The fine gentlemen over at Fide-O have added me to their blog roll under the category of "puppies." I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Either they believe I am cute and cuddly, or that I whine, chew on things and wet the carpet. I will take it none the less and give them Fide-O guys a fine howdy do. Good Dog, Carl.
Friday, September 30, 2005
The fine gentlemen over at Fide-O have added me to their blog roll under the category of "puppies." I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Either they believe I am cute and cuddly, or that I whine, chew on things and wet the carpet. I will take it none the less and give them Fide-O guys a fine howdy do. Good Dog, Carl.
The good Lord has blessed me with the means to obtain a sizable library worth of theological books. I mean the good kind, not those Church pop-culture ones you find in the typical, Christian book stores with names like Family Life and Lamb's Way.
In my library, there are a handful of books I never tire of reading. Any time I am preparing for a sermon or a Bible study, and I have to pick one of them up to add to my research, I quickly find myself engrossed in what I am reading. Even though I have read this book a dozen times before, I just love how the author discusses the subject or how he may articulate a heavy theological subject so that it is understandable by the simplest of laymen.
I was browsing my selves early this week and compiled a working list of my favorite re-reads. Let me share them with you in no particular order.
A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Church - Robert Reymond
Robert Reymond has published one of the best up-to-date and modern systematic theologies available. His chapters on the revelation of scripture and the decrees of God are alone worth the 30 dollar price for the book. Yeah, Yeah, he is a baby sprinkler, but we can excuse that one deficient portion of his outstanding work.
The Divine Challenge - John Byl
I promoted this book in an earlier blog from last month, but his book is worth the plug once again. Hands down, this is probably one of the best books on apologetics available. Byl writes with clarity and precision as he address the three major worldviews in our world and dismantles them in light of Christian theism.
No Place for Sovereignty: What's Wrong with Free will Theism? - R.K. McGregor-Wright
I am surprised that many Calvinist minded Christian are completely unaware of this book. I think it is one of the clearest, well-written critiques of freewill theism and defenses of biblical sovereignty to be published. Wright is thoughtful and his work is thoroughly researched. I can not recommend this book highly enough.
New Covenant Ministry of the Holy Spirit - Larry Pettegrew
Dr. Pettegrew teaches theology at the Master's Seminary. I understand this book is a reader friendly version of his doctorate thesis. He basically covers the ministry of the Holy Spirit from the time of the OT to the transition into the NT. It is my favorite studies of the Holy Spirit I have read.
All Things New: The Significance of Newness for Biblical Theology - Carl B. Hoch
The title is rather self explanatory. Basically, Hoch takes the reader through a study of "newness" in the Bible and discusses why the New Testament is considered "new."
Epistle to the Romans - Douglas Moo
Several of my friends don't necessarily care for Moo's take on Romans 7 (I happen to like it), but that aside, every time I refer to Romans in a Bible study, I check Moo's comments on a passage. For a technical commentary, this is probably one of the easiest to navigate for non-technical folks.
Creation and Change - Douglas Kelly
A good introduction to the reading of the creation narrative in Genesis. Kelly interacts with all the relevant literature and alternative interpretations and graciously explains how they are all bogus and only a literal, historical reading of the passage is how a person should read Genesis 1 and 2.
Refuting Evolution 1 and 2 - Jonathan Sarfati
Dr. Sarfati is a staffer with Answers in Genesis, the creationist apologetic ministry. He has written, what is in my mind, two of the best introductions to the evolution-creation debate. The first volume called "Refuting Evolution" explores the inadequacy of materialistic naturalism in explaining the origins of life on the planet. He does this through a review of the National Science Association's evolutionary text book published for reading in public high schools. The second volume, "Refuting Evolution 2" interacts with and critiques a Scientific American article called "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense" and the exclaimed PBS mini-series called Evolution. Both books should be required reading for pastors in my mind, and both deal with
Thursday, September 29, 2005
The other evening I popped into Ralph's supermarket to pick up some fried chicken for dinner. As I was leaving, sitting next to the entrance was a guy attempting to sell subscriptions to the Los Angeles Times. Of course, he stops me to give me his pitch, to which I replied, "I don't necessarily care for the LA Times, but when I do read it, I get it on the Internet." That response sort of set him back a moment and he said, "Well, you can't get coupons off the Internet. You use coupons don't yah? There's nothing political about coupons" Odd that he should equate my aversion to the LA Times to politics, which goes to show me he knows the paper has a political bias. At any rate, this "coupon" pitch seems like the typical response these days from newspaper salesmen. My wife does use coupons, but she can easily download them from off the net. We don't need a weekly paper for that.
Later, just hours later on the same evening mind you, I get a telemarketing call from the LA Times main competitor, the LA Daily News. I told the fellow the same thing, "If I have a need to read the Daily News, I will get it off the Internet." He responded by saying, "Well, you can't get coupons off the Internet." You have to be kidding me? I told him the same thing I told the LA Times guy just a couple of hours earlier, "Yes, as a matter of fact, you can download coupons off the Internet, my wife and her friends do it regularly, and we save nearly 80 bucks a week on groceries doing it." He didn't believe me. "There is no such website." I tried my best to tell him there was, but he then turned to this pitch: "Well, you can't take the Internet with you in the car or to a coffee shop to read it." I quickly reminded him of laptops and wireless Internet connections and told him that yes, I can take the Internet with me. The phone went silent for a couple of seconds. "Well," he responded, "One of these days your Internet is going to go down and then where will you be?" It beats me, but I am still not buying a newspaper subscription.
Remember the movie Ghostbusters? There is a scene where the nerdy scientist guy, Dr. Egon Spengler, played by Harold Ramis, is asked by the new secretary if he read a lot. "Print is dead," he states matter-of-factly. In a manner of speaking he is right, particularly as it pertains to newspapers.
My major in college was Radio/Television Communications. My major required me to take these night classes that dealt with discussing the future of communications with television, radio and journalism. At that time in the late 80s, the big future trend everyone raved about was optic cable television. Optic cable was suppose to provide interactive television that allowed people to choose their own programming. No one among my teachers or peers predicted the dawning of the Internet and the cultural impact it would have in shaping how we communicated. This is especially true with the advent of blogging and the slow demise of newspaper journalism and broadcast news. Why is that?
I think there are handful of obvious reasons.
First, the Internet is instantaneous news. Newspapers take a day to print and get on the street. Much can change in twenty-four hours. On a blog site, the owner can post information immediately and it can be read all over the world by anyone who thinks of coming to the site.
Secondly, there can be thoughtful analysis by the blogger. This is something severely lacking in any big city newspaper. Moreover, the more credibility a blogger has in providing thoughtful links and analysis, the more people will stop by and check out what has been posted. A popular blog can have maybe double the amount of readers on a daily basis as a regular sized newspaper has subscribers.
Thirdly, bloggers are not beholden to an annoying editorial reviewer. He or she can speculate all they want. If the person is headed in the wrong direction, thoughtful readers can comment, once again, immediately, and maybe provide some further information the blogger missed and that will help shape the analysis.
Fourth, bloggers tend not to operate under the pretend titles of "fair, balanced and objective." They are at liberty to say I am conservative or I am liberal or I am a kook. I can actually log on to a blog knowing full well the political bent of the blogger. Where as most newspapers reporting is left of center, they never tell the readers their true agenda.
Fifth, bloggers don't need to get a throw away college education in journalism in order to post their reports. This idea of the necessity of a college education for journalism is simply ridiculous and is one of the biggest cons cast onto the public and one of the biggest wastes of money. Why is there a need to attend college to learn about reporting fairly and accurately and the philosophy of objectivity? Does the student receive some special anointing as a journalist after completing all their course work? The journalism school at Arkansas State was far from teaching students about fair, accurate and objective. If anything, the entire college was like a workshop on affectively spreading leftist propaganda. The students enrolled there were certainly the rebels against anything decent and normal. They were the ones (all 30 of them) who protested the war against Iraq in '91, as well as expressed outrage at our local cable company refusing to air The Last Temptation of Christ.
