Beyond Redemption? Part 1

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This is part one of a series derived from my reading of Mission at Nuremberg, An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend.  For those with an interest in theology and history I cannot recommend this book enough. To say that it is thought-provoking would understate what Mr. Townsend has accomplished in telling Pastor Gerecke’s story and his ministry to hardened war criminals.

There are many angles to the story that I could have focused one but I chose to focus on what I believe is the central proposition-Could a hardened Nazi war criminal find redemption at the Cross of Jesus Christ? 

Part One

In 2007 on a mission trip to Poland we took a side trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Although I was familiar with Nazi death camps and intellectually understood the horror of a death camp it’s something quite different to actually visit one and experience it.

Seven years after our  visit I still  remember the small courtyard where prisoners were lined up against a wall and shot, by the hundreds, just because of some small infraction of camp rules or because they were no longer useful for work. You can see where the bullets chipped away the masonry as the shooters sometimes missed their target. The target area today is covered by a large wreath that serves as a memorial to the victims. When you enter the small courtyard you stand where the executioners stood with their rifles and you look directly at the wreath and the chipped masonry. It’s a courtyard of death and only the beginning.

The court-yard is just past the gallows where hundreds more were killed as examples because of some infraction. Graphic pictures tell the story as you realize real people were hung right where you are standing. The trip between the buildings can only be described as a house of horrors as you realize what took place. You wonder, how could this happen?

Then you enter some of the buildings which have been turned into a museum. You pass display rooms full of luggage symbolizing the trains that rolled into Auschwitz-Birkenau on a daily basis and the people who would never leave. To this day the wall mural of small children leaving the train haunts me as you realize tiny children were killed in the hundreds of thousands. How could this be you wonder? How could anyone be so cruel to their fellow human beings?

Then you pass rooms full of eye-glasses and rooms full of human hair and tooth fillings. The Nazi’s accumulated numerous items taken from the prisoners to help them in the war effort. To the Nazis their victims were not human, but sub-human, useful only for work or the “products” they could scrounge once their victims were gassed.

And then  you reach the crematorium, the only one left standing. As the Russian Army approached the Nazi’s fled blowing up the crematoriums leaving one furnace only partially destroyed. You walk into the furnace after first walking into the showers where Zyclon B was administered. Millions went to their deaths in this way throughout Germany and Poland. How could this be as you realized over 6,000,000 perished in the death camps.

A crematorium before being blown up. It's where the victims of Cyclon B were taken to be reduced to ash-an ash that sometimes floated over the camp and the surrounding area.

A crematorium before being blown up. It’s where the victims of Cyclon B were taken to be reduced to ash-an ash that sometimes floated over the camp and the surrounding area. http://en.auschwitz.org/m/index.php?option=com_ponygallery&Itemid=3&func=viewcategory&catid=21

Eventually the tour gets more personal and if you are a thinking, reflective type person you begin to wonder how in the world could this even happen in what was thought to be a Christian Europe?

You wonder about good and evil and you wonder what kind of monsters could perpetrate such horror seemingly with no regrets and no conscience. You wonder how a so-called “Christian” nation could collectively conspire and/or allow a regime so evil to murder over 6,000,000 people. It boggles the mind as you struggle with man’s inhumanity to man.

As an American of primarily German extraction those kinds of questions haunted me. Did I have the same DNA the German Nazi’s did? It’s a horrifying thought.

I was born in the USA 90 years after my paternal great-grandfather came here from Prussian Pomerania. I see that as God’s providence but the flip side is had he not done so my father and mother and grand  parents could have been part of the holocaust in some capacity. This too was a terrifying thought. It is true that not every German was a Nazi but realizing that your family could have been is a sobering thought.

Some people speaking in the comfort of their own American homes and having grown up in an environment quite different from Nazi Germany might say, “oh something like that would never be on my radar, for I am not capable of such evil. I’m not perfect, but the holocaust, no way I’d participate.”

My answer to that as pastor is don’t be so sure, nor so self-righteous as to think you lack the capacity for every kind of evil.

Consider what the Scripture says before you assume that horrendous evil could never be on your radar.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV)

When Scripture uses the word “heart” it usually means not the “cardia” but the center of the human will and emotions-the inner man, who we are on the inside.

