“Identity”: Duane W.H. Arnold PhD

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59 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    Those last two paragraphs…

  2. Michael says:

    So…here’s the question before the house.
    Should this description of Christians in the world from the second century be normative for Christians today?

    I say yes and amen…

  3. Rick says:

    As do I; I keep thinking that if we could just get small enough to really be affected by those who live to our left and right, rather than building big organizations to reach the world.

  4. Michael says:

    Rick,

    I’m being really intentional about being small…and focusing on what’s directly in my own sphere of influence rather than broader concerns.

  5. Duane Arnold says:

    It is, in many ways, the exact opposite of how many Christians wish to be perceived. There has to be some point, however, when, as Christians, we stop lusting after “the power and the glory” of this world…

  6. Michael says:

    Duane,

    Perhaps it will take real persecution to make it so.

    I corrected one of my congregation who said that Christians are persecuted in this country…in reality we are not persecuted,but annoyed…

  7. Steve Wright says:

    I think the persecution aspect of both the three uses of the word in the Bible, as well as the letter quoted at length (and the times in which it was written) can’t be overstated.

  8. Xenia says:

    I say yes and amen but we cannot expect perfection. We can, with God’s help, move in this direction.

  9. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “when, as Christians, we stop lusting after “the power and the glory” of this world…”

    I don’t think “most” Christians desire this. I find that “most” Christians want to be left alone to raise their families and live peacefully in their own neighborhoods.

  10. Steve Wright says:

    We could cite a lengthy list of persecutions of Christians in this country. Yes, we still have freedom of worship and there is not really much on the horizon that would suggest it is threatened anytime soon.

    Freedom of religion for the Christian (outside the Sunday hour of worship) is a thing of the past. in a variety of ways. If God hating people successfully deprive a brother or sister in Christ of livelihood, property, income….that most definitely meets the definition of persecution.

  11. Xenia says:

    Typical Pphx Discussion, and I say this w/ affection:

    MLD telling us to calm down, nothing’s happening;
    Steve Wright offering a word study;
    Duane referencing ancient sources;
    MIchael and Xenia agreeing w/ Duane

    🙂

  12. Michael says:

    If that description is normative…let’s use the word “biblical”… do we try to recapture those attitudes or just blame Constantine and changing times?

  13. Duane Arnold says:

    #7 Michael

    I agree. I also think you were right to use the word “annoyed”. I think that we should also say, demanding certain privileges based upon our “rights” as Christians (right to segregated schools, etc.) and being denied those privileges is not persecution…

  14. Duane Arnold says:

    #12 Xenia…

    You made my day with that one!

  15. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “MLD telling us to calm down, nothing’s happening;”

    Well, I didn’t say nothing is happening. Something is always happening with a vocal minority in the church – However I think most (meaning the vast majority) want to live quietly in their God given vocation and not disturb others.

    I will ask – who here as a Christian is lusting after worldly power? Who here attends the church lusting after worldly glory? What, are we at the Phoenix Preacher a unique exception?

  16. Xenia says:

    What, are we at the Phoenix Preacher a unique exception?<<<<

    After all these years, probably yes.

  17. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I knew scores of people that were (for example) almost beside themselves before the election because to them it was a contest between God and the devil.

    Read how both sides of the division in this country speak…and it is really nothing more than a contest over earthly power that people believe is a spiritual battle.

  18. Duane Arnold says:

    #18 MLD

    Although you may not have meant it in this way, I think you said something very profound –
    “Something is always happening with a vocal minority in the church – However I think most (meaning the vast majority) want to live quietly in their God given vocation and not disturb others.”
    A succinct description of the fall and failure of many, if not most, mainline denominations… Unfortunately in the case of the denominations folk were quiet until it was too late.

  19. Steve Wright says:

    I do think there is a spiritual battle as well…when homosexuals align themselves with Islam, while actively fearing the most homosexual affirming man to ever be elected President in this country….there is an irrationality that speaks to spiritual blindness.

    I could say something similar about a large percentage of the women as well…given Islam’s treatment of women wherever they have the power. Did you see the female mayor who spoke to give solidarity at a mosque recently, who first was required to sit in the back behind all the men….

    MLD has shared with us about his Jewish family convinced the concentration camps are coming back…despite a President with Jewish grandkids, in-laws, and a converted Jewish daughter. Again I ask, what is the Islamic point of view concerning the Jews?

    I do affirm the contest concerns earthly power…but there is definitely a component of spiritual battle as well….I just can’t believe that people are that ignorant of Islam as practiced around the world.

