Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy 2006 Folks

Yeah, nothing quite says Happy New Year like an intoxicated infant wearing a sash.

I dropped by work for a bit so I thought I would check in and give a little update.

What did Santa bring you?

We had many blessing in the Butler household. My mother gave my wife and me a lovely digital camera. It seems fairly easy to use, so perhaps I can use it to take my own picture to down load on Hip and Thigh this year. My wife also surprised me with some black cowboy boots. I am thoroughly enjoying wearing those. After living in LA for some 14 years, I still have some southern hick in me.

This Christmas of 2005 is probably the first time my two older boys could really appreciate opening the gifts. They especially enjoyed tearing the paper (I guess all kids like that aspect of gift opening).

I did find it amazing that as much as we tried to center Christmas on the birth of Jesus, God's gift of salvation, and the cultivation of personal gratitude, we still had to strike down the sin of covetousness. Just one little yellow wooden train engine can drive two toddler age children to fist-to-cuffs. If they were adult sized, there would have been blood shed, rather than just tugging, pulling and the gnashing of teeth.

This was the first Christmas I had the opportunity to pass along to my boys one of my favorite childhood memories about Christmas: My father sitting up all night assembling toys by using indecipherable instructions. The assembly part is like a stroll up Mt. Everest with out the oxygen tank - one plodding step after another. The payoff the next morning, however, is sweet.

This Christmas I only had to put together two identical scooters. Thankfully, it was reasonably easy; and my brother was here to help me. What I thought was amusing, though, was the Parent's Responsibility clause on the back side of the instructions. There are 18 important things I must always keep in mind with these scooters and 5 of them are in bold print, so they must be extra important. Let me share a few.

  • This scooter requires assembly by a qualified adult (Thank God I have a college degree)
  • Do not allow the child to ride at night.
  • Do not allow the scooter to be ridden on street or areas with auto traffic. (I was kind of hoping I could teach them to hitch a ride on the tail gate of a truck like Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future).
  • Do not allow the rider to wear anything that obstructs hearing, visibility or function.
  • Do not allow this scooter to be operated on streets, slopped driveways, alleys, hills, ditches, in ground pool, areas near steps or any other hazardous areas. (in other words, don't take it out of the house)
  • Always wear safety equipment such as helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and shoes. (I wonder if they remember the rule up above about the obstruction of hearing, visibility and function?)
  • Maximum weight limitations is 100 lbs. (Jimmy Bedwell, the grade school bully in my neighborhood, could not ride it)
Now I am sure the manufacture has to cover the rear ends of the investors, so every possible legal contingency must be taken into consideration to head off a law suit from some incompetent moron with a slick lawyer. "Hey Nugene, git out of bed, grab your oversized football helmet, hockey mask, sunglasses and your scooter and we'll go ridin' down the street outside. It's three in the morning, there ain't gonna be any traffic. Oh, and wake up fatty, he will probably wanna ride it, too." It sounds far fetched, but you can never know.

On a more somber note, I did have to venture down into the heart of darkness called Beverly Hills and visit with my doctor about the operation on my neck. It is scheduled for January 26th. I truly appreciate the guy because of his brutal honesty. I believe the Lord has placed him in my life just for that aspect of his personality. As we were talking about the procedure, he asked me point blank, "If the tumor is around a facial nerve, do you want me to take the nerve or leave it?" My immediate response was to say leave it and let radiation therapy kill what is left. My prudent wife asked, "In your professional opinion, what would you suggest?" Without skipping a beat, the doctor replies, "In my professional opinion, I see a father with 3 young children, and I believe they would much rather have a daddy with a partially paralyzed face than a daddy dying from the recurrence of cancer in 5 years." Pastoring, preaching and teaching is my livelihood, and the Lord knows I do not want a paralyzed face, but He certainly used this doctor to put things into perspective. The Lord willing, the cutting of a nerve can be avoided, but if so, I reckon God has used ugly preachers in the past, in His sovereignty, He can use another one.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas time is Here

Christmas 2005 is already upon us. The older I get, the more amazed I become at how time flies by. I imagine a lot of my chronological awareness is due in part to coming to terms with my mortality as I age.