A prime example of the cultural impact of the Internet, and blogging specifically, is the Dan Rather bogus Bush documents from last year right before the election. Within hours of broadcasting a 60 minutes piece claiming old National Guard documents describe how Bush allegedly fudged facts to get out of doing military service, bloggers had shown them to be fraudulent, which in turn revealed a severe political bias on the part of CBS and Dan Rather. Twenty years ago, with only 3 networks and no Internet, the story may have held on for quite a while and ruined chances of Bush being re-elected. Those questioning the authenticity of the documents would have been dismissed as being conspiracy cranks.
Mary Mapes, the hapless producer of Dan Rather's 60 minute program, is preparing to launch a new book about the whole bogus Bush documents scandal. A good portion of the discussion is an expression of anger toward all the bloggers who until that time were relatively unknown and how they brought her and Rather down, exposing them both as being the partisan shills they truly are. Transterrestrial Musings has a fabulous break down and response to Mapes accusations.
When it comes to newspapers, I am sorry to tell the eager salesman that they are promoting the last breathes of a dying industry. I truly pity them, but I am sorry to tell them saving 50 cents on a can of corn is not enough to get me to buy your paper.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
It has that grainy, Loch Ness feel to it, but there certainly is a giant squid. Read the story here.
I remember watching a National Geographic special a number of years ago where a bunch of marine biologist folks managed to place a camera on the head of a sperm whale with a big suction cup. The idea for that is the fact sperm whales are the giant squid's one natural enemy. The whale (the Moby Dick version) make tremendous dives of nearly a quarter of a mile or more into the murky darkness of the ocean and with a clicking sonar sound navigate themselves to where the squid live. Once they recognize a squid, it is stunned by a blast of sound and the whale snaps its jaws around the thing. On this particular episode, we saw no squid.
In this instance, some Japanese guys set up a bait trap of ground shrimp with an attached camera taking pictures every 30 seconds or so. One squid, about 26 feet long, made its way to the bait, got itself snared on the hooks, but broke free leaving a tentacle behind.
Twenty-Six feet is not all that big. I want to see one of those 90 footers. You know, the ones that drag boats to the bottom. I can recall reading Kon Tiki as a kid. The story about the sociologist who believed Peruvians settled in the South Pacific by using rafts to sail across the Pacific. They built their own raft and launched out into the ocean. They actually made it, but one of the amazing stories they tell is how at night, giant squid came to the surface to feed. The plankton collected around the squid's eyes and so when they swam up under the raft, enormous round saucers could be seen darting right under the surface of the water. It still creeps me out to this day.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Leaving King James Onlysim
King James onlyism is near and dear to my heart because I emerged from being a hard shell KJV onlyist in belief and practice. I chronicle my journey through KJV onlyism in a more in-depth article that can be read at my Fred's Bible Talk website. However, for the sake of introducing new readers to the topic of KJV onlyism, allow me to give a short re-telling of my testimony.
King James Onlyism could be simply defined as:
The belief that God's Word, the Holy Bible, has only been faithfully preserved in one English translation: the 1611 King James.
According to KJV advocates, the Hebrew and Greek texts used by the KJV translators represent the infallible, inerrant, and exactly preserved words originally penned by the writers of scripture. In other words, God so preserved the process of transmission for the biblical documents it was as if the King James translators were translating from a Xerox copy of Jeremiah's original prophecy or Paul's original letter to the Colossians.
Additionally, KJV advocates insist that the men commissioned by King James the 1st to produce the translation which would eventually bear his name, were not only the godliest in their spiritual walk with Christ, but also the greatest ancient language scholars the Christian church had ever known. That means God not only saw fit to govern the transmission of biblical manuscripts so that the translators would have the actual words the biblical writers wrote, He also directed the choosing of the translators so that only the most skilled would be translating.
Conversely, KJV advocates insist heretics intentionally corrupted the Hebrew and Greek texts used to translate all of our modern versions beginning with the Revised Version published in 1881. The corruption, though ever so slight, is manifested with the altering of key Christian doctrines like the Deity of Christ and salvation in faith alone. Furthermore, unlike the godly KJV translators, the men who translated many of the modern versions like the NASB or the NIV had either a hidden liberal agenda to produce a new age style translation, or were unwitting dupes in the overall scheme.
This is the view of the Bible I believed, taught, and defended for nearly ten years.
I was introduced to King James onlyism shortly after my conversion to Christ. I had a friend of mine who hosted occasional Bible studies at his apartment, and this friend enjoyed supplying good books for Christians to read. One of these books I received from him was a book entitled, To Be or Not To Be: Can You Trust the Modern Versions, written by an Oklahoma pastor named Gary Flynt. The book was basic KJV only rhetoric similar to what I outlined above. Being unstable and unlearned, I was convinced by the arguments presented in the book. I was particularly impressed with a section in the book dealing with problem passages in scripture. Rather than concluding textual discrepancies are a result of scribal copying errors, as the notes in the typical study Bible often conclude they are, pastor Flynt argued that by solely using the KJV, an easy solution can be found within the biblical text, rather than labeling all such discrepancies as copyist errors. To prove his point, he re-printed a couple of articles written by a medical doctor in New Zealand who frequently contributed Bible study articles to a local, New Zealand Baptist publication.
I was so moved by Pastor Flynt's book that I hunted down his phone number and called him to talk about KJV onlyism. He recommended to me several books by a variety of authors and I soon began amassing a substantial KJV library.
I quickly became something of a pest in my college church group constantly hassling my friends and other students about the translations they used. The pastors at my church lacked the sophistication to counter my arguments, so I was pretty much left unfettered and dismissed as a zealous young man who will eventually learn.
When I arrived at seminary, I was not as out spoken of my KJV onlyism simply because I was around people who could argue better than me and who would not lay down for my assertions. Rather than constantly getting into heated debates, I kept my KJV only convictions to myself. I just wanted to get through seminary, learn what I could, and then go out and pastor a church where I could preach my KJV onlyism to my heart's content.
I probably would have done just that, but thank my sweet Lord, He refused to leave me in this foggy state. There were a handful of factors which the Lord used to bring me to the truth and a complete departure of KJV onlyism. I recount more of them in my Confessions article. The one individual who did more to sober me regarding Bible translations came from an unlike source within the KJV only movement: Gail A. Riplinger and her book, New Age Bible Versions (NABV).
I am at a loss as how to describe her book. It does exist as a prime example of why editors are important. As I describe in my Confessions article:
The author, Gail Riplinger, gathered all the threads of knowledge pertaining to textual criticism her degree in interior design provided, and with a skillful use of ellipsises, masterfully wove together scholarly ineptitude, twisted exegesis, conspiracy theories, her personal revelations from God, illogical comparison charts, distorted fact, and a sinister red and black cover, to produce a hideous literary tapestry.
To summarize her book, Ms. Riplinger (pictured above. BTW, I wish to offer a shout out to Scott McClare, the Crusty Curmudgeon, for the picture. For a woman whose image is as elusive as Nessie, she is more attractive than I had imagined. I was thinking more along the lines of a frumpy, old style Pentecostal woman with monotone dresses and a tight bun in the hair), believes the devil is attempting to usher in the New Age of the anti-Christ and his primary method is the introduction of new age doctrine in place of Christian doctrine through the instruments of modern Bible versions like the NIV, NASB, and the ESV.
The profound, gross errors she promotes through out her book are almost infinite to the point there is no earthly way for a person who has taken the time to read her book to unravel the tangles she has created. There a number of reviews, but probably the best I have ever read is written by James May. I encourage everyone to print out a copy and take a weekend to read through it. Even though Riplinger is old news, Mr. May writes with spunk, intelligence, and clarity, and he brings the reader right to the point: Ms. Riplinger is a kook.
I personally believe she is a heretic on the magnitude of Benny Hinn or the late Robert Funk. She has done more to destroy the Body of Christ than any cultist could imagine doing. Of course, when I was a budding seminary student way back in 1993, I thought she deserved a theological Pulitzer Prize and her book should be required reading for every Christian college student in America.
