Tag Archives: Gospel

“Human Fascination With Evil”

I recently picked up a book that looked interesting at a local thrift store. The book is titled “ANTICHRIST: TWO THOUSAND YEARS OF HUMAN FASCINATION WITH EVIL” written by Bernard McGinn. This might be the one of the best texts I have read that explains the various understandings of the devil, demons, antichrist, evil, and wickedness that I have ever read. McGinn writes in a textbook manner and offers so much historical data to consider and review. It’s safe to say I was shocked at how much I enjoyed this book I bought for less than $3 at the thrift store.

I have been working steadily on Wicked. (which is expected to be released at the end of May 2017). As I come to chapters in regards to these wicked things (Satan, evil, demons, etc) I have been reviewing some books I own on the topics. I was not expecting such a fascinating book as ANTICHRIST. Now, I want to say something about fascination and the topic of evil. Unfortunately our “total depravity” (to borrow a doctrinal term from reformer John Calvin) shows all to often when we are so quick to jump into topics about wicked things, and offer up our opinions and thoughts (leaning upon our own misunderstandings and offering more confusion to the mix). And boy oh boy are we quick to do so.

Last week I post a status on my Facebook page and it brought over 87 mostly aggressive comments within 2 hours. Yikes! Arguments went on and on. Some almost calling each other Satan and evil things. Wickedness ran rampant.

I’d like to say that my fascination with the topic is a bit different and prayerfully I will detail that as I share some of the points from ANTICHRIST with you in this blog. Ultimately of course, I would encourage you to keep an eye out for my upcoming book, Wicked. My fascination is more from the standpoint of a student of Scripture and a follower of Jesus Christ. I desire to know the depths of what the Scriptures are revealing. In doing so, I often times bump heads with the Establishment (the traditional Fundamentalist crowd within the Church). An honest study through history show this. Reading and studying through the chaos revealed through Church history on the topic is outrageous, especially detailed so fully in Bernard McGinn. This is or should be a textbook on the topic.

“…I write in the conviction that the Antichrist has already come – That is, the most important message of the Antichrist legend in Western history is what it has to tell us about our past, and perhaps our present attitudes toward evil”. – McGinn 

McGinn begins by detailing Isaac Newton’s distaste for those who were always searching for the Antichrist, as well as explaining that much of what people believe today as wickedness show influence of 2nd Temple Judaism/ Hellenism (ultimately confusion that ran rampant among national Israel (God’s vessel up until the time of Christ) from the 3rd century BC to AD 70. “Ultimately that and more led to the coming of the Lord in that generation”. I surely could appreciate even though we may disagree on many specifics – end times taken “seriously but not literally”.

There is so much that can be said about how McGinn shared all these details on the Antichrist. I loved the format of the book! McGinn highlighted the views that were noted (the resources he looked into could be compiled as an encyclopedia) throughout various points of history (which I will share near the end of this blog). Also, McGinn really piqued my interest in reading quite a few resources:

  • 2nd Temple literature/ Apocalypses, Enoch, etc)
  • The Maccabees and some highlights in Hellenism (1 Macc: 1:11-16; 2 Macc 4:7-18)
  • Sibylline Oracles and the Book of Jubilees

In talking about the ancient world McGinn rightly noted the importances of myths:
“Myths serve as archetypal narratives that exercise a special part of the human imagination” to which I would challenge with a proper understanding of the “prophetic imagination” as seemingly understood by the early Hebrews. McGinn notes, “Myth explains, not in an intellectual way by giving an argument, but rather by presenting an accounts of origin or essential structure that mediates meaning to the present”. Essentially myths were natural man’s way of “making sense of reality”.

McGinn really helps provide for an appreciate in regards to history. The style in which he writes captures what he refers to  as the “Matrix of Early Christianity” –
– Positive memories of Israel’s great kings
– Remembrance of oppressors and fear of worst in future
– The Messiah as an apocalyptic hope

The best way I can show you some of the great details McGinn brought forth is to use his historical outline/ sections and share my notes.

300 BC – AD 50 : A time marked by Jewish apocalyptic visions, 2nd Temple period, and the Qumran community.  A time filled with blasphemy against the One True God, persecution of His Faithful, and false religious leadership (hypocrites). We also see how these historic times mark out the internal conflict between good and evil, or what we might call the “psychological dualism of the struggle of the spirits of good and evil within the human heart”.

AD 50 – 100: A time of the 2nd Adam and His opposite. McGinn highlights that “After the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in AD 70, both Jews and Christians had to face a new religious situation, one that profoundly affected their respective beliefs and the increasing divergent roads these religious traditions would take”.

The teachings of Jesus Christ surely took precedent during this time. In literature and preaching we read of the “Man of Sin”, “the Beast”, Satan/ devil, the evil trinity, and the abomination of desolation. I love the following quote from Gerhard Eberling because it demonstrates that the Christian hope is based upon a reorienting all that was being hoped for through the lens of Jesus:

“What stands at the beginning of Christian theology is the apocalyptic modified by faith in Jesus”. 

AD 100 – 500: Throughout this time period we see the Antichrist develop as Christianity itself is developing. We read of “provocative new twists” from Church Fathers through this time of “persecution, heresy, and self-deceit”. Unfortunately, confusion runs rampant during this time. Surely applying the “end times” and the “Deceiver of the world” to a time past the events of the Roman-Jewish war is a misplace concept and bred much confusion in the Church. Some writings that stand out from this period which I seek to read and review in the near future are:

– The Apocalypse of Peter
– The Apocalypse of Elijah – which has been said to be “one of the most complete, but also obscure accounts of the Antichrist in patristic literature”.
– The writings of Hippolytus, presbyter in Rome from AD 200-235A
– The Catechetical Lectures by Cyril (AD 315-386) – these were instructions given to converts as the Roman world became increasingly Christian.

