Killing Jesus Movie Was a Huge Disappointment

Killing Jesus Movie Was a Huge Disappointment

        Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus film was a huge disappointment which I knew it would be. I never read the book but I was hoping it would be accurate. The Jesus portrayed in his film was pretty much like any secular version of Jesus in other films: the whole idea that Jesus is confused or does not know his own plans, and that ideas come into his head randomly as if he had an awakening or epiphany. Also, there were no miracles done by Jesus in the film at all. Jesus was also never called Christ in the film because Bill O’Reilly arrogantly believes that no one called Jesus “Christ” except after the New Testament was written later. But in the gospel of Matthew (16:16) Peter is quoted calling Jesus “The Christ, Son of the living God.” The woman at the well also is quoted  calling Jesus this (John 11:27),  which O’Reilly completely ignored, or is simply ignorant about. Yet, in the movie Peter is seen saying “You are the anointed one, son of the living God.” So he switched out the words on purpose and misrepresented Scripture.

        The actor who played Jesus was a Muslim and it’s obvious he has no clue about who Jesus really was. He was a very weak Jesus who had no real authority or powers. He was quite reserved. It was if Jesus was simply playing by ear and making things up as he went without knowing what would happen next. It was really annoying. Nothing Jesus did in the films was impressive or would make me want to follow him. It made no sense why anyone would be excited over him.

        I will say that some of the acting was well done and the costumes were pretty good. The head pharisee Caiaphas was pretty good. Except Bill O’Reilly made a wrongful assumption that the pharisees simply were afraid of Roman rule and somehow Jesus would cause the Romans to kill all the Jews. That is the reason, O’Reilly claims, they were so upset about Jesus. Nothing about legalism of the grace of God replacing works. But that is to be expected from a “Roman Catholic.” So it made the pharisee seem less evil than he really was in the Bible. Judas was also portrayed as some sad or cowardly guy who simply made mistakes to where you feel sorry for him. So you feel sad and sorry as any trace of ultimate evil, greed, wretchedness and outright, shameless betrayal, such as the Bible teaches us about Judas Iscariot, is not seen.

        Many of the events portrayed in the film were randomly placed out of historic order, or simply mixed together into one event. Scenes such as a child who is demon possessed who people think died but wakes up. It was a mixing of one of the demonic possession stories with the story of the child who died whom Jesus brought back to life. O’Reilly purposely left out any true miracles Jesus did and avoided them and mixed up stories to hide them. Only one miracle is shown where Peter draws in a ton of fish, yet even that story was not correct and could be interpreted as Jesus not being divine but praying to God for the ability to catch fish. It was quite weak.

        A really weak event was when Jesus clears out the temple marketplace. Which he did not even clear, but just randomly ran into and dumped a table over and yelled some. Then his disciples without understanding anything start yelling at people and pushing people around as well. That never happened, nor would Jesus want them to help. It was completely out of character for O’Reilly’s good natured, happy Jesus who had no commanding power. Oh and he did not even command an evil spirit out of the boy in the above mention. He simply hugs him and somehow the kid wakes up later. Just stupid.

        Another interesting thing about this movie is that they used mainly tan actors. Most looked Arabic or even Indian. Not so much light skinned Jews as we see today. Jesus was played by an Arab actor. It seemed there was a mix of any tan skinned race such as Hispanic-Latino, Indian, Arabic/Middle Eastern, possibly native american and others. Most anglo-looking-actors were the Romans. I think this is fine since it seems more historically accurate that Jesus and most of the Jews in New Testament times would have a darker complexion. I thought this was interesting, but it seemed a little over board and almost looked like Jesus was in South Asia and not the Middle East. I am sure there would be more lighter “olive” complexioned people as well. The actor who played Caiaphas was actually hazel eyed and olive skinned.

        Just everything about the film was completely shallow, boring, uninteresting, falsely represented, and no real political concern was really described or anything truly historic. It was a very annoying film. I only watched it so I could know the stupid things O’Reilly added or the true things he left out so I could tell any person who does not know the Bible the truth, and engage in discussion.

        I will have to say that this movie was 10x better than the outright garbage that is “The Bible” and “The Bible AD” (coming soon) put out by  Roma Downey and Mark Burnett for the History Channel, and their “compassionate high eye-browed hippy Jesus who is simply clueless.” It seems there will never be a well done Bible movie that is true to Scripture.

