Two World Views, The LGBTQ+ World View and the Biblical World View

Recently, Arizona Christian University took legal action when their teaching candidates were declared no longer eligible to be student teachers in the public schools.  As a result of this legal action against religious discrimination, the policy was withdrawn.  (In Canada right now there seems no recourse for Christian believers.) The education leaders who sought to remove ACU from the program claimed that the conservative Christian views were not inclusive to LGBTQ+ people, and the views of conservative Christians were hateful.  We expect more and more attacks against classical orthodox varieties of Christianity: Baptist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, Methodist, independents and more.  I think Orthodox Jews will be included as well. This will be the case even if Christians support the civil rights for LGBTQ+ people with the provision that artists are not forced to create art contrary to their conscience.  

I do think the center of the attack is likely to be against Christian colleges and other schools at all levels. The idea of live and let live is not where the LGBTQ+ community activists are going. It is not an option for them to allow theologically conservative people to freely practice their faith, education and seek to convince other people of their faith. Why?  Because the very existence of theologically conservative believers is a challenge to the foundations of the world view of the LGBTQ+ activists. It is not that the LGBTQ activists simply want to be free to practice every kind of sexual arrangement and radically support trans-sexuality as well. No, they seek to force all people to confess to their world view or be marginalized. One can be religious in a secondary sense, but the religion of the LGBTQ+ community is the LGBTQ+ religion. This religion may be gaining ground because it is supported by a new movement of trans-humanism which is supported by very rich elites that seek to overcome human nature as we have know it.  (see Jennifer Bilek research)

LGBTQ+ begins with support for the idea of “my truth.  “My truth” is not the old idea of an objective order of reality but affirms a subjectivism for self-definition and is in accord with post- modernism and its view of knowledge (epistemology). Every human being is said to have equal worth and this includes a deep level of freedom. The individual can look inside and discover their true authentic self and can create their own meaning and lifestyle directions from that authentic center. Thus, a transgender child, even at 5 years old, can define themselves as a female in a male body or visa-versa. This self-definition is one’s ultimate meaning. One could be an atheist or have some vague spirituality or religion but that is secondary.   

This new post-modern religion is contrary to the old atheism of scientific naturalism. Two scientific naturalists did indeed declare the tenets of this new religion to be irrational and without any foundation in reality. For the historian and futurist, Yuval Harari at Hebrew University, there is no free self that can freely chose and define their own meaning. While not pushing against transgender identities, the idea of equal worth and inner authentic freedom is a non-existent reality. It is a myth. Everyone is biologically determined. The equal worth of all is also such a myth. For the famous atheist biologist, Richard Dawkins, all is determined and that includes the fact that there are only two sexes, male and female, whose distinctions are total and biologically pervasive. A male can see to live as a female but he is still male!

The Biblical world view is contrary to the old atheistic scientific naturalism and the post-modern relativism with its idea of all being radically free to somehow intuit and then chose to live out the authentic self. First, the idea of the equal worth of human beings cannot be sustained without its biblical basis in the image of God. This is why trans-humanists despise this idea and think it keeps them from the technological re-creation of human beings. They support the LGBTQ agenda as part of breaking down traditional norms so they can create their “brave new world,’’ but they reject the equal inherent worth of every human being. The Biblical world view provides us with a given objective meaning of who we are as created in God’s image and provides us with God’s guide book for how to live. This is rejected by the LGBTQ people as terribly restrictive and hateful. For Bible believers, meaning is not self-derived but received through our relationship to our Creator. There is great room for freedom, but He defines our authentic meaning, including the norms for human sexuality, marriage and family and the basics for all the spheres of life. The biblical orientation threatens not just lifestyle choices but the deepest world view orientation of the LGBTQ+ activists. This is why they must destroy biblical faith. 

Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., Biology of Belief

I consider the Biology of Belief to be an important book. For many years, I have heard the statement from Dr. Lipton, a Ph. D. cell biologist formerly of Stanford, that a person always does what he or she believes in their heart – not what they profess.  

Over 50 years of pastoral experience has taught me how true this is!  How many times I have been disappointed by passionate professions that came to nothing!  More than 50 years ago I remember a couple who were about 30 years old.  The husband spoke to me at the end of our service and stated that his experience at our services was the best thing he had experienced in a congregation.  They said they would become part of the community.  We were a small congregation, and I was excited.  We could use an energetic, young, and enthusiastic couple who were excited about my preaching and the worship service.  That was the last time I ever saw them.  This pattern of profession without follow through was repeated countless times in my experience, for congregational commitment, marriage recommitment, financial discipline, devotional life, breaking bad habits, disciplining children, and so much more.  Time after time, people would make a profession of commitment and then?  This is a common pattern seen in some circles where there are invitations to come forward and repent of sin.  Some come forward over and over and never change.  I came to understand that a person may think they mean what they say, but it is not a heart commitment.  The goal of preaching, small group formation, and the presence of the Spirit in power is to bring profession to real belief, that is heart conviction.  When heart conviction is established, real change happens.  This has been so in our in our marriage where we have learned to live in love. 

