Finney, EvangelicalHarriet Beacher Stowe, The Pastors Beachers, William Ward and Henry, and Wilbur Wilburforce show this witness.  A Marxist humanistic movement of violence will lead to destruction and greater suffering.   A true movement begins with reconciliation, with the Body of Believers with the repentance, reconciliation, and unity of all races and ethnicities.  In this time of anti-police rhetoric and black offense, the best way forward would be a movement led by Christian Policemen and Black Christians, pastors, and members. These kinds of people can lead a non-violent movement of justice.  Martin Luther King led just such a movement with Christians and Jews, blacks, and whites.  His themes were Christian or biblical. 
  6. The history of 20th century white churches is one of the saddest chapters. I am not speaking about southern Christians who had a racist or segregationist theology which was terrible. I am speaking about the non-racists who would sing with their children,  “Red  and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.” The sin was in neglect of their responsibility to first focus their efforts of the Gospel and their works of love to the poorest communities.  An escapist theology as fostered and they, therefore, did not see pursuing justice as a central part of the Gospel.  
  7. You can know that the violence, destroying, and killing is not from God and is like unto the zealots and will set back the cause of justice.  
  8. However, pursuing justice and reconciliation has to be based on finding the truth and not based on lies. The claim of systemic racism is not helpful.  Being guilty on the basis of being born white is anti-biblical.  Rather we need to pursue the issue of specific areas of racism.  In education, housing, family, business, and policing.  The black experience is not that so many are killed unjustly, but that so many are mistreated.  Why does the government allow 7,500 black on black murders per year?  Where was the Church on mass?  The Church should be there, preach the gospel and its members should be willing to lay down lives?   Just where does racism show itself?  It is in the heart.  Is it in corporations?  Which?  Real discrimination has to be proven. I note public school disaster and the black underclass and the need to escape this system. Anecdotal evidence is not going to help solve this.  There has to be objective social science studies by people without a Marxist agenda.   A vague broad claim will just be denied.  I know that only a Gospel effort for the poor and massive investment of our lives will turn around the poor of the cities.  This is why we support every month the Richmond Ministry CHAT and its high school.  It is one example of the Gospel in action.  There should be thousands of examples.  I am not thinking the government will solve it.  By some measures, 22 Trillion has been spent since Johnson’s great society legislation.  Much was squandered and did not work. But If we identify with and support violent revolutionaries or sympathize with it, we have abandoned the Gospel way and the power of God.