The unconverted heart (to Christ) is deceitful and crooked, quite bumpy like a very bad road and desperately sick meaning medically incurable. It is not a pretty picture of the human condition and it flies in the face of people who seem to believe that mankind is “basically good.” A trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau should change that impression pretty quickly.

Consider Ephesians 2:1-3 as well:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)

Paul is giving us bad news. The unconverted follow the course of a sinful world, following the prince of the air whether they know it or not and whether or not they seem “good” by human standards. Paul says that the converted all once lived like that, in the passions of the flesh and quite willing to carry out those passions; passions that can be and are, quite evil. Paul says, we were children of wrath (the wrath of God) just like the rest of mankind.

We may choose to not believe that; but it is what Scripture says and means. It ought to be sobering to consider our unconverted nature before we seek to judge someone else’s unconverted nature.

I am referring to what’s called the doctrine of total depravity.

The doctrine of total depravity means we  do not commit all the sins we are capable of committing. It just means we all have the capacity to be the worst of monsters, like the Nazis who mapped out the holocaust and executed it the best they could before being stopped. That should be sobering if you value the teaching of Scripture.

So, what  happened to the Nazis? How could a so-called Christian nation (most Germans were either baptized Lutherans or Catholics) fall into some of the worst kinds of depravity recorded in history.

A philosopher by the name of Hannah Arendt can give us a little insight.

Hannah Arendt was a political philosopher who lived from 1906-1975. She is most famous for her “banality of evil” comments she made in observing the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann was a major architect of the holocaust who had escaped to Argentina after the war. In 1962 the Israeli Mossad grabbed him out that country and brought him back to Israel for trial. The trial was an international sensation and although I was only nine-years old I remember it because even then I was reading my dad’s books like William Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

Eichmann on trial in Israel, 1962

Eichmann on trial in Israel, 1962

Here are two paragraphs that outline her philosophy coming out of the Eichmann trail.

She controversially uses the phrase “the banality of evil” to characterize Eichmann’s actions as a member of the Nazi regime, in particular his role as chief architect and executioner of Hitler’s genocidal “final solution” (Endlosung) for the “Jewish problem.” Her characterization of these actions, so obscene in their nature and consequences, as “banal” is not meant to position them as workaday. Rather it is meant to contest the prevalent depictions of the Nazi’s inexplicable atrocities as having emanated from a malevolent will to do evil, a delight in murder. As far as Arendt could discern, Eichmann came to his willing involvement with the program of genocide through a failure or absence of the faculties of sound thinking and judgement. From Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem (where he had been brought after Israeli agents found him in hiding in Argentina), Arendt concluded that far from exhibiting a malevolent hatred of Jews which could have accounted psychologically for his participation in the Holocaust, Eichmann was an utterly innocuous individual. He operated unthinkingly, following orders, efficiently carrying them out, with no consideration of their effects upon those he targeted. The human dimension of these activities were not entertained, so the extermination of the Jews became indistinguishable from any other bureaucratically assigned and discharged responsibility for Eichmann and his cohorts.

Arendt concluded that Eichmann was constitutively incapable of exercising the kind of judgement that would have made his victims’ suffering real or apparent for him. It was not the presence of hatred that enabled Eichmann to perpetrate the genocide, but the absence of the imaginative capacities that would have made the human and moral dimensions of his activities tangible for him. Eichmann failed to exercise his capacity of thinking, of having an internal dialogue with himself, which would have permitted self-awareness of the evil nature of his deeds. This amounted to a failure to use self-reflection as a basis for judgement, the faculty that would have required Eichmann to exercise his imagination so as to contemplate the nature of his deeds from the experiential standpoint of his victims. This connection between the complicity with political evil and the failure of thinking and judgement inspired the last phase of Arendt’s work, which sought to explicate the nature of these faculties and their constitutive role for politically and morally responsible choices.

Much of Arendt’s work revolves around the ideas of thinking and judgment. To apply this to Eichmann she would have concluded he didn’t believe what he was doing was morally wrong and that sort of thinking made his judgment rational to him.