At any rate, my work closes down for the week between Christmas and New Years, so I hope to have some extra time to spend with family and other loved ones. I have many fun blogs I am looking forward to posting. I certainly will return to my series Examining KJV onlyism, picking up with the second installment considering the textual argument. I also hope to look at the 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity. That will be a lot of fun.

Pulling together a quick blog roundup:

The Turk began his surgical autopsy on the "logic" (take note of the quotes) of the Undo Jesus purpose statement. I also appreciated his King Kong review from the other day. I loved the movie, but it didn't have the burning passion and soul I think Jackson was shooting for. Maybe if he moved the location to a doomed ocean liner, had Ann Darrow engaged to some rich jerk, and Kong was an irresponsible, free spirit who showed Ann there was much more to life than being rich and responsible and Kong drew a picture of her in the buff - but oh well. The dinosaurs were awesome anyways.

I received another shout out from Tim Challies website. I truly appreciate it. I feel like I am an unofficial King of the Week. That prospect, of course, only serves to alarm me, because people may drift over to my site hoping to find some cutting edge blogging, yet have those expectations dashed to piece on the rocks of above average.

One truly has to pity both John Shelby Spong and Shabir Ally as to the whuppin' that will be put to both of them in the upcoming year.

I do hope to post some things during my week off, but until then and in order to prepare for the Christmas weekend, why not take a look at Captn' Wacky's Gallery of Unfortunate Christmas Cards.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My 6 Months in Blogging Land

I have been seeing a smattering of year in review posts popping up on some of the blogs I read, so I thought I too would take a moment to reflect on my blog.

Though it has just been six or seven months for me to be a blogger and can honestly say I have been thoroughly enjoying it. To begin with, I love to write. Writing not only forces me to interact biblically and logically with my theological convictions, but also directs me to articulate myself in print in such a manner that others can understand them. Additionally, comments from readers places me in the position of defending myself; something all Christian bloggers should be forced to do. Muddled thinking is quickly rebuked by commenters and that makes me return to clarifying my thoughts.

I confess I have a humble little blog. A crude hit indicator a friend activated for me through my Fred's Bible Talk website tells me nearly 3,500 hits have taken place on my blog since I started counting them near the end of October. That is no where near Frank Turk territory with reaching 50,000 as I will admit, but I appreciate folks stopping by none the less.

There hasn't been a whole lot of controversy with my blog. Nothing like the dear fellows at Fide-O have experienced, or Phil Johnson. I was earlier involved with a back and forth with Steve Jones on the nature of biblical inerrancy, as well as KJVO/Ruckmanite, Jeffrey Nachimson. (On a side note, I just recently spoke with Mr. Jeffrey on the telephone about a totally non-KJVO related issue. I have to say it was a pleasant conversation I so thoroughly enjoyed. We talked about his ministry, my acenic cell tumor, and encounters with weirdos in our local church. The Jeffrey on the phone was nothing like the Jeffrey who publishes diatribic screeds on his website. It was such a bewildering antithesis from his WWF smackdown style of apologetics).

I have had the honor of being linked to by many fine individual bloggers. I appreciate the frequent links from Greg Linscott at Sharper Iron, one of the best group blogs going on the web. Also the community blog at Tim Challies just recently linked me, and the real biggy, La Shawn Barber.

If I could have a year end Christmas wish, I would love to have the photo shop skills of Phil Johnson and the prolific, yet stunningly lucid writing abilities of Steve Hays.

As I offer up my reflections about blogging the last part of 2005, allow me to highlight some of my personal favorite articles. For newer readers, please feel free to comment on the ones you enjoy:

Does ID = Creationism?

