Monday, November 24, 2014

Does A Poetic Phrase Negate the Work of Jesus on the Cross?

This evening I heard a Christian minister proclaim on the radio that in the Garden of Eden, Satan’s attacked on Eve went “to her need for security, significance and strength.” Evidently it is part of the basis for his book and the phrase rolls off the tongue and who doesn’t have a need for security, significance and strength.


Do you resonate with the statement and agree with him?


In that statement in question the speaker claims that Eve was felt insecure, insignificant and threatened in some manner by the created order around her. When she yielded to the temptation Eve was seeking to satisfy those needs, those deficiencies in her nature that were designed into her by God.


The implication of the speaker’s theology is that the crux of Eve’s decision was much more than a moment of decision, to obey or disobey God. At that moment Satan is attacking those deficiencies, those flaws God designed into her, or could not remove from the design. In other words, Eve had designed into her some elements of a poor self-esteem.  The speaker by saying that humanity and the created order was not perfect, but flawed. He thereby stands against how the church has understood Eve, Adam and the initial basis of disobedience.


This position has implication for how the Garden of Gethsemane is then to be understood and salvation of humanity.


It means that in Gethsemane what transpired there was more than Jesus, a perfect human being, wrestling with a decision to obey or not obey God the Father. The church has held for two millennia that just like Eve and Adam Jesus too was truly human and perfect. The church has maintained that Jesus as the perfect man was faced with the temptation and a decision to obey or disobey, but that unlike Adam and Eve who disobeyed, Jesus obeyed knowing full well what was ahead. The church argues that Jesus as the perfect obedient human going to the cross therefore saved humanity, from the consequences of the Fall. But if Adam and Eve were not perfect humans, the basis of salvation and message of hope is unraveled.


Therefore the speaker’s statement about Eve means:

  • That both Eve and Adam were defective by design, and as they were defective, the created order was not perfect.
  • That Adam and Eve fell because they were not perfect. They were bound to sin because they were not perfect.
  • That Jesus was perfect, unlike Adam and Eve.
  • That Jesus did not sin because unlike Eve and Adam he was perfect.
  • That Jesus was not like Adam and Eve, he was “human plus” and that this extra element helped Jesus not to sin. An argument then could be made that Jesus could not have truly yielded and if that were true he was not truly tempted.
  • That if a “human plus” Jesus saved humanity, then the church’s theological argument of the last two millennium that only a perfect obedient human, the man Jesus could truly redeemed humanity for like Adam and Eve, Jesus was perfect human in every way. Like them Jesus was truly tempted and could have disobeyed, but he did not sin for he obeyed God. The church has maintained since its founding that if Jesus was not like Adam and Eve, that if he was a human plus and if Jesus did not face the same temptation and could not have truly disobeyed then humanity was not saved.   


Clergy, regardless of the denomination, must be cautious in crafting nice sounding statements for a book or a sermon so that poetic beauty doesn't undermine church dogma. This is particularly true regarding Adam and Eve, for how they are handled could readily result in impacting the work and nature of Jesus and even negating the basis of salvation through Jesus.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ebola, AIDS and False Prophets

On the evening of November 14th I heard a radio personality, state the following,


“I just read that another medical doctor is being flown to Nebraska to be treated for Ebola. Why are all these medical personnel coming down with this thing if it is so hard to contract as the government tells us. You have to be intimate to contract this thing, so we’re being told. Why don’t doctors and nurses come down from AIDS? When did you last hear of medical personnel coming down with AIDS while treating a person with AIDS? Don’t you think that doctors and nurses know how to protect themselves? So if they are catching Ebola, what does that say about the decease and what we are being told? I don’t know. Just asking, that’s all!”


Before I left the show, while he did not explicitly say it, he implied that Ebola is a highly contagious airborne virus that being in the proximity of someone with Ebola was sufficient to infect those around the person with Ebola. I was stunned. Had he really read up on the decease and transmission issues from knowledgeable experts? If he were to claim that he has read about the decease then the readings he has accepted as being informed and valid are those produced by either the uniformed speculators or by those who twist reality for political reason. As many “social and political” commentators are more entertainers than anything else, I wondered that night, if he had shut down his critical thinking capacity for provocative tabloid like entertainment?