Yet, despite my enthusiasm for Ms. Riplinger, it was her book that God primarily used to break me from KJV onlyism.
One of the areas of study in Ms. Riplinger's book that interested me was on the lives of B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort. These were to the two principle scholars who produced the Greek text from which the Revised Version of 1881 was produced, and in chapters 29 through 33 of NABV, Ms. Riplinger lays out her research showing how these two men were actively involved in Satanism and the occult. This accusation captivated me, because I figured if it were clearly documented that these men did what she claimed, then the modern versions my friends used were based upon the work of highly unorthodox men.
Armed with Ms. Riplinger's "copious and well-researched" footnotes, I journeyed to my seminary library and began my own research cross checking her citations from Westcott and Hort's books. I had not been there for more than 30 minutes when my heart began to deflate inside me.
As I read the original works of these two men, opened next to the citations printed in NABV, it became painfully obvious to me that Ms. Riplinger was seriously misrepresenting what they had written; in fact, I could even say I was being intentionally lied to. It is difficult to capture the feeling of the moment, but it was a revelation of sorts, like when you discover Santa Claus is not real by catching your father putting together a weeble wobble play set late one Christmas eve night.
In some instances, this woman was completely fabricating lies against them by twisting around whole paragraphs and selectively citing from comments taken whole pages from each other to produce an entirely bogus quotation.
Moreover, she was accusing them of wickedness neither one of them ever committed. For example, in an extended footnote in NABV (the 11th printing, 2000 edition, pg. 676-677, fn. 128), Ms. Riplinger claims B.F. Westcott was heavily involved with the occult and was an active member of Madame H.P. Blavatsky's Theosophical Society, an organization dedicated to spiritualism. She further claims he was a regularly contributor to the Theosophical Society Dictionary under the initials of W.W. Westcott.
One would think a book proclaiming to contain exhaustive research would note the difference between B.(rooke) F.(oss) Westcott and W. (illiam) W. (ynn) Westcott. Apparently, Google has not reached Ms. Riplinger all the way in the back woods of Virginia. A simple search will tell anyone that William Wynn Westcott was a London Coroner who was actively involved with secret spiritualist societies, especially one called the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
Apart from sharing an affinity for facial hair and a receding hair line, neither of these two men are alike in any philosophical way. Ms. Riplinger essentially libeled the character of B.F. Westcott.
I would like to testify that it was at this dawning moment of enlightenment with the lies of G.A. Riplinger that I renounced KJV onlyism and embraced the orthodox, historic Christian view of inspiration, preservation, and the transmission of the biblical documents, but to my shame, it was not. I took solace in the writings of other KJV onlyists who renounced Gail as not representing true KJV onlyism. Either that, or they were all ashamed to discover Gail was a woman. However, as I engrossed myself with their works, they too repeated many of the same lies against Westcott and Hort Ms. Riplinger published in NABV. It took another 7 years or so, but eventually, thanks be to God, he freed me from the muddled thinking of KJV advocates and their publications. And to think it all began with the Queen of all KJV advocates.
The Lord willing, I wish to publish some entries which deal with what I believe to be the 6 key presuppositional arguments used by KJV advocates to defend KJV onlyism. My prayer is that they will be beneficial not only to those ensnared in KJV onlyism, but also to those who may have to debate a KJV onlyist or two within the local church.
Just one last note. I linked to a review article on NABV by James May earlier. I would also recommend anyone printing out his articles on Westcott and Hort. Mr. May has done the Christian church an enormous favor by reading through nearly all of B.F. Westcott's printed works to expose the hideous lies preached against him by KJV onlyists. His research is pure gold and I for one hope to see it published in a book someday. Meanwhile, look over his on line articles at the KJV Only page.
Labels: Answering KJV Onlyism
Friday, September 23, 2005
Greg Linscott at Sharper Iron.org links to a fun article found at the Il Filosofo blog which highlights how the fine folks at the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, N.Y., plans to deal with shirt collar grabbing fundamentalists who hassle museum volunteers with questions challenging evolutionary theory.
According to the New York times article cited by blogger Austin Matzko, some hapless docent - that's a fancy word meaning "volunteer" to the museum - was seized upon by a gang of creationists who dared to force the naturalist drone to defend her world view. After 45 minutes of getting hammered by the theists, the retired biology professor needed to take a break and excused herself from the discussion.
Handwringing museum officials, worried of future onslaughts to their already tenuous naturalistic philosophy by creationist fanatics, prepared a training session to provide advice to museum staff and volunteers on handling those visitors who "reject settled precepts of science on religious grounds." Read here: "who don't bow the knee to our materialistic naturalism and the consensus of materialistic naturalists." (see a previous entry highlighting Michael Crichton's important speech on the concept of "consensus.")
Museum director, Dr. Warren Allmon, "told the volunteers that when they encounter religious fundamentalists they should emphasize that science museums live by the rules of science. They seek answers in nature to questions about nature, they look for explanations that can be tested by experiment and observation in the material world, and they understand that all scientific knowledge is provisional - capable of being overturned when better answers are discovered." (emphasis mine)
Blogger Austin points out the withering inconsistency when he writes:
Let me see if I understand. Someone questions some of the "settled precepts of science" by referring to "techniques for dating fossils" and "the second law of thermodynamics," and how does the guide reply?
She pulls out her handbook for dealing with "religious fundamentalists" and gives pat answers about how "science museums live by the rules of science," saying that "they understand that all scientific knowledge is provisional."
"Settled rules of science" that can be overturned when better answers are found?
Now, it may had been that the beleaguered former biology professor did encounter some ruffian Christians who asked stupid questions and were swaggering to pick a fight. My gut tells me this may not be the case, though other websites mentioning this encounter claim it was. Whatever the case, I find museum officials and their docent underlings to be annoying if they refuse to defend their interpretative methods and beliefs. The arrogance of these people to carry on as if they are infallible and above any critical questioning is downright cultish and obviously reveals the sinful heart of men attempting to spin any excuse to deny their accountability to their creator.
The Ithaca museum has a .PDF document on-line at their website providing suggestions on handling non-Darwinian objectors. I haven't read it fully yet, but I did notice one line that tells me these museum people are embarrassingly ignorant of what biblical creationist actually believe, and they are really responding to a cartoon strawman version of biblical creationists.
The document defines creationisms as,
...the belief that the Earth and its life were created, essentially in their modern forms, by a supernatural power.
If that is their working definition of what creationists believe, then their poor docents are doomed when they argue with any creationist. No biblical creationist believes this about life on earth, especially the part about life being in a modern form, or that God created all life as we know it now, meaning all forms of dogs, cats and other varieties of animal life. I defy Dr. Allmon to produce for me one creationist who holds to this definition.
Still, Christians who attempt to engage mind darkened biology professor on the nature of interpreting paleological evidence need to do so in a manner winsome as ambassadors for Christ. That means have good questions which challenge the core beliefs of the naturalists. Answers in Genesis has even prepared a list of arguments creationists should not use. It may be wise to read over them if and and when you choose to button hole the docents at your local history museum.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
I popped over to Phil Johnson's website, Pyromanic, and noticed in his links column - at the very top mind you - that Hip and Thigh has been added to the "entertaining" category. The second in line is Steve Camp, and he is way more entertaining than I am; he even plays the piano and sings. I think he may have even won some awards.
Just in case anyone is wondering, it is because my last name begins with a "B." Phil links alphabetically according to name of the proprietor of the specific blog. I'll take that, none the less. I am just thrilled to be recognized by someone as stellar as Phil. (I am also relieved I wasn't placed in the "irritating" category).
UPDATE 9/23/05, 7 AM.
