Drippings from the Honeycomb
More to be desired are [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)
Woke means ‘awake.’ It is taken from the Civil Rights Movement where is spoke of being awake to racial injustices.
What should we be awake to: perceived injustices, the oppressed and the oppressor(s).
Traditionally this language was used by Marx in Communism to speak of class. With its epic failure in the 20th C, where did all of those Western communists go? They rebranded and found refuge in the humanities departments of our universities. As they reflected upon their loss they had to rebrand communism to make it more palatable. As such they expanded the list of oppression from class to a whole host of perceived social injustices. Hence they are known as Social Marxists.
Central to their belief is that all people operate on the basis of power. We all are trying to oppress each other. As such we must liberate people from the oppressors. When this has been accomplished there will be utopia. Their idea of oppression is called intersectionality (think intersection). The more roads of oppression are at your intersection the more power/privilege you have in society as the victim to rise up and liberate yourself/group (like the voice of the worker in communism). For example, if you are a woman you are obviously oppressed. But if you are a woman of an ethnic minority, who is poor, who is disabled, who is lesbian, etc, then your intersectionality has grown exponentially and you have power as the victim to speak against oppression. You have the right to be liberated and live in accordance with your identity.
If you remember or have studied the ills of communism the parallels are eerily uncanny:
Ironically in both instances the oppressed end up becoming the oppressors.
Lies and control really do place Wokeism in the category of the Satanic; who is the father of lies and oppressor of the world.
This spiritual battle is also why Marxism is hostile to religion generally and Christianity specifically. Christianity stands for truth and freedom, humility vs. pride, for the individual and responsibility, for accountability to a higher power, Jesus Christ. All of this stands against the ethos of Marxism. There is a reason communism failed in the West, Christianity. There is a reason the Woke have targets Christianity and Christian morals through the decades, it is the obstacle to securing power.
What does Wokeism produce?
Wokeism produces people who are angry (because they are taught they are the victim; people who are irresponsible/entitled (because their situation is someone else’s fault); and people who are anxious and depressed (because in a world of power no one can be trusted). This sounds just like our culture.
Little Common ground between Christianity and Wokeism
While Christianity has and does stand against real injustices there is much that separates it from the Woke. Specifically a different view on human nature (good/bad) and liberation (from perceived oppression or from sin). Really the difference comes down to pride and humility.
A Christian Response
It is easy to use descend to Woke tactics, but we must resist. Jesus teaches us a better way. We must courageously stand for truth in grace. We must have compassion upon the lost and focus on love, joy and hope.
The Woke and the Gospel
The truth is, like Communists, the Woke need Jesus. They need the Gospel.
Jesus enabled our liberation from the power of sin, by becoming a real victim. Through His death and Resurrection the victim became the victor for all who believe.
Traditionally Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism have been recognized as the main visible branches of Christianity. However, since the rise of Pentecostalism, with all of its distinctives, it is worth asking if Pentecostalism is part of Protestantism or unique enough to be its own branch of the visible family tree?
A Brief History
Coming onto the scene through an indebtedness to dry and dead nominal liberal Protestantism, the holiness tradition and Baptist leaders, Pentecostalism had its origin at a ‘Bible study’ in Topeka Kansas in 1901 on gifts of the Spirit. More famously it gained attention through a ‘revival’ in Azuza Street, California in 1906. Not without an early moral rocky road Pentecostalism soon burst onto the world stage, largely indebted to the subjectivity and experientialism of Romanticism and Post-Modernism. It progressed through 3 phases: Pentecostalism (think denomination), the Charismatic Movement (think Pentecostal doctrines entering traditional denominations) and the New Apostolic Reformation (a belief God is reforming His Church through a return to a revival like in Acts with apostolic figures). Though not universal it has deeply imbibed the Word of Faith movement and Health and Wealth message. Today Pentecostalism is a broad movement with some 600 million adherents (though about ¼ of all Pentecostals are not Trinitarian).
A Chart of Contrasts:
From a cursory survey of key areas of faith and practice, much like the differences between Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy, it is apparent that Pentecostalism, while related to Protestantism historically and in many ways similar, is in fact a fourth branch of visible Christianity. This is especially so where the “Health and Wealth” and “Word of Faith” movements are felt strongest and may be less apparent in more settled Pentecostal denominations or where the charismatic stage is less strongly exerted upon a individual/church/denomination.
You may have heard that phrase before or recently seen flags with this slogan.
On the one hand its meaning is ambiguous because normally a definition goes along the lines of “A cat is a small four legged house pet.” A definition by nature defines something.
Regardless of the ambiguity in this case the meaning is clear. ‘Love is love’ is put forward to mean that any emotional attachment we might feel toward someone (or something) regardless of who (or what) that is, is justified merely on the basis of the emotion being displayed. It doesn’t matter who or what you love because ‘love’ trumps all values.