Lipton’s book, though ending with new age spirituality and a belief in life after death, provides a philosophical/scientific case to explode the mechanistic materialistic understanding of science.  He shows that cell biology itself disproves such mechanistic views. Rather the cell itself, and its very membrane shows a level of purpose and adaptation.  I think he proves his case that we are not determined by our genes, but genes and cells respond to environments.  In the debate between genes (nature) and nurture, he comes down on the side of nurture.  He also notes that quantum physics presents us with an ultimately spiritual world and the physical is a manifestation of that reality.  While not positing the design thesis like Dr. Gerald Schroeder, The Science of God and The Hidden Face of God, Lipton’s book would give credibility to those who so argue.  We see in the book by one of America’s most famous philosophers, Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos, an amazing rejection of Darwinism as usually understood.  He still seeks to remain an atheist but notes that evolution seems to be connected to something of mind that permeates the material world, maybe in a more animistic sense.  As C. S. Lewis said, “An atheist can not be too careful nowadays.”  There are dangers everywhere to challenge that atheism.  Bruce Lipton’s book is one of those challenges. 

Most of Lipton’s writings are presented to disprove the materialistic science that has dominated western culture.  He then goes on to show that our lives are determined by our beliefs, but not the superficial level of belief of the conscious mind, but the deep level of beliefs in the subconscious.  This level of belief actually changes our cells.  A joyful and successful life is all about establishing the right beliefs.  This requires reprograming our subconscious.  Lipton is not just arguing for positive thinking (Norman Vincent Peale- The Power of Positive Thinking). He states that this usually does not work.  Rather methods are presented to get to the deeper subconscious.  This almost seems like a new age parallel to Word of Faith teaching (Kenneth Hagin) were the confession of the Word goes deep into our inner man, heart or spirit, and changes our lives.  It produces deep belief/conviction.  

The book is moving in the right direction but is quite short of biblical faith.  The Bible teaches the importance of faith and it does not mean just mental ascent or even profession, but something deeper and more settled.  In the Bible, such change comes from the power of the Word that becomes grafted into our hearts.  It comes from community formation whereby the individual changes on the subconscious level.  In the Life Model Works movement, Jim Wilder and Michael Hendricks (The Other Half of Church) argue that discipleship formation produces habits and settled conviction that can only happen in the sociological context of committed community together with mature people who impart themselves.  The challenge is that we have to get our beliefs deep down inside and really agree with what the Bible says in its promises and its moral and behavioral instruction.  This is a key to seeing spiritual and physical healing in our ministry to others.  

My takeaway from Lipton’s book is to remember that for ourselves and those whom we pastor, we are seeking to see belief formation on the deeper levels of both the conscious and unconscious mind, both the left and right brains!   It is also to be confident that we live in an ultimately spiritual world. 

The Meaning of Woke and a Biblical World View

Recently a conservative who was speaking against woke-ism was asked to define it. He hemmed and hawed when trying to define it, but I did not blame him. It is complex and not easy to define. Woke-ism is a combination of beliefs, faith confessions, and a set of narratives that do not cohere or imply with each other. Yet, this set of beliefs or confessions are usually embraced by the radical woke-ism folks that are described as radical leftists. 

Sometimes when a person awakens to what they think is truth, there is a sense almost of revelation, such as when the hero in the movie Matrix takes a little pill and comes to see he lived in an illusion. The person who thinks he discovered radical freedom so he or she can be whatever they choose (as in the view of philosopher Jean Paul Sartre) can experience a sense of exhilaration and release. The former believer may come to unbelief as a sad conclusion which may cause despair, but it might also be experienced as exhilarating and a release. One can then define one’s own life and values without any reference to an intrusive god. A radical behaviorist who thinks there is no free will experiences exhilaration in not having the weight of free choice. Yet when a person comes to God and is born again, it is also something that can be received with exhilaration and release. It is interesting that the Biblical text says, “Wake up you sleepers.” So, the truly woke biblically are those who are converted by the Gospel. The beliefs that many in the left are supposedly woke are often incoherent and the opposite of a biblical world view. Let’s list out some of these beliefs and the contrast. 

