At Least I Didn’t Kill Nobody

Skewed-grades

Grading on a curve always seemed like legalized cheating when I was a child. In school we were held to an absolute standard and you sank or swam with your grade. Every now and then we’d hear about this strange practice of curving your grade but it seemed like a strange custom from a primitive culture in some remote part of the world. Soon enough the practice would become as common as standing in line to buy coffee.

If curving the grade was a frequent occurrence in the past it has become an essential feature of the academic life. It’s no longer a matter of if the professor will curve but how. Often students will raise this question on the first day to find out the professor’s particular style of curving. It isn’t a corrective measure used sparingly but a routine part of massaging the numbers to make them look better.

You wonder why they haven’t already ditched grades and moved to a percentile scale where you’re just graded against other students in the class. That’s what curving really is. You’re being compared to everyone else rather than against a uniform standard. Most people seem to think this way when they judge themselves in spiritual terms.

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

James 2: 10-11

The gospel offends people so much because it directly challenges the universal belief that we are just fine the way we are, no need for improvement. If you measure up to your own standards then you’re simply lying to yourself and your standards are worthless. You are “curving” the moral grade far enough so that you can pass the test.

When you have an encounter with the living God in all His holiness all the excuses fall apart and you can’t help but realize that you are tainted and corrupt. Isaiah said as much when he saw the Lord sitting on His throne (Isaiah 6). Peter knew it when Jesus told him to cast the net on the other side of the boat (Luke 5). You cannot have such an experience and continue to believe the lie that you are righteous.

When you face God on His judgment seat you will either appeal to your righteousness or the righteousness of Christ. Only the latter will suffice to avert the wrath of God. No one will be able to claim ignorance because no one will have an excuse. And I can certainly guarantee you that no one will be asking God how He will curve the grade.

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What Does The Bible Say About Income Inequality?

income inequality

And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

Matthew 25:15

I wanted to take a detour from my journey to discuss something that has been on my mind regarding the nexus between the Bible and economics and morality. This will happen often so do not be surprised or puzzled.

The parable of the talents is a story that I have always looked to for an indication about what the Bible says about income inequality. I believe it shows that it is not the problem that people make it out to be. However, I think that the Bible does show that it can be a symptom of a problem that we do need to resolve.

Our theologically and/or politically liberal friends view income inequality as a social injustice that must be rectified. They have been very successful in that it seems natural for us to view such inequality as unfair. We believe in the equality of men and that no one is inherently entitled to more than anyone else because of their birth, race, gender, other arbitrary characteristic. But there is one fatal flaw in the argument.

The problem with this perspective is that it confuses equity with equality. It says that inequality is necessarily, and inherently, wrong. Since all men are created equal they must all be equal in terms of material wealth. While we would like everyone to enjoy a quality of life that meets certain basic necessities and provides some physical comfort the Bible does not go as far as those on the Left go.

This parable shows, among other scriptures, that God does not distribute His gifts equally to all His people. We are not equal in many respects. Everyone is not equally skilled in athletics, academics, art, or strength. And not everyone is equally wealthy. We can easily think of examples of Godly men and women who were both wealthy and poor. Abraham and Solomon were very rich and Jesus and John the Baptist were poor.

We must keep our focus on a person’s spiritual condition. For those who do not believe the most pressing issue is their salvation, more important than their physical needs. Among believers the main concern is whether we are using the gifts that God has given us to be fruitful and produce a return on His investment. God also shows us that our tendency is to neglect the vulnerable among us which include the poor, orphans, and widows. To deny them justice and even to take advantage of them is an evil that God will avenge.

Jesus taught us to seek the kingdom first, and His righteousness, and trust that God will provide for our physical needs. He may call us to a life in which we are blessed financially or He may call us to a life of poverty. We have to be willing to follow the Lord in either scenario and be content. That is by no means an easy thing to do but the Holy Spirit enables us to do the will of God and please Him. And by pleasing Him we discover our true purpose and joy in this life.

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Victorian virtues in a value-neutral world

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Ayn Rand hated C.S. Lewis

Ayn Rand was no fan of C.S. Lewis. She called the famous apologist an “abysmal bastard,” a “monstrosity,” a “cheap, awful, miserable, touchy, social-meta­physical mediocrity,” a “pickpocket of concepts,” and a “God-damn, beaten mystic.” (I suspect Lewis would have particularly relished the last of these.)

Women on the pill prefer pansies

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How common were the fake gospels?

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Sweden sends Christians back to Iran

Yet Charisma News reports that Sweden is denying religious refugee status to Iranian Christians, threatening to extradite them. Applicants complain that secular immigration judges don’t understand the risks they face back home in Iran as converts.

A leftist, lesbian professor’s conversion to Christ

While on the lookout for some Bible scholar to aid me in my research, I launched my first attack on the unholy trinity of Jesus, Republican politics, and patriarchy, in the form of an article in the local newspaper about Promise Keepers. It was 1997. The article generated many rejoinders, so many that I kept a Xerox box on each side of my desk: one for hate mail, one for fan mail. But one letter I received defied my filing system. It was from the pastor of the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church. It was a kind and inquiring letter. Ken Smith encouraged me to explore the kind of questions I admire: How did you arrive at your interpretations? How do you know you are right? Do you believe in God? Ken didn’t argue with my article; rather, he asked me to defend the presuppositions that undergirded it. I didn’t know how to respond to it, so I threw it away. Later that night, I fished it out of the recycling bin and put it back on my desk, where it stared at me for a week, confronting me with the worldview divide that demanded a response.