Former Grade School Misfits Develop Misfit curriculum

Refuting Secular Myths about Islam and Terrorism

Liberals, KJV Onlyists, and Inerrancy

Please Don't Get Angry With Me if I Can't Take You Serious

Materialistic Naturalists and Their Morally Twisted Philosophy of Darwinian Evolution

Silly Atheists and Their Serious Hypocrisy

An Open Letter to Adam Gadahn

Coming to Terms with My Inner Sissy Boy

The Proofs For God's Non-Existence

Islam Goes to the Dogs

Reflections on the Decline of Movie Going

The Gallery of Infamous Arkansans

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Does Christian Love Demand I Tolerate Unrepentant Sin?

Recently, I had some friends ask my opinion about a situation happening in their church.

About 15 years or so ago, a new pastor arrived to minister at this church. Like the experience of all pastors who come to a new ministry, there were a handful of individuals who didn't like him. Their dislike, however, began to grow into expressing slander against him, stirring up of division among the members, and leaving a wake of offended people in the congregation. Eventually, these hateful people left and moved into other local congregations to stew in their bitter factiousness and the beleaguered pastor had a successful ministry in the church in spite of his mistreatment.

Since this all took place, the pastor, too, has moved on to other ministry opportunities and a new pastor has replaced him. Now that the first pastor is gone, though, a number of the original troublemakers feel at ease to return for visits. What they do is come in right as the service is starting, sit in the back, and then quickly leave after the service is ended.

Their presence, of course, alarms many of the offended members who were around when these people were causing problems for the first pastor. The new pastor, however, is not nearly as troubled by their attendance as my offended friends and he thinks by gones should be by gones. In his mind, this was something which took place 15 years ago and Christians must be prepared to extend to them unconditional, 1 Corinthians 13 love.

The offended members, on the other hand, want to extend forgiveness, but at this point do not trust the troublemakers have honestly sought forgiveness from those whom they offended, including the first pastor they slandered. In the mind of my friends, the door is wide open for these troublemakers to return without confronting the sin they committed and only sets up a future situation in which they will only make trouble all over again.

The question from my friends is, "are we being too hard on these people and should we take the new pastor's approach of 'that's just water under the bridge, let's move on from all of this' and extend unconditional forgiveness?"

My answer: No. Plain and simple.

In framing my emphatic "no,"I have to first express profound disappointment with how the new pastor has responded to this situation. Sadly, he represents the typical mind set found in many congregations, particularly in smaller towns, of shying away from any serious confrontation with congregational sin. Some of the attitude arises from the human nature of desiring to avoid conflict. No one truly enjoys conflict, especially when the conflict comes to bear upon the beliefs and lifestyle of another person. Moreover, some of that mind set stems from either the southern-midwest culture of not sticking your nose into other people's business, or perhaps from an American anti-authoritarian attitude of "I don't want to tell you what to do." There is also cultural hospitality mores of always being welcoming. Even if the person is despised, they are to be made to feel welcome, though everyone is going to hypocritically gossip about the person behind his or her back.

The Christian faith, however, demands that pastors meddle in the lives of their people in a godly way. Such meddling involves setting aside American cultural values and social constructs and creating personal conflict. Using the Bible as the ultimate authority in a person's life and holding the individual accountable to its authority is something that will quickly cause conflict, but it is something a pastor has to do. Another buddy of mine told me how his pastor doesn't like confrontation, but my friend quickly pointed out to his pastor that confrontation is part of his job. Preaching the truth involves confrontation sometimes on a daily basis. A good portion of these situations described by my friends could quickly be resolved by shepherding leadership prepared to make the uncomfortable decision to confront an issue.

So what about forgiving these individuals? Christians must always be prepared to forgive and restore those who were at one time disobedient (see for example 2 Corinthians 2:3-11). Such forgiveness is not at that expense of dealing with past sins, however. Even if these people did what they did 15 years ago, if they haven't displayed repentance for their sinful behavior of slandering the pastor and stirring up factiousness in the church, and have not attempted to be reconciled with those folks they offended (the pastor and many in the congregation) then they should not expect to be welcomed into the fellowship where they caused the problems to begin with. The "time heals all wounds" and ignoring the sin they committed is only a means to excuse themselves from having to confront what they did and humbly ask forgiveness. Their present day behavior of coming into the back and leaving immediately after the saying of "amen" at the end of the service is an indication, at least to me, these folks haven't entirely dealt with the division they caused.

