Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Monday, September 03, 2012
Now for a Brief Announcement....
Friday, August 31, 2012
The David Barton Controversy
I am beginning to think that as Gail Riplinger was to textual criticism, David Barton is to American history. He is the conservative equivalent of Howard Zinn.
If you don’t want to read through my “opinion,” at least make sure to scroll to the bottom and hit the audio links. Believe me: they are worth your time.
If your family homeschools, or if you send your kids to a Christian school, or even if you are actively involved in Republican politics, listen to talk radio, and consider yourself a TEA party oriented person, the name David Barton has circled around your orbit at least a few times.
Barton heads up WallBuilders, a ministry that claims to “present America’s forgotten history” regarding our Christian faith, morals, and constitutional heritage.
If you have watched any of Barton’s DVD presentations, he travels around Washington D.C. and other historical venues showing his viewers important landmarks and documents pertaining to Colonial America, the Revolutionary War, the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. When Barton is interviewed on Christian TV programs, or even conservative TV shows like Glenn Beck, he always has with him a collection of “original” documents to show the audience. Things like Ben Franklin’s Bible, or John Adam’s personal letters to some Baptist minister, or some unknown speech George Washington gave at a Methodist church.
Barton’s basic assertion in his DVDs, his books, and those TV interviews is that America’s founding Fathers – you know, the guys with their faces on our currency – were practicing evangelical Christians. When they wrote up the Declaration of Independence and eventually the Constitution, they intended on founding a Christian nation. Radical secular leftists, Barton contends, have hijacked American history over the last 50 years, revising it to teach that all the founding fathers were really deists and anti-Christian atheists and the last thing on their agenda was founding any country supportive of biblical Christianity. His mission with WallBuilders is to set the historical record straight.
If you have heard him speak, his presentations are impressive and compelling. Again, when he is making his case, he will have old, yellow documents with him that are laminated, which means they are really important. He also has stacks of old, brittle looking books that were supposedly printed in 1798 or there abouts.
Those documents and books are intended to bolster his case for his “evangelical founding fathers” view of American history because he says they are original source documents, meaning they haven’t been altered by secular leftists. Of course, the audience, upon watching Barton lift up one of those documents to wave in front of the TV cameras, has to assume he is accurately relaying to them what that document really says. Honestly. What average person, let’s say living in Wisconsin or Maryland, really has carefully examined one of John Adam’s original letters to Thomas Jefferson? Barton says he has and so that person has to trust him that he is relaying accurate information about the contents of the letter.
In recent months, however, Barton has come under fire for just that: Other historians – [and by “other” historians, I mean Christian historians, and by “Christian” historians, I mean Bible-believing, Jesus loving historians, not those prissy liberal “the-Bible-is-full-of-errors” “Christians”] – have taken issue with Barton claiming he has the bad habit of cheery-picking historical citations and spinning them in such a way so as to present his evangelical narrative of American history. In other words, he abuses the historical documents to embellish and exaggerate the truth.
A big example of this is found in the controversy surrounding his book published this past summer titled, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed about Thomas Jefferson. In that book, Barton presents the case that what we are told about Jefferson is for the most part a leftist fabrication. In reality, he was really a faithful evangelical Christian and it wasn’t until later in his life as he grew senile, that he began to write negative things about God and Christianity.
The claims Barton makes did not sit well with just any historians, but particularly a number of those Christian historians I noted above. They worked together to challenge Barton’s views of Jefferson by showing the gross, factual errors he has in his books and his outright re-reading of history. In short, they demonstrate that Barton was doing the exact same thing he accuses his secular liberal critics of doing: Selectively citing sources and reinterpreting them so as to revise history.
The vetting these historians made to Barton’s book was so devastating that Thomas Nelson, the publisher, dropped it. The management cited the overwhelming number of factual errors contained in the book as the reason for their canceling it. I thought their reaction was ironic, seeing that they are so willing to toss out Barton’s book over “factual errors,” but still publish a bizarre book in which a child claims to have gone to heaven. Barton didn’t make them enough money, I suppose; but I digress.
I personally have never read anything by Barton. I have seen one or two of his DVD presentations and I have watched him on a number of television interviews. I have always been dubious of his assertions about the founding fathers. When he waves the yellow, laminated letter on the TV screen, I’m a tad suspicious. Having read enough history in my lifetime, including a few original source documents, I thought his “evidence” never passed a sniff test. There were question marks in my mind.
Liberals of course hate the man’s guts. That is because they relish having a proctologist view of American history and reject America’s exceptionalism that makes it the most unique and special country in the world. So when Barton gives his exaggerated claims about America’s founding fathers, they pounce on them as proof of how out of touch Christians are with reality and what hypocrites they truly are. Certainly that is a moon-bat reaction, but while they may go overboard in the other direction to maintain their distorted anti-American narrative, I’d have to admit they have a point about Barton.