Prior to the Middle Ages it could be said, “….in the West at least, the apocalyptic theology advanced by Augustine and Tyconius emphasized a moral and internal reading of the Antichrist symbolism…”

AD 500 – 1100: The Middle Ages were characterized by various and different enemies being labeled “antichrist” by the Church. The confusion continued into what I would refer to as “scattered thoughts lacking consistency and context”. For example, a monk named Adso wrote some apocalyptic thoughts in which he detailed a 40 day period (or completeness) wherein the Elect would not be temped by the Antichrist due to offer up penance (“…the Lord will grand the Elect 40 days to do penance because they were led astray by the Antichrist”).  During this time we see the rise of the “Irish Antichrist tradition” (a writing that stands out is “The 15 Signs Before Doomsday”). Also, Islam saw a rise during this time, and the development of the Dajjal (Antichrist) which resulted from the Hadiths.

AD 1100-1200: In this period of time we saw the effects of the Great Schism in the Church between the East and the West. The formation of the Ordinary Gloss which is “a great Biblical textbook created in the nascent universities of the 1200’s”, which served as commentary during that time and further. We also read of the Moralized Bibles, or “medieval picture Bibles”  published during this period which largely included imagery of the Antichrist in different perspectives. This period of time provided interest in reading through the works of Honorious, namely his commentary on the Song of Songs.

AD 1200 – 1335: A time of Church issues and Papal name calling.

AD 1335 – 1500: Surely this period of time was seen as the eve of the Reformation. The term “Antichrist” during this time surely came to be a “symbolic representation of ultimate human evil”. We see the late medieval pessimism during this time with calculations of the coming Antichrist in almost every year (prophesies of 1346, 1347, 1348, 1360, 1365, 1375, 1387, 1396, 1400, 1418, —> and these are just some of the dates listed up until 1450 (that surely should cause us to pause and reconsider dating details that are so often abused in regards to Bible prophecy).

The rise of reformers during this time period is very evident and mark out some of the contemporary mindsets as well. John Wycliffe (1337) labeled the Papacy as Antichrist and John Huss (1372-1415) was apparently killed for referring to the Pope as Antichrist.

AD 1500 – 1660: During this reformation time we surely read of the cries of Reformation regarding the Antichrist Papacy. “Antichrist was definitely seen as a legendary projection of human evil forming the reverse image of the Christian Redeemer”. The splinter groups formed after the Reformation surely caused differences in regards to how evil was viewed, aways seeming to be defined in more contemporary styles. During this time we read of reformers such as Englishman John Jewell, Nicholas von Amsdorf, John Calvin, and Melchior Hoffman. Hoffman was an Anabaptist who prophesied of the end and the coming Antichrist in 1553. Von Amsdorf in 1554 wrote “Five Principles & Certain Signs Before the End”.

We also read of the “counter-reforms” being done in and through the Catholic Church during this time. We see the rise of various Jesuit understandings (some which pointed backwards in history as the fulfillment of prophecy rathering than regarding the Pope as Antichrist). It’s been said, “Catholic preaching and teaching on the Antichrist down to the latter half of the 17th century was partly a repetition of patterns inherited from early era’s and partly a reaction to the Protestant challenge”.

AD 1660 – 1900’s: McGinn properly noted, “While a number of important thinkers continued to speculate about the Antichrist, in many ways the Last Enemy became the hobby of cranks after 1660”. More defining of things based on contemporary situations led to more and more confusion. The early Puritans who had come to America viewed England as the Antichrist, in France due to the French Revolution there was a lot of throwing around of who was the “Antichrist”, and so we see the early confusion and void of clarity that allowed for a renewed interest in Milleniarism and ultimate Dispensationalism. These two doctrinal views has crept in and caused so many chaotic and confusing interpretations into the Christian Church.

That is where we are at now. McGinn’s eloquently detailed where all the confusion has led us: “…the increasing vagueness of the term Antichrist (as seen through the history of the Christian Church) has reached the point where universal invective overwhelmed effective application”. 

As I plan to continue to sift through and study these details further I am glad that I sit on the side of careful historical and context review. A Preterist. Every generation thinks excitedly that they are the “terminal generation” as shown through this lengthy review. Surely, I would apply much of the details found in prophecy to the generations it was prophesied to as well as ultimately the generation to whom Christ came and revealed things to. The Biblical Antichrist was revealed in that generation.

However, our understanding of Antichrist, or better said our understanding of evil, need not, must not, stop there. McGinn wrote and I couldn’t agree more, “…Biblical texts, such as the 1st epistle of John, and other major Christian thinkers – Origen, Augustine, Gregory the Great, William Langland – use Antichrist motifs – and insist that the true meaning of antichrist is to be found within, that is, the spirit that resists Christ”.  I regularly praise God that as I “study to show myself approved (2 Tim. 2:15)” and go through details for my writing of Wicked. I see the application of various concepts in Scripture.

In my upcoming release Wicked. I detail these “conceptual realities”, which the philosopher Paul Rocoeur in his seminal work, The Symbolism of Evil, explained very well when he noted how contemporary reflection on the symbols found in the ancient myths of the origin of evil could “still give rise to thought”; that is, they provide an “occasion for thought, something to think about”. Surely looking through history in regards to all the characters of evil we have pinpointed we have a lot to ponder. The Qumran community in the first century spoke of the “spirit of perversity” (which we all have the capability to live in and under) as the ultimate evil. In a similar vein, detailing “Who is the Antichrist?”, Church Fathers like Augustine noted “Everyone must question his conscience whether he be such”. In closing, let’s catch this concept as our definite understanding of the Antichrist:

“There you have the Antichrist – everyone that denies Christ by his works”. – Augustine

Some more contemporary resources I plan to take a look at (noting here for my and your benefit):

  • The Antichrist by Vincent P. Micelli
  • Catholic Prophecy: The Coming Chastisement by Ives DuPont
  • The Devil (4 part series) by Jeffrey Burton Russel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Notebook Review & Resources (4/2016 – 9/2016)

If you know me, you know that I am adamant about the Spiritual and mental health that is provided through notekeeping and journaling.
As I have grown through the years, I have “catalogued” everything. I have also grown accustomed to writing a review every time I finish a notebook – for my own benefit, however many have said they found the details to be edifying. Namely, for my benefit because if you ever read my notes you know full well that they need to be decoded to make any sense, many times, even to me.