  1. The first is the belief that there is no objective truth. Truth is relative, so people can speak of “my truth.” The phrase “my truth” is a redefinition of the word truth itself. Truth historically referred to views, assertions or propositions that conformed to the way things really were. “My truth’’ means the way one is committed to live their life and see things. There is no objective evidence of whether such a way is true or not. While it seems that at least science is still accepted as bringing objective truth, even science has been affected. Yet the person who is in the “my truth” orientation will hold to commitments, narratives, and views with dogmatic tenacity, giving no quarter to other viewpoints. The dogmatism is amazing. You would think relativism would produce tepid commitments but the narratives of the so-called work somehow produce fervor. I attribute this to the fact that many people need a religious level of fervor to feel that life is worth living. A biblical world view states that God created an objective world. We can discover how it works. Also, there is biblical revelation that defines who we are and how to live, an objective basis. This is sometimes confirmed by natural wisdom, but often natural wisdom is too weak to stand against the onslaught of relativistic assertions in social issues. 
  2. A second big assertion of the so-called woke is that human sexual roles are social constructs. Therefore, biological sex does not define gender. This is a huge tenet of the LGBTQ movement. However, LGBT really defines only five genders. One can be classically male or female (cis-gender) or lesbian, gay, bisexual or transexual. How do we come to transexual? It is not that a biological male or female is attracted to the same sex. That would be lesbian or gay. However, one can see an easy flip where if one who is a biological female is not attracted to a male but a female than she could declare that she is really a male in female bodies since she is so attracted. The same could be said for biological males. One homosexual stated that transsexuality is homophobic because the person in rejecting same sex attraction identifies as the opposite sex.  The fact that we also list bisexuality, attraction to both sexes, shows that things can get dicey. At one count there were over 50 genders that could be chosen for self-definition. Some claim alters (multiple personalities) of all different kinds. Of course, there is the fact that transexuals identify with the stereotypes of the opposite sex. Rather than being a sensitive, artistic, and non-athletic oriented male, they must be a female. Then the opposite is also so. The confusion is amazing. With the fifty genders we come to a reduction to absurdity (reductio ad absurdum). Believing that sex is only a construct, and that we can self-define as any of many genders can seem liberating and exhilarating, as if being woke. These nostrums lead to pornography in school libraries, drag queen shows for children, and more so that the society proves that it is inclusive. Children are sexualized as part of gender liberation. It also leads to hormone therapy and surgery even for minors. This produces an orientation whereby the schools seek to hide their teaching from parents so they might further the woke agenda. Even doctors have bought into the new genderism despite the great reservations of doctors in Finland and Sweden.  The Biblical world view tells us that there are two sexes. Yes, there are social constructs that influence how sexual roles are lived out, but the basic framework is that God created us male and female, and that sexual intimacy is to be limited to a heterosexual lasting marriage. Supernatural healing can resolve gender dysphoria or homosexuality. See the amazing writings of Leanne Payne on this! When one is delivered from the complex maze of today’s gender ideology, repents of sin, and embraces the biblical framework, it can also be liberating and can free us from forever having doubt. We know who we are as male and female in His image. We also discover that almost all world cultures seek to foster the distinction of male and female, but we can also understand flexibility in the way this is lived out. The Gospel calls us to repent and really be changed by the power of the Spirit. 
  3. A third big assertion comes from critical race theory. In general CRT asserts that the white race is especially sinful. This is a world-wide evaluation of whites. This sin of white privilege and domination is pervasive in the culture and produces systemic discrimination that is not always overt. It is why there are disparities in wealth and position in society. The world is made up of oppressors and victims. This bipolarity is neo-Marxism. The wealthy class and the workers, the whites and the blacks, the Jews in Israel and the Palestinians, and so on and so forth. The history of the United States is thereby redefined as an evil oppressive society. Slavery was not just one dark blot on U. S. history but is the defining meaning of the country and the founders were not good in any sense. The way through is an everlasting groveling by whites (even white children in schools) and quotas and set asides so that equality is achieved. It leads to absurdities in claiming that achievement is racist and even math is racist. It redefines racism (they view that white races and ethnic groups are inferior) so that the oppressed can never be racist no matter what their prejudice against the defined oppressing group. It vilifies the founding fathers of the United States as evil and nothing they did was good since the country accepted racism when it was formed. This is a very skewed reading of history. Once again, this is contrary to a biblical world view. All act sinfully. We do not act with justice and fairness but favor our own kind. When we come to Yeshua, we repent and embrace people of all races and colors. Genuine reconciliation then can pervade a culture and produce a just meritocracy. It can also seek to redress real systemic poverty and see all people lifted. Of course, Chinese and other immigrants from India show how much this theory is wrong since in the United States anyone can excel and they do. They are not white! Reconciliation through Yeshua is the key, and all must repent of sin, selfishness, hatred and prejudice. We also assert that a stable family is the key to liberation and overcoming. This view is hated by the CRT folks. Just a little note on education. The leftist woke want to control education and marginalize parents who stand in the way of conveying the woke ideas and narratives. This is why you see such battles in schools today. 
  4. Woke economic theory tends to a Marxist redistribution since attaining wealth is not fair in their view. Yet the incoherence here is amazing since the wealthy corporate leaders who back the woke really are not wanting to give up their wealth. So, there are re-distribution schemes that look socialist but keep an elite in power that is more like fascism. Economic justice is defined by equality in wealth. In a biblical world view an economic system should provide the greatest opportunity for the most. Equal opportunity is not a biblical norm since all have various advantages and disadvantages due to family wealth, gifts, talents and more. So equal opportunity is a myth. However a just system is one where there is real and good opportunity for the greatest number. Justice in the Bible is not leveling equality. Such a just system provides the greatest potential to lift the greatest number of people. This is best done in a true free enterprise system with fair rules and a rejection of crony capitalism where the government and the wealthy corporate leaders control all for their mutual benefit.
  5. Those who support abortion rights may be part of the woke. It is easy to see this as embraced by the woke. The child in the womb is dismissed as having no value and abortion is defined as health care for the woman. What a strange re-definition of health care. It is certainly not health care for the baby, and abortion does not add health to the woman.  In the Bible the baby in the womb is a creation of God, in his image to be valued and protected. 