The world promotes a hypocritical tolerance that puts a fake smile on the faces of two individuals who are at odds. It shouldn't matter who is right or wrong, we should get along for the sake of the peace. True Christian fellowship, however, is governed by a standard of truth we use to address the root cause of disagreement and conflict. This is the way to have true peace, rather than construct an artificial environment which is only a facade.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Updating the Blogroll

Some careful readers may have taken note that I added another category to the blog roll on the right. I have called it Blogs I Hit Frequently. Basically, it is a collection of blogs maintained by folks who have commented on my blog and have linked Hip and Thigh on their blog roll. In a way, I guess it is my gracious thank you for their linkage.

By frequently, I mean to say these are blogs I have come to like because of being introduced to folks I have met in the Christian blogsphere, but I do not necessarily read them every day. Also, there are a smattering of blogs that I like to read, but are updated sporadically, and thus I don't go to them every day.

I know I may have missed some folks, so please feel free to leave a comment so I can add you.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Why exactly is it considered "Groundbreaking?"

Apparently a new movie is coming out called "Brokeback Mountain" that tells the story of two gay cowboy lovers and the discrimination they experienced back in the 60s and 70s. Now I must confess that I have not seen the movie, nor do I have the desire. In order to see it would require I travel down into the West Los Angeles area to one of those creepy independent owned movie houses where it is playing in limited release. All of my understanding of the story is from second hand media reviews. I could opine about what I have heard about the film, particularly the positive portrayal of homoerotic perversion and the fact the two lead characters destroy their marriages and their own families to pursue inordinate affections. That, however, is not why I am even commenting about the movie with this post.

What I find amusing is the excessive adulation the film is receiving from the art house crowd. I guess I should expect that response from them with these kind of movies, but the film has practically been given the Academy Award for best picture 4 months in advance.

I was driving in town the other day when my eye caught a bus stop kiosk with a poster of Brokeback Mountain and at the top was a critic review stating: Groundbreaking...
I thought, "ground breaking? What's so ground breaking about another gay themed movie?" Ground breaking is a word we use for something that has not been done before that sets a standard. Disney's Steamboat Willie is ground breaking. Star Wars, for example, was a ground breaking film with its special effects, and Jurassic Park was ground breaking for the CGI technology. However, the umpteenth gay themed film is not ground breaking.

What would be a ground breaking film for today is a story about a guy heavily involved in the San Francisco homosexual bath house culture who gets saved, becomes a Christian, renounces his homosexual lifestyle as a perversion against God, marries a nice Christian girl, raises a family and then experiences persecution from his former "gay" friends when he starts a San Francisco mission designed to evangelize gays and lesbians. That would certainly be "ground breaking." Something tells me, though, that it would not be considered for the Academy Award.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Merry Christmas To All....

My friend Gregg of Impacted Wisdom Truth alerts us to a brand new anti-Christian website called Undo Jesus dot com. According to the site, Christianity must be dumped because of all the ills it has brought upon the world. In short, Jesus is killing us, proclaims the site owner.

The owner also states that Undo Jesus dot com is going to be different from other anti-theist websites because, for the sake of no argument, they allow readers to remain believing there is maybe a god of some sort. Good for them. They just don't want him/her/it to be anyway associated with Jesus.

Of course all this "No Jesus" activism is done with the utmost tolerance and love for those Jesus is God believers, because the intent of the site is not to spread hatred toward those who do believe in Jesus as God. Tell that to the guy in the picture with the sign.