 

This most recent notebook was rather small. It looked important though. 🙂 And these last couple months have had some growth spurts, so I am excited to share and review myself. As I have said to some, this has been a harvesting season in my life and ministry. Glory to God!
On April 11th, I wrote in my notes that I woke up thinking about the power of the local church. I wrote, “The local church provides the “knowledge of God” to enable us to live like, worship like, and ultimately love Jesus Christ”. This is a timely encouragement and very important, as I just woke up this morning to reading through my various social networks how so many have come to reject the power of gathering with a local congregation. They spout all sorts of nonsense from “mad-made institution” to “legalism”. In this regard, I had the privilege of being the guest speaker for the April “Monthly Preterist Conference Call” and the topic I had spoken upon was “The Efficacy of the Local Church”. You can listen to that and read more, and the following link, https://preteristconferencecalls.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/01-michael-miano-the-efficacy-of-the-local-church/

 

Early on in the year, as a sort of “divine unction” I began to get very involved in local networking, social meetings, and outreach. This afforded us at Blue Point Bible Church quite a few opportunities to serve the larger community with Brentwood “Hope Day”, hosting a Blood Drive, and being involved in local civic and chamber of commerce gatherings, as well as helping and being involved with other local nonprofits. I also learned a lot, found some inspirations and burdens, and made some friends along the way. #ThePastorLife
As I mine through my notes, I have decided I simply want to share some details and resources that edified me during what seems to be the “season” I was in for while.
Kurt Willems, an Anabaptist writer and pastor, put together an excellent examination of the difference perspectives of Pauline literature (the writings of the Apostle Paul). A great point he made in the midst of that series, which I have mentioned many times before in blogs and even sermons, was “If we don’t know the history, just the theology, we come up with all sorts of answers”. Even if I may not agree with all of his conclusions, I must say Pastor Willems did a great job on this podcast, which you can access at the following link, http://paulcast.org/
It was either earlier April or even late March that I began communications with a Bible teacher named Lloyd Dale. He had emailed me and began discussion regarding some points of theology we agree and disagree on. I was blessed to read through and listen to some of his presentations , and look forward to further communication with him. One point he made in a lecture, which is timely as we currently go through a month of Jewish Feasts, is “If you do not understand what “The Promised Land” was a “type” of, then you do not know what you need to know”.
For the past 2 Sundays at The Blue Point Bible Church (www.bluepointbiblechurch.com), we have been highlighting how important Understanding Contextual Details in Scripture truly is in regards to “Being Christian”, and brother Llloyd Dale highlights that. You can read and listen to his messages at the following link, http://lloyddale.com/ I personally recommend his teaching on “The Kingdom”.
In the midst of this season, I was challenged by a local pastor regarding my understanding of 2 Corinthians chapter 5:6, the infamous “absent from the body, present with the Lord” verse. I was told my understanding of this text, as referring to the “Corporate Body” of Old Covenant saints made me a “heretic” and not “Christian” (even to the extend of trying to have me removed from local pastor meetings). Anyway, this highlights an ongoing discussion and debate within the “preterist movement” regarding the Corporate Body View (CBV) held by Dr. Don K. Preston, William Bell, Larry Siegle, and many others (ie. Covenant Eschatology), and the Individual Body at Death (IBD) perspective, held to by Mr.Ed Stevens, and is more intimately connected to the common “futurist understanding” of the “glorified body”.

I love the work of all of these men, even in disagreement, and look forward to playing my part in helping bring forth clarity on this “resurrection” issue, all the while being humble and kind to one another. I know of about 3 different works currently happening to foster a better understanding of these details.

I had talked a bit about these disagreements and details as found all throughout “Church History” on MGW Online Radio a while back. You can still go back and listen to the podcasts. However, in the midst of the series I had been doing, I took a brief hiatus, and am looking to re-launch the show on October 24th with a series that will bring forth a host of clarity and healing in regards to Full Preterism. I will be bringing guests on the show (even some of the people mentioned in this blog) to discuss pertinent issues, and challenging the various “flavors of Preterism”. Look forward to that coming soon. Visit www.MianoGoneWild.com

As I come to a close with this review, I have to mention a couple last things. I have been blessed to have a co-laborer with perseverance and vision right here on Long Island. Johnny Silonski (Ova) has been a blessing and as I review my notes, I see he put forth some resources that I was blessed by. One comment he made that really stirred me, and has much to do not only with my testimony, but also with all that I labor to do is “My heart cannot rejoice in what my mind rejects”. Amen! Listen to Johnny detail that and more on the Omega Man podcast as well as his thoughts on “The Nature of the Kingdom”, at the following links:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/omegamanradio/2010/08/13/episode-29–johnny-ova-jeff-and-mike-beavers

https://preteristconferencecalls.wordpress.com/2016/09/17/04-johnny-ova-the-nature-of-the-kingdom/

Ironically, on August 31, 2016 I was questioning the seeming “new season” it seemed God was bringing my into. I write this now 2 months later, and through all of these resources, the blessing of an amazing congregation as BPBC, the love and concern of my fiancee, and the Spirit of God, I can testify that God surely brought me into a new season. Confirmation came through the recent book, Chase the Lion written by Pastor Mark Batterson. The book challenges you through various stories of inspiration, as well as Scriptural examples of the need for us to go after dreams and goals that are God-inspired. In his usual fashion, Pastor Batterson convicts the reader to truly examine what God wants them to do for His glory. A book that truly speaks to our time and need, if not, then for a soon coming season.
Two quotes that I was inspired by, which are pretty much carrying me into my next season, and I pray they will challenge you as well are:

“The Christian is called upon not to be like a thermometer conforming to the temperature of his society but he must be like a thermostat serving to transform the temperature of his society”.
– MLK Jr. (Transformed Nonconformist)

“We have learned: One may do much or one may do little, it is all one, provided he/ she directs his/her heart to heaven”. – Rabbi’s of Jabneh

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Rendering You Neither Useless nor Unfruitful in the Knowledge of God – MAKE DISCIPLES!!

Rendering You Neither Useless nor Unfruitful in the Knowledge of God”

As of June 2015, I (Pastor Michael Miano) have begun leading a discipleship program that I have developed through years of learning from other discipleship programs. We are calling this “Immersed Discipleship”.

The name says it all. I am endeavoring to disciple others the way I myself was discipled- by being immersed into the knowledge of God. Keeping in mind the concept of ‘milk & meat’, I seek to bring together those who want to be discipled and show them with the ‘things of God’ -whether it be deep doctrinal stuff, life application, or challenging ourselves in regards to outreach and evangelism- the goal is to help those coming into the faith to be “neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8)”.

