Christmas 2016

Millions upon millions of people will celebrate a national holiday this Sunday. It is commonly referred to as Christmas. Some people describe this season of the year in terms of the “winter holiday madness.”

It is with sadness that the incarnation of Jesus Christ is described by madness. The incarnation of Christ means He came in the “likeness of men.”  The holiday season ought to be festive. However, it has been overtaken with Christmas madness. I hope Christians everywhere will seek personal reformation from the Word of God, so that the mind of Christ will prevail in discerning the difference in the incarnation of Christ and the winter holiday madness.

Christmas is a timeless celebration; Jesus Christ is God, the second person of the Trinity.  Christ is the exact representation of God’s nature according to the writer of Hebrews. “Christ is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). This is a most profound concept, because it is truly the message of Christmas. The intended occasion for Christmas was to emphasize the birth of Jesus Christ or to put it another way Christmas was the celebration of God, the second person of the Trinity, taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul.  It is properly called the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The incarnation of Jesus Christ means that a heavenly Reality becomes an earthly Reality.

Christmas is an everyday event for Christians because it reminds them to worship Jesus Christ. They worship Him because He is the exact representation of the living God, not in body but in essence.

The essence of Jesus Christ is reality.

We worship Jesus Christ.

Therefore we worship reality, not some imaginary form.

The church has abused the nature of Jesus Christ who is the very image of God. Jesus Christ has been and is the most misunderstood figure throughout human history, because they have not seen the image of the invisible God.  They have not seen the reality of the God-man. Christians must go beyond the physical image for their hope. They go to the image of the invisible God for their eternal hope.

The real question is:  What image do you have of Jesus Christ? What does the image of the invisible God mean to you?

            Is he a kind and gentle man?

Is he a man who heals your sickness?

Is he the one who provides financially?

Is he your savior?

Too often Christians think that way.  That is a poor image of Jesus Christ. Although he may be all those things, they do not represent his essence and nature. The Christmas challenge is to see Jesus Christ in His fullness.

We can begin to discern the image of the invisible God by considering the threefold work of Jesus Christ as the Prophet, Priest, and King.

As a prophet he revealed to the church the whole will of God in things concerning salvation and edification.  He is the prophet par excellence – Listen to his words and obey him.

As a priest he appeared in the presence of God to satisfy God’s wrath against the sinner.  He is the heavenly High Priest – Let him be your mediator and the one who stands in your behalf.

As a king he is the sovereign head of the church. He rules over his kingdom with eternal power and authority.  You are expected to worship and adore your king.

This is the time of the year that we see images of Jesus Christ at every juncture, but many of them do not represent the essence of His substance in reality.  They are false images. We must replace those false images with the true image of Jesus Christ.  I suggest you take time to retreat from the madness of this holiday season and mediate on the perfections of Jesus Christ.

One day every person will meet, face to face, the image of the invisible God.

On that day Christians will see the infinite and eternal loveliness of Jesus Christ.

On that day Christians will see an unchangeable image of the invisible God.

This is the time of the year when Christians should use this national holiday to share the true image of Jesus Christ. Take this opportunity to worship the Christ of Christmas

Everyone has a different need, but I expect every Christian or unbeliever, wants peace.

Peace within and peace among men and nations no doubt lies at the root of our existence.

During this “winter holiday madness” listen to hymns like:

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

  • Fill all the world with heaven’s peace,

It Came upon the Midnight Clear

  • Peace on the eart

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

  • Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace

O Little Town of Bethlehem

  • peace to men on earth

Sleep in heavenly peace

Jesus Christ is peace.  The supremacy of His incarnation is the message I have during this “winter holiday madness.


Follow Martin Murphy Book Blog for weekly articles

Western Intelligence

We, most of the western world, live in the skepticism produced in the change from modernity to postmodernity.  The rational intellectual perception of human development has been absconded by the empirical suggestion that “image is everything.”   Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) “at thirteen years of age said he was enraptured by the reading of John Locke’s” An Essay of Human Understanding (Rational Biblical Theology of Jonathan Edwards, p. 7).  I use that quote to show that although Edwards was considered precocious by many prominent philosophers and theologians, he was a product of his age.  During the same period of time Isaac Watts wrote a book titled Logic subtitled The Right Use of Reason in the Inquiry After Truth.  It is only 315 pages, but replete with laws of logic and the explanation of syllogisms.  Many college graduates would have great difficulty understanding this text book that was used for what now is called elementary school.  Later Watts wrote another book titled The Improvement of the Mind  subtitled A Supplement to Logic.  He wrote it so that young children may improve “their reason, even in the common affairs of life” (Preface).   One of his opening comments to these young children was “It is the design of Logic to give this improvement to the mind, and to teach us the right use of reason in the acquirement and communication of all useful knowledge” (page 2).