So how do we define “woke-ism?” Woke-ism is a set of beliefs and narratives that are not necessarily connected that are destructive to society. They have been embraced by the promotion of ideas that have impacted the emotions and minds of people but are not based on solid evidence or epistemology (how knowledge is obtained). Woke-ism includes the ideas of gender ideology and fluidity, critical race theory promotion, a binary analysis of groups as oppressors and the oppressed, radical abortion rights, and semi-Marxist economic redistribution commitments.  

The Clash of Worldviews

Recently there were two media reports that show world view implications.  In the first report a Catholic school in Canada suspended a student who said that the Bible teaches that there are two sexes and there are not other genders biblically.  Some were also complaining about open bathroom and locker room policies for transgenders.  I suppose this school  was catholic in name only.

A second media source interviewed Jordan Peterson, the brilliant psychologist and cultural philosopher explaining the radical environmental movement in worldview terms.  Yes, he agreed, we should care about the environment.  However, the radical environmental movement has defined the earth (gaia-the earth goddess) as being raped and wounded by the cancer of the planet, human beings who consume too much, pollute too much and destroy too much.  It is a very dark picture.  He noted that nuclear power, which could solve energy problems, is rejected.  This is not a rational view but a type of irrational religion. Biblical faith is a rational religion.

It is not only these two issues, human sexuality and the environment, but several radical so called “woke views” that have now been joined together to produce an anti-biblical world view and could well lead to more persecution for those who are Bible believers.  The biblical world view provides us with a set of beliefs and norms arising therefrom.  It teaches that God created the world and human beings in His image.  And indeed, Thomas Jefferson was right that it teaches that all human beings are created equal. Therefore, we must find our self- definitions in Him and His Word, and cannot define ourselves.  In this it provides the norms and guard rails for human fulfillment.  It teaches us that human being were made as male and female and for lasting monogamous marriage.  Some few are called to celibacy.  It teaches the centrality of the family.  It also teaches that the earth is not goddess but was created for human beings who were given dominion but are to be wise stewards.  If we make the earth our deity we will destroy the earth since we will lose wisdom (Romans 1-“Claiming to be wise they became fools.”)  We are called to make a decision to conform ourselves to God’s Word.

The biblical worldview teaches that all have sinned and need the atonement and forgiveness that is found only found in Yeshua.  It also teaches that through Yeshua and His Spirit, reconciliation, practicing love, and sacrificing for others enables all races and ethnicities to join together communities where deep fellowship is possible.

The worldview that is now followed by the radical left so called “woke” roots itself in an idea of human authenticity that is the direct opposite of the biblical worldview.  It promotes the idea of the autonomous free human individual who looks deep into his or her own consciousness and discovers in experience their “authentic self.”  They define themselves.  As such they can define themselves as male or female or several other genders: transgender, fluid gender, non-binary gender, homosexual, heterosexual and more.  The society and all its members are called to support self-definition.  This includes medical treatments to change genders, hormone suppressants, taking hormones and surgery (even for minors).  Those who do not agree are labeled phoebes and are to be canceled and driven out of society.  They are disfellowshipped.  This is an enforcing of an orthodoxy.  The state and business corporations are the instruments of forcing compliance just as the inquisition was in Catholic Spain in the 15th century.  For America,  it is probably unconstitutional religious discrimination.