Since, what happens if I accept at face value his claim to be a critical thinker searching for truth regardless of where that truth rests. If I did that I find myself concluding that regardless of his posturing and pontificating that he is willing to set aside facts for pandering and ratings purposes, thereby pushing hot button issues while playing upon the ignorance and fears of his listeners. Masking his language in seeking truth and informing his listeners, would he not be the modern version of the traveling tonic salesman of yesteryear? Just asking and wondering!


I’m enraged by his implication that we are being told Ebola is primarily a sexually transmitted decease and that the government is lying to the public when it is an airborne virus that is easily caught by being in the proximity of a person with Ebola. I’ve never heard or read from an informed source that like HIV Ebola is a decease primarily caught through sexual activity. Yes, Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids, and during sexual activity bodily fluids are involved, but that does not equate to Ebola being a decease that is primarily transmitted by sexual activity.  Can a severe flu be caught during sexually activity? Yet is can, but when was the last time you were driven to sexual activity when you had a high fever, experiencing chills and sweats, experiencing diarrhea, body aches and severely vomiting?  If you have, then you must have one of the strongest libidos in your community. Add into the mixture that  Ebola it zaps them of energy. While theoretically a person with Ebola could have sex, functionally it is highly unlikely.


This radio entertainer is about my age, and as such he was in his early adult years when AIDS emerged as a disease that entered our collected consciousness. Back then there was much misinformation and fear about those infected with the HIV virus. There were people who feared that being in the same room with a person with HIV let alone touching the person put them at high risk of becoming infected with the virus. Unfortunately rather than helping to inform the public, some political, religious and media leaders in the 1980s who had a megaphone used their megaphone to play upon the fears of the public and advance their personal and/or political agenda. Today it is evident that the pandering, prejudices and misinformation of these alarmist false prophets of yesteryear made it difficult for both medical community and informed civic leaders to educate the general public about AIDS and HIV how it was and was not transmitted. Today most of us are exposed several times a year to people who are HIV positive without any of us becoming infected. Since the 1980s we have become more balanced in our views and any shrill of a comment brings more discuss than a following.

Today we have a fresh crop of false prophets and uniformed alarmists. Included in that group I would include civic leaders who during an election cycle used Ebola to score points and enflame fears to help secure more votes for themselves. Do you wonder like me why so many of our elected leaders who spoke frequently about do this and than to shield America from Ebola, and who spoke of it as something that is going to devastate America have said nothing in the last two weeks. The election and their silence speaks volumes. And if they do such things on this issue, then how can I ever trust them on other issues?  


The gentleman I heard the other night with his megaphone into several hundreds of thousands of ears is not helping. Is he not akin to the false prophets of the prior years who make matters worse?


Medical personnel are the greatest at risk because they are the ones who are exposed to the sweat, vomit, diarrhea and the other bodily fluids flowing out of the Ebola infected patient. It is those fluids that transmit Ebola. It is those fluids that are covering their protective garments, garments which have to be carefully put on, removed and disposed least the skin of the medical worker becomes exposed to bodily fluid of an Ebola patient and thereby infect the caregiver.


Why are so many in the three African nations in question coming down with Ebola? Simply put, there issues there are cultural and economic issues at work against them, issues that the average westerner has difficulty grasping … a extremely poorly staffed and equipped health care system, a rudimentary sanitary system and absolute squalor, and a cultural that puts high importance upon the family caring for a person who is ill and when the family member passes away, prepare body for burial.  Many of those who are becoming infected with Ebola are family members and neighbors who without even the most basic protection have cared day after day for the infected person and prepared the body for burial.    


The radio personality in question is either clearly ignorant regarding medical personnel coming down with infectious illnesses, including illnesses such as hepatitis and HIV, or he is informed and ignoring that information. While rare medical personnel do contract such deceases from treating those with infectious deceases. Fortunately over decades protocols have been developed and followed that greatly minimize their risk. Why do think doctors and nurses in your local office always wear disposable gloves when their predecessors of forty years ago rare did so? Still each year medical personnel do become infected, we just hear about it on the nightly news. A stray needle accidently pricking a medical staff does occur, or some error in protocol does lead to a medical person being effect. The son of one of my former professors who is a medical doctor contracted hepatitis when he nicked his finger while doing surgery on a person with hepatitis.  Fortunately when these exposures occur they are caught early.


When my baser and ungodly fears seek to take hold and drive me, I need to remind myself to take a deep breath, recall what I know and educate myself further from reliable sources, and resist chasing ghosts and bogymen.  Further, I need to reject politicians, commentators, religious and other leaders who play upon our ignorance and fears, and express that rejection to them.