When words were used to describe and define truth and reality, men and women expressed intelligent discourse.  While many words are used on communication devices, there is little intelligent discourse. Postmodern theory illuminated “image is everything.”  Rational human discourse has been replaced with the postmodern ideas that absolute reality and truth does not exist.

The postmodern culture is not a demon to be tamed, but a cultural milieu that must be replaced with a solid foundation that will grow a new culture.  There must be an objective standard for the new culture, a standard that will survive cultural wars for the sake of its progeny. Today your most formidable enemy is not Washington D. C. as bad as they are.  No, your most imposing enemy is the postmodern culture that feeds Washington D. C.  If you don’t remove the root that feeds the tree, you’ll spend all your time pruning the tree. (Constitutional Authority in a Postmodern Culture, page 22)

Jonathan Edwards and Isaac Watts were shining examples of men who were rational and logical. The solution to the present dilemma is rational and logical. That’s it: rational and logical!

I Know – I Feel

I know what the Bible says, but I feel like. . . .

I know what the Bible says about how to worship God, but feel like….

I know what the Bible says about my responsibility to be salt and light to a lost world, but I feel like….

I know what the Bible says about my responsibility to witness the truth of gospel, but I feel like….

I know what the Bible says about restoring broken relationships, but I feel like….

“I feel” is the great enemy of rational thinking and rational thinking is God’s great gift to the human race.  How does this conflict between “therapeutic feelings” and “rational knowing”  express the cultural milieu? Primarily through the agents who control the culture; therefore, these agents are expressions of cultural morality.

In his book, After Virtue, the 20th century moral philosopher, Alasdair MacIntyre, referred to these agents as Characters. “They are, so to speak, the moral representatives of their culture and they are so because of the way in which moral and metaphysical ideas and theories assume through them an embodied existence in the social world (After Virtue, p. 28). The Characters are, “the Manager, the Rich Aesthete, and the Therapist.” The “manager’s function as that of controlling behavior and suppressing conflict…” The Rich Aesthete “whose interest  is to fend off the kind of boredom that is so characteristic of modern leisure by contriving behavior in others that will be responsive to their wishes, that will feed their sated appetites.” The Therapist is the father of “I feel.”  MacIntyre’s Therapist represents, “the sphere of personal life.” “The idioms of therapy have invaded all too successfully such spheres as those of education and of religion.”  The worldview that supports the therapeutic revolution is pragmatism. “In The Triumph of the Therapeutic (1996) and also in To My Fellow Teachers (1975) Philip Rieff has documented with devastating insight a number of the ways in which truth has been displaced as a value and replaced by psychological effectiveness.”  Read this paragraph every day, so your feelings will not overrule rational thinking.

Avoid: I know the truth, but I feel the power of postmodernity  (no truth, no reality).

The contradiction of all ages: I Know ‒ I Feel!

Is Communication Technology Good or Bad?

Technology, especially communications technology, popularized theological expression.  Turn on the television and select your favorite preacher or Bible teacher.  If one does not suit your individual preference, switch to another; there are hundreds available.  Theological and academic credentials are no longer necessary to exegete the Full Counsel of God.   All that is necessary is to have an “experience” with God.  Diploma mills have risen to the occasion for those who want a theological degree without earning it.  An uneducated, ill-equipped clergy, each generation growing exponentially with the expansion of communication technology, will result in an unhealthy church. The way to eliminate false doctrine is to, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me [Paul], in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus’ (2 Timothy 1:13). Then use technology to spread true doctrine.

Old Testament Israel has a notable resemblance to the New Testament Church;  they are the people that belong to God. The Old Testament people of God had priests and prophets to lead in worship and teach the Full Counsel of God.  After the death of Solomon, Jeroboam appointed himself as the leader of the people of God.  What a mess!   Jeroboam’s unbiblical theology reminds me of  cultural individualism and church autonomy.  “And Jeroboam said in his heart” (1 Kings12:26),  but he didn’t humble himself to realize “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…” (Jeremiah 17:9). Since Jeroboam did not know (very likely) or simply ignored the Full Counsel of God, he established his own place to worship and his own idols. Then he explained to the church: “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!  And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.  Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan.   He made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi” (1 Kings 12:28-31).