The radical environmentalists then enforce policies that will lead to increased poverty all over the world because their radical non-solutions value the earth above human beings.  They cannot produce solutions.  Solutions must be based on lifting human beings as the first priority of environmentalism.

Those who embrace “critical race theory” have defined the white races as bad and this includes all Europeans, eastern and western, including Russians, Poles and all others.  All other tribes and peoples no matter how depraved in are given a pass.  Whites are the oppressors.  When there is analysis of why there are disparities in opportunity, having rebelled against biblical teaching, they reject the importance of the factor of stable families.  The family is sometimes despised, and it is thought children must be raised by the state as in Marxism to overcome the resistance to progress.   Reconciliation, forgiveness, mutual service and love are replaced by hate and grievance forever.  Guilt and innocence is defined by skin color.  But in the Bible, all have sinned, and no one is given a pass.  Blaming others forever is contrary biblical norms.   

We are living in the most profound clash of worldviews.  Those who hold to the biblical worldview are called to act in love and compassion for the repentance and salvation those who are lost.  And we do see those who embrace these false views as very lost.  But God has given us the message of reconciliation, and we proclaim be reconciled to God.

Are we moving to an amazing replay of first century Israel history?

It is commonly taught that we are seeing a lineup of nations against Israel, a setup that seems like a replay of the first century but with one amazing difference.  Instead of Jerusalem’s destruction, the last days’ final war against Jerusalem will lead to Israel’s full victory with the return of Yeshua.  Zechariah 12 and 14 make this very clear.

One aspect for those who do not live in Israel might seem quite amazing.  It is that the divisions in Israel seem in some ways quite analogous to the first century.  We have Jewish secularists who still desire to be Israeli Jews but are like those who were very Hellenized in the first century.  They like the Sadducees do not believe in angels, demons, or the inspiration of the prophets.  The Ultra-Orthodox are like the strict Shammai Pharisees who believed that living strictly in accord with myriads of multiplied laws would make us so holy that the Messiah would come and bring us victory.  We also have the Zealots of our day who want to take the whole Land now and push the Arabs out of the Land.  Recently, in response to a terrorist attack, some of these modern Zealots have rioted against the nearby Palestinian village, burning cars and houses and shooting at civilian innocents.  These folks and their leaders are not democratic libertarians. The Prime Minister spoke out against this anarchy, but two of the party leaders in his coalition support the reactive violence and are frustrated at him.  Yeshua warned that the Zealots would gain ascendancy and Jerusalem would be destroyed.  As in the first century, there are also religious Jews of a more open and tolerant stream like the Hillel Pharisees of old.  Will the nations unjustly invade, maybe in some kind of U. N. action in response to zealot policies?  Maybe. Or will it be a Muslim invasion of the surrounding nations supported by the rest of the nations (writers W. Shobat and J. Richardson)?  We don’t know.

However, as in the first century, there is a growing Messianic Jewish community.  In the first century, the destruction of Jerusalem did not lead to repentance and the embrace of Yeshua, though the prophecies He gave were clear and fulfilled.  However, this time, the witness of the Messianic Jews with the whole Body of Believers will lead to the embrace of Yeshua before Jerusalem is destroyed.  He will return to rule and reign forever.

Humanist Manifesto and a Woke Left Creed

Some years ago a group of atheists, agnostic leaders, and scholars got together and produced a Humanist Manifesto. It was first written in the 1930s but was later revised in the 1970s. Though the humanists say it is not a creed, it is quite like a statement of faith – a confession. The woke left today affirms many of the points of this document. You can look it up and readily see the overlap. However, today’s left holds to views that were not anticipated by the Humanist Manifesto. I want to note some of those that overlap and some of the new orientations here. We are truly dealing with an anti-biblical creed and the enforcement of belief from cancel culture which is similar to ex-communication and shunning in the Church world and older Orthodox Jewish world. I do say that the woke are not woke but indoctrinated as if in a cult. Compare these statements to biblical statements and a biblical worldview.  