There are four main reasons why Jesus is killing us according to the site:

  • the focus of the world needs to be "the planet an everlasting paradise" -- not whether Jesus is God or not;
  • wars are fought defending false beliefs about Jesus; (I would be curious to know what those wars were)
  • a person believing in Jesus is living a lie and is thusly in some respect a dysfunctional member of society; (I am curious how such people, like myself, should be dealt with then?)
  • the media often reports instances of murders by people justifying their actions based on their religious beliefs; (so what? The media also reports instances of murders by people justifying their actions based on their non-religious beliefs, too)
Looks to be an exciting addition to the internet. I wonder if there will be anything original?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Defining Our Terms

During the past few weeks I have read various blogs where the term meme is employed in a post. Michelle Malkin uses it frequently, and I know Phil used it at least once in a recent entry. I would imagine that most readers are like me and when you encounter an unfamiliar word you glance over it and pay it no mind. I know for me, if the word is particularly intriguing, I may grab my pocket dictionary and look up the definition.

Well, I think most of you know what a memo is, but what is a meme? The general usage of the word is of some idea or notion repeated over and over again and passed among the members of our society that takes on a life of its own, so to speak. Similar to a mental urban legend. The word has an interesting background I thought would be informative for many.

Dr. John Byl, professor of mathematics at Trinity Western University, describes the etymology of meme in his newest book, The Divine Challenge:

... [T]he biggest problem facing naturalistic evolution is how to explain the phenomenon of civilization. Our human minds are much more highly developed than seems to be strictly needed for mere survival. From whence comes our ability for highly abstract philosophical and mathematical thought, for music and literature, and so on? One ingenious attempt to answer ... [this] ... question looks beyond mere genes. Richard Dawkins extended evolution into the realm of ideas by inventing the concept of memes. A meme is an idea or behaviour that is imitated and passed on. Memes include all the words in our vocabulary, the games we play, the theories we believe, the songs we sing, the habits we have, and so on.

Memes, like genes, are reproduced by being copied. Memes, too, evolve through copying errors and natural selection.
Susan Blackmore has worked this notion out in detail in her book The Meme Machine (1999). She asserts that memes use our behaviour to get themselves copied. As the genes use our bodies as vehicles for reproduction, so likewise the memes use our brains. Indeed, the only real power memes have is that of reproduction. Blackmore writes:

Instead of thinking of our ideas as our own creations, and as working for us, we have to think of them as autonomous selfish memes, working only to get themselves copied. We humans, because our powers of imitation, have become just the physical "hosts" needed for the memes to get around (1999:8).

In short, we are mere meme machines. Blackmore believes many aspects of human behaviour can be explained in terms of competition between memes to get into our brains. This, she alleges, explains such diverse things as the evolution of the enormous human brain, the origin of language, our tendency to talk and think to much, human altruism, and the evolution of the Internet. Blackmore asserts that memes control the genes. Memes, not genes, drive civilization. Blackmore considers religions to be prime examples of powerful, and usually false, memes. The memes took a great step forward when they invented writing, and then printing, and then other forms of communication, from railways and ships to fax machines. (The Divine Challenge, 103-104).

Basically, the origin of the word meme can be summarized as follows:

1) It is a term coined by anti-theistic Christian hater, Richard Dawkins.

2) It is an idea developed by naturalistic evolutionists to explain the metaphysical, abstract ideas of humanity without having to involve a supreme deity. In other words, to provide a naturalistic evolutionary explanation for the human mind apart from a creator God.

3) The proponents of meme ideology attribute self existent, autonomous qualities to memes. They use a person's brain to reproduce themselves.

Interestingly, the same evolutionists who individualize memes with independent autonomy, also individualize genes with independent autonomy. However, genes are a physical and necessary component to the existence of an organism. They can't exist without an organism and the organism can't exist with out them. So, if these memes are real, then would not the same thing hold true for them as it does for genes? In other words, memes are an expression of human thought, which implies there is a mind already in place thinking and imagining, particularly the concept of a meme. I am know curious how these meme proponents will approach the age old chicken-egg dilemma that arises with memes. What came first, the mind or the meme?

So there you have the definition of the meme.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Blog Round Up

There's been a lot going on since having our third boy. I have a lot of subjects I would love to blog on, but family duty calls. One thing I have noticed is that babies are selfish and they are demanding about it, too. They don't seem to care one bit that you want to have a moment to yourself. They will even rudely interupt your nap.