Imprecision in definition is a practice open to abuse.
In 1971 Oxford defined love as “that disposition or state of feeling with regard to a person which manifests itself in solicitude for the welfre of the object, and usually also delight in his presence and desire for his approval; warm affection, attachment.” Aside from neglecting to note love as a verb and not a noun (an action and not a thing) at least 1971 Oxford has a meaty definition.
Today Mr. Oxford defines love as “a very strong feeling of liking and caring for somebody/something [sometimes romantic].”
The best definition I’ve ever encountered for love (Greek, agape) means to prefer, to prefer someone or something more than yourself, to prefer what God has said, and to show this through one’s actions. This is the definition we find in 1 Jn 5:3a:
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.
By definition then, to love means to prefer what God has said (the truth) and do it. If we prefer anything and do anything other than what He has said it cannot be love but is sin; and we humans love to sin. Thankfully God preferred us so as to send His Son to rescue us from sin (Jn 3:16) so we might live a life of true love, love for God and others as defined by Him, the author of reality.
Because words have meaning and meaning conveys truth and truth never changes (Heb 13:8; 1 Pet 1:25) it actually does turn out that ‘love is love’ after all but not in the way many think.
Have you ever met someone who is a Posivitist? What is a positivist? Someone who will only allow positive thinking (c.f. mindfulness), affirmations, self-empowerment, promotes a “positive space,” displays or writes positive plagues or mantras, advocates acts of kindness, feels and uses ‘energies’ and never accepts critique or realism. This is a positivist and positivism is positively growing in our society!
When I first encountered a positivist I was—frankly—confused. Where is this coming from? What does this person believe? How widespread is this and what effect is this having on our culture? Without knowing more I was unequipped to deal with it as a Christian.
Where does such thinking come from?
There are a number of possible sources by which some might arrive at this way of thinking:
Simply put Positivist believe that fostering “a positive mental attitude, supported by affirmations, will achieve success in anything.” How one thinks is central to tapping into the spiritual universe to bend it to your will. Spirituality is impersonal and self-focused.
What affect is it having on our culture?
In a culture that desires to appear spiritual and fix their problems themselves Positivism offers a lot of perceived benefits (chiefly feeling spiritual without God). If you look around it has worked its way into self-help workshops, schools, counselling, stress management, corporate practice, preaching, etc. You might say it is ‘everywhere’ and its way of thinking is so prevalent bits of it can be absorbed into our way of thinking often without even realizing it.
A Biblical Critique/Alternative
Now certainly the Bible would have much to say against ‘impossibility thinkers’ as it related to faith and hope in the God of the impossible; yet the Bible is also a realistic book (we call this truth) and often speaks in the negative concerning sin or lies (“thou shalt not”), while positively endorsing what is right and true (“Honour your father and mother”).
On key questions that religions and worldviews address, Christianity and Positivism are more often than not at complete odds:
How can we share the Gospel with a Positivist we may know or love? Certainly there are inconsistencies, certainly upon what objective truth one basis their belief needs to be considered; yet ultimately we share the Gospel with gentleness, respect and conviction and let it reverberate against their worldview. They are looking for someone; it’s Jesus. Point them to him as the answer to their spiritual quest.
I have recently observed a growing distrust, of the news, of government amongst Christians. What shall we make of this? Here are some meandering thoughts.
Jesus said, “…the truth will set you free.” (Jn 8:32b)
Hold onto those works, we’ll return to them in their context.
First, in our world today there is growing distrust of truth and impairment of freedom. This in turn produces a form of bondage. In the old days news was supposed to be unbiased, a presentation of the facts more or less, leaving the readers or viewers to decide. The pursuit of truth requires a freedom to inquire and follow where you believe the facts take you. It seeks to be objective. The moment freedom is removed or facts are viewed in a biased way then truth itself is compromised. The prevailing philosophy of our time, postmodernism, has no doubt underpinned this as it views all truth as subjective, your truth, my truth, not the truth. The problem is that over time growing subjectivity in the media (on the left and the right) meant that biased news began to be labelled “fake news.” Both left and right used this to advance their agenda and exploit the other side. “Fact checking” became the hallmark of left and right. Echo chambers have paralyzed any meaningful conversation. The recent pandemic has only exacerbated this. What is true? What is real? A want of truth paralyses society because relationships are rooted in trust and so mistrust becomes a form of bondage.
