It is quite amazing and sad to realize how many people really have bought into this lie which says that “religion” is ultimately the root of all evils, the real enemy of true freedom, and the scourge of humanity. And by “religion” they really just mean the message of Jesus as found in the Bible…
Instead of just doing another post about the more technical/scientific questions surrounding the Flat Earth issue, I wanted to step back for a second and reflect on a few of the more philosophical aspects which I’ve come to notice since really digging into it all.
I think one of the oddest things for me to realize, has been that despite how extreme and ridiculously counter-consensus the idea of the Earth being flat might be to most, in the end, regardless of whether the Earth is a ball or a plane, it actually has very little pragmatic effect on my broader “worldview” (oh look, a pun!).
What I mean is, I already believed that there was a massive international conspiracy and “secret government” of Luciferians. I already believed Satan is manipulating this human pyramid power structure in order to ultimately establish his own throne over the entire world. I already believed that this agenda will ultimately be defeated at the coming of Jesus on the clouds. I already believed that man trying to save himself, whether via transhumanism, or the colonization of outer space, or merging with A.I., or joining in with the fallen angels, etc., was all destined to fail. I already believed that the moon landings were fake, for whatever reason. I already believed that there were no “ancient aliens”, but instead fallen Watchers, and that there will not be any future “alien saviors” either, but perhaps a UFO disclosure/deception on a grand scale. I could go on and on, but the point is, that in either a globe or flat earth model, nothing of major significance really changes. The Enemy’s lies and propaganda are still what they are, and the only true means of escape is still what (or Who) it is…
So I suppose in that sense, it makes it quite unimposing, to ask these kinds of bizarre questions, and listen to arguments that many people would automatically dismiss and ignore as absurd, because ultimately, my paradigm is not threatened in the slightest either way. I really have no “dog in the fight” on this one. There is no confirmation bias to avoid. I have lived for many years now believing the Earth was a globe, and still quite readily was able to believe in the Creator as is revealed in the Bible, as do so many others.
Yet, this segues to another element of the Flat Earth discussion which I have found to be both surprising and very fascinating. Amongst so many of the various “leaders” of this discussion, people writing about it and making videos etc., there is really a very large percentage who openly articulate their rejection of the Evolutionary paradigm we have all been taught as “scientific fact” our whole lives. Now, many of these folks have some degree of belief in the Bible so this would not be all that unusual, but I would have to say that an even larger proportion do not, and to me that is very interesting. Call it more of a “Deism”, or a mysticism, or whatever other brand of “spirituality”, it is noticeably present. In a way, it seems to confirm a lot of observations that many have made, about a broader shift going on in the current generation, which indeed is rejecting the scientific materialism of Modernism, and also the relativistic ambivalence of Post-Modernism, and actually returning to the mythology and spirituality of an earlier epoch.
So indeed, I find it very telling that within this “Flat Earth community”, you do find a good number of people pointing back to Genesis and the Bible, and talking about the “firmament” and the stars in Revelation and so on, but then you also find guys like Eric Dubay, who has tons of fantastic material on the physical evidence for the Earth being a plane, but then in terms of his spiritual message he’ll go from blasting Dawkins and the hopeless message of a cold Evolutionary universe on the one hand, to blasting Christianity and claiming that the Bible is simply mythologized paganism and not meant to be treated literally (turns out he’s a big Tsarion fan, so that makes sense…)
But I have to say, I do find it quite amusing, the more I learn about the various figures who have risen to prominence within the Flat Earth “movement”, and watched as accusations of “SHILL!!!” are being thrown back and forth, by everyone, against virtually everyone else who doesn’t hold the exact same flat earth model, or conspiratorial bent, as they do. You would think that the fact that all these people are in agreement on the same basic ideas which the rest of the populace rejects and ridicules with such fervor would serve to create a much stronger climate of unity and open discussion, but, alas, I suppose the example of the Protestant Reformation serves to remind us of how quickly and easily factions and dissensions can arise, once the prevailing monolithic authority on Truth is finally broken away from…
Speaking of this notion of a “Flat Earth movement”, this is another interesting piece to encounter, the fact that so many people are quite convinced that the truth of the Earth being flat is really and truly “blowing wide open”, and that it could even perhaps be this revolutionary linchpin of information which compels the citizenry of the world to finally break free from the shackles of the satanic Elite. I would have to say that I am highly doubtful of this notion, though at the same time I can understand why people could imagine such a thing. Six months ago, there was not a whole lot of buzz about the Flat Earth goin on within the “Truth Movement” (a corny term I know, but for lack of a better one…) But largely due to Mr. Mark Seargent and his “Flat Earth Clues” videos, and copious amounts of high-profile interviews, it has really sparked a wildfire. Youtube has probably quadrupled the number of flat earth videos in the last several months, and so in a very real sense this sudden increase of interest in a topic, especially one that has so long been held to be taboo and idiotic, is most remarkable. Many are debating whether it is truly an organic, naturally-occurring internet phenomenon, or some kind of disinfo psy-op. People are either becoming intrigued themselves by the idea and the questions being posed, or totally offended and freaking out and going into full-on “debunk mode”.