  20. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane,
    “Unfortunately in the case of the denominations folk were quiet until it was too late.”

    Too late for what? Persecution? – I thought that was what the rally call is this morning.

    Are you saying that we should be the ones bringing persecution to those Christian brothers who we think “are not doing it right?”

    So I will ask another question – what are you personally doing to bring persecution on the Church, so we learn our lesson of what it means to be a ‘true’ Christian.

    I see just as much fanaticism on your side of the fence as you see on the other.

  21. Michael says:

    Steve, MLD,

    The question before the house is whether that description of Christian conduct should be normative today.

    How would you answer that?

  22. Steve Wright says:

    My “word study” comment was noting that the word, Christian, has minimal references in Scripture and they do seem connected to persecution or pejoratives. As Duane noted, the word has greatly evolved today (especially as an adjective)

    We do not have clear examples in Scripture or even the early Church, of believers with rights secured by law for their faith and its practice. Thus, discussing America today is unique, because we are in a unique time, country, and situation…something I often say to the congregation in reminding them that MOST of the Body of Christ throughout MOST of the world, throughout MOST of the 2000 years of Church history has known persecution, including today. And that we are truly blessed in this nation.

    I do see that in Scripture, people who were persecuted always sought freedom from prison when possible, mourned as tragic the death of fellow believers, and (in the case of Paul) were not hesitant to use their legal earthly citizen rights to fight for their freedoms.

    And I do see a teaching on stewardship throughout the Bible. In all things given to us by God (which is all things..at least every good gift). I also see in communication with believers around the world not blessed with our freedoms a desire to share in them – (i.e. just look at how precious voting rights are to people who have never known them or had them taken from them).

    Thus, I feel we fall back on some guiding principles..namely that the Holy Spirit dwells in every Christian, and we are not to judge another’s servant as to his/her service and convictions.

  23. Duane Arnold says:

    #22 MLD

    With respect, I will deal with a question, but not a rant…

    #21 Steve
    I recognize the issue with Islam. I would ask you, as Christians within a secular society, how do you think we should deal with Islam, recognizing that the early Church also had to deal with competing ideologies and religions?

  24. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I would say yes it should be normative – AND that with most Christians it is – probably in the same ratios as in the 2nd century.

    You probably had Christians in those days sneaking into the gladiator fights. 😉

  25. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane – that is the reply of a fanatic.- sorry I am not like some others here who just give you one word answers..

  26. John 20:29 says:

    it is an old truism that we can’t have an intelligent discussion without an agreement on the definition of the words/terms in play… so much of the disagreement within the world of Christianity is based on labels that have little or nothing to do with what constitutes a Believer…
    it is sad that those of us who accept the concept of eternal security are forced to deal with the yin and yang of “there is nothing you can do to lose your salvation” and “there is no work you can do to secure your salvation” … and i won’t even presume to go into the baptismal salvation bestowed on infants…
    read Mathetes’ description with which Duane’s post today blesses all who pass by here and ask yourself does that ring true? i think it does… i think i may have some ground to gain to catch up with the folk 2,000 years behind me

  27. Michael says:

    John 20:29,

    I was going to look up that piece for an article this week…Duane handled it better than I would have.

    It is very convicting to me…

  28. John 20:29 says:

    Michael, i am wondering this morning about that term, “convict” … does it sometimes keep us from rejoicing? if we are looking for Truth, shouldn’t we rejoice more than we slouch under conviction?
    not sure of what i am getting at as the theory hasn’t jelled in my frame of reference, yet LOL

  29. Michael says:

    John 20:29,

    Conviction to me simply means I’m confronted with truth that I’m not putting in practice.

    I rejoice that there is “true” truth and that God cares enough about me to allow me to see it.

    There is great blessing from acting on conviction that leads to rejoicing.

  30. Steve Wright says:

    recognizing that the early Church also had to deal with competing ideologies and religions?
    ——————————————————-
    But that’s the point. The early Church did not compete from a position of stewardship.

    So as a Christian in a secular society, with that secular society being the United States of America which is governed by its Constitution, I would most certainly support and defend freedom of speech, freedom of religion – and most of all I would recognize, as did the Founders (whether deists or not) that government exists primarily to secure the rights we are given by our Creator.