What You Need To Know About The Philippines If You Plan To Do A Mission

What You Need To Know About The Philippines If You Plan To Do A Mission

*I originally wrote this in 2008 for a class I was taking at Biola University for my Intercultural Studies Degree. I wrote this before I left on my internship. It is a report on the Philippines with various information to show I was prepared before I left to the country for my summer mission trip. Unfortunately I did not get to go in 2008, and instead had to re-plan to go in 2009 which I did and which made me even more prepared to go. I had a great time in the Philippines and was given many opportunities to serve Filipinos for Christ and witness the gospel. I learned a lot about life through this trip and it changed my life. I have updated bits and pieces to be more accurate for today even though I wrote this 7 years ago. This report will help anyone who wants more information about the Philippines or just has a general interest in other countries and experiences. Filipinos who read this will also get an understanding of what an American learned and thinks about their country.   

April 5th, 2008

Report on the Country of the Philippines: Research Before I Go On My Internship

I have planned my internship to be in the country of the Philippines in the capitol city of Manila. I will be working with missionaries in evangelization within the urban poor areas. There are many interesting things about this country that I have found out about before leaving on my internship.

The country of the Philippines is an archipelagic nation in South East Asia. It is below Japan and right above Indonesia. Directly left to it is Vietnam. According to the CIA website “the Philippine archipelago is made up of 7,107 islands; favorably located in relation to many of Southeast Asia’s main water bodies: the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Celebes Sea, and Luzon Strait” (cia.gov).

In ancient times it was a region of different tribes and band societies. This pre-Spanish history of the country is very hard to know. According to Woods (2006), “The written materials about the pre-Spanish Philippines are not only scarce, but also written almost exclusively by outsiders” (p. 15). Nonetheless, we know that the Philippines was in contact with traders and merchants from China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the regions around it. Muslims came up through Malaysia and Indonesia and heavily influenced the southern region of the Islands in the area of Mindanao. To this day there are a lot of Muslims in that region and some are fundamentalists and terrorists. There is an Islamic terrorist organization called Abu Sayyaf. This started out as an organization solely for Islamic rebels, but has since become corrupt within its corruption and is now a front for typical organized crime such as kidnapping to hold people ransom. They especially go after white foreigners because they believe they would have a lot of money and rich relatives that would pay the ransom. They still try to kidnap other Filipinos as well. Colin-Jones G. & Colin-Jones Y. (2006) state that,
“The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), is funded through bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, and extortion, and its successful raid on Dos Palmas, an island off Palawan, has had a bad effect on tourism in the area. Such groups are not driven by ideology, but may rather be regarded as bandits seeking to make a fast buck. The sooner they are destroyed, the better it will be for tourism” (p. 126). I will not be doing my internship in that area so I am going to be safe from this problem.

In the past, Spain had ruled the Philippines for over 350 years. Ever since the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 in the name of Spain, this nation has battled with self identity and oppression by other people groups. The problems with self identity in this country can even be seen by its own name, the Philippines; the name of Prince Philip of Spain (1542). Even today certain groups in the Philippines want to change their countries name to something else. Another issue that made matters more frustrating to the Filipinos was what happened in the Spanish-American War in 1899. The U.S. took advantage of Spain’s colony of the Philippines and attacked its harbor and took it over for their own control. This led to the Philippine-American War that started in 1899 just after the Americans defeated the Spanish to control the Philippines. Filipino rebels led by Emilio Aguinaldo fought against the United States in hope to be free from outside oppressors. This war was one of the most violent and brutal wars in Filipino and American history and lasted for about 2 years when it ended in 1901.

Not all Filipinos opposed the Americans though, as many understood that a lot of money was being put into the country from the USA. After the Americans won the war against the Filipino rebels they began a process of establishing infrastructure. The United States built many highways, roads, schools, hospitals and more. They built Navy bases to be used by American troops as well. Unfortunately this was impeded when the Japanese took over the Philippines in 1942 until 1945 during World War II. During this time the horrific Bataan Death March took place under the notorious General Yamashita, the Tiger of Malaya. Solis (1995) describes it:

The Bataan death March began on April 1, 1942, with more than 60,000 Filipinos and 11,000 Americans who had surrendered. They were forced to hike to San Fernando, 120 kilometers away. From there they were taken by train to Capas, Tarlac and made to walk another 13 kilometers to Camp O’Donnel. The 54,000 who survived the march which was nine days of “phantasmagoria of swirling red dust, sweltering horses and moving men…crawling in the fierce sun” suffered added torture, brutality and neglect in the prison camp. By liberation day, only 4,000 Filipino and American prisoners survived” (p. 63).