Second, the rise of authoritarianism threatens truth and freedom. Putin’s authoritarian coverage of Ukraine is a prime example of this. Today I listened to a Russian living in Ukraine trying to convince his Russian father that what he was being told on state media wasn’t the same as reality on the ground. But this is where truth and freedom come closer to home. Here in Canada Covid states of emergency shut down reasonable discussion over the virus and our response, Bill C-4 has restricted expression and investigation into areas of morality and identity, the recent use of the Emergency Act allowed political dissent to be deemed as treason, and the controversial Bill C-10 would grant further powers of censorship. But this should not surprise us because neo-liberalism—a prevailing ideology—places the group ahead of the individual and uses tactics of demonization and power to advance its agenda rather than logic and truth. Thankfully we’re not so far along in this process as other countries in the world but the development is disconcerting. Even journalists of our own state funded media outlet, CBC, have quit the company over this sort of culture. We should be rightfully concerned over the normalization of cultural and state promoted authoritarianism and what this will mean for tangible freedom.
Truth leads to freedom because unhindered by lies we can better our lives in light of the truth.
However, given the news and politics we shouldn’t stop believing everything or to believe the opposite as some are inclined to do or embrace conspiracy theories. We must remember that thinking is part of God’s common grace (c.f. Mt 5:45), a non-saving gift to all (or most!) of mankind. For example, even though we may disagree with someone’s worldview in country X,Y, or Z we may still trust that the product they produce can be worn, eaten, driven or used.
I encourage people to do a number of things: diversify the sources that you read for your news and think about what is presented (I read many of the major global news networks). Also ask good questions like what are the facts? are the sources trustworthy? am I approaching this subject in an unbiased way? am I thinking about it logically? Am I really interested in the truth?
We’ll find a measure of freedom in these two things.
More importantly, let’s return to that quote from Jesus and see what true truth is and how to find real freedom. Here is John 8:31–32:
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
When we come to believe the ultimate truth, our Creator Jesus, and accept Him as Lord and Saviour then we are freed spiritually from the bondage to sin and the lies of the enemy. Not only is our soul freed but our mind; we gain a new worldview to see things rightly through the lens of Scripture. This is all very liberating.
The irony is that those who may be physically free in this world (free media, free countries) may indeed be spiritually enslaved, and those who are physically oppressed and enslaved (c.f. a Christian in a North Korean work camp) are actually spiritually free.
Freedom is important. The freedoms we enjoy in the West are a result of Christian influences. However, the greatest freedom we can possess is the freedom of our soul, a freedom that no one can take away.
Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it—the LORD is his name: (Jeremiah 33:2, ESV)
Haven’t you read the Scriptures? (Matthew 19:4, NLT)
I love a good buffet. I’ve been to some good ones (including in England where they’re called carvery’s). In discovering the Mennonite buffet in Varney, ON (Pebbles), I’ve probably arrived at as close to the heavenly banquet as is possible here on earth. You can choose from the grill, soups and breads, salads, roast beef or turkey (and fixings) and other hot dishes like meatloaf. Top it off there are homemade pies, squares and even ice cream. As a treat—for it isn’t cheap—it is a wonderful place to dine.
Truth, however, isn’t like dinning at a buffet where we can pick and choose what to believe. Sadly, in our relativistic post-modern age that is exactly how truth is view, if we believe in truth at all. Like the cultural compromise and corruption of the church of Smyrna this view all to easily permeates the church. We often hear talk of my truth and your truth, revealed truths or revelations vs. the truth or revelation. The Spirit trumps Scripture. Rather than exegesis (drawing the meaning out of the text) many practice eisegesis (imposing my view on the text). Subjective experientialism and not objective truth and reality is the meal of the day. Organized religion is bad but my religion or spirituality is ok. But this really is all Cotton Candy theology. It may taste good to eat what you like and when you want it but it will leave you feeling empty and you’ll never grow into the person God wants you to be.
A far better diet is to—in faith—eat what God desires us to eat by submitting to His truth, revealed religion. Like the Scriptures at the beginning, Scripture abounds with the authoritative and objective proclamations of the Lord.
True religion is revealed not realized or invented. It’s embraced and not sampled or created. It is the “faith once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3). Now that is something to feast on!
Long title; short blog.
To many people the knowledge of God can lead to pride: that they know Him, how much they know about or of Him. Scripture paints a very different picture. The knowledge of God is humbling:
May we know Christ and make Him known, in humility. Surely, the Lord will use this for His glory.
Though contemporary society can shy away from such a question as “too judgemental,” to do so is actually spiritually injurious; Jesus and the Apostles commanded us to be alert (Mt 7:15).
Often we can tell a false teacher by measuring their truth/teaching by the standard of the Gospel or the “faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Gal 1:8; Jude 3).
Another way is to watch out for polluted behaviour because bad beliefs produce bad behaviour (or faith produces the fruit of faith and visa versa).