This morning I did my morning blog round-up as I finished my coffee and multi-grain toast and I am happy to see this post mentioned on Phil's blogspotting for today. However, I noticed on the blog roll he has added another category called "Stellar." Currently, there are only three individuals listed, James White, Frank Turk and the guys from Fid-o. All fine blogs I might add. I guess my blogging is not through. Not until I have my self in that "stellar" category. I will commence writing stellar posts forth with.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Now introducing the 100-minute Bible*. Late for another important business meeting because your quite time went too long, again? Why spend all your precious time meditating on God's Word day and night when you can do the same thing in just a matter of minutes? With the 100 minute Bible you can be both speedy and spiritual at the same time! Need a spiritual quicky? Try the 100 minute Bible.
*From Ronco, maker of Mr. Microphone and the Pocket Fisherman
Artist Died Handcuffed to Tree
The skeleton of one, Richard Sumner, who went missing about three years ago, was found recently handcuffed to a tree. Apparently, in a fit of madness - or artistic inspiration - he handcuffed himself to a tree and threw the key out of his reach. Probably after coming to his senses while sitting in the cold darkness thirsty and hungry, he attempted to free himself, but failed. The best quote about all this comes from pathologist, Brian Rogers, who said,
He could have been there for a few days. If you handcuff yourself to a tree you would die fairly quickly but maybe not as quickly as you would like.
Artists Erect a Gigantic Pink Bunny on Mountain Side
America is known for its giant balls of yarn and tin foil, and Italy is known for its giant, pink bunnies. The 200-foot-long toy rabbit lies on the side of the 5,000 foot high Colletto Fava mountain in northern Italy's Piedmont region. The plan is to keep it there for the next 20 years and knowing how wool smells after being left out in the rain, this thing is going to make one nasty stink. Hikers are encouraged to climb up the sides and relax on its tummy. A few years from now, I don't think I will be too keen on climbing a giant, mildew laden, faded from the weather, pink bunny. Eeewww, as little girls will say.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
In addition to being a tad too accommodating to muddleheaded theological points of view, Hank has taken up something of a crusade against biblical Calvinism. It is not born out in an out and out clumsy, scattergun assault like Dave Hunt's goofy book, but it is more along the lines of snide, cutting remarks and the setting afire of bogey strawmen caricatures of what Calvinists believe and teach when Hank interacts with inquiring callers. He employs some of the most inane illustrations I have ever heard in his opposition against Calvinists.
For example, in his attempt to discredit the Calvinistic understanding of God's divine foreknowledge (what I know to be the biblical view), and to affirm the unorthodox Arminian/Molinist view of prescience in which God knows something because He saw it happening before we did (as if events in time can play out apart from God so that He has to gather knowledge about them), and to prevent God from having any decreeing hand in the sinful activities of men, Hank appeals to the divorce of 60s folk singer icons, Sonny and Cher. What is commonly called "Sonny and Cher" theology. It is a stupefyingly inept illustration, but Hank says something along the lines of, "Just because we know Sonny and Cher got a divorce doesn't mean we had anything to do with it."
Yep. Believe me, my mouth is just as agape as yours. What relevance does something we as time bound humans know already happened (operative word being already as in "occurring in the past") 30 years ago have to do with the Eternal God of Heaven knowing and planning events in detail before they happen, including the sinful acts of men (Acts 2:23-24 for instance)?
A couple of years ago, in December 2003, Hank set up a debate type program between James White of Alpha and Omega ministries and George Bryson, a pastor in the Calvary Church denomination. A person could not have asked for a more mismatched debate. It was as if some sports promoter thought a good idea for a basketball game would be the Arkansas 2A state champions against the Los Angeles Lakers. In this particular instance, Hank, who was suppose to serve as moderator, was actually on the side of George Bryson in defending the libertarian "God has to watch the cosmic DVD of life before he predestinates" view of salvation. White stuck to the biblical text in order to define his position, while both Hank and Bryson wandered down rabbit trails thick with gut wrenching stories of women being raped and children molested and "how can you say God would allow such horrible things to happen?" James later said that during an off-air commercial break, Hank told him to basically drop the Bible verses. Simply amazing.
All of that to say, Hank has taken his Calvin bashing up a notch by beginning to imply Calvinism is akin to Mormonism and other wacky cults. James White reports on his blog that in a recent edition of the CRI Journal, there is a picture (see photo) of three individuals next to one another: Joseph Smith the founder of Mormonism, T.D. Jakes, anti-Trinitarianan Oneness heretic, and John Calvin. According to CRI officials, they meant to demonstrate a progression of issues: Joseph Smith is clearly outside the Church, T.D. Jakes, whom I believe like James White, is just as much outside the Church as Joe Smith, is meant to convey heretics inside the Church, and Calvin, an internal controversy among Bible believing Christians. But who are they kidding? What is the idea being conveyed with this picture to the average reader? If I were to lay out a photo of three world leaders, Pol Pot of Cambodia, Hitler of Nazi Germany, and the George Bush and attach some vague title like, "Issues in world politics," what goes through the mind of a person? Moreover, why is it that Calvin is considered the issue maker? A more apt picture than Calvin's would had been Jacob Arminius who was genuinely the detractor from orthodoxy as any one familiar with the history would affirm.
On a related, anti Calvinist note, I heard the scuttlebutt down in Pensacola Florida is that crank, pseudo-researcher, Larry Vance, has parted ways from KJVO pontiff, Peter Ruckman. "Dr." Vance (where exactly did he earn that doctorate?), who was once the darling of the Ruckmanite groupies, has apparently fallen into bed with the anti-war moonbats and has imbibed every crackpot conspiracy theory promoted by the likes of the Moveon.org crowd.
Vance published a horrific, monstrosity of a book entitled, The Other Side of Calvinism Bah Ha Ha Ha Ha... I am kidding about that last part. It is one of those Fundy Baptist publications that never saw an editor, or fact checker for what it is worth, note the words "Revised Edition" at the top in yellow. By the way, why is it KJV only publications are always in the "revised edition?" Just wondering out loud. The book tops out at 600 plus pages with superfluous footnotes and the repeated use of all capital lettered sentences LIKE THE AUTHOR IS ALL THE TIME YELLING AT THE READER. My rule of thumb: If you have to repetitiously use all capital lettered sentences to get your point across, more than likely you have no clue what your talking about.
The reason I bring this up is because Vance's book is often times used by otherwise reputable Christians as a true source of information exposing the evils of Calvinism. Listen people, if the guy is already a kook about King James Onlyism (and now anti-war conspiracies) and hopelessly defends it with erroneous research and disastrous argumentation, why do you think he is right about Calvinism?
I remember arguing over the course of several posts at the Bible Version discussion board with a gal who operates an apologetic website called Lion of Judah. She was all the time hunting down KJV advocates so as to pick a fight over their fallacious arguments. I commend her for her tenaciousness, however, at the same time, she maintains an equal disdain for all things Calvinistic. Hello, inconsistency here. On the one hand, this poor gal mocks the apologetics of KJV advocates and declares them phony; yet at the same time depends upon the very same KJV advocates who write as ignorantly against Calvinism as they do in defense of KJV onlyism. I tried to show her her problem, but she accused me of the "poisoning the well" logical fallacy. She put up the following disclaimer on the Calvinist portion of her website after our encounter:
Please note: many Calvinists employ the "poisoning the well" method. They will "trash talk" all of the following books listed below, claiming that all of them are inaccurate works written by doofuses who are "misrepresenting" Calvinism.
My dear lady, you trash talk the KJV books written by the very same doofuses you link your readers to who are misrepresenting Calvinism! If a person has an unvarnished track record of publishing symphonic levels of nonsense regarding Bible translations, then how can I trust those very same people when they write against Calvinism? How can they be model nincompoops on one issue and grand, thoughtful researchers on the other? Good grief, as my grandmother would say.
Monday, September 19, 2005
On Friday, the family and I traveled to Santa Barbara to visit the local zoo. It was something of a last minute planned trip. Originally, we were going to head up to Eureka, CA, to attend a wedding. At first, I was a tad excited about it, because it would have taken us into the northern part of California where I have never been. But, my enthusiasm was dampened as soon as I realized we potentially had a 12-15 hour road trip to take. The thought of traveling 800 miles in a car with two children under 3 and a 7-month pregnant wife loomed over me like a cloud of dread. Our plans changed, however, when we realized we didn’t really have the funds to make a long trip, especially with gas prices being what they are, so my wife notified her aunt to let her know we weren't coming.