“This is going to make the whole Truth Movement look completely asinine!”, cry the debunkers. And again, I get it. That’s sort of the whole thing about perspectives on Truth, and whether or not a particular proposition challenges or threatens our currently held paradigm. It’s like if you stumble across a mama bear with her cubs while hiking through the woods. In about a second or two, she’s going to decide if your intrusion poses a threat to her babies, and if it does, then look out! Claws and teeth…
But maybe that’s part of why I am shockingly not even that weirded out by taking a serious look at something like the Flat Earth, because honestly, I’ve been living with being regarded as “asinine” by teachers, peers, random strangers, for most of my life already, because I reject the dogma which asserts that after billions and billions of years, everything we see formed itself out nothing. The claws of ridicule and teeth of intimidation on behalf the “scientific establishment” are nothing new around here. “What? You believe the Bible and take it literally? Don’t you know anything about SCIENCE!?!?” I mean, good grief, tell me one I haven’t heard…
Anyways. It is the phenomenon of our human instinct to protect the paradigms that appeal to us most which prompts me to doubt that the broader swath of humanity would actually even go as far as to openly question if we really could have ALL been lied to about something so big, for so long. That hurdle alone is the main reason why the majority cannot even allow themselves to question something as comparatively simple as 9/11. They simply cannot, or will not, accept the notion of a lie being that BIG. It’s crazy to think that it’s really that easy, but it is. Just make the lie big enough, and the collective pride of humanity balks at the suggestion that so many of us could be so easily fooled. This, combined with the fact that truth is most often times much more unsettling and scary than the fairy tale everyone is accustomed to believing, makes for a rather impenetrable psychological barrier to an opposing narrative…
This is a large reason why I’m not holding my breath about the Flat Earth “revolutionizing” anything. Neither to I expect any sort of “mass awakening” in regards to the bogus War on Terror, or the reality of cloaked Eugenics programs invading every corner of our lives, or whatever else. It’s not for lack of evidence, simply lack of willingness to find the truth, no matter how unpleasant it is, or how much ridicule one might experience for seeking it. A lot of people who are taking the Flat Earth seriously have commented that if is true, then indeed it would constitute the greatest Conspiracy in the history of conspiracies, and I too have thought this very same thing.
However, it has occurred to me recently that, as a follower of Jesus, and believer in the Holy Scriptures, and one who puts my Hope in the return of the One True King, I have had to stop and recognize that no, not even THAT would be the “mother of all conspiracies”. There is yet one more that is greater still. A lie regarding the nature of the created world, the cosmos, everything around us, is massive indeed, but a lie regarding the Creator of the Creation, is even bigger, and of far greater importance. It is actually a lie that any individual can choose for themselves to believe/disbelieve, based on the inclinations of our wayward, sinful natures, rejecting whatever evidence to the contrary that surrounds us. The rebellious heart steers it’s course, and the head follows.
We see only that which we are willing to see, and this holds true for the natural world, the existence of God, and the condition or our inner being. That is where perspective starts, where true clarity begins. Once you stop defending, stop pretending, stop insisting on propping up the walls of the fictitious kingdom of our own godhood, both individually and as a “species”, this is when our vision really starts to come into focus, and the fantastic, Created reality all around begins to fully unfold…
Reposted from Canadian pastor Carey Nieuwhof’s blog. Lots of really great points in here:
Some Advice on Same-Sex Marriage for US Church Leaders From a Canadian
In June 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples can marry in all 50 states, setting off a flurry of reaction by Christians and virtually everyone else on social media and beyond.