As you can see the Philippines is a country that has been through a lot of problems. It still is going through problems. Even after the Americans released the country to govern itself on July 4th of 1946, the Philippines has become very corrupt even though it is a democracy. One of the most notorious corrupt leader’s they had was named Ferdinand Marcos who became a dictator. He was president of the Philippines from 1965-1986. He declared martial law in his second term because he claimed that communist insurgency was a threat (which it was, but he was taking advantage of it). Steinberg (1990), quotes Marcos as saying, “I, as your duly elected President of the Republic, use this power to protect the Republic of the Philippines and our democracy” (p. 118). In reality, Marcos used martial law because he did not want to give up his authority since his term was about to expire. During this time there were a lot of human rights violations, but at the same time the economy was booming high so this excused him to many outsiders, especially the United States. Marcos was using the country for his own personal gain.

Eventually in 1986 there was a coup. After many mass protests with Filipino university students in colleges all over the world, and many in the United States, and other protests, people who were tired of Marcos’ dictatorship took up arms and went against Marcos forces. But there was virtually no bloodshed. Marcos fled the country and President Aquino took over who was a woman. Democracy was put back in place, but still the Philippines would be plagued with corruption in the government. The CIA website on the Philippines explains some of the recent history,

The 20-year rule of Ferdinand MARCOS ended in 1986, when a “people power” movement in Manila (“EDSA 1”) forced him into exile and installed Corazon AQUINO as president. Her presidency was hampered by several coup attempts, which prevented a return to full political stability and economic development. Fidel RAMOS was elected president in 1992 and his administration was marked by greater stability and progress on economic reforms. In 1992, the US closed its last military bases on the islands. Joseph ESTRADA was elected president in 1998, but was succeeded by his vice-president, Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, in January 2001 after ESTRADA’s stormy impeachment trial on corruption charges broke down and another “people power” movement (“EDSA 2”) demanded his resignation. MACAPAGAL-ARROYO was elected to a six-year term as president in May 2004” (cia.gov).

Today the current political climate in the Philippines is still corrupt in its government and even much of the police are corrupt and will take bribes, and put people in situations in order to get bribes. People still vote for things, but there are a lot of shady things going on behind the scenes. Many of the people know this and figure it’s something they can’t get past and just live life knowing corruption will always be there. The Philippines is very friendly to the United States as our country put a lot of effort into their country in the last century. Filipinos also greatly admire Western culture and the country has become very westernized. There were also many American military bases in the country, but in the 1990’s the country voted to kick them out so they no longer exist there. There are mixed feelings about this issue because many Filipinos realized that with the military bases lots of money was coming into their country and was helping out for their benefit. Other people saw it as imperialism still existing, and they still have very nationalistic feelings of being totally independent from outside forces. Interestingly enough Colin-Jones, G., & Colin-Jones Y. (2006) explain,

In general, Filipinos are very welcoming toward foreigners. Some people say that they still have a colonial ‘mentality,’ admiring fair skins and regarding imported goods as superior. There also is the stereotypical belief that all foreigners are very wealthy. For many Filipinos it would be a dream come true if they could go live in the United States” (p. 58).

The military bases were a mixed blessing. With these bases a lot of money did come into the country, but also many people took advantage of the fact that military bases are full of young, lonely men. Many Filipino’s opened up brothels, sex clubs as well as produced a lot of pornography. Since that time, many young helpless Filipina women were taken into sexual slavery and there now exists a large sex trade. There is still a huge prostitution problem in the country and many women are taken advantage of and kidnapped. Many women are traded overseas to places like Hong Kong, Japan, and other places. Many foreigners come to the Philippines to have sex with underage girls and even boys. Women are kidnapped after being scammed. They are told they will have a job working as a waitress or something similar, but in reality they are tricked into prostitution because the women are forced into debt with no way to pay back the owners of the businesses for the price of housing, and their only option is to give sex for money or else harm comes to them.
With this sexual attitude there is also a problem of the production of pornography being distributed around the world made by Filipinos. Filipinos are the main people responsible for much of the sex trafficking and degradation of their society. Foreigners interested in sex are only obliged by Filipinos themselves and the Philippines as a result has become one of the top sex tourist attractions of Asia not much beneath Thailand in popularity. This lifestyle promises easy money which will give lots of wealth. Women in desperate situations become involved in pornography. Many women who are single mothers want a better life for their children and they think the only way to do that is to do porn or become a prostitute. One of the major money making things from pornography has come with the popularity of the internet as there are many internet cafes in the urban areas. Many Filipinas sign up on what seems to be a system of network marketing for webcams. Women pose nude and do sexual acts on webcams for viewers who have paid with credit cards. They become internet prostitutes. This eases up the risk of STD’s since the women have a choice of what goes on and many times are alone on the camera. When I first heard about this I felt heartbroken for these women. These women need answers to life, and that answer is only through Jesus Christ.