Well, I still had the time off planned, so I thought a visit to the zoo would be a better alternative. We have been to the LA Zoo many times already, so I was looking for something fresh, so I thought of the Santa Barbara Zoo. The city of Santa Barbara is only an hour and a half from where we live, the drive is pleasant along the 101 next to the Pacific, and kids love any kind of zoo. It is not the world renowned San Diego zoo, which we have visited in the past, but it was lovely enough for a day trip. Most importantly, it had a reptile house. I don’t trust a zoo if it doesn’t have a reptile house. I particularly liked this reptile house, because zoo boy Ryan, a young surfer looking dude, would actually bring snakes and lizards out for us to see and touch. My wife and I were delighted, because neither one of us have ever been to a zoo that has done that. I kept wondering if this was some homeless guy pretending to be a zookeeper, and once I knew he was the real thing, I kept looking around to see if the boss was going to come in, holler at us all, and then excuse us out the door while he had a "talk" with zoo boy.
He even brought out a massive, black scorpion. The thing had to have been a foot long from tail to pinchers. It was a menacing thing, like the kind of scorpions the henchman of the super villain puts in James Bond's bed. This species was extremely docile and according to zoo boy Ryan, the sting was no worse than getting a bee sting. Apparently, one rule of thumb for identifying scorpions: the bigger the claws, the less venomous the tail. The bigger claws are necessary to hold the prey to keep it from struggling as the venom takes affect. Smaller clawed scorpions don't need to hold their prey because they are so poisonous it is killed immediately. Just in case you were wondering about that…
The only annoying thing about the zoo is the rancid, eco-friendly, Earth First philosophy promoted there. A lot of that may be due in part to being the Santa Barbara zoo. Santa Barbara is one of those havens for moon beam, limousine hippies. Everything there was recycled this, reclamation that. And they heavily pushed the evolution propaganda, which I imagine is common at all zoos. This was especially prevalent near the gorilla habitat.
I would highly recommend my single guy friends here in the LA area who are in a "serious" relationship with a lady ("Serious" being defined as she actually likes to spend time with you and hasn't given you the "just friends" talk) that this is a great place to have a day date. It is a close enough drive, the zoo is nice, lots of pretty flowers as my wife will testify, and it is just 9 dollars admission per person with 3 dollars for parking. You can’t beat it.
All Kinds of Links
I am pleased to report that both my website, Fred's Bible Talk and blog, Hip and Thigh, are receiving a fair amount of links from other sites.
Let me hightlight some of them.
I have received at least three mentions on Sharper Iron's web watch posted regularly by Greg Linscott. I appreciate the occasional plugs, especially coming from such an outstanding blog page and forum.
The Thirsty Theologian enjoyed my article on God and Hurricanes I posted a week or so ago.
Brian Houser of Think Again amened my comments about the crippling effects of an entitlement mentality after Katrina.
And Scott McClare of the Crusty Curmudgeon, plugged my article about Ruckmanite goofball, Jeffrey Nachimson. Too my shame, he quoted the one section where I had an embarrassing typo inwhich I spelled "balloon" as "ballon." If I only had the anointing of infallibilty those KJV translators had back in the first decade of the 1600s.
I am on the blogroll of a handful of fine blogs:
Impacted Wisdom Truth
I See Daylight
Taught and Stable
Parable of the Blog Net
I am considered a mighty man under fellow Arkansan, Frank Turk's, CenturiOn blog (Though I have never killed three hundred men with a spear before).
And being listed over at Pecadillo's blog roll is not only a humble honor, but is probably as close as I will get to being listed under Pyromanic's roll.
Thanks everyone for the kind mention. It is a blessing to know I give you all something fun and thoughtful to read so as to bring you all back and to get listed under your all's blog rolls.
As for my website, I was blown away to discover La Shawn Barber has FBT listed under her category Christian Resources. To have a mention on La Shawn's site is making it big time for a little country boy like me. I feel all emotional, like the time I won back to back citizen student of the year awards in fourth grade and fifth grade.
Gladiator the Extended Edition
The extended edition to Gladiator, one of the best man movies ever made, has recently been released. I am hoping my mother reads this and the next time she sends us one of those gift boxes with kid clothes, she will surprise me and throw in a copy of the extended edition, 3 disk set on sale at Wal-Mart for 24 bucks. I am hoping the scene where the psychotic emperor is parading around in front of an excution squad with their arrows drawn has been restored. It is among the deleted scenes on the original DVD release and I thought that was hands down one of the best scenes that should had remained in the movie.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
I have always been a "meat and potato" man. I love a good steak in particular; one that has been cooked medium well with just the right amount of pink in the middle. I can still remember the best steak I ever ate was on my senior high school class trip in 1987. We had traveled up to St. Louis, and on the second night there, we took a river boat cruise down the Mighty Mississippi that included an elaborate dinner. I don't know who prepared the meat, but it was grilled to perfection and melted in my mouth. Some, almost 20 years later, when I am hungry, I have one of those trance like moments were I am thinking about that one steak.
I am also a big, big fan of the good pork Bar-b-que. I like the shredded sandwich style, but my favorite is the grilled ribs smothered in some sweet red sauce. I recently discovered that Costco, world renown for their chocolate dipped ice cream bars rolled in roasted almonds, has some fantastic ribs. I will admit they are a tad pricey, but well worth it on some special occasion when you need a good dinner.
In spite of my deep love for fine meats, in the last couple of years or so, I have taken a strange turn in my epicurean interests; a turn I believed I would never had made: I have acquired a fondness for tofu. Yes, it wigs me out to just to think about it, too. Tofu is what those nancy boy "metro-sexuals" eat. You know, those scrawny stick like guys who look as if they have just been liberated from a concentration camp. I bet that little shave headed twirp Moby eats tofu while he is writing his leftist, Bush bashing music.
Tofu is apparently made from soybean curds. How does anyone "curd" a soybean? Before tofu was even invented, who was the person who told his buddy, "you see those soy beans over there? I think I'm gonna go curd them and stir fry them with some vegetables."?
I have been conditioned to be wary of any food product made from soybeans. I am sure most people reading this remembers the running joke in their junior high schools of how the hamburgers served in the cafeteria were made from soybeans. I lived in a rural enough town that on Monday mornings, the local AM radio station would run down the school lunch menu for the upcoming week right in between announcing the farm reports and listing the community center activities. Without fail, on at least one day out of the five we had the infamous hamburgers that we always called "soybean" burgers.
I innocently stumbled into my tofu fixation. My oldest boy has a food allergy with regular milk, so a doctor recommended soy milk. Just the sound of it gags a maggot; so I thought.
The soy milk we buy for him says it is vanilla flavored. Being an exceptionally curious individual, I put aside my revulsion to anything soy, poured a glass and took a sip. I was pleasantly surprised. The taste was ok, but I really dug on the creamy sensation of the overall liquid. The soy milk is for my kid, so I would have to sneak a drink now and then when no one was looking. Eventually, I became so hooked on it, I now prefer to pour it on my cereal, rather than regular milk. The one major problem with soy milk is that if it is left out, it reverts back to its original tofu state. Once I accidentally left a quart of it in the trunk of the car. When I found it, I had a giant, vanilla flavored block of tofu. In this instance, I wasn't as curious.
Then, I had the unique experience of eating at P.F. Chang's, one of America's finest chainstyle Chinese restaurants. Their food is outstandingly tasty. The serving portions are pretty big, so when you visit P.F. Chang's, you must go in a large group. That way, several people can order a variety of food and everyone can share in getting a bite. There is one particular dish they have called Coconut Curry Vegetables. My wife ordered this on one of our visits with some friends. Because plain ole vegetable dishes do not interest me, I didn't necessarily care to have any when the platter made it around the table to where I was sitting. I don't mind the vegetables, but I want the dominate food to be some sort of meat. I would prefer Coconut Curry Chicken, for example. Well, little did I realize that Coconut Curry Vegetables is made with tofu. My wife got me to try a bite and I became instantly addicted.