I have also been troubled with how Christians, and I mean respectable, ought-to-know-better Christians, go to Barton as a reliable source on American history. Conservative pundits like Glenn Beck, I can understand, but Christians who have made a name for being pillars of spiritual discernment? I’ve seen him interviewed by Todd Friel in the past, as well as Kirk Cameron for his Monumental documentary that was released early this spring, and many Christian reconstructionists have always recommended his materials.
One of Barton’s historian critics has been Gregg Frazer who teaches history and political science at the Master’s College. He published a book earlier this year called, The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders: Reason, Revelation, and Revolution that puts our founding fathers in a more balanced and accurate perspective. He argues that they weren’t rank atheists and deists, but nor were they committed Christians. They were, as Dr. Frazer calls them, “theistic rationalists.”
At the behest of my pastor, John MacArthur, Dr. Frazer has been going around to the various fellowship groups on Sunday mornings at Grace Church giving a presentation on America’s founding fathers, as well as addressing many of David Barton’s claims about them and what he calls “the Christian America movement” that is growing among homeschoolers. My hope is that Dr. Frazer will be given a break-out seminar at this next year’s Shepherd’s Conference in March 2013. I imagine many, many pastors have encountered promoters of Barton’s materials in their churches.
He gave two presentations recently that are worth downloading and considering.
The first presentation gives historical background to the men we call “founding fathers,” where as the second presentation addresses specifically what David Barton claims. If you want to hear his rebuttal and refutation of David Barton, listen to the second one first. But make sure to get the first one, as well.
Christians need to be advocates of truth, even when the truth is not what we may want it to be.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
My Concerns with the “Neo-apologists”
Monday, August 27, 2012
The Reliant Robin
Friday, August 24, 2012
Podcasts Worth Your Time
-- First. My friend Dan Phillips went to pastor Copperfield Bible Church in Houston, Texas. His preaching and teaching is excellent and is available for podcast, here:
Copperfield Bible Church - Sermons
Dan has been going through the basic doctrinal statement of the church where he pastors, which is really a brief, lay-friendly introduction to Christianity.
-- Second. My former colleague, Don Green, recently went to a new church plant, Truth Community Fellowship in the Cincinnati area. They currently meet at the Creation Museum of Answers in Genesis on Sunday mornings. Don has been teaching through the book of 1 John and just started a brief series on the providence of God. His last two messages on the atonement of Christ from 1 John 2:1,2 is some of the best preaching on that subject I've heard regarding particular redemption.
Truth Community Fellowship - Sermons
-- Lastly, James White turned me on to listening to Michael Brown's The Line of Fire program.
Dr. Brown is probably one of the better apologists addressing the onslaught of the current homosexual jihad by militant, gay activists in our culture. He has a daily, two hour program that addresses a myriad of topics, including issues pertaining to Israel and the Restoration of Israel in the future kingdom. If my Reformed brethren want to engage some of the better arguments for Israel's restoration from one of the better apologists on the subject, they need to listen to Michael Brown. He also provides a healthy anecdote to the radical Evangelical anti-Zionism promoted by the likes of Gary Burge and similar supercessionist theologians.
One word of caution. Dr. Brown is charismatic, though his convictions on those matters don't play heavily in any of his on-air discussions. The only place his charismaticism may bubble to the surface is how he entertains callers who tell him of "visions" the Spirit of God has given the person. To his credit, however, Dr. Brown is quick to offer rebuke and correction to some of the more wilder claims of "special spiritual knowledge." Hopefully that little smudge won't turn people off to giving him a listen. He has some good stuff to consider.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
The Dark Knight Rises
"I imagine the current trendy manifestations of reformed hipster theology will probably produce its fair share of people who found that conversion liberated them to watch exactly the same derivative and crass movies they did before, but now with an uncanny, Spirit-filled capacity to spot the redeemer figure in The Dark Knight Rises or The Expendables II."
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Gleanings in 1 Samuel 
First Samuel 8-12 are the transition chapters in Israel’s history. Israel moves from being governed directly by God through the instrument of judges to the direction by kings.
In chapter 8, the people confront Samuel and wanted him to appoint a king so that they could “be like all the other nations.”
Chapter 9 introduced us to Israel’s first king: Saul, the son of Kish.
Saul was from a well-to-do family. Kish was described in 9:1 as being a “mighty man of power” which speaks to his influence.
Saul, in spite of coming from an influential family, wasn’t spiritually astute. His father sent him and his servant out to look for some lost donkeys. After three days of searching, the servant suggested they go see a man of God, who was Samuel. The impression we get from Saul’s reaction to that suggestion is that he never heard of the guy. That is highly unusually seeing that Samuel was a nationally recognized prophet.