    There was a tremendous article written in the Huffington Post of all places by a Muslim female refugee…and she stated that Muslim immigrants come in four basic groups. Some 1) do want a better way of life (i.e. the American dream) and seek to work hard, live in peace with their neighbors and identify as American Muslim no differently than the average American Christian. This is best seen by those in the country that many of us know through work or school. Muslim Americans who have been here for 10-20 years or more.

    Others, however, are either 2) angry young men who seek to cause lots of trouble, as seen clearly in Europe and the rise in criminal activity, especially towards women. 3) uneducated, unskilled people, often older, who want to live off the benefits that American taxpayers can provide them, have no interest in working or assimilating. Again, Europe has shown this truism as well. And finally 4) a few are jihadists bent on terrorism. Europe has shown this as well.

    Again, I simply report what a female Muslim refugee herself affirms on a very liberal website. And what any dispassionate look at the facts on the ground in Europe would show.

    America was built on people like those in item #1. Our immigration policies should always be geared to such people – and I could care less what religion they happen to be.

    America will be weakened, and its people hurt by those in groups 2-4. The violence speaks for itself and the economics behind group 3 make sustainability an impossibility. Besides, it is not the role of government to be a worldwide charity. There are more than enough options for those who want to freely give their money to help people overseas. And Americans are quite generous in their charity.

    Europe is waking up to this fact and changing policy to try to deal with the problems they have created for themselves. It seems wisdom to avoid stepping into the problem in the first place….

  31. Duane Arnold says:

    #24 Steve

    I think dealing with changing circumstances is part of the issue. During the first 300 years of the Church, persecution was random and sporadic and often local. Two, three, and in some cases, four generations could could pass with no persecution at all. Churches were built, communities formed, etc.. Then it happened, for anything from a few months to several years. Slowly life would return to normal. We have records of Christians petitioning imperial officials for the return of churches that had been confiscated. What I’m concerned with is what is the “constant” in these changeable times? How do we act or react?

    If for instance, if taxes were levied on church properties in the US, would that constitute persecution or simply a legal issue to be dealt with as an incorporated group? Do we oppose refugees of a certain faith owing to our own religious world view? Hindus have been persecuting Christians in India. Do we ban Hindus? The list could go on and on. I’m not saying that I have any definitive answers, but I think it is worthwhile for us to thoughtfully deal with the questions.

  32. Duane Arnold says:

    #32 Steve

    My post passed you in transmission…

  33. Steve Wright says:

    In many respects, the Cold War was “easier” for Christians, especially in America. An officially atheistic Soviet Union, bent on world conquest, brings clarity.

    There is no separation of mosque and state in Islam. That has to be understood as step one. That is why we see no such separation in sharia governments. The random Muslim may affirm such a separation, especially in the West, but that does not make the norm.

    Nobody believes in fighting for Christianity with the sword, with killing the pagans, simply because they are pagans. However, the secular nation of America (and free nations worldwide) have an enemy that is no longer thousands of miles away, nor (thanks to foreign dependence on oil) can be ignored by the international community.

    And this enemy is motivated by a religious fervor. It matters not whether they have “hijacked” Islam, anymore than it matters if Lenin hijacked Karl Marx’s writings. Present reality is all that matters.

    So when a largely Christian nation fights back against an entirely Islamic enemy for freedom for all people within its borders (including other religions, homosexuals, women) it is NOT a religious war on our side, nor should we wring our hands as followers of Christ that we are violating Christ’s teachings anymore than those who fought fascism and communism.

    And the government owes its citizens the wisdom and commitment to discern the tactics of the enemy…and that ever since the Greeks presented a certain horse to Troy, failure to recognize this fact has led to disaster. Even the Bible contains examples of military victory brought about by subterfuge.

  34. Steve Wright says:

    Hindus have been persecuting Christians in India. Do we ban Hindus?
    ——————————————-
    Duane, because of my strong connection to India which you may not be aware of but most regular here know, I thought of this before you wrote it….I almost added above that I do not care what religion those in groups 2-4 happen to be either….

    I add that now.

  35. Duane Arnold says:

    #35 Steve

    I largely agree with you, but with a few caveats –
    1. “largely Christian nation”, I think I would dispute…
    2. Islam is a danger as practiced among many groups and nations. Saudi Arabia has been notorious for decades in this regard. I do not see Saudis being banned or even considered.
    3. Pakistan (no oil) has equally been aggressive in their intolerance, but again, no ban.
    4. “Nobody believes in fighting for Christianity with the sword…” I think many do believe in this.