My internship has been planned to be within the urban poor areas of the city of Manila. This city is the capitol of the Philippines and is known for their large shopping malls, but even within such a consumer based area, many people are poor and living in shacks. According to Woods (2006),

The hundreds of thousands of people who have moved to Manila to find their fortune, or simply a better way of life, often end up in slum areas around Manila…Most slum dwellers are squatters who lack such essential services as water and electricity. They are forced to drink water either from the government- supplied tap in the market or from polluted water-ways near by. The urban poor are always present in Manila, even in affluent sections; most of them are either unemployed or work as street vendors” (p. 147).

So you can see that there are a lot of problems in this city, even though it is a very glamorous and a famous place.

Most Filipino movies are also made here as well as TV shows and the country has five popular TV networks based in the city. There are also many theater production companies as well as two ballet companies: Ballet Philippines and Philippines Ballet Theater. There are also orchestras. With these attractions it is easy to forget the hundreds of thousands of poor people within the city boundaries. Fortunately, the church I am going with has a contracts set up with whom I will be a part of that will work in evangelization of these people and hand out food, teach Bible stories to kids, and other such things. Hopefully these efforts will make a difference for some people so they will find God.

There are a few major ethnic groups in the Philippines. Filipinos are descendents of Austronesian speaking peoples who migrated from Taiwan down to the Pacific Islands. There are many different groups of people. According to the CIA website the ethnic populations are: ”Tagalog 28.1%, Cebuano 13.1%, Ilocano 9%, Bisaya/Binisaya 7.6%, Hiligaynon, Ilonggo 7.5%, Bikol 6%, Waray 3.4%, other 25.3% (2000 census)” (cia.gov). The wealthiest ethnic group would have to be the Spanish mixed Mestisos. These people have a high degree of Spanish blood and are usually the upper class people. They have a lighter skin complexion that Filipinos favor as well. Then there are the Negritos which are various small tribe societies which are thought to be the original inhabitants of the islands. There are also a small amount of other Asian ethnic groups such as Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Malaysian and others which are minorities. Most Filipinos have Chinese blood in them as well.

The major languages spoken in the Philippines which are listed on the CIA website are the following: “Filipino (official; based on Tagalog) and English (official); eight major dialects – Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinan” (cia.gov). Almost everyone speaks English in the Philippines, especially the educated. People also understand some Spanish because of the Spanish colonial rule had a huge affect on their language as Tagalog uses many Spanish loan words. There are also a significant amount of English loan words with the increase of technology and communication in the world.

Nonverbal language is also used in different ways in the Philippines than it is used in the United States such as their use of smiles. Colin-Jones G., & Colin-Jones Y. (2006) explain, “Filipinos are often regarded as happy, smiling people – but the smile conveys many different feelings, apart from contentment. They smile when they are embarrassed, confused, apologetic, critical, or in disagreement. They want to avoid confrontation, and are concerned about ‘losing face’” (p. 163). So Filipinos will smile if they cannot help you, or don’t understand you so you will not be angry. They also smile if you make a mistake to wait for you to recover. One should not assume the Filipino is laughing at them. They are simply helping you save face.
Eye contact is the same as American use of eye contact in the Philippines, but there are other interesting nonverbal uses of communication. Filipinos say “yes” with their eye brows. When asked a question it is normal for Filipinos to answer “yes” by raising their eye brows up and down one time. Also, Filipinos point with their lips when giving directions. They shape their lips in a “kissing” type of motion and turn their heads in the direction of wherever you want to go or wherever something is you are looking for. A westerner can often become confused by this as eye brow raising and lip pursing is seen as flirtatious in western culture.

With the Tagalog language the basic greeting is “Kamusta?” and that simply means “Hello, how are you?” Filipinos will also say “Hey” like Americans too. Another interesting word is “Hoy!” This word means “Come here!” It is usually said to get a friend’s attention who is far away or to speak to a child. You never say this to an elder or someone in a position of respect. To get a Filipino’s attention you can also say “Ssst!” or “Tssst!” It is not much unlike the American word of “Psst!” to get someone’s attention. With Filipinos, friends always use “tssst” to get each other’s attention. Also, using hand gestures to attract a person over to you would be to move your hand about chin height and wave as if saying goodbye in a downward motion. It is funny because in America this means “goodbye,” but in the Philippines it means “come here” or “over here.” Never use your fingers and curl them upwards to get someone to come over to you. That is seen as very impolite and rude. And do not snap your fingers to get anyone’s attention either. In America these may be common ways to get a person;s attention, but in the Philippines these are things you do to get a cat or dog’s attention, not a human’s. It is really offensive!