There is really no limit or boundary in regards to what we discuss at ‘Immersed Discipleship’. For example, last week in one of our classes, some of our discussion was based around the historical controversy of the Donatists. Here is an interesting article on those details for your studying pleasure:

http://gregsvoboda.com/2013/01/the-donatist-controversy-the-most-important-heresy-youve-never-heard-of/

Surely, as persecution of Christians continues, we can find some relevancy for ourselves in that historic conversation.

All of those details noted, a point that I made at our recent class was that 2,000 years after Christ first instructed His Apostles to preach the Gospel, we find ourselves sitting in a local church class room endeavoring to be His disciples. I regularly have the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel and see people become interested in what Jesus offers.

*Keep on the ‘lookout’ for an upcoming video I will release, “The Fulfilled Gospel in 6 Minutes” on YouTube in days to come.

After we heed the Gospel (namely the truth of Matthew 7:24-29), we then should be seeking to “walk worthy of 2 Peter 1:8.

For the remainder of this blog, I want to share with you a couple of ways I believe discipleship should be worked out in your life. God willing, I will provide you with a basic knowledge of how you can apply 2 Peter 1 to your life.

Missiologist and Theologian, David Bosch noted “For the disciple of Jesus, the stage of discipleship is not the first step toward a promising career. It is itself the fulfillment of his or her destiny”.

As a disciple your priority should be to gather with other saints to exhort and encourage each other to be accountable in personal discipleship, as well be the ‘healing of the nations’ as a community. At the Blue Point Bible Church (which I pastor) we have the following ‘mission statement’:

The purpose of this church shall be to make disciples, that is to produce mature believers, by carrying out God’s objectives for His Church in the world, evangelizing the lost and edifying the people of God”.

I call this the COLLECTIVE part of your discipleship.

The “collective church community” should further serve to build you up as a member of the Body, essentially the ‘purpose’ and ‘unity’ of the faith as preached by the Apostle Paul brings us in this direction. If 2 Peter chapter 1 is not an exhortation enough (which we will be dealing with as we conclude this blog), then let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 12:1-0. Go ahead and read the text.

Reading through 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, not only do you get a glimpse of the Apostle Paul’s concerns, you also see that God’s strength is shown in our weaknesses. The goal of gathering “collectively” is for us to not only see, but come to realize it is not about us- it’s about Him. The “collective church community” should seek to exhort and encourage the believer through the knowledge of God, bringing about a “strength” that only comes from God, and could never be exemplified through man. Again remember, it’s all about His glory! That should be your INDIVIDUAL focus.

The work of the “collective church community” and the “individual” is to seek out, understand, and live in proper doctrine. Reading through the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy shows this very clearly. Go ahead and read through 1 Timothy chapters 2-4. Bad doctrine, or a messed up understanding of the things of God is compared to “dirty water” in Scripture. Who wants to drink “dirty water”? Worst yet, how does one feel after drinking “dirty water”?

In matters of discipleship we have noted that not only are ‘eschatological doctrines’ among many other areas in need of “study to show ourselves approved”, sadly even the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (or what we might refer to as the ‘practical applications’ of our faith are distorted as well. Some have referred to this as “The Crisis of the Sermon on the Mount”. A great article on that topic can be found here:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1995/july17/5t8038.html

As we contemplate the ‘true knowledge of God’, what should become clear beyond anything else is that without Christ, we will never “walk worthy” of the things of God. God offering covenant to us without Jesus is essentially “bad news”. We cannot and will not walk worthy- thus demonstrating the need for Jesus Christ. In these regards I enjoy this quote by Leo Tolstoy:

The test of observance of Christ’s teachings is our consciousness of our failure to attain to an ideal perfection. To the degree which we draw near, this perfection cannot be seen, all we see is the extent of our deviation”.

If you can come to that conclusion each and every time you study the doctrines of God, your DOCTRINAL understanding is in a healthy place.

That brings us to the final point, some may argue the most important- How to apply these things to my life? I have come to refer to this type of questioning as “diligent discipleship”.

I am fond of reading and learning from others, even to the extent that I recently accused myself of “following man”. However, praise-fully, I was rebuked by the Word. As the Apostle Paul himself admonishes the saints to be followers of him in 1 Corinthians 4:16 as well as in 11:1. Timothy was told in the letters to him to be mindful of who he received the faith from, and live like them.

Surely that brings together- collective, individual, doctrinal, and application discipleship. It must be done in community, it must be done diligently, and ultimately for the glory of God.

In our Wednesday Bible Study (just another way we walk worthy of our purpose at B.P.B.C.), we have been reviewing a series done by a man named Ray Vander Laan, and he details much of what I detailed in this blog- yet he refers to our lives in discipleship as “a well watered garden”. Author Vera Nazarian has noted, “The master of the garden is the one who waters it, trims the branches, plants the seeds, and pulls the weeds. If you merely stroll through the garden, you are but an acolyte. “. I pray this blog has further exhorted you to become a ‘mater of the garden’ as it pertains to your discipleship.

In keeping with that line of thinking, here is a list of things to do in the Garden. Let’s start calling it our “Gardening List” (cf. 2 Peter 1)

  1. applying all diligence” – do this with a concentrated and constant effort
  2. in your faith supply moral excellence” – remembering that “faith” cannot be seen (Hebrews 11:1), the excellent morals we live by can be seen (read Philippians 2:1-11)
  3. add knowledge” – awareness, facts, information, and skill about the “things of God”
  4. add self-control” – ability to control one’s emotions, behavior, and desires in the face of external demands
  5. add perseverance” – be steadfast in what your doing despite possible trying circumstances
  6. add godliness” – Desire to bring glory to God
  7. add brotherly kindness” – do good to others, especially those of the household of faith
  8. love- love God with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength as well as love your neighbor as yourself – Matthew 22:37; Luke 10:27

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about his calling and choosing you: for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you (2 Peter 1:8-11)”.

Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you (2 Peter 1:12)”.

In His Service,

Pastor Michael Miano

Blue Point Bible Church

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Man of Dust – Genesis & Ancient Near Eastern Origins

Recently, I have been in discussion with someone regarding the “dust” and “death” found in the beginning of Genesis, specifically Adam (man) being made of the “dust” of the ground and thus returning to it. What is this saying?