Saul’s encounter with him changes all of that.
I) The Private Confirmation (9:26-10:16)
God had told Samuel of His selection of Saul (9:15, 17), so when Saul encounters Samuel, he is invited to dine with him.
After they dine together and Samuel treats Saul with kindness and respect, he sends Saul’s servant a head of them and takes a flask of oil to anoint him (10:1). The act of pouring oil was an act reserved for anointing priests and sacred objects. So by Samuel’s act of pouring oil on Saul means that God was staking a divine claim upon him.
Samuel tells Saul that God has appointed him to be commander (king) over his inheritance (Israel). He is designated as a leader, not a king yet, which means he is a “king-to-be,” like a prince.
Now, in order to demonstrate that he wasn’t “crazy” and had chosen the wrong man, Samuel tells Saul he will see three confirmatory signs that will come to pass with specificity.
- He will be told by two men sitting at Rachel’s tomb at Zelzah that the donkeys had been found.
- He will then encounter three worshippers who will be carrying goats, bread, and wine. They will greet Saul and give him two loaves of bread.
- Then he will meet a group of prophets near where a Philistine garrison is located and the Spirit of God will come upon Saul and he will prophesy with them.
The last sign is unusual, but judges had experienced the Spirit of God rushing upon them. In this case, Saul would “prophesy” with the prophets. The idea is that a prophet is a mouthpiece for God. The king, in turn, was to obey His Word.
So. After Saul leaves Samuel, all the “signs” are confirmed beginning in 10:9. The writer chooses to center on the last one regarding Saul’s prophesying with the prophets.
He is described as receiving “another heart” from the Lord. The phrase can mean God “overturned” his heart. Saul became something different. It is not “salvation” because later we see how he did not obey God. However, it was a demonstration of the presence of God. The work of God was so surprising a proverb is created to describe the unexpected and the unexplained (10:12).
II) The Public Anointing (10:17-27)
All of these events in Saul’s life came rather rapidly and must have startled him because when he returned home he tells his uncle about meeting Samuel, but he did not tell him about being chosen as king over Israel (10:15, 16).
Later, Samuel calls the people together at Mizpah, a centrally located area where Israel had met for a major time of worship and public repentance in chapter 7.
Samuel begins by rebuking Israel’s rejection of God’s direction and governing (18, 19). He then tells God will present their king to them. In a public display of God’s hand, by casting lots that separates out Benjamin, then Saul’s tribe and family, and then Saul himself, Israel is presented their king.
When Saul is chosen he is not present, but is found “hiding among the equipment.” He was running from this calling God had placed on his life. In a way, his absence at his own coronation foreshadows a reign where he would vacate his spiritual responsibilities.
The people, however, bring him forward and hail him as their new king. A man who was “head and shoulders” above everyone else. A man who was physically impressive, but regrettably, spiritually weak.
God is gracious, though. He gives Saul a group of valiant men whose hearts the Lord touched and they unite themselves to him.
Labels: Gleanings in 1 Samuel
Saturday, August 18, 2012
The Speed of Light in SLO-MO
Thursday, August 16, 2012
The Irony of Love
Mark at Here I Blog offers a scenario for our consideration. Suppose your church was in the community where the mosque was burned and there was pressure put upon your congregation to join in the public support for these Muslims. The local opinion is such that if you delay joining in support, your church will be perceived as a group of haters who are prejudiced against "outsiders." He then offers a handful of options as a possible response and asks readers what they would do.
A thought or two.
Islam is cause celebre these days. Leftists in particular slobber all over themselves in order to prove their tolerant loyalty to Muslims. They turn a blind eye to the sharia based conduct codes popping up in communities around the country. They'll even work to stifle the first amendment rights of evangelistic Christians to distribute Christian literature at public Islamic festivals.
Yet the way the progressive leftists ingratiates themselves to Muslims is honestly laughable, especially in light of the wild inconsistency Islamic values have with leftist values. Someone, for instance, should ask the Muslims behind the ground zero mosque in NYC what they think of same-sex marriage. See if their answer generates the same vitriolic censorship and protest the Chic-Fil-A president received.
At any rate, it didn't surprise me to learn that the main churches involving themselves in the iftar feast were theologically liberal. Theological liberals just love pagan diversity. But there is a bit of irony here that is being overlooked. The feast was held at St. Philip's Episcopal Church, and both Peace Lutheran Church and South Joplin Christian Church are staffed by women ministers. I find that little factoid absolutely chuckle inducing. Two churches pastored by women lending support and encouragement to a world religion that is notorious for its misogyny. It's hard to find such comedy gold.
Curious. If the "church" in question that was burned by arson was a Mormon church - a real possibility considering our current presidential race - would these same churches be in a hurry to offer their support? Or would they even bother because, well, you know how Mormons have a history of keeping concubine sister wives.