  36. Steve Wright says:

    1. “largely Christian nation”, I think I would dispute…
    ——————————————-
    What matters is this discussion is that 75% of the voters in 2016 profess to be Christians. The discussion here is public policy, not the wheat and the tares.

    2-3) You are not going to find me supporting the inconsistent international policies of our government with Islamic nations around the world. We could start with the Bush family. However, since you write in the context of the temporary ban, you actually are doing a fine job of supporting Trump’s view — namely, that this is not a Muslim ban but directly connected to nations that have broken down as to their governments. They can’t provide us the needed materials to vet that other Islamic, stable, governments can provide. I NEVER implied that oil had anything to do with this temporary ban through the Executive Order, nor was I speaking of the ban at all – but rather our history as a country over the last several decades.

    4) – I don’t know what to say to such a worldview. I feel sorry your liberalism has gotten you to embrace it. No different than those on the right convinced the left wanted them thrown into FEMA camps during the Obama years. Utter madness.

    Needless to say, there is no evidence Christians are running around the streets of America using violence in the name of Jesus Christ against unbelievers. In fact, I would wager that for every loon who vandalizes a mosque there is a fake news report of someone lying about being harassed.

    Maybe you define the word “many” as in a few nobodies on twitter….but you will not find a denomination, influential leaders, or serious argument that non Christians are to be killed for Jesus’ sake while waving the stars and stripes.

    But if “many” are advocating the murder or forced conversion of Muslims in America, then it should not be too hard to come up with half a dozen or so names to list out here for evaluation.

  37. Josh the Baptist says:

    My very best friends, whom I’ve known since early childhood, are by and large not Christian. It was about the time that we were all separating and going to college, before social media, that I was saved. They kept going in the same direction. I turned around.

    Coming this December, I’ve been married for 20 years. Most of those really old friends see that as a super human feat from the stone-age. When they’ve asked me how in the world it worked, they had the idea that we have agreed on every issue for 20 years, never argued or fought, and think each other are insanely hot every moment of the day. When I tell them that none of those things are true, but in fact, we are very different people. We disagree on a ton of stuff. We used to argue all the times. There have been times where I felt like I hated her guts, and I’m sure the feeling was returned.

    True, she has always thought I was insanely hot, but what can I say?

    Grasping for some way to tell my agnostic friend and his atheist wife to keep their marriage together, I had to admit, I have no clue. If you remove Jesus from the picture of my marriage, my wife and I are far too different, and it would never work. However, because I love Jesus, and she loves Jesus, when we are both focusing on him we can tolerate our differences. We can even love each other, and enjoy spending time together more than anything in the world.

    And yes, that story is about the current topic 🙂
    .

  38. Steve Wright says:

    I’ve got to make some calls….off now.

  39. Josh the Baptist says:

    “Typical Pphx Discussion, and I say this w/ affection:

    MLD telling us to calm down, nothing’s happening;
    Steve Wright offering a word study;
    Duane referencing ancient sources;
    MIchael and Xenia agreeing w/ Duane”

    And Josh tells a seemingly unrelated story. 🙂

  40. Xenia says:

    Josh, I was trying to think of something clever to characterize your contributions but the fact is, you are an independent thinker and I can never predict what you are going to say!

  41. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve Wright said “Maybe you define the word “many” as in a few nobodies on twitter….but you will not find a denomination, influential leaders, or serious argument that non Christians are to be killed for Jesus’ sake while waving the stars and stripes.”

    This is what I was trying to say above that got labeled a “rant” – just because you hear about something does not mean many are following.

  42. Duane Arnold says:

    #38 Steve

    On “largely Christian nation”, I am frankly disturbed as apart from self-description in a survey, I do not believe in “national Christianity” in any way…

    On the Bush family, oil, etc., I think we would largely agree although I think we would disagree concerning the current attempted ban for a whole range of reasons.

    Finally, I’m not sure about my “liberalism”, but there are those within the greater Church in this country, I believe, that have gone beyond the pale in mixing their Christian faith with images of waving flags and F16s flying by… and yes, I have seen it in numerous conservative churches.

    I prefer the identity of the early believers – “They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers.”

  43. Xenia says:

    I agree that no serious Christian group wants to kill unbelievers in the name of Christ.

    But I do know a lot of Christians (in real life, not FB) who are always talking about their guns and how they are preparing for…. something. So I don’t know who these people are expecting to shoot but it worries me some. I imagine they are thinking of self-defense against….. who?

  44. Michael says:

    “They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers.”