I believe her assessment is biblically accurate. An assessment like that fits the biblical data that the inner man is badly damaged, medically incurable as Jeremiah 17:9 would say. In other words Eichmann’s unredeemed heart became so hardened he was immune to compassion and moral categories seemed irrelevant to him.  Eichmann’s conscience was seared and his heart hardened just as Pharoah’s heart was hardened in Exodus. Some would say that Eichmann was mentally ill but the Bible would say he had a hard heart.

Jesus defines our basic problem as a heart problem, or an inner man problem. He never says we are mentally ill. He says we have a treasure problem:

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,  for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:43-45 ESV)

In other words, our actions, attitudes, behaviors, speech and so forth come from the inside out and are dependent on what we treasure.

Eichmann saw himself in terms of wanting of being a well-thought of  bureaucrat. He aimed to please Hitler and his superiors even if that meant supporting genocide and extermination of those the Nazis deemed undesirables. Eichmann did not fear God and so he had a hard heart. His passion was pleasing his superiors. His idol was the affirmation he received from the accolades associated with pleasing them.

I would submit that Eichmann’s example fits the profile of many a Nazi. There wasn’t anything particularly evil about Eichmann or anyone else in being German that enabled the holocaust. A thoroughly hardened heart is capable of every kind of evil. When someone goes on a killing spree in modern America we see the hardened heart in action. It differs only in scope and magnitude to what the Nazi’s did.

So what hope do any of us have. Jeremiah 17:10 gives us a clue.

“I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:10 ESV)

The passage means that only God  understands the inner recesses of human motives, thinking and decisions (ESV Study Bible). In other words without God we cannot grasp the depth of our own depravity and our desperate need for a Savior to do some heart surgery!

Much of the above has come to my mind again as I read through the story of Pastor Henry Gerecke a Missouri-Synod Lutheran pastor/Army chaplain who was given the job “of saving some” of the Nuremberg defendants-the most evil among the evil.

As far as I know Eichmann never repented but what if he had? Would God have forgiven his sins and judged him with mercy? For some, that is an impossible thought and I certainly understand the emotion but then again I think of the story of Corrie Ten Boom who could and did find forgiveness in your heart when she recognized one of the SS guards at a church where she was giving her story.

To answer our question we must consult the Scriptures.

Stay tuned for Part Two.

For further reading:

The UKs Daily Mail did a major story on the release of the book. I’ve linked it here.

Interesting link titled 30 Worst Atrocities of the 20th Century. The author makes the important point that atrocities are not limited to a particular nationality, a particular religion or a particular type of government. The only difference in the listed atrocities is the scope and scale of each. In other words the capacity to commit atrocity is a universal human problem.

 

 

 

 

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Great Quote by C.S. Lewis on popular religion

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“We who defend Christianity find ourselves constantly opposed not by the irreligion of our hearers but by their real religion. Speak about beauty, truth and goodness, or about a God who is simply the indwelling principle of these three, speak about a great spiritual force pervading all things, a common mind of which we are all parts, a pool of generalized spirituality to which we can all flow, and you command friendly interest.

But the temperature drops as soon as you mention a God who has purposes and performs particular actions, who does one thing and not another, a concrete, choosing, commanding, prohibiting God with a determinate character. People become embarrassed or angry. Such a conception seems to them primitive and crude and even irreverent. The popular ‘religion’ excludes miracles because it excludes the ‘living God’ of Christianity and believes instead in a kind of God who obviously would not do miracles, or indeed anything else.”

From: The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings From C.S. Lewis, page 31 (January 22 reading, titled “When the Temperature Drops”

Defining Emotions

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As a certified biblical counselor (ACBC) I am often confronted with the power of emotion and the havoc that emotion can play in a person’s life.

In the past week I’ve seen this played out numerous times. The case of Eliot Rodgers and the massacre he perpetrated comes to mind first.

We live in a highly therapeutic  culture that takes an evolutionary, non-cognitive view of emotions especially at the popular level. This explanation of the non-cognitive view is found  in Pastor Brian Borgman’s Faith and Feelings book.

Emotions? Cognitive or not cognitive?

Emotions? Cognitive or not cognitive?