Filipinos are very indirect and they seek to save face in every situation. Their culture is a shame based culture and collectivistic in most senses. But the American influence of individualism is clearly coming around. Filipinos will not ask too many questions if it will make them look like they don’t know what they are doing. So knowing this I will have to make sure I tell Filipinos things they need to know so they can do things right if they are helping me in case I wanted a repair done or something. Otherwise they might just guess and break something. This happens a lot to foreigners.

Filipino society is very conservative outwardly and women dress modestly and so do the men. There is a huge influence of western culture that causes men and women to dress “American”, but generally Filipinos dress conservative and most of the time they are wearing t-shirts and shorts, because the weather is so hot and humid. But even with the weather so hot, the higher class Filipinos dress nicely and wear pants and women wear skirts and they wear nice shoes. Most other Filipinos wear sandals called “tsinelas”. But the “very conservative” attitude is changing a lot with the newer generation of young people who want to be more “liberated.”

Rice is the staple food of the Philippines. Without rice, a Filipino cannot live. Rice provides a significant amount of the nutrition they eat each day. Many Filipinos are poor so most of what they have to eat is rice. They eat rice at every meal. Other types of foods Filipinos eat are fish, chicken, and beef, many different kinds of tropical fruits and also vegetables. They even eat the bones of fish and put them in soup as to not waste food because some Filipinos are so poor they cannot always afford to have what Americans would think are “good slices of meat.” Many of the Philippines dishes are influenced by this philosophy or historic reality, yet they have made such “poor dishes” into delicacies truly unique to their country. Most of these foods are sold in the markets. Since the Philippines are many islands surrounded by water there is a big fishing industry.

Filipinos are very hospitable. If someone visits a Filipino’s home, the Filipino will always have some food to give to the guest. The guest has to receive the food no matter what, even if they are not hungry. This is polite. If you are not hungry you can ask for it to take with you to go. This is how Filipinos show their manners and are polite. When you visit a friend’s house in the Philippines make sure you are hungry because every time you go to a house you will be fed. Filipinos enjoy company and they will even ask questions that come off as too personal in American culture such as, “How much money do you make at your job?” when they don’t know you that well. This is not to be taken as rude, but showing a general interest in the people who they are talking with.

The national religion of the Philippines is Catholicism making the country the first and only “Christian influenced” nation in Asia. Almost every Filipino claims to be Catholic even if they don’t go to church. There are other religions such as Animism which is practiced more by the indigenous, rural tribal societies who have original religions that predate the Spanish. After Spanish rule witchcraft was also adopted into their superstitions. Shamanism, and sorcery have always been a part of their societies and Western witchcraft ideas and superstitions also became a part of it. With these religions there are a few Millenarian groups that mix indigenous beliefs with Roman Catholicism. In the south in the region of Mindanao there is a small Muslim concentration and the group Abu Sayyaf. The terrorist organization for Islamic Fundamentalism is active there. There are a small amount of Buddhists as well. Various Christian denominations have also arrived in the Philippines because of American rule and allowance of missionaries to arrive. Along with genuine Christian missionaries various cults such as Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others have also arrived. This is unfortunate, and another religion based off of these cults that has gained popularity in the Philippines is Iglesia Ni Kristo, which was founded by Felix Y. Manalo, a Filipino who used religion for his gain. The INC could be considered the Filipino version of Mormonism. It is a cult.

With all of these religions there is still Protestantism in the country. Woods (2006), says that

President McKinley’s [(The American president during and after the Philippine-American War)] decision to keep the Philippines included a religious component, the need to evangelize and convert the local population. He gained support for his decision from major denominations in the United States because they saw the Philippines as a new mission field where they would have the freedom to do missionary work. The rejection of Catholicism by many Filipinos because of the abuses of the church made them open to embracing a new religion” (pp. 124-125).

Unfortunately this turned into the spread of the social gospel which focused more on changes of the institution instead of changes in individuals’ lives. Today most evangelical Christians are Pentecostal. This probably has to do with their superstitious nature and emotional culture which leads them to seek after the supernatural experiences that Pentecostals practice. There are still a small amount of other evangelical denominations. Christianity in the country is viewed in a positive light since the majority of Filipinos are Catholic. They are open to talk about Jesus Christ, but there is still some strong opposition against Protestantism and what they call “born again Christianity” which they label to anyone who is not a Catholic. This included mainliners and baptists as well as mistakenly applied to cults.