The menu reads, crispy silken tofu. That basically means it is fried in some batter stuff. Being a southern man, I like food fried in batter stuff. Okra, fish, cornbread dough, and now, tofu. I want to learn how to duplicate the crispy silken texture, but the couple of attempts my wife and I have made at home have been a let down.
I also came across a curry vegetable dish at Pei Wei, a scaled down version of P.F. Chang's. It is more fast foodish, but the dishes are still superb. Upon my first visit after they opened in Santa Clarita, I immediately ordered the curry vegetable dish with tofu. It wasn't crispy silken tofu, but the way it was prepared brought a new dimension to my adventures with eating tofu. The over all dish is a tad spicier than I particularly like, but the tofu is cooked differently and rather than being fried in batter stuff, it is thinly sliced and laid on top of the curry vegetables. Apart from the honey seared chicken, it is the only other thing I eat when we go out to Pei Wei.
Needless to say, I find myself embarking down new roads as I get older. I am not sure what that means. I certainly am not giving up steak and becoming one of those pasty white veggan weirdos. Believe me, if I had a choice in a top sirloin and a dish of tofu, the tofu is out the door. Moreover, I refuse to eat Tofurkey at Thanksgiving. You know, that fake turkey dish made out of tofu. I think they even have turkey shaped molds to give the tofu that "Thanksgiving Turkey" look. Just add some brownish food coloring, and who would know the difference, right? Believe me, I ain't become that sissified yet.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
From my understanding, you appear to be agitated by western values. I find that mystifying, seeing that historically, western values have done more to better life upon this planet than any other human values expressed in culture. Western values are manifested in individual freedom, economic investment, academic pursuits, and artistic expression in music and art. Granted, there are some bad elements that tag along with the good, but the over all good of western values displaces the occasional bad. In fact, it is these values affording me the freedom to write this response to you with out fear of reprisal by some government-based entity, or in the case of Islam, a religious mullah, that looks upon my comments with disfavor.
Yet, despite being raised in the United States and deriving great benefit from western values, it is now apparent by your displayed hostility, you no longer wish to be identified with them, choosing instead a life enslaved to what has now become known in our modern vernacular as Islamofacism.
Furthermore, you and your Al-Qaeda buddies seem bent on destroying our values, and against our wishes, imposing upon us non-Muslims your Islamic world view. Even though you seem extremely sincere with your goal, I can assure you right now that I will personally resist you and your diabolical intentions, even if it means death, which I am sure you will be obliged to provide. Perhaps my comments in response to you are surprising. However, let me explain myself so there is no misunderstanding of where I stand.
First off, Mr. Gadahn, I don't care for your religion. If I may be so blunt, Islam disgusts me. As much as P.C. revisionists of world history attempt to paint a rosy picture of Muslims as being round-tummied sheiks riding flying carpets, rubbing magic lamps, and enjoying a zesty belly dancing show, I know the real truth. That is what I am concerned with, Mr. Gadahn, the truth. In reality, Islam is a bloodthirsty religion that has done nothing but spread death and misery wherever it has trampled its iron clad foot and waved its blood soaked sword. You speak of bringing Islamic peace, but the peace you suggest is one where everyone has been forced to convert to your cult of death or is living miserable lives toiling under the oppression of dhimmitude as humiliated animals.
Additionally, I am particularly repulsed by your treatment of women. Perhaps you think you are defending a woman's honor by dressing her head to toe in a heavy, black potato sack, but I believe this treatment is misogynistic and is equally degrading to her as if you had thrust her into the world of pornography. And furthermore, I am sickened by your, and all Muslim's, pathological hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Your abuse of women and bigotry toward the Jews only confirms to me your religion is not spiritual in any sense of the word. Hence, I wish to have nothing to do with it.
Also, I do not believe your god, Allah, exists. Now please, don't misunderstand me; I most certainly believe God exists. There is but one God of heaven and earth who has revealed Himself in only the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and in the final revelation of His son, Jesus Christ. That truth, I confess wholeheartedly and with unwavering conviction. Allah, however, is a false god. Just so that you know right now, Mr. Gadahn, I do not imbibe the modern, multi-cultural nonsense that Muslims, Jews and Christians all believe in the same God. We do not. I realize there are even many Christians who erroneously believe we are worshipping the same God, but I trust you share my similar convictions and clearly recognize the distinction between the god of Islam and the God of Christianity.
However, as much as you will claim to be worshipping the true God, you are woefully mistaken. I will even go so far as to confidently state that your god Allah is really the devil described in my Bible. I believe I can say this, Mr. Gadahn, because Allah acts with a bizarre, unpredictable and twisted personality. He is certainly untrustworthy, because he is allowed to lie (the devil is called the "father of lies" by the way). He is non-personal and unknowable. And, he demands a life of works, which never guarantees eternal salvation to any one who does those works, because Allah can change his mind on Judgment Day when all is said and done. What is the appeal in worshipping such a god? Muslims regularly claim Allah is merciful, but I have yet to see any attribute of mercy displayed by Allah. If the manner in which you jihadists slaughter people with out distinction is done in the name of "merciful Allah," then I want nothing to do with this idol god of yours.
Thirdly, Mr. Gadahn, I do not believe Mohammed was a prophet of any sorts. He did not reveal any true revelations from God, nor was he the final, greater prophet following in the line of Jesus. In fact, I believe he was a con-man charlatan, perhaps even demon possessed, who used his powers of influence for his own self-gratifying interests. Prophets of God, Mr. Gadahn, are humble servants who confront error and speak the truth with love in the name of Yahweh. They do not engage in the plunder, pillaging and raping of villages, or pedophilia as Mohammed did when he multiplied child brides to himself.
Also, I must confess I find it hypocritical, Mr. Gadahn, when you and your Muslim friends claim Mohammed was just a man and is not to be worshipped, yet at the same time persecute, even unto death, any individual who would do something as simple as to question Mohammed's character. Are you telling me that the penalty of slandering Mohammed is equal to, if not greater than, blasphemy against your god Allah?
Lastly, your holy book, the Qu'ran is indecipherable. From my viewpoint, this alleged revelation from Allah, delivered to Mohammed via the angel Gabriel, is incoherent, rambling nonsense. Now, I am sure you will be quick to say my problem is that I need a good teacher helping me understand it. And, I am sure you could make a case for how the Christian Bible contains its own difficult passages and sayings, to which I would agree. Peter mentions the difficulty in reading some of Paul's epistles (2 Peter 3:15,16). However, in spite of the occasional difficult verses, at least the Bible was revealed and then organized and arranged in such a fashion that an unlearned reader can derive benefit from it. I just don't find this readability with the Qu'ran.
And while we are on the subject, you expressed in your statement outrage at the defiling of the Qu'ran. I can only image you mean the exaggerated stories repeated in the secular news media of the mistreatment of detainees in Cuba? Your anger, and the anger of other Muslims worldwide concerning this reported defiling, begs a question with me: what is up with this business of attributing to the Qu'ran such intrinsic holiness so that no "infidel" is allowed to touch it? Don't you find that to be ridiculous superstition? Do you sincerely believe a physical book - an inanimate object, mind you - shares the same "holiness" as your god Allah? And if so, why then cannot Allah safeguard this holy work from any defilment? I would think if the Qu'ran was as holy as you believe it to be, any unholy person would drop dead at the mere brushing against it.
Mr. Gadahn, as I draw this letter to a close, I believe you and I can agree that we are at severe odds with one another. As much as our secular world wishes to define our disagreements along the lines of clashing civilizations, and as I mentioned at the beginning, I acknowledge there is a lot of truth to that definition, I believe our differences go deeper. Essentially, there are two fundamental, religious world views at war here: it is the truth of God almighty verses the sin of men energized by the lies of the devil.