The non-cognitive view is generally an evolutionary perspective that sees emotions as a physiological change in feeling ( e.g. sweaty palms, racing heart, euphoria), which is claimed by the person experiencing the change (fear, happiness, etc.) In other words we are subject to our emotions and not ultimately  responsible for them. They are something that happens to us, physically and chemically. We cry and feel sadness. We feel anxiety because our hearts race.

The non-cognitive view is the prevailing view in our therapeutic culture and frankly, it’s the prevailing view in many evangelical churches. It means, among things that emotions are sovereign and that humans are nothing more than a “bag of chemicals” to use counselor Elyse Fitzpatrick’s phrase.

The other view of emotions is the cognitive view. Again, here is Borgman with an explanation:

The cognitive view of the emotions sees the emotions as based on beliefs, standards, judgments, evaluations, concerns and thoughts. The emotions and reason are interdependent. The emotions are not simply impulses; they are indicators of what we value and what we believe…The  emotions reflect and express the inner man, the heart, the soul, the mind.

Borgman’s explanation of what emotions are is the biblical explanation. The contrast between the non-cognitive view and the cognitive view could not be sharper especially when we realize we are responsible for our emotions! The old “I can’t help how I feel” simply does not line up with  Scriptural teaching.

It should be quite clear that if emotions influence motives and conduct then we had better be able to do something about controlling them. And Christians should look to the Scriptures as to how to do that.

Borgman concludes, “the emotions are more than feelings; they tell us what we value and what we believe, producing desires and inclinations that affect our behavior.”

If this was not true then the apostle Paul’s words below would not make any sense at all:

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV)

For more on the cognitive view of emotions follow the link to an op ed by David Brooks in the NYT. His comments on human nature are helpful.

Blaming God

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There was a tragic car accident in our area  few days ago. It wasn’t all that unusual. These things happen on a regular basis especially in large urban areas.

But, it was on the news probably because it involved a dangerous stretch of road where accidents had occurred before and in this case a young woman died.

The news people went to the scene where they found the young woman’s understandably distraught uncle. The little lead in to speaking with the uncle mentioned the fact the uncle blamed God for the accident and indeed he did.

I can empathize with the uncle’s grief. Having someone precious ripped from you in a tragic car accident has to cut any feeling person to the core. The uncle’s emotional response was understandable just as it was sad.

Volumes have been written by theologians, pastors, lay people and even critics of Christianity about God’s involvement with his creation and accidents and tragedies.

An atheist of course doesn’t believe God is involved at all because an atheist by definition does not believe in God’s existence. An agnostic like I used to be would simply shrug their shoulders and say something like “who knows?”

Deists would believe that God created it all but then stepped back and just let the creation go unattended.

People claiming Christianity in one its myriad forms would all have a different opinion as to how much or how little God was involved in something so common as a car accident.

I do not know the uncle who lost his niece. The one minute he had to speak on the news was not long enough to learn anything about him or what else he may have thought about God. I do know that given his blame God comment he knew enough that God was at least a secondary cause of the tragedy. The primary cause could have been any number of things like going too fast for conditions, texting while driving, a dangerous road or whatever.

Whatever the primary cause of the accident was the uncle recognized that God could have prevented the accident. The uncle appeared to be bitter that he did not. He mentioned something along the lines of his niece not deserving her fate.

The episode filled me with sadness. It is tragic that a young life was sniffed out. I can empathize with the uncle’s pain. What is equally tragic in my opinion was the uncle’s interpretation of the event and his resulting bitterness.

I have no idea what his faith background was or is or even if he has a pastor or priest. I just know that his interpretation of the event does not line up with what Scripture teaches about God, man, sin or death.

The Scripture that came to my mind as I  pondered the news story was this one:

When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38 ESV)

Jesus felt compassion for the people because they were like sheep with a shepherd. They had religion but they did not have truth. The people’s religious leaders had much wrong about God, about man, about sin, about death and most of all wrong about how God would make things right. Jesus’ compassion for the people  leads him to say that many of the people can be brought to the truth, but not many “harvesters”are available. He adds that his disciples should pray for more laborers.

My prayer is Lord of the harvest might minister to a bitter uncle’s heart and open the eyes of his heart to the truth of Scripture. God does care. It is why he sent his Son to die in our place.