Before I start, please allow me to assert that I believe in a honest handling of God’s Word, and the need to “study to show ourselves approved RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORLD OF TRUTH” (2 Timothy 2:15). That being noted, I do not want to impose an understanding that is not there, and I want to find the most “literal” understanding of the text possible, what is known as ‘sensus literalis’.

The words of Mr. R.C. Sproul, a well known Bible teacher, fit rightly here:

There is much confusion regarding the “literal” sense of Scripture…To interpret the Bible “literally” in the classic sense requires that we learn to recognize in Scripture different genres of literature. Poetry is to be interpreted as poetry, and didactic passages are to be interpreted according to the grammar of the didactic. Historical narrative must not be treated as parable, nor parable as strict historical narrative. Much of Bible prophecy is cast in an apocalyptic genre that employs graphic imaginative language and often mixes elements of common historical narrative with the figurative language.” (1)

This is where we must do the proper legwork. Sure, we can just pick up Genesis as 21st century Westerners and demand that the Scriptures make the points we want them to make about the things we want them to detail, as many do. Or….we can be honest and humble in our reading and studying and realize the ancient world is vastly different than ours. The concerns of those times are different than ours, and therefore the details of writing are as well.

Coming to an agreement concerning what type of genre the book of Genesis comes to us as is an rather intriguing study. The book ‘Beyond Creation Science’ by Tim Martin and Jeff Vaughn, first opened my eyes to taking a step back and really looking at the culture from which Genesis comes and the details it notes- finding Genesis to be more prophetic and apocalyptic than I had initially thought. Then reading through Dr. John Walton’s lectures on Youtube surely opened my eyes to understanding the concept of Genesis as a ‘temple text’ and it’s details in that environment rather than what I initially thought they meant.

Again….we must decide…do we really want the truth out of the text, essentially what it “literally” says, or are we content with just making things up and keeping our own view? That is exactly what has spurned by studies, and led me to the views I hold today.

Author Robert Gundry exhorts us in this regard:

…we must presume that the text as it stands had a meaning for the author and his first readers. We want to discover that meaning. The path to discovery lies along the line of historical- grammatical interpretation, which assumes that the language of the Biblical text, including its symbolic language, grows out of and speaks to the historical situation of the writer and his readers. To take a non-referential view of language, may open up possibilities of contemporary interest and deconstruction play, but it blocks the path of historical understanding.”

So…in my honest study, I have begun to look at the world of the Ancient Near East. Most within ‘critical scholarship’ have now begun to point those who want to understand the Book of Genesis in this direction. Granted I have made these remarks before, have written about understanding the Bible “literally”, (2) and defended these positions in debates- yet herein I want to show the proper understanding of the creation of man and the story that tells- from the Ancient Near East to the overly Hellenistic Western world.

The ANE audience hardly was concerned nor would have attempted to explain in graphic detail how God had made man, save for understanding the function of man in the world. Genesis serves as a ‘polemic’, or argument against the cultures of the Ancient Near East, as blog writer T.E. Hanna notes,

Rather than adopting the mythologies of the surrounding Ancient Near East, the Hebrew cosmologies were written as a criticism of them. As theological education for an emerging Israelite nation, the purpose of these narratives was to emphasize the nature of the God of Israel in contrast to the surrounding polytheism, while also conveying His superiority over competing religions.”

Now that we have made ourselves somewhat aware of the context of the Book of Genesis, let’s begin to take a look.

Please turn in your Bibles to Genesis 1:24-31.

Here we read that God made all the animals and then goes about to create man – In His Image, and to have dominion over all of that which God created.

As one becomes familiar with the Ancient Near East, we would see that this Genesis story runs contrary to the contemporary understanding of that culture. As Wheaton proffessor, Dr. John Walton has noted, “In Mesopotamia the cosmos functions for the gods and in relation to them. People are an afterthought, seen as just another part of the cosmos that helps the gods to function. In Israel the cosmos functions for people and in relation to them. God does not need the cosmos, but it is his temple. It functions for people.” (3)

I have a writing on this called ‘The Ancestral Story of the ‘Image of God'(4) which can be found on the internet, and I would be remiss if I did not mention the work of Mrs. Rebekkah Devine (or Giffone as I note in my article). When I came to understand how in Genesis man was set up as the ‘image of God’ in contrast to the way the ANE viewed man, I was amazed. Man is created to display the glory of God, not the idols, nor the “created things” that man turns into idols.

Now let’s take a look at Genesis 2:4-9.

Studying out the details of “heaven and earth” in Scripture is a praiseworthy study. Verse 4 here gives us a beginning of understanding the way this phraseology was used by the ancient Hebrews, and essentially was was being ‘made’ by God in this account. Surely you don’t believe that what God is saying here is that the ‘heaven and earth’ has a genealogy, do you? Oddly some have made some strange interpretations, yet if you study out the term in its context and usage- you find this term simply applies to God’s people.

What we are reading in Genesis chapters 1-3 is the “creation story” of the one True God and how He formed His “heaven and earth”.

In Genesis 2:7 we have, God ‘forming’ man (adam) out of the ground. The text reads: ‘v’yyitzer YHWH ‘Elohim ‘et ha’adam ‘aphar min ha’adamah’ – or in the English – “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.”

There are some who simply would rather avoid dealing with the historicity of the writing and would assert that this is talking about God materialistically forming man out of ‘dust’, just as they would say that this text is talking about the material creation of Heaven and Earth. If you are ok with imposing a foreign interpretation on the text, that would have hardly been understood by the ancients, then there is nothing I can show you. However, after searching for the definition of the term ‘dust’ (which in Hebrew is ‘aphar’ meaning ground, earth, ashes, or powder), then reading all the passages in Scripture that apply that term, I did not find much clarity as to what is saying. Therefore I turned to historical context for clarity.

It is interesting to further note that in Ancient Near Eastern literature not only is man debased, but the creation of man is usually of the clay of the ground and the blood or spit of the gods- both good and evil. In the Biblical text, man is created of the earth and then God breath’s life into him- giving man a dignity above all other created things. Surely a radical thought in the Ancient Near East that most modern people miss the point of.

