A Meditation on Knowledge & Wisdom

No, this is not a self-portrait

I spent many years earning a doctorate in history. When I began that quest, I had turned my back on the Christian faith. I wondered if the world of academia could provide the answers. One master’s degree, a multitude of courses, and three comprehensive exams later—all prior to the doctoral dissertation—finally convinced me that the educated elite were just as clueless as the rest of the world.

“Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age?” These questions come from the pen of the apostle Paul. He answers himself:

Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

He then makes a statement that I’m sure sets the intellectual elite’s teeth on edge: “The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

Am I saying that higher education is worthless? It can be. It all depends on the context of the learning. Anything divorced from God’s truth is not going to be beneficial in the long run. Knowledge for knowledge’s sake is pointless. Man’s wisdom is often little more than arrogance and stupidity—people thinking they are intelligent, yet not realizing they are intellectual pygmies in light of God’s truth.

Some people seek advanced degrees to feel better about themselves. They want to be respected; they want to be important. Yet,

God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.

Boasting is one of man’s primary activities. This is particularly true of those who hold political power. They make promises seemingly without end: “Here is what we will do for you”; “We will end this problem once and for all”; “If you want answers, elect us!” Most of them, however, trust in their own minds and are disconnected from the Ultimate Mind.

The apostle Paul continues,

We speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

What was true of Paul’s age remains true today. There is a wisdom that comes from God that provides all we need to know for having relationship with Him and with all others. If followed, it solves the world’s problems. Sinful man, though, refuses to submit his mind and his will to the One who has the answers.

“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise.”

This calls for humility; humility only appears after genuine repentance; repentance only occurs when a person is grieved over his sinful heart. How often does this happen? According to Jesus, not often enough:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

May we all come that place.

A Personal Plea

As anyone who has read this blog regularly knows, I am a vigorous defender of the American Constitution, the free enterprise system, and the current peaceful protests and movements to educate the American people on the problems brought about by the Obama administration.

I have used a combination of statements that I believe are based on principle with the best political cartoons to illustrate our situation. The foundation for everything I say is my Christian faith, and I strive to ensure that my statements don’t go too far and that the cartoons I use are not tasteless.

I do believe that a Christian can make strong statements and remain in the proper spirit simultaneously. Even a cursory reading of the gospels and the New Testament letters reveals instances of Jesus and his disciples speaking pointedly about hypocrisy and injustice.

Lately, I’ve had a great opportunity to share on a site with a much larger readership than my personal blog. It’s called Big Government. In the past month, I’ve written three substantial posts for it, and there have been numerous comments from readers. Most of those responses are welcome and respectful.

I have noticed, though, some that seem to emanate from a deep anger. Biblically, anger is not a sin. We naturally become angry at injustices. However, when we allow that anger to boil over into rash statements and ad hominem attacks against those we despise, we have lost the argument already.

There is a justifiable anger in this country right now. We have witnessed in the past sixteen months an outright assault on the very fabric of our governmental and societal institutions. I understand that anger, but we cannot allow it to dictate our words and actions.

Now, more than ever, we need to manifest a spirit of wisdom and inner strength—something that will make those who are caught in the middle [those who are confused by the changes]—take notice. They need to see individuals who stand steadfastly for truth, who know how to control their tempers, and who work consistently for the restoration of our foundational beliefs.

So, there are no cartoons today. All you see is a mass of words. Yet I hope these words will make you think carefully about how you conduct yourself as you join with others to reverse the damage that has been done.

I spoke to a meeting of the 9/12 Project here in my city last Saturday. I told them all about the history of progressivism in America and the dangers we face. When I got to the end, I changed the focus and entreated them to realize that we’re not just a bunch of people angry about the financial situation. Rather, we need to think more foundationally. I said that my foundation was faith in God and in His truth revealed in His Word. That will be my guide as I try to make a difference.

I entreat all of you as well—let’s approach this in the right spirit so that our efforts are worthy of His blessing.

Hypocrisy . . . and Its Cure

Most of the time I focus on a specific issue or person, but there are times that a certain theme applies in many situations. One theme that is always present, it seems, is hypocrisy.

Jesus had a lot to say about a class of people called the Pharisees. He spared no words in pointing out instances of hypocrisy in their lives. We have our own Pharisees today, and they exist on both ends of the political spectrum [witness the recent resignation of Republican congressman Mark Souder for an adulterous relationship]. I will point out hypocrisy no matter who is involved. In fact, I have a special interest in exposing it among conservatives because if it is allowed to proliferate, it will undermine any progress for reversing the current definition of “hope and change.”

It’s almost too easy, though, to highlight the hypocrisies of the current administration. They abound.

This is one of the most blatant. While Obama rails against “special interests” on the other side of the political divide, what about his connections? There’s nothing exaggerated in this cartoon.

He’s been particularly keen on blaming former President Bush for nearly everything that has gone wrong on the economic front. In a speech last week, he stridently proclaimed that he wasn’t going to hand the keys back to the party that wrecked the economy. While the Bush people have a lot to answer for, their guilt pales in comparison to Obama’s.

That looks like more than a ditch. Suddenly the ditch doesn’t seem all that bad.

Then we have the friends of the administration doing their share. Take, for instance, the comment from Hollywood leftist Woody Allen:

I thought all media types were in favor of freedom? They certainly want it for themselves when they make films that cross the line morally and politically. Apparently it’s just fine to take complete control if the one in charge wants to accomplish their goals.

Hypocrisy is rank among those who currently hold congressional seats. They’re a little concerned about keeping those seats. To what lengths will they go?

Some people do need to get a real job. Anyone who has spent most of his adult life in elected office needs to find out what it really means to earn a living.