Jn. 14:6

 

 

 

 

When the Resurrection is Personal

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My dad’s health was failing but I admit I was taken by surprise the day he died.

In the weeks prior to his death we had made plans to visit our condo on a lake. Dad had indicated he wanted to be there on opening day (fishing) and spend a weekend with me and my son.

But about ten days before our trip he was admitted to a hospital. He had an emergency surgery and the doctors said he should be fine after a few days recovery. The recovery took a few more days than expected and dad developed a bladder problem.

On a Monday afternoon he called me and said he was having a bad time of it. After my appointments were over I went to the hospital to see how he was doing.

Johannes 11 Gelooft u dit

I found him in a great deal of pain. For some reason he could not urinate. Finally, the nurses received doctor’s approval and they did a catheter. Dad’s relief was instantly noticeable although he had been exhausted by the ordeal.

It had taken my parents quite some time to accept my conversion to evangelical Christianity from a nominal Catholicism. My parents seemed to take some of that personally as if they had failed in some way. In their defense I was a jerk about it from time to time as I began to realize there is a difference in what each type church teaches about the gospel.

Over the years things got better and we were able to have rational discussions regarding the nature of the gospel. This was especially true after I had entered the ministry and gone to Bible school.

Eventually, I came to believe that my parents accepted that salvation is of the Lord and that it is a gift and that it is received by grace through faith {in Christ] and not of one’s own works (Eph. 2:8-9).

But having said that neither of them wished to leave the Catholic Church which always left me wondering if they truly understood the gospel and how a proper understanding of it shattered various Catholic traditions.

It meant that when I had opportunity I would try to speak to them again about the nature of the gospel.

In my mom’s case I had the opportunity to speak to her on her death bed. She could not speak but could squeeze my hand. I asked her if she was ready to be with the Jesus and if she trusted in him alone for her salvation and she squeezed by hand once for yes. A few days later she lost even that ability and died shortly there after.

I remember mom telling me once that “Martin Luther was right.” Quite a remarkable statement from a woman raised in Polish-German Catholic tradition.

After my father had gained relief from the catheter I stuck around for a while to make sure he was okay. We made a couple of jokes, talked about our plans and I told him I’d be back the following the day before my appointments to see how he was.

I noticed his small Catholic Bible on his hospital night stand and asked him if I could read a little Scripture to him. For whatever reason I felt compelled to go to John 11 and the story of Lazarus rising from the dead. I told dad that John 11 was one  of my favorite passages. I paused after reading John 11:25-27:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:25-27 ESV)

I had no reason to think dad was going to die that night but felt compelled to ask him one more time if he believed the statements.

Having been down this road before with many a father-son talk under our belts my dad said to me with his impatient voice, “of course I believe that” as if to say how many times do I have to tell you.

Frankly, I just had to smile and as I did he softened realizing that I was asking because I loved him. I left him promising to see him  the next day and it was about 11:00 p.m. when I left.

At about 1:30 a.m. the hospital called and told me dad was in trouble and what was his directive for trying to save him. The call woke me up and at first I thought I was dreaming. Then I  thought it odd that they were asking me what to do since dad had filled out a prime directive. His wishes were that if he would recover then try to save him and that’s what I repeated. They told me to come to the hospital right away.

Some how I knew by the nurse’s voice that dad was already gone although I wanted to believe in that little sliver of hope that the had been able to save him.

When I arrived I was greeted by a nurse in tears who told me they could not save dad. I was struck by the fact she was in tears. It told me dad was a good patient and those that cared for him really cared for him.

Apparently he had to go to the bathroom again and they left him on a commode. When they returned he was already gone having suffered an embolism. Personally, I doubt they had tried to being him back but I also think they followed dad’s wishes. I could not hold back my tears and did not try. To this day I miss him deeply.

The nature of the gospel is not elastic. Jesus made it clear there is only one way and salvation is through Him alone (Jn. 14:6). I consider it to be huge blessing that I was able to spend time with both my parents shortly before they entered eternity.

Today is Easter Sunday and because Christ rose all those who have placed their faith in Him and in him alone well rise also and that is what makes Easter happy.