Scripture lays down some other methods to be sure, however, in reading John 7:18 I was struck by another, which taken with the others, provides a helpful test:
The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.
This is in the context of Jesus telling the truth and seeking His Father’s glory in contrast with the religious leaders, but it sheds light on the false teachers we may face too. False teachers are: 1) proud (even if mildly concealed), 2) which works out in a promotion of their own thoughts (vs. God’s truth) and 3) for their own glory, or so that others would think well of them (think cult) rather than praise God. This can be true of preachers or people; but regardless of the context are three things we all need to be on the lookout for.
…you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.
—Jesus (John 8:32)
Someone recently sent me a quote attributed to George Orwell, “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” This got me thinking.
If you were like me you had to read one of two books (or both) in high school, George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945) or 1984 (1949). In these books Orwell showed both insight into wartime totalitarian regimes (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) and also great prescience, forward thinking, as he warned of many dangers to personal freedom that such regimes, and their way of thinking, were liable to cause in the future. Evidently, Orwell didn't believe society had seen the end of such tyranny.
Animal Farm is about the animals of a farm that revolt against their farmer and establish a commune. In the end this communist experiment goes awry as power is centralized with the pigs. The slogan that had begun, “All animals are equal,” degenerated into the most famous line in the book, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
1984 is a story of a distant time (in the past now!) in which a utopian society had been produced through centralized control under the guise of offering “freedom.” Newspeak, Doublethink, Big Brother and the Thought Police are all key words that give a window into the control that existed within this "utopian" totalitarian society. As the main characters begin to think for themselves they yearn for true freedom.
Classic liberalism championed the freedom of the individual as created in the image of God (Gen 1:27, and thus was a predominantly influenced by Christianity). This was the basis of modern Western society—a secular freedom as close to real freedom that one can arrive at apart from Christ—but which is now under attack by a creeping new influence: neo-liberalism (or neo-Marxism), that privileges the group against the individual and seeks to exert coercive influence against any that would oppose its worldview.
Let’s think about the wisdom of Orwell and apply it to today (i.e. where can we see seeds of his critique in society at large? [btw- this is no attempt at a conspiracy theory!]).
What similarities do we find in our present culture?
As post-Christian society becomes further unmoored from its foundation in Christ, Christians will be called to speak the truth in love, and will often bear the brunt of hatred as a result.
But individual freedom and the pursuit of truth aside (as important as those are), is not what Jesus is getting at in Jn 8:32. He is saying we are actually all spiritually enslaved to sin but that He came to offer the greatest liberty, freedom from it and the ability to follow Christ and live the good life we were created to live. Jesus is the truth, not only the ultimate reality but true and good. We are false and sinful. He came not only to live out a true life, but to die for our falseness so we might live truly. He calls us to believe in His truthfulness, so we might be restored and walk in the truth ourselves.
Thanks George, but thank you most of all Jesus.
 I couldn’t find the original source but this certainly sounds like Orwell, and even if it isn’t is still a helpful quote.
 Orwell was a nominal Anglican (at best). Yet, it is striking how this quote bears a Gospel semblance. Jesus spoke a similar truth concerning what He was hated and why His followers would be likewise hated in Jn 15:18.
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:11
The Bible means “The Book.” It is a book unlike any other for in it we have the very words of God. When it speaks, God speaks; authoritatively and truthfully on all matters upon which it positively touches. For those convinced of this from the Bible itself, the testimony of the Spirit, reason and logic, experience, etc, there is no other place to look for truth for in Scripture alone are found the words of life.
A friend of mine has a common saying, “if you’re not reading the Bible, you shouldn’t be reading anything else, for you’ll have no standard by which to evaluate its truthfulness.” This is not mindlessness or uncritical detachment; for the one who has placed their faith in revelation over reason it is recognition that God’s word is truth, spoken by the author of truth, to inform how we ought to understand reality as He’s created it. He’s given us minds, so we should use them, but the greatest wisdom is in trusting the mind of God revealed in Scripture.
There is the old adage, you are what you eat. Ps 115 says the same thing, “Those who make them [idols] become like them; so do all who trust in them.” If we indiscriminately take on board whatever we hear, read, listen to or watch, we are like waves tossed to and fro, we’re undiscerning fools that will be led away into great sorrow. We’ll become just like what we absorb. We must be anchored to the truth of God’s word and try every thought, word, deed, idea or attitude by it.
Here God’s Word is like a filter. It helps us sort between what is helpful and unhelpful, true and false. Many years ago it was said that the RCMP didn’t teach constables about every single counterfeit bill but rather taught them to know an authentic bill and so be able to try every bill by that standard. If we’re not spending time in the truth (and with the Truth) how are we to discern truth or goodness:
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