A writing that further helped provide clarity pertaining to Genesis :4-7 was an internet writing by Don Stoner. You can access that writing by visiting this link: http://www.dstoner.net/Genesis_Context/Context.html

So in Genesis chapter 2, man is created by God forming him of the dust of the ground, earthy, and is animated as a ‘living soul’ once God breathes into him.

In Genesis 3:14 as well as 3:19, we read that the serpent will go on his belly and eat “dust’ all the days of his life, and Adam after the fall is told he shall return to the dust.

First of all this is where you should begin to notice that this book is a foreign text and not intended to be taken literal. If you hold to a literal walking/ talking serpent that is cursed by God to travel on the ground, then you need to consult the local psychologist.

After noting that simply point, we can begin to search out what the text means in its proper context.

‘Dust’ as used through Scripture and historical context also carries the thought of humility and desperation. When Adam and Eve sin and suffer “the death” due to sin, they are ashamed and hide themselves from God- no longer freely roaming in the blessedness of God’s garden as He provided to them. This will later be the story of fleshly Israel as well- they violate the command God gives them and thus suffer shame.

Adam and Eve are now “dead”, as God told them the day they eat of the tree they shall surely die. God provides them with a covering and removes them from the Garden where they enjoyed God’s presence and possible “immortality” through the Tree of Life. From dust they were created, to dust they shall return.

It is when we study out the “resurrection of the dead” that these things get hopeful. The “resurrection of the dead” will undue the damage of the garden.

Adam and Eve had a beautiful & free relationship with God- based on the “covenant” of one law- don’t eat of that tree- be His image- they failed and died in that covenant relationship- thus returning to dust.

Israel inherited that story, and was provided a covering. They do the same as Adam (Hosea 6:7) and get worse and worse- suffering the fate of returning to the dust and face future judgment (Daniel chapter 12). One writer noted that the “futility” spoken about in Romans 8 is detailing the same “futility” to which creation was subjected in Genesis 3 – it has to do with the idea that it would not do that for which it was designed or intended.

All of this is to note that Genesis chapters 1-3 are not talking about the material creation of the cosmos nor of man, but rather are covenant claims. Genesis is the creation of God’s people- heaven and earth- and how that Old Covenant people were subjected to futility- being of the dust and earthy.

One poet noted, “The sons of Adam are formed from dust; if not humble as the dust, they fall short of being men.

In conclusion, let us praise God for the ‘Second Adam’ as revealed through the New Testament. We, in Christ, do not bear that “dusty” semblance and “death is defeated”! After all as 2nd century Church Father Irenaeus noted, ““The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”

This is the goal of our faith- to note that which happened “in the beginning”, the death that comes because of sin, and then rest and proclaim praise in regards Christ’s sacrifice and righteousness. To provide to who would attest to the power of this as the “Christian faith” I will use quotes from 7th century Church bishop Maximus who said, “Christianity is an entirely new way of being human”, and 20th century century German theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer who remarked, “Christianity is not about religion- it’s about humanity, and making it as God intended it to be.”

Below I will provide a short list of Works Cited. As well as a list of Scriptures that mention “dust” for further study, and of course a host of links that further inform on the context of the Ancient Near East.

Works Cited

  1. R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus
  2. https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/how-do-we-literally-understand-the-scriptures/
  3. Dr. John Walton, The Lost World of Adam and Eve
  4. http://www.academia.edu/9695120/A_Must_Read-_The_Ancestral_Story_of_the_Image_of_God_

Scriptures Pertaining to Dust:

Genesis 2:7; 3:19 – dust; Genesis 3:14; Genesis 13:16; 28:13; 1 Chron 1:9; Genesis 18:27; Genesis 26:15 – translated as earth; 1 Kings 16:2; 2 Kings 13:7 ; Num 19:17; 2 Kings 23:4 – ashes ; Job 4:19; Job 7:21; Job 10:9; Job 14:8 – ground; Job 17:16; Job 21:26; Job 30:19; Psalm 22:15, 29; Psalm 44:25; Psalm 113:17; Lev 14:42, 45 – mortar;2 kings 23:6, 15- powder; Job 42:6; Ecc 3:20; 12:7; psalm 103:14; Neh 4:2, 10 – rubbish; Isaiah 25:12; Isaiah 26:19; Isaiah 47:1; Lamentation 2:10; Nahum 3:18

Websites about the Ancient Near Eastern context of Genesis:

http://www.theologymatters.com/Novdec97.PDF

http://www.newfoundationspubl.org/dust.htm

http://questions.veritas.org/science-faith/origins/what-genre-is-genesis-1-2/

http://tehanna.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/OfDustAndKings_HebrewCosmology.pdf

http://www.indiana.edu/~jsp/docs/2013_14/Bern_Essay_winner_Bloom,%20D.pdf

https://biologos.org/blogs/jim-stump-faith-and-science-seeking-understanding/interpreting-adam-an-interview-with-john-walton

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0825439272/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0825439272&linkCode=as2&tag=michsheiscom-20&linkId=LVYPNGNYCGRJSJSD

http://davidjohnstone.net/blog/2009/12/notes-lost-world-genesis-one-john-walton

http://oyc.yale.edu/transcript/945/rlst-145

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Book Review – Fulfilled Eschatology by Tim Liwanag

As Pastor of The Blue Point Bible Church, I am always on the lookout for a simple enough yet concise and comprehesive resource to help others understand our views on Fulfilled Eschatology. Sure enough, in his book, Fulfilled Eschatology, Mr. Tim Liwanag delivers exactly that.

Right from the beginning of the book, one can easily notice that Mr. Liwanag has done much research and utilized many resources (books, articles, and learning from others in the Christian community) to formulate his excellent effort of systematizing the story within Scripture. Two teachers that I greatly admire wrote ‘introductions’ to the book, Mr. Joe Daniels & Mr. Larry Siegle, therefore I new it was going to be an enjoyable read, and there introductions to the book were right on target. Mr. Siegle mentioned that the book was full of great lists of Scripture and might offer some new insights to the reader, that surely explains the benefit of this great read. Mr. Daniels rightly noted Mr. Liwanag’s great exposition on the Deity of Christ, and his efforts to exalt Christ that are prevalent throughout the entire book.