Some politicians, though, are brazen to the point of incredulity. Richard Blumenthal, running for the Senate from Connecticut, has finally been called out for his statements about serving in the armed forces in Vietnam. It turns out he never went to Vietnam at all; he used all the deferments he could muster to stay out of the service, then finally got a plum post stateside where the chance of being gunned down by a Vietcong bullet was less than miniscule. Yet even after his blatant lie was trumpeted, he had the nerve to claim he simply misspoke and that those who had caught him in the lie were the real villains.

The heart of man is evil. Only a regenerated heart will change that. The only real regeneration comes via a restored relationship with the Creator. That restored relationship is available to all, but only through repentance and faith in the One who died that we might live anew.

The Shroud and Faith

Yesterday was Resurrection Day [Easter to many]. On Saturday evening, I had the opportunity to watch a special on the History Channel on the Shroud of Turin.

I don’t know how many in my reading audience are knowledgeable about the Shroud, but as you can see on the left, it is the image of a man who was wrapped in a burial shroud. If you could see all the details, you would realize this man was scourged over all his body, his head shows profuse bleeding circling the entire head, and he was crucified. In addition, there is a special wound on one side that easily could have been made by a spear.

Every detail, in other words, mirrors the Biblical description of the treatment Jesus received.

A closeup of the face reveals a man of Jewish origin. In fact, the face is similar to all the depictions of Jesus through the ages.

Naturally, the Shroud is a center of controversy. I have a couple of books on it, which I read a number of years ago. At one point, scientists concluded that carbon-14 dating placed it as no earlier than the 13th century. The dating itself has generated controversy, as the methods used to come to that conclusion are suspect.

As the two-hour special showed, there is no adequate scientific explanation for how the image imprinted itself on the Shroud. It is not painted or drawn. The closeup you see here is only achieved by using a negative from a photograph. Scientists are stumped.

Meanwhile, in contradiction to the supposed dating, historical evidence exists that puts the shroud well before the 13th century, and material has been found on it that comes from a plant unique to Israel.

There is almost no possibility that any medieval genius could have forged this–we can’t even do it today with all our technological advances.

The special covered all the history and the controversies surrounding the Shroud. It then focused on a team that used the latest computer programs to create a 3-D image of the man on the Shroud. When that image is complete, it’s quite stunning. What we see before us is what this man would have looked like in real life.

He looks exactly like Jesus, as we have always pictured Him. It’s a little eerie, but profoundly moving.

The Shroud of Turin does not provide the basis of my Christian faith. I will believe whether it is genuine or not. However, the probability of this being the burial Shroud of Jesus is high, considering all the evidence. While I must stop short of declaring absolute certainty, I must admit I believe I was gazing into the face of the One who suffered and died for me.

Someday I hope to see that face—face to face.

The Resurrection

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.’ Now I have told you.”

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Resurrection Day (not Easter) is the most meaningful day of the year, surpassing Christmas. Yes, Christmas is spectacular, but without the Resurrection, it has no significance. Jesus came not just to be a man, but to voluntarily give His life that we might live. The suffering of Good Friday was followed by the splendor of the Resurrection. As a result, we can receive forgiveness and live in fellowship with the One who gave His all.

The Crucifixion

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.

The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely He was the Son of God!”

As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.

Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

“Take a guard,” Pilate answered, “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Obama's Shunning of Israel

The United States has been a bulwark of support for the beleaguered nation of Israel. President Harry Truman, back in 1948, stood firm in backing the creation of the nation. Ever since, the U.S. has helped Israel stave off the attacks of hostile regimes that surround it.

All that has now changed in the Obama administration.

President Obama is so tied to a policy of cuddling up to Islam that he is doing the same thing to Israel that he did in the past to his grandmother, “Rev.” Wright, and so many others—figuratively throwing them “under the bus.”

Don’t be fooled by empty rhetoric.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to Washington for talks. In the past, such talks have always been high level and Israeli leaders have been treated with respect. No such luck for Mr. Netanyahu this time.

Apparently, President Obama was angry over an announcement that the Israelis were planning to build more apartments in Jerusalem. Never mind it was in an area where there is little dispute over who has the territory. In Obama’s mind, it was an affront to the Palestinians. I’ll let a couple of other bloggers quoted in HotAir.com provide some commentary on this, since they have done a fine job of summarizing what took place.

For a head of state to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of…

After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on Jewish settlements, Mr. Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr. Netanyahu but invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisors and “let me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman who spoke to the Prime Minister said today.

“It was awful,” the congressman said. One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by such mistrust that the Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped on a White House phone line. Another said that the Prime Minister had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial Guinea”…

Obama has added more poison to a U.S.-Israeli relationship that already was at its lowest point in two decades. Tuesday night the White House refused to allow non-official photographers record the president’s meeting with Netanyahu; no statement was issued afterward. Netanyahu is being treated as if he were an unsavory Third World dictator, needed for strategic reasons but conspicuously held at arms length. That is something the rest of the world will be quick to notice and respond to. Just like the Palestinians, European governments cannot be more friendly to an Israeli leader than the United States. Would Britain have expelled a senior Israeli diplomat Tuesday because of a flap over forged passports if there were no daylight between Obama and Netanyahu? Maybe not…

Here’s the attitude I perceive, as reflected in this political cartoon:

As an evangelical Christian, I have a natural affinity for Israel: it’s the land of the Bible. I’ve visited once and hope to return to walk where Jesus walked. Yet even if that were not the case, I would be a stalwart supporter of a nation trying to survive as a friend of America in the midst of relentless enemies.

It would be nice if the American president felt the same.