  1. There is no Lawgiver God (Theism) that requires moral obedience. One might believe in some kind of higher power as long as that power does not make absolute demands on human beings. 
  2. Human beings are to be valued because we choose to value them as having the unique freedom and power to define their authentic meaning. (Note the famous Yuval Harari at Hebrew University argues that there is no basis for this assertion of liberals today). Their value as human beings is not due to being created in the image of God.   
  3. Human sexual roles are social constructs. All gender identities and sexual arrangements should be fully affirmed when there is consent for these arrangements, whether heterosexual, marriage, living together, gay, bi-sexual, transgenders, and more. 
  4. We support gender transition for adults and children, including hormone suppressant drugs, hormone treatment, and surgery. People choose gender according to their personal orientations. We support trans people in sports according to their chosen gender.  
  5. Abortion is a basic human right and should be available for those who choose an abortion at every stage of the developing fetus. 
  6. Climate change is the greatest existential problem facing the world. We need to radically move toward renewables and eliminate the use of fossil fuels. 
  7. We should curtail the use of animals for food which deplete resources and add to climate change. 
  8. We must recognize oppression. Those who have been and are oppressed are victims of white people. Oppressed people should have a common cause to overcome the oppressors. Blacks, Hispanics, indigenous peoples, Palestinians, and more share the oppression and are linked (Intersectionality). The way this must be overcome is by equality that promotes people according to race and ethnicity and to see reparations paid by white people. Systemic racism is the explanation of minority disproportion. 
  9. Merit-based systems of economics are from white supremacy and should be rejected.
  10. Capitalism produces unjust distributions of wealth and should be replaced by socialism or at least by massive redistributionist programs. Big government is required to enforce justice programs from climate change to just economics. 
  11. The present system of policing and prisons is inherently unfair and racist. Police should be greatly reduced in number and function, and society needs to help the criminals because they are victims of an unjust system. 
  12. The U. S. constitution was a racist document and the product of white slave owners. The United States, going back to the colonies, was founded on racism. 

Those who do not agree with these affirmations should be canceled, vilified, and called extremists, racists, homophobes, white supremacists, and fascists. They should be de-platformed on social media and fundraising. If they assert the opposite of these views or assert traditional moral and legal norms, they should be blocked from financial services like PayPal.

For an amazing study that addresses much of this, see Wayne Grudem’s Politics. This famous theologian, and professor of systematic theology, has an amazing response to much of this. 

Democratic Tyranny

My followers are usually very interested in Israel and know there is quite a controversy about judicial reform in Israel. The divide is intense. To put this in a better perspective, it is worthwhile to review the system in the United States.

The United States is not technically a democracy but a democratic republic. This means that the popular vote is not the all-powerful final say on everything, but there are checks and balances. The Founders had great concern with the corruption of power. They recognized that a demagogic leader could gain the popular vote and lead the nation to tyranny. Therefore, they incorporated many checks to power; the executive power, the President, the power of the Congress, the power of the Court and the power of the electorate.

They established the Constitution, which is hard to amend. Thus, the democratic electorate, the Congress, the Executive, and the Courts must function within the boundaries of the Constitution and its famous Bill of Rights. Secondly, they established a bi-cameral legislature with the most democratic institution, the House of Representatives, and the more limited democratic Senate whose senators were elected by the state legislatures and then later by the people of the states. This protected the less populous states from being controlled by the more urban populous states. Democrats today speak against this since these senators from more rural states sometimes frustrate their agenda, but this was as the Founders desired. Thirdly, the President was limited in his function according to the Constitution to carry out the rule of laws and the legislation of the Congress. He could not make laws. He was given greater freedom with regard to foreign policy, but Congress alone could declare war. He was elected, not by the popular vote, but by electors chosen by the States. In so many ways, there were limits to power. The Courts and the Supreme Court were to apply the laws and could review laws as contrary to the Constitution, as well as noting regulations contrary to the Law. The huge issue today is the recent history of the Supreme Court, which has legislated through a broad view of interpretation contrary to the intent of the Constitution. The biggest example was Roe vs. Wade on abortion, but there are many more examples.

In Israel there is no constitution. The reasons were several. Some thought Israel would be like England with a common law tradition rooted in western democracies. Many Orthodox Jews did not want a constitution but only the Law of Moses. Instead of a Constitution, Israel passed Basic Laws that were not to be changed. Other laws could only be accepted, if they were in line with Basic Laws. These Basic Laws became a quasi-constitution. The Supreme Court of Israel was to judge laws on the basis of Basic Law, and if found to be not consistent to Basic Law, they could declare those laws unconstitutional. However, they also decided that they could judge laws by the standard of accepted general understandings of rights and laws in the consensus of Western societies. They also judged on the criteria of reasonability. The right-wing leaders in Israel really push back on this idea since what is and isn’t reasonable could be subjective. Unlike the United States, judges are not appointed by the Executive with confirmation of a Senate. In recent years we have seen the weakness of the U. S. system since Democrats and Republicans will not vote for qualified people due to their judicial philosophy. In Israel, new appointees are made by a selection committee and not politicians, but heavily dominated by other judges and lawyers. In this way, many on the right think that the Court has too much power.