When I stay in the Philippines the climate is going to be very hot and humid. I will arrive in Manila and catch another flight to Bacolod and Boracay later and then go back to Manila before leaving to the USA. There are about 240 airports in the country, but they are mostly small. The main one is in Manila where I will arrive. The CIA website lists the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Liman, Manila, Nasipit Harbor having ports and terminals (cia.gov). The U.S. Embassy is in Manila as well. Knowing all of the information in my research I can better be effective as an agent to serve Christ with the small Fil-Am church in Southern California I am going with.

References

(2008) CIA – The World Factbook – Philippines. Retrieved April 5th, 2008, from the CIA Web site: http://www.cia.gov

Colin-Jones, G., Colin-Jones, & Y. (2006). Culture Smart! Philippines. New York, New York: Random House.

Steinberg, D. (1990). The Philippines a Singular and a Plural Place. San Francisco, California and Oxford: Westview Press.

Solis, M. (1995). Pilipinas A to Z. Salinas, California: Srmnk Publishers.

Woods, D. (2006). The Philippines: A Global Studies Handbook. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc.

 

Friends Flee But Christ Remains

Friends Flee But Christ Remains

        For various reasons many Christians lose friends whether they be secular friends or typical church-people friends. Because of sin in the world true brotherhood is very rarely played out. Deep in the soul of individuals we long for it but often times never get it. We are left alone. Friends don’t act like friends and don’t care about personal struggles and they really are not genuinely truthfully friends, but just tolerate you or are simply acquaintances. I was reading more of the book Strengthen My Spirit by Charles Spurgeon today, the sermon titled “Never Forsaken” speaks to me (p. 10).

“And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.”   Psalm 9:10 (KJV)

A lot of times it is so hard to put my faith and trust in God because I am a weak sinner and I give into depression and evil thoughts. So much pain and anguish from the past comes back and there is no one to help. I often feel like I want to cease to exist, life is hard, I would rather die and go to heaven. Bad thoughts creep in and doubting because of Satan’s worldly lies. But Spurgeon exclaims,

How sweet it is to learn the Savior’s love when nobody else loves us! When friends flee, what a blessed thing it is to see that the Savior does not forsake us but still keeps us and holds us fast and clings to us and will not let us go! Oh, beloved brother and sister, believe that your remaining here on earth is for your eternal benefit.”  (p. 10)

It is very tough sometimes to let go of the feelings and fully trust and put faith in God during certain times. But the dark times usually pass and then I am back on track. I am always a continual work in progress. Friends in this world whether they be Christians or not are not the point of life. Though Christian friends who are helpful and love you are beneficial and used by God for your spiritual health. But the dark times in the world make genuine Christian friends more scarce and even the Christian ones fail miserably. Everyone fails including me. A person needs to hold on and live life through the pain and endure until God’s timing to call you home. Suicide or hoping to die will not benefit Christ as much as suffering and embracing it.

Unimportant, Unknown Christian More Glorious To God Than Famous Academic Or Person In Power

Unimportant, Unknown Christian More Glorious To God Than Famous Academic Or Person In Power

        So many people in Christian culture today seek approval of men and affirmation. They want to be considered an important person in Christian thought or academics or current theological trends. This is my opinion, and I believe it to be true that this issue has caused many false teachers and/or weak teachers who are regressing the faith of the Church. Whoever comes up with a new idea or a new concept is boosted to the highest seat of authority within popular church by the evangelical consensus. I have met people who’s entire sole purpose seems to be the approval of other Christians, to have them think of them as very intelligent and academic people. To be considered men of a wealth of knowledge we should listen to. They seek and find those who are impressed and will bow to their “wisdom” and seek more. If one thinks of them as not very knowledgeable or somewhat immature or new, or that they are trying too hard to impress and gain accolades they will ditch them and seek those weaker minded people out who will gently brush their egos. They may or may not understand they have a smug arrogance, or selfish desire to receive praise. Some are simply immature and delusional people, and some simply know what they want and seek it out. Either way both of these types end up with the same result. Often times they become liberal and speak whatever gives them praises and bow to heresies, or they turn off genuine humble Christians and relationships are destroyed. I believe a high degree of seminary students fit this label. I find them pretentious and annoying.