You see, Mr. Gadahn, you are being deceived into believing a lie. First, the Bible makes it clear you are separated from God due to the sin of the first man, Adam (what a coincidence you share the same first name) and by nature, exist in spiritual blindness. I realize Islam rejects this truth about man and sin, but pretending it to be untrue does not make it so. Compounding man's sin problem are the lies of the devil who manufactures false belief systems so as to keep humanity ensnared in this spiritual blindness. Islam happens to be one of those belief systems. Because men are rebellious sinners seeking always to find ways to escape their submission to God, men are owed nothing but God's just, unending wrath. This is what hell is all about. I know you believe a brothel like paradise awaits you to provide you pleasures beyond your wildest imagination, but in reality, it is a lake of fire fueled forever by the fury of God's righteous indignation.
But, there is hope, Mr. Gadahn. This is where the person and work of Jesus Christ takes place. Jesus, being very God in the flesh, lived a sinless life, went willingly to the cross and gave his life as a propitiation - a wrath appeasing atonement. Three day later he rose bodily from the dead to demonstrate that God was satisfied with His sacrifice and now eternal salvation is offered to all men, including you Mr. Gadahn. You merely need to renounce your false religion that is so opposed to the true God and place your faith in the final work of Jesus Christ. You see, salvation is apart from any works of our own, but is solely offered by God's grace.
Oh yes, I realize American evangelicalism does the gospel message a terrible disservice by putting forth the erroneous idea a person has to just say "I believe in Jesus" and then can go and live any way he or she well pleases and need not worry of personal holiness. Let me assure you now that this is not biblical Christianity. Biblical Christianity involves a sinful heart changed by God's grace through the application of Christ's merits to the sinner. When God saves a person, his heart is change so that now he desires to please God in good works. When God saves people they will be sanctified and conformed to the image of His dear Son.
I do trust you will take these words to heart, Mr. Gadahn, and please know that while I will oppose your Islamic tyranny even if it brings me to the point of having to fight you hand to hand myself in order to defend my family and livelihood, my desire is to see you come to repentance and newness of life in Christ. I pray God will grant you the gift of repentance so rather than having to fight you, I can embrace you as a brother in the Lord Jesus Christ.
May God shed His grace unto you,
Labels: Refuting Islam
Monday, September 12, 2005
I have had the blessed privilege of attending Grace Community Church the last 13 years and listening nearly every Sunday to the preaching of John MacArthur. I believe I can confidently conclude after listening to roughly a 1000 sermons from John during this time, that he is not the soul eating demoniac some independent Baptist make him out to be.
At any rate, John has been on an extended sabbatical and away from his pulpit for 3 months this past summer beginning last June. Yesterday, September 11th, marked his return and his first time preaching at Grace for those 3 months. I have seen him off and on here at Grace to You during the summer, but it was especially good to see him looking rested and energized and doing the one thing he loves: preaching the Word of God to his congregation.
During the announcement time, which sits right between the last congregational song and the taking of the offering and special music, John provided us with a synopsis of how he spent his time.
The first part of June was spent attending to his sick and dying father, who eventually passed away on June 15th at the age of 91. It was special to hear John speak of his time praying and reading scripture with his dad in the days leading up to his home-going.
After wrapping up all the details that generally follow a loved one's death, John moved onto editing his forthcoming commentary on the Gospel of John. It is taken from the study of the book of John back in the early seventies, and as John aptly put it, at the time in his earlier life when he didn't really know a lot. His main concern as he began the process of editing the commentary was the scant amount of material he would be pulling together. He didn't want to produce a commentary that was just 47 pages. But, he tells us that it turned out better than he expected and volume 1, covering chapters 1-11 is going through its final edit now and will be published in the near future.
He then spoke about finishing up a doctrinal series on Sunday evening he had started back in the spring, and then will move into a study of key Roman Catholic doctrines. I am personally curious to see how this series will play out, particularly how we as a church will be scrutinized by the leading Roman Catholic pop-apologists.
Then, after the offering was taken and the special music finished, John got up into the pulpit and preached a stellar message on identifying a good Church. It was material he has covered before; at least I have heard him address the issues he raised at other times. He introduced the topic by explaining how the one question he is repeatedly asked is, "Where can I find a good Church?" So, John turned to Matthew 16 and began to lay out 7 elements that identify a good church. I can only provide the first 2 points because John finished the message on Sunday night and we don't attend Sunday evening regularly (it is a lot of driving for a family on Sunday from where we live in relation to the Church), and though we had planned to make this rare exception and attend this one time to hear him finish it up, my wife got ill and I needed stay back to help here with the youngins.
First is a church must have a great confession. Peter's confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God. This is the key confession for any church. A church that claims to be Christian, yet corrupts the person of Christ is a false church. "The life of God does not dwell with people," says John, "who have a false view of God and Jesus Christ."
The second key element to identifying a good church is a great communication. Jesus told Peter that he did not have flesh and blood reveal the truth of Christ to him, but it came directly from God. A good church recognizes the creator-creature distinctive and that the creature is dependent upon the creator for revelation. Hence, a good church will be a "Word" driven congregation, one dependent upon God's revelation as revealed in scripture for defining its purpose.
Like all good preachers who have been a long time away from their people, John went 10 minutes late. We normally get out at 10 AM for our first service, but it was obvious our pastor had a lot of rich thoughts in his mind he wished to impart to us. I am certainly grateful for him and the standard of commitment to God, His word, and His people he manifests all the time he preaches.
A hearty welcome back John.
Friday, September 09, 2005
For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. (Pslam 107:25)
Last week, I believe it was, I posted a quick article addressing a theologically correct view of hurricanes (or any calamity) and God's sovereignty. I appreciate the handful of comments I received reminding me of the danger of assigning a certain purpose to Katrina and the aftermath. I could not agree more with that. Just like Christ's words in Luke 13, the people of New Orleans were no more terrible sinners as anyone else in the United States. First, we are not a theocratic nation, so it is misplaced for people to claim Katrina was sent to destroy New Orleans for its public sins. For anyone to make such a claim, there would need to be some revealed, prophetic word foretelling of certain doom if the people of New Orleans did not repent. Perhaps a real, bone fide, blue ribbon prophet who would interrupt city council meetings to remind the mayor of the wickedness on display on Bourbon St. I could even imagine this prophet driving up in front of the city town hall towing a bath tub in which sat a model of New Orleans and in a scene from out of Ezekiel, the modern day prophet fills the bath tub with water and announces, "This is what will happen to New Orleans if you do not burn the wickedness from your midst!" Then, about a couple of weeks before Katrina is even on the radar, the prophet gives one last speech, and leaves town. But nothing like this occurred.
New Orleans is really no more wicked than say New York City, and especially San Francisco. I personally think the mind killing swill daily poured forth from the lecture halls of Berkeley University is far more polluting than a once a year gay pride parade in the French Quarter; it is the dolt professors masquerading as educated intellectuals that give justification to the gay parade.
What I had wished to address in my first post was the embarrassing excuses Christians offer in an attempt to separate God from destructive hurricanes. Amazingly, Christians who extol the virtues of worshipping a sovereign God will flounder about making up reasons why any calamity is everything else but God. Even more amazingly is how Christian will pray for protection while a Hurricane is heading toward them, and if it happens to turn back into open seas, God is credited with sparing people from disastrous ruin. Why then is God sovereign in these merciful instances, but had nothing to do with horrible instances? Do people see what I am talking about here?
Oddly, otherwise sound minded believers put forth a weak, impotent god who is just mighty, but not almighty. Do they even read their Bibles? This is the god of pop-culture gurus like Rabbi Harold Kushner of Why do Bad Things Happen to Good People fame who believes the idea of an absolute sovereign God is pagan. From where he dreams up this claim is a mystery. I wonder what Moses would had said to this idea of his? How about David? And don't forget Joseph. In Rabbi Kushner's worldview, the god he worships is doing his best to help, but sometimes is not powerful enough to stop on coming evil. Why he believes this wringing his hands in the sky kind of god is worthy of our worship is beyond me; I see such a god as being only worthy to receive my scorn and contempt.