However, if the Court is to be a check on power, and one of the keys to separation of power, then the present proposals of M. K. Levine go way too far. He will open Israel to democratic tyranny since he proposes a simple one vote majority of the Knesset to overturn any Supreme Court decision. Basic Law is as well in flux. Why? Because only a majority was needed to pass Basic Laws, and a majority can cancel it. It would be far different if Basic Law was passed by a 2/3 majority and could only be changed by a 2/3 majority. Alas, that is not the situation. The present proposals also give the Knesset the appointment power and the overturning power for Court decisions. This could lead to democratic tyranny. The pendulum is swinging too far. Would that we could resurrect Jefferson, Madison and Adams to give wisdom to our leaders here.

We need to pray for Israel that they will embrace good judicial reform. First, to embrace a new foundational law that only 2/3 can establish or reverse Basic Law. This would require a special legislative semi-constitutional body that could establish this one principle for stability. Secondly, that the Court would be restrained on the reasonable standard, and that the Court could be overruled by 2/3s. Maybe it could be 2/3 on its Basic Law foundation for rulings and 60% for overturning the reasonable clause. Then judges could be appointed by some expert judges and by the Knesset together where there would have to be agreement by two bodies for appointment. Reform is needed, but minority rights and stability require that we avoid the democratic tyranny of the Levine plan. Can you imagine that every new parliament could, by majority, just reverse all that was passed as Basic Law by the previous parliament and could also reverse the reversals of the pervious government?


The Dehumanizing of Western Societies

This past week our alarm system sounded the alert that it was not working properly.  It was connected to an line phone problem.  Shortly after the phones went dead.  Patty was able to get the phone repair service to restore the lines.  Yet, soon after the alarm system again sent the beep that it was not working.  Now we had to contact the alarm company.  After about ten different recordings in Hebrew, Patty left a message for them to call back.  They did, and a repair person will come to our home Sunday.  When we bought our first home in Israel, 2005, we were able to call the alarm company and get a person quite easily.  We even had the phone of one of the repairmen, Dror, who was friendly and helpful.  Now it is frustrating and impersonal.  Yes, it saves the company money, but we would rather pay a little more and talk to a person.   We have such menus, but not this bad, with our health service. 

Last month I had grand-parenting time with two of my grandkids.  I asked what they would like to do.  It was to go to McDonald’s for chicken nuggets and fries.  We went to our local mall.  One now must order on a screen.  There are few workers and it you miss something it is very hard to correct it.  Extra salt or ketchup please?   Again, this was so much less personal. 

I find this in business after business, our insurance companies, other service providers and now most fast-food restaurants.  Thank God I can still call the private cell phone of my investment counselor. 

More recently I read how young people are texting instead of talking to friends. The nuanced inflections are lost.  And some young people don’t meet as many people but only meet them in games on the internet.   They only know people by such electronic means.  Many do not meet and know intimate friendships in person.

We also read that many will lose their jobs in the future to robots.  This could be a terrible problem.  

I think our societies need a new consensus that there will be parameters for free enterprise.  These parameters will limit maximum profit as the only criteria.  Just as environmentalists seek to limit businesses in environmental damage, so we can limit business and government in humanistic damage.  Maybe there will be a limit to computer service menus.  This should  apply as well to government services. Maybe robots will  be limited and developed at a pace to not kill millions of jobs. Maybe parents will be given new tools to limit their children’s computer and game time and to foster in person activities in sports and the arts.  Can we as those who believe we are created in God’s image press for limiting the present trends of dehumanization?

Our Meeting with Pope Benedict

It was the fall of 1997, and a small group of three Messianic Jews, one Catholic charismatic Priest theologian, a Catholic Archdeacon of Vienna,  and one Episcopal Anglican clergyman/rector met with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.  He would not long after become Pope Benedict XVI.  

The six of us were a committee representing Toward Jerusalem Council II.  (See the web site for information on this effort.)   We were given this opportunity due to the recommendation of Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna.  A few months earlier in the Spring, we had dinner in his palace in Vienna next to St. Stephen’s Cathedral.  The Cardinal was the primary editor of the New Catholic Catechism and a student of Joseph Ratzinger.  He was very moved by our meeting and therefore recommended us.  Our mission was to see repentance in the Church and to see a full embrace of the Messianic Jewish community. 