        I was reading “Strengthen My Spirit” which is a book that compiles lightly edited portions of sermons by C.H. Spurgeon. Page 12 is titles “Enduring Trials for God’s Glory” and mentions 1 Peter 1:6-7,

“Now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that our faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (NIV)

Many Christians who are lowly, unknown, and humble or suffering people going through very trials whether it be physical, mental, or spiritual give God glory more so than the typical popular Christian leader. Or those considered important academics by the evangelical consensus. Often these new seminary students are seeking accolades to become the next John Piper or Al Mohler, or whatever name you want to throw out there. Or at least be on equal terms with these “men of distinction.”

        This behavior can make individual Christians feel inferior or less spiritual. Being around such young Christian guys who are talking theology and talking about whatever books they just read or who will explain a theological point at the drop of a hat can often reek of arrogance or a prideful attitude. As long as you listen to them and think they are future important evangelical superstars they will be your friend. But once you start showing you are unconcerned with their opinion or even feel the need to correct a false biblical idea, or some bad life choices they will slowly become less fond of you until they move on in life and reject you. Do not let such immature boys who want to be big strong theological giants because they seek approval harm your faith. These people are seriously immature and have low self esteem and try to build themselves up by doing what they can to show off, pretend to be independent thinkers who don’t need your input, seek accolades and affirmation up until they feel they surpass the need for your individual praise (because you stopped praising them). If they do this to you just move on and just keep being humble and try to grow your faith. The point of life is God’s grace and approval by Him because of His work to give God the glory. A humble and unknown Christian life is better than one full of nice treatment and a comfy professor job at whatever Christian university or seminary.

        Spurgeon expresses,

“I think that in my own soul that a believer in a prison reflects more glory on his Master than a believer in paradise, that a child of God in the burning, fiery furnace, whose hair is yet unscorched and upon whom the smell of the fire has not passed, displays more the glory of the Godhead than even he who stands with a crown upon his head, perpetually singing praises before the Father’s throne.”

It brings more glory to God to be suffering on earth in trials and be lowly than it does if you were in heaven singing before God praises. Part of why you are here on earth according to Spurgeon seems to express we must suffer and be lowly and give God glory on earth until the full measure of glory is received by God before you need to go to Heaven. I believe it also to be true that a lowly, unknown, unimpressive person who is a Christian gives God more glory than those seeking approval of academics who want to be popular authors, speakers, pastors, professors, and more. If one becomes such a popular teacher hopefully they are true to God’s Word and have come there because of God’s direction and calling out of “nothing” and not simply a selfish desire who works hard in order to get what they want, which is to say they want certifications, ranks, accolades, accommodations, affirmation, and other things that puff up pride and self righteousness. Some cases these types become the new pharisees of our day within the bounds of accepted theology. They can work theology or the bible to approve them.

* Note, I am not saying there should not be any popular Christian leaders. There are, and there should be, as long as they are true to God’s word and received their positions because they are full of Christ’s humility and honestly called from nothing to be int hat position, and do not give in to be approved by popular ideas not found in the Bible. Many leaders and historic preachers are only known or popular because of this. Whereas many also are self promoted and popularized by the world. 

God Bless The New Year 2015

God Bless The New Year 2015

        May God bless your new year and may you make it a year that honors God in your life. It is always going to be hard and the years we go through always seem long but persevere and allow God to pick you back up every time you fall. Have a great New Year 2015 to all the readers of Ehud’s 18 Inch Dagger!

Thoughts On The Hagakure – Samurai Wisdom

Thoughts On The Hagakure – Samurai Wisdom

        There is a book called Hagakure written in the 1700’s by an ex-samurai turned Buddhist monk. Hagakure is a word that gives the meaning of “in the shadow of falling leaves” which implies various hidden words spoken in passing. It is a book of sayings collected by a younger samurai who was a scribe. He met with Yamamoto Tsunetomo over a period of 7 years collecting things he spoke out loud to him. Most of these thoughts are random and in no particular order. There is over 1,300 passages in the book. A modern translation of 300 of his most relevant sayings was written by William Scott Wilson titled Hagakure – The Book of the Samurai. It is a very interesting historical read for cultural insight on Japanese history and possibly the mindset that Japanese society has developed from. Of course every culture changes over time, but there are always historic roots that are the foundation of current ways of thinking. In my opinion Yamamoto Tsunetomo mostly has illogical things (because he was a Zen monk and it is a very illogical and irrational religion), irrational things he admits are irrational yet claims this is proper, as well as contradictions. One instance he claims many arts are bad to study at one time and being adequate at many of them is for vulgar men and another instance he says is it bad for a samurai to be a master of one art and focused on one and become a fool. I should also mention he gives random instructions on how to behave properly as a homosexual samurai and how to take on a gay relationship with another samurai “the right way.” He was not gay himself though. But there is no way to know if he had tendencies if he was given the chance, all though much talk about women and proper behavior of wives is mentioned in his sayings as well.

