There is a reason I steer clear of Internet content. I end up writing blog posts in an effort to elucidate what is really true.
This morning, I thought I might visit CNN to catch up on current events. Aside from seeing that everyone is clearly pissed off about the ObamaCare website not working and, oh yeah, the Jonas Brothers are breaking up, a title caught my eye.
“Creationists Taunt Atheists in Latest Billboard War”
I sighed loudly. My interest was piqued. How bad could it be, I wondered. Oh, it’s bad.
A new video billboard in New York’s Times Square has a message from creationists, “To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you’re wrong.”
The video advertisement at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan is one of several billboards going up this week in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, paid for by Answers in Genesis.
Answers in Genesis is best known as the multimillion-dollar Christian ministry behind the Creation Museum outside Cincinnati.
The museum presents the case for Young Earth creationism, following what it says is a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis, which says the Earth was created by God in six days less than 10,000 years ago.
Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, said the idea for the advertisements came from an atheist billboard in Times Square at Christmas.
During the holidays, the American Atheists put up a billboard with images of Santa Claus and Jesus that read: “Keep the Merry, dump the myth.”
“The Bible says to contend for the faith,” Ham said. “We thought we should come up with something that would make a statement in the culture, a bold statement, and direct them to our website.
“We’re not against them personally. We’re not trying to attack them personally, but we do believe they’re wrong,” he said. (CNN.com)
I noticed that I was grinding my back molars. Oh, these guys! The people who believe science and faith are mutually exclusive. Wow, I’m not an atheist, but between this “Christian ministry” and Westboro Baptist Church I sure feel motivated to renounce something! Please allow me to shed some light on something for you on this beautiful Halloween morning…
The verse that this group is using to justify their blatantly UNChristian behavior is found in the first and only chapter of Jude. Jude is the smallest book in the New Testament and in the entire Bible. The verse in its entirety reads like this: Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. [But] I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to contend for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints [the faith which is that sum of Christian belief which was delivered verbally to the holy people of God]. Who is Jude talking to? Jude is most likely writing this letter to one of the Gentile churches around Ephesus, and the entire letter is a warning to remain watchful for false teachers. One of the prevailing warnings in this text was to defend the Gospel against the particular false teaching that Jesus was not going to return. The First Jewish-Roman War occurred around 67 CE, and Christians believed that Jesus would return around this time. War means death and suffering. Christians were very hopeful that their tribulations meant the Second Coming was at hand. When He did not return, certain teachers began proclaiming that the Gospel was false.
Bad behavior of all sorts pertaining to these false teachers is also discussed. This is appropriate to the times. Keep in mind, Jude is living in the first century under Roman rule. Both Caligula and Nero ruled the Roman empire during the first century; both men are infamous for their very bad behavior within government and the culture. Jude’s descriptions of sensuality would have not been unusual for this time period. In the end, Jude is vehemently telling the Christians in Asia Minor to steer clear of apostasy and keep false teachers out of their church. They are to focus on what was taught to them orally which was the Gospel of Jesus.
There is irony here. The very book of the Bible from which Answers in Genesis (AIG), this Christian ministry, is drawing their Biblical evidence to justify their behavior makes them culpable. Jude wasn’t telling his audience to defend their faith against pagans and unbelievers. He was warning them against those who looked like Christians but were not!
Every time a person professing to be a Christian wonders what they are to do in any given situation, they need to look at Jesus. What did he do? Well, what did he say in the Sermon on The Mount?
3 Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!
4 Blessed and enviably happy [with a happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace] are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted!
5 Blessed (happy, blithesome, joyous, spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the meek (the mild, patient, long-suffering), for they shall inherit the earth!
6 Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied!
7 Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy!
8 Blessed (happy, enviably fortunate, and spiritually prosperous—possessing the happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His grace, regardless of their outward conditions) are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!
9 Blessed (enjoying enviable happiness, spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they shall be called the sons of God!
10 Blessed and happy and enviably fortunate and spiritually prosperous (in the state in which the born-again child of God enjoys and finds satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of his outward conditions) are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake (for being and doing right), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!–Matthew 5
And, if you’re really not sure, then just remember this: Love your neighbor as yourself.–Mark 12
I’m pretty sure that 1 Corinthians 13 specifically says NOT to taunt, but just in case it still feels okay to taunt, embarrass, shame, or humiliate a group of people that you don’t like, read this:
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,–Matthew 5:44
The bottom line is this: What this “ministry” is doing is wrong. It is not in any way Christ-like. They are not attempting to show love or compassion. They are trying to shame and embarrass another group of people into some kind of compliance. Frankly, it’s evil. This behavior only reinforces the opinions, resentments, and possible hatred of other groups in our culture. The entire display is inflammatory. Brennan Manning was right when he said,
It is sad the way AIG actually ignores the first two verses of the Bible. http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/in-the-beginning/
Yes, it is. That is often the case with literalists. I’m not sure how to say this without sounding elitist, but that’s not my heart here. We can’t disengage our brains from our faith. We have brains. We must use them. It’s important. It’s even better when integrate our brains, our hearts, and our spirits. That’s when it gets REALLY fun…Thanks for commenting, Michael.