Jeroboam interpreted or rather changed the Word of God to fit his agenda.  The church followed him because he had become a celebrity among the people.  A few words from that text standout as a warning to those who profess the Christian religion:  [Jeroboam] “made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi.”  R. L. Dabney made the comment that “Jeroboam corrupted the religion of Israel partly by making priests of the lowest of the people”  (Discussions, vol. 2, pg.69).  Communication technology may be good or bad.  It is good if the theology is faithful to the full counsel of God. It is bad if the theology is false.

Thanksgiving 2016

Psalm 104 shows the scope of God’s creative power in the works of His creation so that God demonstrates his governing hand over creation.  God creates, preserves and governs all things.  To understand thanksgiving one must understand God’s providence.  The word providence comes from two Latin words “pro” and “videre” meaning to see before hand.  God is not merely a spectator, passively knowing in advance, what will happen through his foreknowledge.  He knows in advance because he plans in advance.  The Children’s catechism explains the doctrine of providence.  “God’s works of providence are, His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all His creatures, and all their actions.”

There was a time in this country when thanksgiving was recognized as a legitimate aspect of life.  Even the holiday we call Thanksgiving reminded people and especially Christians that all of our worldly goods were a result of God’s gracious hand.  Today Thanksgiving is merely a long holiday weekend that marks the beginning of Christmas shopping.  There are more sales advertisements in the Thanksgiving day newspaper than any two Sunday newspapers put together.  We have more goods and products being consumed today than ever before.  We have more to be thankful for, in the way of material wealth, than ever before.  Yet, there is less interest in thankfulness than ever before.  Even so, God’s government is in charge of “all His creatures and all their actions.”

Government is almost a dirty word, because we attach the wrong ideas to the concept called government.  When the word government is used, most people automatically think of a political structure.  Sometimes the word government reminds us of a place called Washington D.C,  Montgomery, AL or any city hall in America. 

The dictionary says the word government means the exercise of administrative powers.  Another dictionary definition was:  “the political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, or states.”  Christians must be aware that the word government when applied to Christianity means something very different from when it is applied to political thought.

A government of the people by the people and for the people is bad thinking in biblical terms.

Divine government is defined by that activity of God whereby He rules all things sovereignly, with purpose, ultimately disposing all things according to the counsel of His will.  God is the governor of the universe.  No, God is not just the governor of the Universe.  He is the King of the Universe.  He is the cosmic monarch.  But, unlike a finite monarch, God rules with a righteous right hand.  As the Heidelberg Catechisms says:  “Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God by which he upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures. 

Unfortunately, American contemporary Christianity has tried to dethrone the cosmic king of the Universe and make him the president of a democracy.

God’s government extends over all creation.  “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places” (Psalm 135:6).  I have heard a people say that God wanted to bring revival to such and such place and God wanted to do this and that.  How ridiculous; God does whatever he wants to do.

God’s government has no place for chance and luck.  The common understanding of chance has to do with probabilities.  At the root of chance is an event without a cause.  Likewise, there is no such thing as luck.  Chance and luck is nothing more than fatalism.  It is an effect without a sufficient and antecedent cause.  

God causes all things to come into being and God powerfully preserves all things that come into being, God powerfully governs all things that come into being.

Happy Thanksgiving is not complete without Thanksgiving for God’s Government.

The Power of Words

The equivocation of language is the result of misusing words. Equivocation refers to ambiguous words and gibberish talk that attempts to hide the truth. The equivocation principle denigrates the proper use of the language in our culture. The intentional effort to equivocate language has been with us since the fall of the human race.  In fact, deceit was one of the causal factors in the fall.  It was the father of deception that said to Eve, “Has God indeed said… (Genesis 3:1).  From Adam and Eve to the last baby born, there will always be the twisting of language.  Although sophistry is similar to equivocation, there is a difference. Sophistry uses stealth and specious arguments to deceive the other person. The Sophists of the 5th century B.C. were famous for turning philosophical skepticism into the impossibility of absolute knowledge, which in essence denies absolute truth.

The biblical doctrine of sound words is necessary to avoid the equivocation of language.  “Hold fast the pattern of sounds words which you have heard from me…”(1 Timothy 1:13).  I translate it from the Greek text in terms of having an outline of healthy words.  There are three parts to this short phrase from the Bible.  The command is have or to hold fast.  The pattern refers to a summary account or an outline of sound words.  Sound words are healthy words, which provide good health for the soul. Words start wars and words bring peace. The power of words can destroy or save.