Ed Stetzer wrote a helpful background post to the shift in opinion that led to the decision and included links to a number of other leading articles in his post.
The social media reaction ranged from surprising to predictable to disappointing to occasionally refreshing.
I write from the perspective of a pastor of an evangelical church in a country where same sex-marriage has been the law of the land for a decade.
That does not mean I hold any uniquely deep wisdom, but it does mean we’ve had a decade to process and pray over the issue.
I hope what I offer can help. It’s my perspective. My fingers tremble at the keyboard because my goal is to help in the midst of a dialogue that seems far more divisive than it is uniting or constructive.
There will be many who disagree with me, I’m sure, but I hope it pulls debate away from the “sky is falling/this is the best thing ever” dichotomy that seems to characterize much of the dialogue so far.
The purpose of this post is not to take a position or define matters theologically (for there is so much debate around that). Rather, the purpose of this post is to think through how to respond as a church when the law of the land changes as fundamentally as it’s changing on same-sex marriage and many other issues.
Here are 5 perspectives I hope are helpful as church leaders of various positions on the subject think and pray through a way forward.
1. The church has always been counter-cultural
Most of us reading this post have been born into a unique season in history in which our culture is moving from a Christian culture to a post-Christian culture before our eyes.
Whatever you think about history, theology or exactly when this shift happened, it’s clear for all of us that the world into which we were born no longer exists.
Viewpoints that were widely embraced by culture just decades ago are no longer embraced. For some this seems like progress. For others, it seems like we’re losing something. Regardless, things have changed fundamentally.
But is that really such a big deal? For most of the last 2000 years, the authentic church has been counter-cultural. The church was certainly counter-cultural in the first century.
Even at the height of ‘Christendom’ (whenever that was), the most conservative historians would agree that Christianity as embraced by the state was different than the authentic Christianity we read about in scripture or that was practiced by many devout followers of Jesus.
Being counter-cultural usually helps the church more than hurts it.
.If you think about it, regardless of your theological position, all your views as a Christian are counter-cultural and always will be. If your views are cultural, you’re probably not reading the scriptures closely enough.
.Regardless of your theological position, all your views as a Christian should be counter-cultural.
.We’re at our best when we offer an alternative, not just a reflection of a diluted or hijacked spirituality.
2. It’s actually strange to ask non-Christians to hold Christian values
As the Barna Group has pointed out, a growing number of people in America are best described as post-Christian. The majority of Canadians would certainly qualify as having a post-Christian worldview.
The question Christians in a post-Christian culture have to ask themselves is this:
Why would we expect non-Christians to behave like Christians?
If you believe sex is a gift given by God to be experienced between a man and a woman within marriage, why would you expect people who don’t follow Christ to embrace that?
Why would we expect people who don’t profess to be Christians to:
Wait until marriage to have sex?
Clean up their language?
Stop smoking weed?
Be faithful to one person for life?
Pass laws like the entire nation was Christian?
Why do Christians expect non-Christians to behave like Christians? Why?
Most people today are not pretending to be Christians. So why would they adopt Christian values or morals?
Please don’t get me wrong.
I’m a pastor. I completely believe that the Jesus is not only the Way, but that God’s way is the best way.
When you follow biblical teachings about how to live life, your life simply goes better. It just does. I 100 percent agree.
I do everything I personally can to align my life with the teachings of scripture, and I’m passionate about helping every follower of Christ do the same.
But what’s the logic behind judging people who don’t follow Jesus for behaving like people who don’t follow Jesus?
Why would you hold the world to the same standard you hold the church?
First, non-Christians usually act more consistently with their value system than you do.
It’s difficult for a non-Christian to be a hypocrite because they tend to live out what they believe.
Chances are they are better at living out their values than you or I are. Jesus never blamed pagans for acting like pagans.
But he did speak out against religious people for acting hypocritically. Think about that.
Non-Christians usually act more consistently with their value system than Christians do.
3. You’ve been dealing with sex outside of traditional marriage for a LONG time
If you believe gay sex is sinful, it’s really no morally different than straight sex outside of marriage.
Be honest, pretty much every unmarried person in your church is having sex (yes, even the Christians).
I know you want to believe that’s not true (trust me, I want to believe that’s not true), but why don’t you ask around? You’ll discover that only a few really surrender their sexuality.
Not to mention the married folks that struggle with porn, lust and a long list of other dysfunctions.