Thankfully, the biblical God, the only true and living God who has revealed Himself to humanity, is not like this. If He has the power to create the universe and our world as Genesis clearly indicates He did, then I believe I am safe in saying he can control the course of a Cat-5 Hurricane. What is the more powerful act? To create a universe or direct a hurricane on one of the planets in that universe? Come on.
I may not know for certain what God's purpose was in Katrina, but the one thing I do know is that my theology has a major impact on how I view the world and comfort those looking for answers after a disaster. I aim to be biblical, not an embarrassed excuse maker for God.
Here's a fun weekend read...
A good portion of the finger waving of blame in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina emanates from the deranged minds of Bush hating psychotics who have been imbibing pure moonshine fiction distilled from the fever swamps of Moveon.org and similar unseemly breweries. They attribute to our poor president diabolical powers and abilities beyond any mortal man; powers that can destroy 100 story sky scrapers and manipulate the winds and rain. It is like he is some kind of comic book arch-villain of Superman.
One of the more amusing, and tenacious urban legends of recent date passed along by the moonbat left, is the blaming of hurricane Katrina on the junk science of global warming and the rejection of the Kyoto accords. Just as the fundamentalists on the right invoke sinful behavior in the form of Decadence Day parades for the cause of the storm, the secular fundamentalists on the left also invoke sinful behavior as the cause of the storm, but in the form of human beings mucking up the ecological balance of the planet so as to send "mother nature" into a hissy fit to unleash her fury in a hurricane.
This appeal to the hocus-pocus of global warming theory recalled to mind a printed speech my brother sent me sometime ago given by author Michael Crichton at Cal Tech in 2003. It is called "Aliens are Causing Global Warming." Crichton is one of the small handful of fiction writers I will take the time to read because his books attempt to deal with science fiction type subjects with some degree of plausibility. This particular speech highlights the dangers of politicized science, and in the case of global warming, bogus, fantasy science. If some agenda driven political group can gather up a consensus of alleged "experts" and get them all to agree to the "science" behind their agenda, then their science is considered to be vindicated. Crichton points, out however, I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Interestingly, and I am sure Crichton did not intend his speech to be taken this way, his arguments can easily be applied to the consensus of Darwinian evolutionist who refuse to relinquish their molecules to man theory even when there is absolutely zero evidence for such a theory.
At any rate, I hope you take a look. His speech is good material to have on hand if a person encounters on of those individuals quick to jump on political driven bandwagons promoting some scientific theory for their agendas.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Just to add my two cents to the growing glut of Katrina the Hurricane commentary
I must confess experiencing a tinge of shame last week as I watched the situation in New Orleans spiral down into a horrific scene out of a post-apocalyptic, John Carpenter movie. The shame was due in part of my inability to muster heart felt compassion for the suffering taking place on such a catastrophic level. Here in sunny, So. Cal., I sit detached from the devastation, being some 1300 miles or so away with 3 large states in between my apartment and the Superdome. The images I watched could have been on the otherside of the world from my perspective. I know that sounds terribly cold, but that is why I am confessing.
However, compounding that detachment were the passing around of lies, blame gaming, and utter ingratitude quicker than dollar shots of tequila in a Bourbon Street bar. I was just disgusted.
What kind of lies am I talking about?:
First is the grandest lie of all: The Welfare State.
I cannot think of anything as scandalous as the bureaucratic created philosophy of entitlement that has produced two generations held captive to the government in a Matrix like stupor. When such a philosophy begins to turn people into societal invalids incapable to even blowing their noses without the government's assistance, it is time to step back and take one of those proverbial, hard looks at what has created a culture with such a mindset that their first reaction is to cry out to a governmental entity to deliver them from disaster. That would be my last place to look for help in an immediate crisis. The government can't even manage to send me my DMV registration tags on time, let alone evacuate thousands of people stranded by flooding right after a hurricane.
Now granted, there were those innocent folks caught between the criminal gang-thug element that should had been dealt with firmly during "peace time" by the police, and those jailed thugs who had been released because law enforcement did not know where to put them as the flood waters began to overwhelm the city, but a good portion of the folks trapped and looting were able bodied individuals. Why is it their first response to fling themselves upon the mercy of the federal and state government?
Then there are the lies excusing the looters. "They're just looting to survive." Good enough, but what about all those looters helping themselves to big screen televisions, DVD players, designer clothing and so forth? I keep playing over in my head that image of two women standing in knee deep sewage water going to fist-to-cuffs over a diamond necklace. Are you kidding me?
And the mayor. Who can forget hip hop talking New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin blaming everyone for his cities woes but himself and his crooked city government. Even more embarrassing was the "Snoop dog," profanity laced radio interview he did in which he virtually blamed the president for creating the hurricane in the first place. And to suggest Bush and other government officials were just sitting around playing rummy, watching the news on TV from off to the side and second guessing each other as to whether or not they should get up and do something, is just appalling.
What? Did the mayor believe Bush was holding back the flying, hover craft buses that are currently top secret? Moreover, we are learning a week later that Bush had declared a state of emergency and was urging Governor Blanco to issue mandatory evacuations on August 27th, the Saturday before Katrina came ashore. That urging was dismissed by the governor.
If the mayor had been prepared (and thinking), he could have used a fleet of buses to help evacuate those individuals unable to move out on their own due to infirmity or lack of transportation. Instead, the buses were left parked and were flooded out with the rest of the city.
Then there are the lies that Navy ships were drifting around off shore when they could had been made available to help with rescue efforts. For example, Paul Krugman, leftist puke for the New York Times, wrote up a big story complaining of the incompetence of George Bush in keeping the U.S.S. Bataan floating out in the Gulf with its unused hospital beds, operating rooms and 100,000 gallons a day water making abilities. The lie? Krugman totally made this up and misreported facts. What is more aggravating is how his article got circulated around the talk radio circuit as more fuel to pour onto the wood for burning Bush at the stake. I think I heard John and Ken of KFI radio in Los Angeles yammering about this for two whole hours.
Then let us not forget the celebrities. I could go on and on, but my absolute favorite had to have been Celine Dion interviewed on Larry King Live. From her comfortable dressing room inside Caesar's Palace, sweet Celine was able to work in all of the Bush bashing talking points inside six minutes and tie them all to the tragedy taking place in New Orleans.
One of my favorite quotes: You know, some people are stealing and they're making a big deal out of it. Oh, they're stealing 20 pair of jeans or they're stealing television sets. Who cares? They're not going to go too far with it. Maybe those people are so poor, some of the people who do that they're so poor they've never touched anything in their lives. Let them touch those things for once.
"Let them touch those things for once?" Who does she think she is? Marie Antoinette?
And then this one: There's kids being raped at night. They hear gunshots, big guns, what's that? Those people are praying. They're walking. They're like this, hello, do you see us? We're still alive but we're dying. It's terrible.
Of course, by the time she was crocodile boo-hooing and finger waving on LKL, the last evacuees were leaving the Superdome. Thankfully, Celine's heart was able to go on to do her show right after the interview.
Well, there could be much more to say, but I think I have over spent my two cents.
Despite all of the horde of lies being purported by the variety of outlets both political and entertainment, I do wish to refocus true compassion, especially to brothers and sisters in Christ. My heart prayer is for those believers ministering in mass to not only bereaved neighbors who have lost everything, but also fellow Christians. One such individual is Eddie Exposito, whom I have never met and know only from an email discussion group. He is from the New Orleans area and has a blog providing occasional updates from some of the more harder hit communities. Pray for him and his Church members to be faithful witnesses to those in need.
Some links to other opinion articles highlighting the lies and distortions concerning Katrina and her aftermath:
New Orleans Myths: The numbers tell a different story
Katrina and Self Reliance
The Worst Mayor in America
The Blame Game
Debunking some Katrina Myths
Get Off His Back (This one's a hoot)