Unfortunately, worldly passions lead to words of confusion and words of strife rather than sound words.  The result is forgotten doctrine.  But aside from what I call necessary forgotten doctrine, people tend to ignore words of eternal importance:

Human beings are born sinful creatures

Human beings  deserve eternal damnation and punishment

God is longsuffering, compassionate, and merciful

Call on God for today is the day of salvation

If sound words have been taught, why do Christians misunderstand simple Bible doctrine?  If sound doctrine has been taught why do so many professing Christians believe that sinful man can save himself?  These questions should not be taken lightly.  A summary of the sound words from God imprinted on the souls of men, women, boys and girls would eliminate these questions.

A summary of sound words is not equal to quoting Bible verses.  It has often been said that biblical texts may be found to prove almost anything.  Unbelievers, liberals, the ignorant and scholarly alike use Bible verses taken out of context to prove their opinions.  One Bible verse does not equal the entire Word of God.

The goal of every Christian should be to gather a summary of the Word of God so that God is exalted and man is put down.  For instance, the doctrine of God must be relative to God’s nature and the doctrine of man must be relative to man’s nature.  When we hold fast to the healthy words of Scripture we will save ourselves and our progeny from theological error.

Error in doctrine will almost inevitably lead to error in practice.  When a man believes wrongly, he will act wrongly.  The very cause of division, schism, quarrels, and bickering in the church is a result of wrong teaching.  Why?  Because we have ignored the outline of healthy words from Scripture

We cannot hold fast to something unless we understand it.  The task is not easy, but it is necessary.  God’s people are custodians of God’s truth and they must hold fast to His truth in faith and love.

We must not only leave a summary of the Christian religion to the coming generations, we must hold on to that summary of the Christian religion by the power of the Holy Spirit so we will have reasons to believe.

It was the use and misuse of words that compelled me to write Theological Terms in Layman Language.

Federal Control Over Local Schools

In 1926 Dr. J. Gresham Machen gave his testimony before the house and senate committees on the proposed Federal Department of Education. Machen said, “We do not, I think, want a Federal Department of Education because such a department is in the interests of a principle of uniformity or standardization in education which, if put into practice, would be the very worst calamity into which this country could fall.” The Federal Government, using greenbacks as leverage, eventually did what Machen warned them not to do. He was right! This country is in an academic calamity. Federal authority over local schools is like giving an intoxicated person the keys to the car.

Dr. Machen’s speech resonates with intellectual reasoning and rational discourse.

The reason why I am opposed to this proposal [establishing a Federal Dept. of Education] is that it represents a very ancient principle in the field of education. Education, which, it seems to me, has been one of the chief enemies of human liberty for several thousand years – the principle, namely, that education is an affair essentially of the State, that education must be standardized for the welfare of the whole people and put under the control of government, that personal idiosyncrasies should be avoided. It is a very ancient thing – this notion that the children belong to the State, that their education must be provided for by the State in a way that makes for the State’s welfare. But that principle, I think you will find if you examine human history, is inimical at every step to liberty…this principle of thoroughgoing State control in education.

The notion that the children belong to the State and that their education must be provided for by the State assumes the familial role in the development of the child. In political philosophy it’s call statism. Statism means the state is the savior of its subjects. Dr. Machen points out “the utter falsity of the popular notion that philosophy has no practical effects upon the lives of the people.” If you don’t believe me Google “postmodern education theory” and find out what public education is doing.(

The intellect requires the use of rational God given logical processes.  The scholar only needs to memorize, believe and put into practice the information provided by the school teacher. The state is not interested in teaching the student how to think; it is interested in teaching them what to think by means of communicating information. The state does not want intellectual subjects.  The word intellect comes from the Greek word suniemi, which refers to “understanding or insight into something.”    The state wants “schooled” students (scholars) rather than intellectual development, learning the rules of logic, and using their rational ability. The word scholar taken from the Greek word schole refers to the place where students and teachers meet. The teacher teaches the student information.

I’m not necessarily opposed to public education.  I’m opposed as was Dr. Machen to Federal control over local schools. That takes me to the thesis of my blog: “the notion that the children belong to the State and their education must be provided for by the State” therefore, the student is obligated to the State.

Unfortunately, many Americans are not interested in the philosophy of education.  However, if we do not have a philosophy of education, random entropy will prevail.  Any philosophy of education ought to begin with local government (people in the local community) regulating the schools. That includes academic, social and every other aspect of the education of children.