It is not uncommon for me to read the works of other Believer’s who have come to agree with Fulfilled Escatology and yet find areas of major disagreement. This is largely due to the fact that the truths of Fulfilled Eschatology have the ability to cross denominational lines and bring light to the context and truth of Scripture. Yet confusion is still there. I am glad to say that Mr. Liwanag was not afraid to utilize Scripture to formulate conclusions even in areas that many Bible expositors are afraid to venture (i.e., the lake of fire a.k.a. “hell”, fulfilled eschatology’s application for today, resurrection, the book of Revelation, etc.), yet I found no areas of disagreement.

This is a testament to Mr.Liwanag’s respect for the context and application of Scripture. To that I must say, “Thank You”. The lists of passages provided to make points was so clear and concise, that I was excited to continue reading.

Mr. Liwanag’s explanation and usage of ‘audience relevance’ is commendable, and it clearly seen through his retelling of the story with a focus on Israel (what some have come to refer to as the “Hebrew Exclusivity” noted in Scripture). The lengths he went to provide lists of Scriptures and passages to support the details is astounding, and surely provided me with some lists I can use in teaching others.

According to John chapter 4, those who worship God must worship Him as He desires, and that is in Truth and in Spirit. The clear-as-day exaltation of Christ that Mr. Liwanag provides throughout the writing is refreshing, and shows us the goal of his writing this book. Also, it is a common trend today for many “Christians” to obsess over fantastic notions of ‘heaven’ that they have made up, rather than paying attention to “Covenant-Fulfillment”, which is expressed through understanding the ‘full narrative’ of Scripture- gladly Mr. Liwanag brings out these details in Fulfilled Eschatology as well.

This book is a must read, and for many of the discussions going on within Preterist circles, and the rapid expansion of Fulfilled Eschatology, this book is right on time! Just as the Preterists like things.

Nearing the end of the book, Mr. Liwanag notes, “So where do we go from here? The answer is not “towards fulfillment” but “from fulfillment in Christ onwards” and then he goes on to say, “At this point, however, what remains is for us to show by the Scripture again the fulfillment message is not finished yet, even though all things written to and for the Israelites were fulfilled”. Amen to that!

I can’t wait for Mr. Tim Liwanag to get his book, Fulfilled Eschatology, in print so I can put it in the hands of others who desire to understand the context of Scripture. Another great ‘Preterist Resource’ to enable others to see the power of living in “Christ’s Glorious Presence Now”.

In His Service,

Pastor Michael Miano

Blue Point Bible Church

www.bluepointbiblechurch.org

P.S.- There always seems to be confusion on what exactly is means to be a “Christian”. In his book, again noting how all encompassing the book really is, Mr. Liwanag gives a great description of the term “Christian” as applying to God’s people:

“At first believers had no distinctive name, but were called among themselves “brethren,” Ac 6:3; “disciples,” Ac 6:1; “those of the way,” Ac 9:2; “saints,” Ro 1:7; by the Jews (who denied that Jesus was the Christ, and so would never originate the name Christian), in contempt, “Nazarenes.” At Antioch, where first idolatrous Gentiles (Cornelius, Ac 10:1, 2, was not an idolater, but a proselyte) were converted, and wide missionary work began, they could be no longer looked on as a Jewish sect, and so the Gentiles designated them by the new name “Christians.” The rise of the new name marked a new epoch in the Church’s life, a new stage of its development, namely, its missions to the Gentiles.”

In the first-century Messianic age, it is a Christian’s creed, not only to represent Christ’s name, but also to be defamed for it:

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or asa thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” (1 Peter 4:14-16; Revelation 3:12)

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Your Invitation to “The Normal Christian Life”

Your Invitation to “The Normal Christian Life”

For the past couple weeks, the sermons at the Blue Point Bible Church have been focused on what the privileges of being a Christian and having the presence of God in your life means. I, Pastor Michael Miano, felt convicted after a month long journey talking about the wicked and all that entails- annihilation or eternal conscious torment. After spending a month dealing with all the intellectual and emotional aspects of understanding what exactly the final state of the wicked is, and what the “death” of being outside the ‘Kingdom of God’ is, I felt it necessarily for us as saints to spend some time knowing and living in the privileges of a “Christian life”.

Persecution has an interest effect on Believers. Men of God like Alan Hirsch and Shane Claiborne had spent time bringing out the details of how the persecuted church seems to grow and take the call of being “Christian” much more serious that those who live in comfort. It’s commonly understood that when you have no “creature comforts” you are more liable to give you all for the cause. I believe this is what effected men like Watchman Nee, who not only learned from the persecution of the Boxer Rebellion, but he also offered great exposition on what Christianity should look like in our world. It’s been said that, “Watchman Nee realized that being a Christian is altogether a matter of knowing and experiencing God’s divine life in Christ”.

That is exactly it. As I “continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of God (2 Peter 3:18), which alone reveals that this “life” is intended to be a growth process of learning of His grace and His knowledge, which comes from being “Spiritual discerned (1 Corinthians chapter 2 speaks of this), I desire to know all the more the simple yet complex truth of “knowing and experiencing God’s divine life in Christ”. We endeavor to “die to self” and allow Christ to live through us- Galatians 2:20, and sure enough I am in agreement with Watchman Nee that is is the “normal Christian life”, this and nothing else.

If you are not living a life that is continually offering you reason to praise God for all that you have in Christ, then you might not be living the “Christian life”. I know this might be a harsh exhortation, however the imagery of Revelation chapters 21-22, and the host of other passages in Scripture where we see the ‘requirements’ for living a “Christian life”, do not offer an apathetic approach. This would have been foreign to the Hebrew mind of what it meant to “follow the rabbi”.

Christian martyr Jim Elliot had few things to say about living a Christ-centered life:

“Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God.”

“Lord, make my way prosperous not that I achieve high station, but that my life be an exhibit to the value of knowing God.”

“I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you Lord Jesus.”

“Wherever you are – be all there.”

Wow! Those are some power-packed statements, amen? One of the things I have been harping on in my messages at B.P.B.C. Is how we are called to “make known the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10)” and how we should view that as an immense privilege. The “value of knowing God” surely isn’t an “ordinary” thing. A “full life” is shown through living for the glory of God, as the prophet Daniel says, “…the people that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits (Daniel 11:32)”.

