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Those Christians

From Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, on the title of Christian:

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The word “Christian” was initially a derogatory term, used to mark out early believers. These saints often stood out – the World knew there was something different about them. And when someone called these marked men and women “Christians,” they correctly identified the cause of their distinction. Christ was at the center of those saint’s lives.

The added suffix, -ian, implied “from, belonging to, relating to, or like.” Intended to be negative, these definitions instead accurately described the believers.

  • From: We are from Christ – a new creature, created in Christ Jesus.
  • Belonging to: We belong to him – “we are his workmanship.”
  • Relating to: We are related to him – we are “in Christ” – brought into the eternal relationship of the Father, Son, and Spirit.
  • Like: We are being made into his image, like him – the “new man… is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.”

This is wonderful! So why was being an “-ian” of Christ thought to be negative? Because Christ was rejected and condemned by his own people and executed in the most brutal and public fashion known at that time. He was seen, not as a risen victor over death and sin, but as a failed revolutionary who only attracted the dregs of society.

Following Christ, identifying with him, means destroying pride, selfishness, and self-dependence and embracing his humility. Only when we empty ourselves of ourselves can we be filled with him – and only then will his radiance shine through us, apparent to all around us.

Of all spiritual traits, a consistent Christ-like attitude is the most desirable – because we are Christians, the Image Bearers of Christ, belonging to him, like him, relating to him, and from him, and we should always be bearing in our bodies the dying – the sacrificial love – of Christ Jesus.

Robert Chapman, an 19th century believer known in England as the “apostle of love,” told of an exchange he overheard while riding in a public coach. He had not opened his lips when a couple began arguing furiously in French, which Chapman could speak. At last the woman said, “I affirm that I am as innocent of that which you accuse me as is that holy man of God sitting in the corner, who anyone can see is going straight to heaven.”

Would to God our relationship with Christ would be so intimate, that we would be so “Christian” as to have it that apparent to all who are around us! May we be marked as the early believers, with Christ at our center, and “-ian” in all we say and do.

Abortion – The Modern Moloch

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were constantly straying into idolatry, and one false god that snared them is specifically connected to the hideous practice of infant sacrifice. The Ammonite idol Moloch was worshipped first by the Canaanites, who then transmitted their practices to the Israelites. The worship of Moloch, which included ritualized carnal acts as well as infant sacrifice, was associated with intercession for the idol’s favor – a plea for prosperity.

Jewish tradition describes the practice of infant sacrifice:

Tophet is Moloch, which was made of brass, having the face of an ox; and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved.1

This practice is depicted as possibly the worst offense committed by the Israelites, as it is often listed first, and frequently singled out – though it could be included in the general condemnation of idolatry. God, speaking through Ezekiel, said,

Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire?2

This offense is so great that, even after its chief perpetrator, Manasseh, repented in his old age and his grandson, Josiah, led a great revival, God still pronounced destruction on the Israelites of Judah:

Now before [Josiah] there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him. Nevertheless the Lord did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him.3

modern molech cartoonThroughout history, Moloch has been portrayed as a proxy for the sacrifice of innocents in order to gain material well-being. In 1923, backlash against a frightening increase in the number  of pedestrian children being killed by motor vehicles led to a St. Louis Star political cartoon entitled, The Modern Moloch, in which a man offers a platter of children’s corpses to the leering grill of a monstrous car. In Fritz Lang’s 1927 blockbuster silent film Metropolis, workers are thrown to their deaths to oil the cogs of Mol0ch, a giant machine that powers the wealthy upper city.  In his volume, The Gathering Storm (1948), Winston Churchill described the near worship of Adolf Hitler and his prewar economic reforms in Molechian terms.

The similarities between this idolatrous infant sacrifice and today’s mass murder of the unborn are revealing. Most abortions are at the alter of modern prosperity – a sacrifice in order to increase the chance of gaining or keeping prosperity. Attempts to keep mothers from seeing imagery of the unborn children conjure up the drowning out of infant cries with beating of drums in an attempt to keep the mother’s “heart from being moved.” The methods of killing are far more cruel than even Rabbi Itzhaki’s chilling description.

Despite American evangelicalism’s fixation on sexual impurity, it does seem “a small matter” compared with the fifty-six MILLION unborn legally killed in America since Roe v. Wade in 1973. By 2020, the number of children killed in the U.S. will be higher than TWICE the current population of Canada. I fear that, even if we experience a revival equal to that of Josiah, the “great wrath” of God will not be stayed, because of “all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him.”

God help us.


  1. Commentary on Jeremiah 7:31, by Rabbi Shlomo Itzhaki, 1040-1105AD []
  2. Ezekiel 16:20-21 []
  3. 2 Kings 23:25-26 []

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God is Good?

C. S. Lewis once wrote about the meaning of the word Gentleman.

The word gentleman originally meant something recognizable; one who had a coat of arms and some landed property. When you called someone “a gentleman” you were not paying him a compliment, but merely stating a fact. If you said he was not “a gentleman” you were not insulting him, but giving information. There was no contradiction in saying that John was a liar and a gentleman… But then there came people who said – so rightly, charitably, spiritually, sensitively, so anything but usefully – “Ah but surely the important thing about a gentleman is not the coat of arms and the land, but the behavior? They meant well. To be honorable and courteous and brave is of course a far better thing than to have a coat of arms. But it is not the same thing. Worse still, it is not a thing everyone will agree about. To call a man “a gentleman” in this new, refined sense, becomes, in fact, not a way of giving information about him, but a way of praising him: to deny that he is “a gentleman” becomes simply a way of insulting him. When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object: it only tells you about the speaker’s attitude to that object. A gentleman, once it has been spiritualized and refined out of its old coarse, objective sense, means hardly more than a man whom the speaker likes. –Mere Christianity

I think the same thing has happened with the word good. Let’s see how it was used in the Bible, in relation to God the Son:

Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. (Matthew 19:16-17)

The seeker in this passage used the “modern” version of the word good, the idea of something that is acceptable or pleasing. Jesus Christ responded that there is only one Good person – Good with a capital G, if you will. In essence, Jesus Christ was linking Goodness and Deity. It’s as if he said, “Either you’re using that word incorrectly, or you’re calling me God. Which is it?”

The noted late Atheist Christopher Hitchens wrote about the goodness of God:

If Christians modify the dictionary so that no action of God’s could ever be bad, assigning the word “good” to God’s actions says nothing. They hope to make an important statement with “God is good,” but debasing the dictionary makes the word meaningless.

In fact, like the word gentleman, it is the modern definition of good that has been debased.

Let me borrow C. S. Lewis’s words, slightly modified:

To call God “good” in this new, refined sense, becomes, in fact, not a way of giving information about him, but a way of praising him: to deny that he is “good” becomes simply a way of insulting him. When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object: it only tells you about the speaker’s attitude to that object.

When we call God Good, we aren’t paying him a complement, we’re stating a fact; not “God is good,” but “God is Good,” with a capital G. As a gentleman’s title was a characteristic of his position, so the title of Good is characteristic of God’s position. He is the absolute moral standard, and without his standard of Goodness, good hardly means more than what the speaker likes.