If you believe gay marriage is not God’s design, you’re really dealing with the same issue you’ve been dealing with all along—sex outside of its God-given context.
You don’t need to treat it any differently.
By the way, if you don’t deal with straight sex outside of marriage, don’t start being inconsistent and speak out against gay sex.
And you may want to start dealing with gluttony and gossip and greed while you’re at it. (I wrote more here about how to get the hypocrisy out of our sex talk in church.)
At least be consistent…humbly address all forms of sex outside of marriage.
The dialogue is possible. (Andy Stanley offers a great rationale for sex staying inside marriage here.)
We have that dialogue all the time at our church.
And people are grateful for it.
We also talk about our greed, our gluttony, our jealousy and our hypocrisy as Christians. It’s amazing. Jesus brings healing to all these areas of life, including our sex lives.
If you don’t talk about straight sex outside of marriage, don’t talk about gay sex.
4. The early church never looked to the government for guidance
Having a government that doesn’t embrace the church’s values line for line actually puts Christians in some great company—the company of the earliest followers of Jesus.
Jesus spent about zero time asking the government to change during his ministry. In fact, people asked him to become the government, and he replied that his Kingdom is not of this world.
The Apostle Paul appeared before government officials regularly. Not once did he ask them to change the laws of the land.
He did, however, invite government officials to have Jesus personally change them.
Paul constantly suffered at the hands of the authorities, ultimately dying under their power, but like Jesus, didn’t look to them for change.
Rather than asking the government to release him from prison, he wrote letters from prison talking about the love of Jesus Christ.
Instead of looking to the government for help, Paul and Jesus looked to God.
None of us in the West are suffering nearly as radically as Jesus and Paul suffered at the hands of a government. In fact, in Canada and the US, our government protects our freedom to assemble and even disagree with others. Plus, it gives us tax breaks for donations.
We honestly don’t have it that hard.
Maybe the future North American church will be more like the early church, rising early, before dawn, to pray, to encourage, to break bread.
Maybe we will pool our possessions and see the image of God in women. And love our wives radically and deeply with a protective love that will shock the culture. Maybe we will treat others with self-giving love, and even offer our lives in place of theirs.
Maybe we’ll be willing to lose our jobs, our homes, our families and even our lives because we follow Jesus.
That might just touch off a revolution like it did two millennia ago.
Perhaps the government might even take notice, amazed by the love that radical Jesus followers display.
Instead of looking to the government for help, Paul and Jesus looked to God.
5. Our judgment of LGBT people is destroying any potential relationship
Even the first 72 hour of social media reaction has driven a deeper wedge between Christian leaders and the LGBT community Jesus loves (yes, Jesus died for the world because he loves it).
Judgment is a terrible evangelism strategy.
People don’t line up to be judged.
Judgment is a terrible evangelism strategy. People don’t line up to be judged. Instead, they flee.
If you want to keep being ineffective at reaching unchurched people, keep judging them.
Judging outsiders is un-Christian. Paul told us to stop judging people outside the church.
Jesus said God will judge us by the same standard with which we judge others.
If you want to be ineffective at reaching unchurched people, judge them.
Paul also reminds us to drop the uppity-attitude; that none of us were saved by the good we did but by grace.
Take a deep breath. You were saved by grace. Your sins are simply different than many others. And honestly, in many respects, they are the same.
People don’t line up to be judged. But they might line up to be loved.
So love people. Especially the people with whom you disagree.
Love people. Especially the people with whom you disagree.
Those are a few of the things I’ve learned and I’m struggling with.
The dialogue is not easy when culture is changing and people who sincerely love Jesus sincerely disagree.
I think there’s more hope than there is despair for the future. The radical ethic of grace and truth found in Jesus is more desperately needed in our world today than ever before.
Is the path crystal clear? No.
But rather than being a set back, perhaps this can move the church yet another step closer to realizing its true mission.
I was tempted to close comments off on this post, but I will leave them open just to see if we can continue the discussion constructively and humbly.
Rants and abusive viewpoints (on either side) will be deleted.
Respect those with whom you disagree.
If you want to leave a comment that helps, please do so.
But please spend at least as much time praying for the situation and for people you know who have been hurt by this dialogue as you do commenting on this post, on others like it or on your social media channels.
Maybe spend more time praying, actually.
That’s what we all really need. And that’s what will move the mission of the church forward.