    I don’t know how we get around that this is the description of the church in the NT…and should be about us as well.

  45. Victor says:

    After the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster, I read a letter to the editor of the San Jose, CA, paper where the writer said that it was improper to read a Bible verse at the memorial due to an Israeli being one of the crew. The verse was from the Old Testament, so aside the obvious ignorance on display, there was here a savior looking for a victim…

    Since there was an Indian crew member on board, I asked my Indian co-worker if she was offended that a verse from The Bible was read at the memorial. She was Hindu, a Brahman, in fact. She looked at me curiously and said, “of course not, America is a Christian nation.”

    Interesting point-of-view.

  46. Victor says:

    Oops. Columbia disaster in 2003, not the Challenger in ’86.

  47. Jean says:

    “What matters is this discussion is that 75% of the voters in 2016 profess to be Christians. The discussion here is public policy, not the wheat and the tares.”

    Any way you want to slice it, it is dead wrong to say America is a Christian nation or that it runs on Christian values or ethics. There are secular nations in Europe which are closer than America.

    The nation of America is by definition a left hand kingdom order. By definition, it must be run under the Law. Christ’ kingdom runs under grace. He plainly said His kingdom is not of this world. Christ does not resist His enemies, He dies for them.

  48. Jean says:

    If we are going to cite the Fathers, let’s also hear from the Father of Latin Christianity:

    “We are worshippers of one God, of whose existence and character Nature teaches all men; at whose lightnings and thunders you tremble, whose benefits minister to your happiness. You think that others, too, are gods, whom we know to be devils. However, it is a fundamental human right, a privilege of nature, that every man should worship according to his own convictions….”

  49. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    I think we call that “two for two”… Agreed and well cited…

  50. Jean says:

    I may get in trouble for sharing this, but my son asked me to review a paper he’s teaching from this Wednesday evening. Here, from one section, is a comment on our topic. What do youy’all think?

    “So where does that leave us? St. Peter calls the church “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” [citation omitted]. Jesus calls us to be a city on a hill; an example to those around us. He urges us, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” [citation omitted]. Our purpose is to bring other people to praise and worship God. We are the “salt of the Earth” [citation omitted]. What do we use salt for? It adds flavor and we can flavor the world with mercy and love. But more than that, salt is used as a preservative. God preserves people; he saves people through the proclamation of Jesus Christ. Listen again to Peter, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” [citation omitted]. These good deeds are about more than just doing the right things and avoiding the wrong things. It’s not about fear of punishment or trying to earn our ticket to heaven. It’s about revealing God’s love through how we live our lives. John writes that ”no one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

  51. John 20:29 says:

    “So when a largely Christian nation fights back against an entirely Islamic enemy for freedom for all people within its borders (including other religions, homosexuals, women) it is NOT a religious war on our side, nor should we wring our hands as followers of Christ that we are violating Christ’s teachings anymore than those who fought fascism and communism.”

    weeel i thot that this was worth repeating as it dovetails with the letter posted – IMHO

    FWIW @37, i don’t think that the present head of the Saudi government is as treacherous as the guy that died recently (can’t think of what they call their leader – sheik?)… a little know fact, perhaps, is that there has been ongoing cooperation of sorts between Israel and the Saudis … and Bush Jr. was waay too influenced by Cheney, who is an oiil man to the core, IMO…
    there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes than what we see…
    i know it will grate on most here, but we sure do look to be lining up to fulfill end times as prophesy is understood by many of us

    the Church truly is just a life boat on the sea of history, ready to rescue all, but so few climb aboard… sorry, but my thot processes just work that way 🙂

  52. Duane Arnold says:

    BTW, for those you are skeptical about others mixing Church and State, it is worth looking at the remarks of Rep. Mike Pompeo at Wichita Summit Church, “God and Country Rally” on June 28, 2015… Oh, yes, he’s now in charge of the CIA…

  53. Siggy the Terrible says:

    Duane

    I bet the CIA has always been in the church.

  54. John 20:29 says:

    #55 – make that churches and you got that right…
    i remember long years ago we were hosting a couple really nice fellows who were headed over to Turkey as part of a search for Noah’s Ark… i had to bite my tongue because these fellows were so government, but they were good guys non the less

  55. Duane Arnold says:

    #52 Jean

    Do you know who is being quoted?

  56. Jean says:

    Duane,
    My son wrote that.

  57. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    I wondered. You should be proud, it’s very good!
    “…we can flavor the world with mercy and love.”

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