At an
y rate, today I have a busy schedule. First, I will attend a memorial service for a dear volunteer saint, Gil, who recently lost his fight to cancer. Gil was a quite soul, but the one thing I appreciated about him is how he loved to hand out good theological materials to young believers. When he came to volunteer here at GTY, he would buy up cases of our pastor's books to hand out to friends, family, and anyone else he thought needed a good book to read. He will be missed.

Then a little bit later in the day, I have to journey down to LA into the heart of the beast to visit a doctor at Cedar Sinai to determine how serious my lump in my neck is. I noted in a previous post that the pathological report says it is an acinic cell carcinoma. My doctor, however, wanted another, more expert opinion, so passed me off to the big boys in LA. I am much grateful for this, because UCLA/Cedar Sinai are two of the best cancer places in the world. I am still not convinced it is not extremely serious, but I am looking forward to having it removed none the less.

In the meantime, I thought I would post some interesting blog posts I saw over the Thanksgiving weekend, as well as this week:

I am beginning to really appreciate the roll LaShawn Barber is playing as a conservative blogger. One unique position she has is as the unofficial missionary to the conservative, right wing bloggers. LaShawn was invited to join the Pajamas Media group, a conservative think tank of sorts started by the group of bloggers who exposed the Dan Rather memo-gate fiasco last year. Not only is she a sharp thinking, conservative writer, but - dare I say - she's black. That provides her with a large amount of credibility when she criticizes the deplorable state of various black organizations and activist groups that paint the world as being entirely racist and leech off the hapless inner city poorall the while feeding them a "you are a victim" ideaology. Being a conservative black blogger already marks LaShawn as being unique, and I am sure her conservative friends at the PJ Media group are also well aware of this uniqueness and this probably is one of the reasons they wished to snag her for membership. But one other thing that makes her even more of a curiosity, even among her conservative PJ friends, is the fact she is a solid, Bible believing Christian. As a black lady, LaShawn is sort of expected to be religious. After all, aren't all black ladies traditionally Church going, always singing Mahalia Jackson songs, and involking the name of Jesus when they state their opinions? But LaShawn's faith is more than traditonal black spirituality. She actually believes the Bible is truely God's Revelation, and that it is relevant and applicable to mankind in the 21st century. Even for "God and Country" conservatives like those in the PJ media, such is a just a bit of an odd ball conviction. "We don't mind the traditional black spirituality with a generic "God" and a spirited use of "Jesus" now and then, but believe we are sinners before God and must be submitted to Christ because the Bible says so is a too much. But they will suffer LaShawn because she is so gifted. I do hope, though, for many opportunities for her to share the living Faith of Jesus Christ with those who have a form of godliness, but deny its power.


While hunting for images of biblical texts, I came across this interesting blog highlighting ancient biblical texts, manuscripts and textual criticism. As far as I can tell, the curator is not an anti-supernatural higher critic.


I also look forward to reading the Free St. George blog I found through one of my commenters. I love obscure Church history stuff, and it looks like this one may provide some good material. I have yet to add it to my links page, however.


For those interested in hunting for Bigfoot and lake monsters, you can hit the Cryptomundo blog.


Jeffrey Nachimson wrote a scathing article against me exposing my lies, deceits, theological inconsistencies and other Alexandrian Apostate characteristics I express in my blog articles. In fact, I lost count of how many times I was called a liar in this particular article. It is like loosing count of all the profanity in a Hip Hop song. I plan to answer some of his allegations of my dishonesty in the near future.


Then finally, William Dicks adapts Frank Turk's post about the 7 favorite things in his life. One of the last categories states, "7 people I want to join in, too." I am not sure what it is to join, but William listed me among 6 other fine folks. I appreciate the sentiment and will be happy to join in, what ever it may be. In fact, I appreciate meeting all the folks (even the ones who don't like me) who have stopped by my blog over the last half year or so to leave comments and link me to otherwise unknown bloggers.