Depiction of monk Yamamoto Tsunetomo

        Most of what he says has to do with the samurai’s duty and expectations. Therefore, it does not apply to me or anyone who is not a Japanese living in the 1700’s or a samurai. Most of what people get out of this book, or think this book is all about is honor and dying with honor and loyalty etc. But there are many other topics mentioned. Even so, there are some wise things mentioned that go hand in hand with proper morality that would also agree with the Bible’s teachings on some topics.

        As I was reading the book today, which I read purely for historical and cultural reasons (because I enjoy warrior history as I am a martial arts fanatic), a certain passage stood out to me.

When I was young, I kept a “Dairy of regret” and tried to record my mistakes day by day, but there was never a day when I didn’t have twenty or thirty entries. As there was no end to it, I gave up. Even today, when I think about the day’s affairs after going to bed, there is never a day when I do not make some blunder in speaking or in some activity. Living without mistakes is truly impossible. But this is something that people who live by cleverness have no inclination to think about.” (Wilson, p. 56)

It is interesting to hear a 18th century samurai give his thoughts on the fact we all make mistakes. Samurai culture was based on Bushido the warrior code that samurai followed. It was strict and many things were expected of a samurai to follow. The way of the samurai was like a law and based on personal will to do what is correct (according to The Way, not necessarily what is truly correct and holy as God commands). Even such a good samurai as Tsunetomo had to admit he made over 30 mistakes or more a day. He admits no one is perfect. Even the bible states this when it says “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The problem is there is no justification in Bushido except works and following the code. Punishments could include death which was expected to occur by suicide. It was a samurai’s duty to die for his master:

Concerning martial valor, merit lies more in dying for one’s master than in striking down the enemy.”

Samurai crest

 

        Bushido is backwards to Christianity. Where a samurai who is a soldier for his feudal lord (daimyo) is expected to die for his master, in Christianity the one true master of the universe instead dies for his soldiers (Christians). All Christians are spiritual warriors for God (2 Corinthians 10:4). Instead of working, proving ourselves, trying to make right our wrongs, collecting our sins in a book for records and realizing its impossible to keep up, and committing suicide for our master, God instead sent His only Son to die in our place (John 3:16). God did this to redeem us. God does not pile our sins up and keep a record. Psalm 103:12 states, “He has removed our sins from us as far as the east is to the west.” That means infinite distance as in completely disappeared and never remembered to be held against us. Only those who do not repent and keep pride such as “the clever person” mentioned by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, who has no inclination to think of his own sinfulness. Truthfully the person who relies on his own cleverness or human wisdom and arrogance will never be inclined to think of his own sinfulness and repent to God for his salvation.

        Now concerning the enemy and valor, God fights for us and is a warrior (Exodus 15:3, Zepheniah 3:17, Isaiah 42:13) who crushes the head of our enemy for us (Genesis 3:15, revelation 16:20). All we do is use our spiritual weapons as God commands to further His purpose. But in the end God fights our battles and is our strength. In Bushido, the man is his own warrior and is his own strength who dies for a human master whom be puts before all gods and family. It is idolatry and nonsense to put another fallible human being above oneself and dedicate your life including your death for him assuming this will free your mind and existence into the next realm. If Yamamoto Tsunetomo belives everyone makes mistakes, then his daimyo makes mistakes so why put fourth all effort to serve another fallible human and becoming nothing before him?

18th century photograph of real samurai

        Despite the fact Hagakure is based on pagan ideas from eastern religions it is an interesting read and when compared to the christian worldview it gives the Christian an interesting perspective on the warrior culture of Japan as well as Japanese thought, and concepts from Zen Buddhism and Taosim. This is helpful when witnessing to Japanese people and understanding man’s ideas from the past in eastern cultures that are the foundation of current thought within their cultures.

Ehud’s 18 Inch Dagger Is 5 Years Old!

Ehud’s 18 Inch Dagger Is 5 Years Old!

        Can you believe that 5 years ago today I started this blog? It has gotten a fair amount of hits every since and a regular group of readers. I am so thankful for all of you and appreciate the time spent reading my thoughts on theology, culture, and society. I appreciate the people who have taken time to write comments on various posts and create a lively atmosphere! I hope more people come and all of you followers of this blog will spread the word about this place by sending the link all over your social media accounts!

        Ehud’s 18 Inch Dagger is a place for Christians, by a simple Christian dude who has a few things to say. Thank you so much! Stick your daggers of truth into the torso of evil and false beliefs and promote what is true!