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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Is Questioning God Blasphemy?

The fear of blaspheming cripples many people, leading them into atheism, agnosticism, or even violent extremism - often directed against those they see as blasphemers. The very thought that there might be an omnipotent and omnipresent God who holds our future entirely in His hands can be scary. Even for those who are confident in their faith it's a daunting concept. Our own power vanishes with such an understanding. It's unbearable for those whose conscience is troubling them. Atheism and agnosticism are comforting defenses when seen in this light.

Fear of offending God has always been a driving force in worshipers - particularly primitive peoples - and has been used for evil purposes by religious leaders since time began. Judeo-Christians have seen the excesses which result from this fear, such as human sacrifice, and have focused on correct understanding of Scripture and God's expectations. 

The fear of offending God is almost always misplaced. The word Israel in Hebrew means "he struggles with God". Check this out:  http://www.preparingforeternity.com/pp/pp18.htm

Most of the churches and religions of all nations and stripes don't want you to know that God wants us to argue, struggle, and forge our own understanding of Him and the Divine Plan. The Book of Job is proof.  After suffering total loss of family, fortune, and health, Job challenged God in what amounts to a court case. God turned the tables on Job, "Who are you to challenge me?!" But in the end He praised Job and restored his fortunes ten-fold. It's the most important Old Testament book, and quite likely the oldest one in the Bible.

If we decide to wrestle with God ourselves, it undermines the power and control religious leaders have over us. It's dangerous, of course. But all things really worth doing - particularly things that have high stakes and a huge payoff - are risky or dangerous. Loving others exposes us to grievous loss. Starting a business, changing jobs, or exploring the unknown can ruin us. Such is life. It's a very American trait to be willing to take risks and think we're capable and worthy to do important things. It's the exact opposite of the serf mentality of socialist Europe and Asia.

It is the Anti-Christ, Satan, who rules by fear and attacks those who question his authority. If you find yourself having a debate with a seemingly-religious person who tries to shame or threaten you for wanting answers, that person is a counterfeit, a fake. There are plenty of them. Particularly in the Muslim world, almost anything can be construed as blasphemy; which carries a death sentence in many countries. Almighty God is not - and can never be - intimidated or disturbed in the least by our questions or doubts. Our crimes and misdemeanors never threaten the Lord. We're the ones who bring destruction on ourselves for our bad behavior. God wants us to escape from "the valley of the shadow of death".

The reality of God's power and goodness is vastly - inconceivably - greater than our earthly understanding of it. Only by transcending our human frailties can we hope to comprehend Him.

The word blasphemy comes from two ancient Greek words that mean "to injure" and "reputation". But it's not nearly strong enough a word to describe what's been happening for the last 160 years.

There's an attitude gaining credibility in our nation and the world, a hatred of the very idea of God. This is antitheism, a deliberate and aggressive war on God. It's not by any means new, and has roots in the 18th Century Enlightenment. The French Revolution was its first manifestation, and it produced  mass mayhem and death; the murders of priests, nuns, and tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

In the 1840's, Karl Marx codified the war on God by labeling all religions "the opiate of the people", and singled out people of faith for extermination. Hundreds of millions have been murdered under his communist/antitheist banner.

In the western world, antitheism has been explored by movies such as Amadeus and books like Moby Dick. Characters like the composer Salieri and Captain Ahab once shocked audiences with their brazen hostility and pride, but not anymore. 'Progressivism' - which is Marxism camouflaged - is being marketed everywhere with a happy face. Notice how often you see smiling Mao T-shirts; or Che Guevara, Hugo Chavez, Castro, and others. Russia's Vladimir Putin - the former KGB leader -  has a very effective PR firm that keeps his happy visage in front of the cameras every week now. Entertainers like Madonna and Lady Gaga have made millions by popularizing their antitheism. Much of this can be seen as something rather like adolescent rebellion, but there are powerful forces in the world - leaders of powerful nations - who are very serious about their war on God, and us.

It was foretold long ago:

Psalm 2:2-12: 
The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, "Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their yoke from us." The One enthroned in heaven laughs them to scorn; the Lord shall have them in derision. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, "I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain." I will proclaim the Lord's decree: He said to me, "You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like potter's vessel." Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss his son, or he will be angry and you and your ways will be destroyed, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.