Sadly, so many Christians are still questioning and in doubt as to whether or not they are “living in the Light”. Watchman Nee speaks to us about the trouble of trying to sense the value of God working through our life:

“…the trouble with us is that we are trying to sense it; we are trying to feel its value to estimate subjectively what the blood is for us, we cannot do it. It does not work that way. The blood is first for God to see. We then have to accept God’s valuation of it. In doing so we shall find our salvation. If instead we try to come to a valuation by way of our feelings we get nothing; we remain in darkness. No, it’s a matter of faith in God’s word”.

He goes on to explain how important it is to be “born again”, and to be “found in Christ”:

“Are you a man? If your life is on a lower plane than that of God’s life, then you cannot belong to the Divine family…Our only hope as men is to receive the Son of God, and when we do so, His life in us will constitute us as Sons of God”.

Yes, you read that right. No Jesus, No life. Know Jesus, know life!

I invite you right now to live that type of life. If your on Long Island, you can join us on Sundays at 11am, at The Blue Point Bible Church – www.bluepointbiblechurch.org, as we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Him. As we say on our “church card”- Get a life, and visit The Blue Point Bible Church.

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

You can listen to our Sunday Sermon podcasts by visiting:

www.buzzsprout.com/11630

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Let the Church be the Church, and America- Be America!

Here we find ourselves in the 21st century, where for many the lines have been dulled between “Church” and “State”. If you take the time to peruse through Church History, this surely isn’t new for the church. However the striving to bring Christianity into America, to dominate America, has proven to be a daunting task since the time of the Puritans in the 17th century.

Is America a “Christian nation”? Should this be the goal of the Church? For example, when we read 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“…And My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land”.

Why do we constantly seem to put America in place of “His people” instead of the Body of Believers called the Church? This is the nagging question I have and want to keep before you as I continue making some points through this article.

For the past couple months we have been going through ‘The Truth Project’ at The Blue Point Bible Church. Professor Del Tackett has challenged us in regards to the battle involving “What is Truth”, what is the anthropology of man, what is a Biblical social environment, what is the role of government, and finally this week we discussed “The American Experiment”.

The whole gist of ‘The Truth Project’ is to combat the ‘Post-modernism’ that has seemingly pervaded American culture. Simply put, Postmodernism is the rejection of absolute truth, holding all truth as relevant, or more likely, you have your reality and I have mine. This “question everything” mentality surely has a lot of good quality in it (in line with 1 Thessalonians 5:21), however with lack of education, hypotheticals, and subjective reasoning, this can be more harmful than edifying.

In Lesson 10, “The American Experment”, Professor Tacket places the beginning of the rise of ‘secular humanism’ with Darwin’s, Origin of the Species in 1859. The rise of men like John Dewey, Charles Eliot, and Christopher Columbus Landell brought challenge to the way education was done, and surely brought challenge to the arena of “scientific education”.

As a Bible believing Christian who has seen the church gone awry clinging to false doctrines, putting a ‘misplaced hope’ in the councils, creeds, and confessions instead of “search the Scriptures”, I see nothing wrong with challenging the traditional teachings, and surely do not see this as a bad thing. Yet this is exactly what many intend to demonize when they speak about the shift in ‘public education’, teaching of ‘evolution’ in school, etc…

Let me be abundantly clear here. As a Christian who has an unyielding faith in the truth of Scripture, I am not afraid of the ‘critical thinking’ this postmodern world has to offer. I don’t believe it is society’s job to “make known the manifold wisdom of God”, but rather the Church. It is the Church’s job to “demolish every argument and stronghold set up against the ‘knowledge of God’ (2 Corinthians chapter 10). The Christians, the Church, should be affecting the nation they live in, yet our country is the “heavenly country” (Hebrews 11:16; i.e., the New Jerusalem) which knows no earthly borders. I flee from the “Christianizing” of any nation which then confuses itself with being “the city on the hill” of Matthew 5:14.

Yes, George Washington indeed did say, “If one claims to be a patriot, yet denies Christ Jesus, this man is worse than an infidel” and yes, Princeton’s founding statement was “Cursed is all learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.” and it has been since changed.

Why has this happened? Is it as horrible as many think it is? Is it the ‘end of the world’?

Historical study of the founding documents of this nation, think of the Mayflower Compact, Constitution of the New England Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance, and the Aricles of Confederation of 1643- clearly show the Christian foundations of America. There is no doubt there.

Yet just as Galileo Galilee looked into his microscope and saw something that seemingly contradicted what the ‘Christian tradition’ had to say, so we see the same today. I say let’s enjoy the freedom which comes with a responsibility to be the ‘light of the world’.

I believe the “lazy Christian” not only wants to settle for “Church doctrine” that contradicts Scripture, but also wants to make being an “American” synonymous with being a “Christian”. The less of a distiction between the two, the less fruit one must produce to be found a Christian.

Ultimately, it is time for the Church to be the Church. The blurring of the lines between the Church and America has created confusion and hostility. The Church should reserve the right to make decisions and live in light of Scripture and we should encourage others, however the Church sitting at the sidelines yelling at the “State” to follow Christian standards really needs to stop.

The fact is, Obama is not the president of the Nation I am apart of. As Shane Claiborne so eloquently and simplistically puts it, “Jesus for President”. I believe there is much strength to be sought in allowing America to follow the “postmodernism” that leads it, therefore offering the Church a moment of clarity on their role and position in this world.

I know America had Christian foundations, to argue against this is to be historically ignorant. However, I see the good news in the “end of Christian America” as Gabe Lyons put it in his book, The Next Christians.

Let the distinctions be clear- the Church is to be the Church, set apart by the truth of Jesus Christ, and America is to be America- the land of the free.

DON’T YOU DARE REFER TO AMERICA AS THE “CITY ON A HILL”!

Revelation 2:5 reads, “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lamp stand out of its place- unless you repent”. I’ll say it like this: It is nothing short of blasphemous to equate this verse with a nation with borders, this was primary applied to the Church at Ephesus, and could only be applied to the Church.

Walk worthy saints.

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

“One thing that’s clear in the Scriptures is that the nations do not lead people to peace; rather, people lead the nations to peace.” – Shane Claiborne, Jesus for President

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