 

 

 

The medium is the message_ and the movie Noah

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Along time ago in a High School class that I no longer remember the name of I heard the phrase, “the medium is the message.”  The phrase has stuck with me for over 40 years probably because of my interest in communications and how various forms of communications can influence public opinion or perceptions.

I lifted this illustration from a wiki article to explain what that can mean:

–Likewise, the message of a newscast about a heinous crime may be less about the individual news story itself — the content — and more about the change in public attitude towards crime that the newscast engenders by the fact that such crimes are in effect being brought into the home to watch over dinner. —(Wiki source for quote)

The phrase “the medium is the message” was coined by a fellow named Marshall McLuhan and he wrote a book by the same title, a book, as I recall we had to read for that High School class. A more formal definition of what McLuhan meant by that odd phrase might be:

“The form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is received.” (wiki link)

LOL

LOL

I no longer remember what illustrations McLuhan may have provided in his book but he could have used Leni Riefenstahl’s movie\documentary titled Triumph of the Will.

Triumph of the Will became a triumph of propaganda for Adolf Hitler and the Nazis but it did so because the medium of the cinema was masterly crafted by Rienfenstahl to rouse the German people to patriotism and to thoroughly embed the idea that the Nazis would lead Germany into a new age of European dominance (what would become the Third Reich). The film is a classic not for its resulting message (how the form of cinema functioned) but for how well crafted it was.

Period poster advertising Triumph of the Will in German. The film's imagery portrayed massive parades, heavy symbolism, military uniforms and rousing speeches from the 1934 Nuremberg Rally.

Period poster advertising Triumph of the Will in German. The film’s imagery portrayed massive parades, heavy symbolism, military uniforms and rousing speeches from the 1934 Nuremberg Rally.

The point is the way a medium functions is more important than it’s form (movie, radio, newsprint, etc.) because it can manipulate the message and thus steer people one way or the other.

Another example of the medium is the message might be Darren Aronofsky’s new film, Noah, starring Russell Crowe.

Aronsky by his own words is not a not particularly religious Jew who has claimed that the film is basically true to the account of Noah as found in Genesis. But as many have pointed out that is not really true given the distortion of the message by the medium. (Best review of the movie found here, by Al Mohler from Southern Seminary)

I have not yet decided whether I will watch the movie. I certainly will not pay for a movie ticket but I may rent it down the road simply out of curiosity and because I like Russell Crowe’s acting. Besides, it may result in more grist for my blog!

What I would expect to find is a story told through the considerable talents of Aronsky as a director. The story may even be entertaining and I confess I am looking forward to seeing the rock monsters masquerading as Nephilim as well as the special effects used to create a really big flood. What I would not expect to see or hear is an accurate message from the Word of God. Frankly, I’d be on the look out for any inaccurate message from a movie that is supposed to be biblical. In the interest of full disclosure I’d watch Roma Downey’s series, The Bible, with a similar critical eye but expect less distortion.

Evangelical critics have pointed out that the basic message of the film is that Noah is a vegan eco-nut in the movie and that God destroys the people of the earth because they are destroying the earth. I would consider myself a conservationist and certainly am not for the careless exploitation of the earth but I am also aware that God gave Adam (and mankind) dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:26).

Dominion means the subjection and management of earth’s resources for the benefit of the ones having dominion. We can argue all day about what that looks like but the bottom line is that God intended that man manage his earth and that as originally intended that management would be done in a responsible manner.

The reason it has not always been done in a responsible manner is because of the fall (Gen. 3:1-19) and by the time of Noah all that mankind did was evil all the time (Gen. 6:5). God destroys man except for Noah’s family (a total of 8) not  because of one evil (misuse of the earth) but for all evil and all types of human depravity that resulted from the fall. When man fell he did not just stumble, he fell hard and every part of man’s soul has been corrupted by the fall.

Genesis 3:15, called the proto-evangel teaches that God would provide a solution to man’s essential problem (sin, evil) and the story of Noah serves as part of the larger narrative that would eventually point to Jesus.

What Aronsky and his helpers have done is provide an interpretation of Genesis that they claim is faithful to the text. It clearly is not.