Cardinal Ratzinger was the leader of the College of the Doctrine of the Faith, the body that puts out statements and larger documents to foster Catholic doctrinal unity.  His position was one of the highest in the Church. His reputation was that of a rigid man enforcing rigid orthodoxy.  Of course, this is the spin of a more liberal press. We found this not to be true. Yet we entered with great concern to be circumspect.  We expected 30 minutes but were given an hour.  We met in the very room where the members of the College meet, a conference setting.  We were told by Father Peter Hocken to not mention anything about our connection to Free Churches (those not from the historical state Churches, Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Orthodox). We who were Jewish were just to present ourselves as Messianic Jews and as part of the Messianic Jewish congregational movement.  

Cardinal Ratzinger entered the room and greeted us warmly.  He then asked us to present our purpose.  We had our plan.  Rabbi Marty Waldman would present his story as the child of Holocaust survivors.  Then he would present something of the movement.  I would present the theology of the movement.  David, our prophetic brother, would add anything as he was led by the Spirit.  Fr. Peter and Canon Brian would add their words of understanding and commitment to the vision.  We later followed this same pattern in meetings for many years until today. 

Our meeting lasted almost an hour.  We said noting of the Free Churches. We were taken very seriously.  After answering some of his questions, the Cardinal said to us, “If you people are  who you say you are, the second coming of Jesus is nearer than we have thought.”  He knew Romans 11 and saw Jews turning to the Lord while remaining Jews as an eschatological sign.  

After this, he asked to caucus with the two Catholics.  First, he already knew of our connection to Evangelicals.  He had his source of information, but this did not bother him.  He remarked to the Catholics, that it was not a surprise that we had this relationship since the Free Churches (Evangelicals) where more flexible and open.

He then said he was going to appoint Cardinal Schonborn to be the liaison to the Messianic Jews.  He would get the Pope John Paul II to support this.  This was amazing.  

We also met with Cardinal George Cottier, the Pope’s Theologian, who vets what is given to the Pope and reads all the Pope wants to put out.  He was really with us and started a Catholic-Messianic Jewish dialogue where all came to great accord.  The dialogue lasted for 14 years and is today is at a new level.  Cardinal Cottier would report to Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II.  When Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, he continued in his support for the Messianic Jewish community and the dialogue.  There is much more that can be written.  He was a serous theologian whose book on Yeshua is very good.  My connection to believing Catholics, who really love Yeshua, does not mean that I am not troubled by some Catholic doctrines, but I am so grateful for the opportunities that were opened to us by Pope Benedict.  The memory of our meeting will forever be dear to me. 

LGBTQ Controversy in Israel

The Orthodox Jewish Parties in Israel, four of them, now dominate Israel’s government.  They have pushed greatly curtailing LGBTQ civil rights.  This has led to a strong pushback from the Israeli secular community and the parties that are now not in power in the new government.  In my view, both sides are partly right and partly wrong.  The Jewish press in Israel has referenced some of the battles in the United States on these same issues. 

Until now, the primary Orthodox push back against the LGBTQ movement has been to protest the gay parade in Jerusalem as contrary and offensive to the character of Jerusalem as a religious city.  They have not been able to stop this parade. 

Today the Orthodox push back seeks to pass laws that would release those who do not want to provide services to LGBTQ people.  This is being stated broadly as a religious conscience accommodation.  Event halls owned by religious people, or medical services by Orthodox doctors, and business services people in general are to be given liberty to not provide as long as others can provide these services.  The issue of what counts as public services and accommodations are not well defined.  Shouldn’t a doctor help all people?  Of course, religious doctors do not want to perform abortions or give gender blocking hormones or do gender re-assignment surgery.  This would be terribly against conscience for some.  

It seems like the Supreme Court in the United States is drawing reasonable lines where public accommodations and services have to be offered without discrimination while offering relief for conscience.  The conscience exception is for a person who runs a business that is the creative expression of an artist, the cake maker or wedding planner since they would be required to engage in creative speech, art, which is against their beliefs.   The court seems to be moving to accommodate personal services from doctors for procedures that are against their conscience.  They also accommodate religious non-profit organizations so they may foster their faith convictions by hiring staff, teachers, etc. that are in accord with their faith confession.  Orthodox Jews can hire only Orthodox Jews, Catholics only Catholics and Evangelicals only Evangelicals.  In this way the LGBTQ agenda is not permitted to destroy free speech and religious based organizations that follow their convictions.  We see this in the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic organization that did not want to provide health insurance with abortion and contraceptive coverage.  Radical leftists do not want these reasonable accommodations, but act from a totalitarian conformity streak which I also see with some of the left in Israel.  I hope that the Israel government can come to some balance in all this.  Freedom of religion and speech are at stake but so are some basic civil rights.