To be sure part of the motive is to make money and be entertaining but the other part may very well be a progressive agenda that is against fracking, big oil, whatever that means, nuclear energy, and for windmills and solar even though those resources are not reliable nor can they generate the power needed. One would think that the eco-nuts won’t be happy until we’re all living in the times of Noah as portrayed in the movie by being “one with the earth” rather than having reasonable dominion over it. I’ve heard that kind of propaganda all the way back to my High School days and the very first Earth Day which as I recall was May 1st, 1970.

So, the medium is the message and Noah is probably a well-crafted movie that promotes a particular message, a message designed to influence people and as such is a piece of propaganda. It’s also creative license that results in a horrible  interpretation of the Genesis story and as a result misses the main point of the story.

In that, we should not be surprised because there is no way Aronsky has ever had a course in biblical hermeneutics where by the student is taught to do his best to get the biblical message right.

If you chose to watch the movie understand that the medium is the message and in this case a horrible interpretation of what is taught in the story of Noah.

Drowning in Distortion_Al Mohler’s Review

I’m a Christian and I think “Noah” deserves a four star review (By a fellow named Matt Walsh and utterly hilarious)

Conscious Uncoupling?

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At first glance I thought conscious uncoupling was a railroad term where by rail workers had a plan to uncouple train cars.

Shall we consciously uncouple?

Shall we consciously uncouple?

But no, that bit of psychobabble is a nice sounding couple of terms for getting a divorce. This I discovered from reading a blog article written by Jessica Grose in Slate Magazine. 

Conscious uncoupling are the terms Gwyneth Paltrow used to describe her split from husband Chris Martin.

Paltrow and Martin made their announcement of a conscious uncoupling and released an essay by two psychobabbler’s to explain what the unusual terms meant. Here’s a summary from Ms. Grose’s blog:

The gist of the essay—by Habib Sadeghi and Sherry Sami, doctors who integrate Eastern and Western medicine—is that the institution of marriage hasn’t evolved along with our longer life spans. Divorce doesn’t mean your relationship wasn’t successful, they say. It just means that this particular relationship has come to its conclusion; you may have two or three of these successful relationships in a lifetime. Instead of a typical, rancorous, regular-person separation, you just need to have a “conscious uncoupling.” You need to be spiritually “present” and recognize that partners in intimate relationships are our “teachers.” You need to “cultivate” your “feminine energy” to salve any wounds.

Frankly, I don’t know where to start with that baloney. So, to help me out a little I googled Dr. Habib Sadeghi and found his “be hive of healing” website.

The good doctor (and his cohort Dr. Sherry Sami) appear to be big deals in the health industry and appear to represent some sort of cutting edge combination of western and eastern healing practices. The eastern part seems to be the spiritual part. For those of you who don’t know what that means think “new agey spirituality.”

Dr. Sadeghi seems to be a rather popular fellow and his website boasts that he has achieved “miraculous” results with his methods. He has been employed at more than one well-known university. I can see why Paltrow and Martin engaged in this sort of name-dropping. It certainly gives the appearance of “following doctor’s orders” or perhaps that should be “following the high priest’s orders?”

Ms. Paltrow is an idol to many. The fact this story is a big deal in the news cycle is proof that many people really do seem care what goes on in the personal relationships of the Hollywood elite. The fact that Paltrow and Martin are fans of new agey gurus is an idolatry of another sort. The fact their spiritual advisers (advertised freely) are welcomed on campus is interesting given that on most campuses traditional Christianity is not.

Perosnally, I could care less what the Hollywood elite does or who they follow spiritually. I would not expect non-Christians to make Christian decisions. What does bug me though is the number of people who look up to Ms. Paltrow as some source of cutting edge truth and in turn would look up to her gurus who use nice language to disguise the tragedy of divorce and a further undermining of marriage.

There is nothing new under-the-sun, just a repackaging of old ideas that are given medical sounding labels. The apostle Paul warned the Colossian Christians of finding value in any such system:

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8 ESV)

I’m really not all the familiar with Slate Magazine nor the author of the blog, Jessica Grose. But I do agree with Ms. Grose’s comment that as an aspirational idol women can do better than Gwyneth Paltrow. Yes indeed.

 

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