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

Monday, October 31, 2005

I've Graduated

I swung by Fide-O this morning and noticed my blog roll link was no longer listed under the "puppies" category. I immediately became alarmed. I tried to think of what offense I might had done in order to be removed. Was it chewing on a slipper? Whizzing on grandma's favorite afghan? I hung my head and put my tail between my legs.

Then, I scrolled up and noticed I have been moved to the "Dog Pound" category. The "Dog Pound" are those blogs considered "worth taking a look at." That excited me like a live squirrel being thrown into a room full of German Shepherds. It is an honor to know my blog is thought of as something worth looking at and that is especially honoring coming from the fine folks over at Fide-O. Good Dog, Carl.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Reflections on the Decline of Movie Going

Yesterday, I saw on the Drudge Report a screaming headline exclaiming that the new King Kong movie will be 3 HOURS LONG!! Moreover, the budget for it had reached nearly 207 MILLION DOLLARS!! I guess it was meant to be reported as a bad thing that Peter Jackson's movie will be way too long, over budget and too expensive. The headline even suggests a sense of glee the movie will be a bomb.

I, however, was excited upon reading that bit of news. It means I will be treated to a memorable movie going experience. On the one hand, a 207 million dollar budget indicates that Peter Jackson is attempting to competently put together a great film. On the other, the three hours tells me I will get my $11.50 worth at the movie.

Generally, the bulk of movies these days tend to travel down one of three roads with regards to genre:

1). The Summer, big popcorn style films designed to capture large, box office sales.

2). Raunchy movies with over the top graphic sex and violence. These films have become more and more prevalent with the move toward independent film making.

3). Propaganda wrapped in some moral tale meant to convey leftist political/religious opinion and bash the Republican, conservative right.

genres #1 and #2 appeal to the unsophisticated, trailer park types who are titilated by bright explosions, simplistic story lines and nudity.

Genre #3 (and somewhat #2), are held up yearly by the self-adulating narcissists in Hollywood and lauded as the greatest masterpieces ever burned to celluloid. They are the winners of the Academy Award and are the darlings of the Cannes festival.

The one thing these movies will regularly have in common is that they tend to be mediocre in production and around somewhere between a hour and a half and two hours in running time. There could probably be much said about mediocre production value, but it is the shortened running time with movies I get annoyed with.

I rarely - and I mean rarely - go to a movie anymore. One obvious reason is that I have kids and a baby sitter has to be scheduled way in advance and only certain movies are worth the hassle of going through finding a sitter. Moreover, the cost of going to the movies is outrageous. Depending on where a person lives, just attending the matinee can be 9 to 10 bucks a person. However, when I do go to the movies and hand over my savings, I want to have a good movie going experience. Meaning, a well done film that is not hurrying to get over. Unless I am watching a Pixar film, I would like my movie to be 2 and half hours or more long. Why would I want to pay 10 bucks to watch what amounts to a couple of TV shows minus the commercials in running time? Many of the great films from the past, like Ben Hur, where nearly 4 hours in length - and well worth the time spent watching.

But, there is this false notion that audiences will refuse to sit through long movies, nor will they make any money in return. Movies like Braveheart, Titanic and the Lord of The Rings trilogy have sufficiently kicked this wrong head notion out the door.

The summer of 2005 was supposedly the worst money making summer for Hollywood films. Many industry people were wringing their hands attempting to determine why this was. Apart from the high cost of going to a movie theater, mediocre films and short running times, let me offer a couple of further personal insights as for the reason for why I don't attend movies.

Brain killing pre-movie commercial advertisement. It use to be when my wife and I would go to a movie, we would arrive maybe 30 minutes before show time to get our seats. Apart from the low murmur from people sitting around us and a slide show flashing movie trivia and benign ads up on the screen, we could talk with each other. With in the last couple of years, we despise showing up early, because our cinema chain believes it is a glorious thing to air a program called The Twenty which is a collection of fast paced, sexually charged music video like ads for various products. They play this program full volume before every movie, including children themed films and it is probably one of the more annoying aspects to movie attending in recent years.

Kids in the movie house. There are typically two types:

First, You have the 14-18 year olds whose parents have dropped them off for the evening with their pals and girlfriends. In some cases, the parents will even buy their tickets to the R rated movie of their choice and then take off. I tell you, nothing sinks my heart more than when I am sitting, waiting for the movie to start, when I see a large mass of 14 year olds parading up the steps to take up the entire row in front of me. They start loud talking and playing pinch and tickle and it makes me want to schedule a beating.

9 AM - Doctor's Appointment
11:30 AM - Meet wife for lunch
1 PM - Find rubber hose and administer unmerciful whipping to loud talking 14 year old with laser pointer.

The second group of kids are the 2-7 year olds brought to an adult themed movie by retard parents. For example, when I went to see Saving Private Ryan, I had to sit next to a stupid couple who brought their 5 year old. He kept repeating "Mommy, I'm scared" through nearly the entire showing. Are his parents criminally insane? Who are these psychos willing to traumatize their kids by subjecting them to hard core R rated films? What is worse is how these parents take their kids to a late night showing of these movies on a school night. I had a friend who taught 5th grade and one of her main complaints was about parents who kept their kids out the night before until 12:30 am to catch a late show. Aren't there child abuse laws for this behavior?

In my mind, kids running riot through out the movie house is enough to deter me from seeing a movie all together and just waiting for it to come out on DVD, which brings me to another insight for the decline of films,

The change in technology. The ability to create a home theater is now available for practically anyone. We just recently visited some friends in Arizona who have a movie room. I stood in awe. Even my kids "Bear in the Big Blue House" videos looked glorious. It entails a digital projector hanging from the ceiling, a DVD player and 5.1 surround sound. The image is not a 60 foot wide screen and our friends need to move away from the DVDs with full screen ratio, but with a system like that, why spend the money at a theater? At least 90 percent of movies are released on DVD 3 to 4 months later, so it is just worth the wait.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Unhinged Crackpot Continues Campaign to Embarrass Self; Heap Shame Upon the Christian Faith

Self appointed KJV apologist, Jeffrey Nachimson, is a rather shrewd individual. He knows Peter Ruckman, the pope over all of King James Versiondom, is old and will soon be hauled off naked before a giant glowing out line of Christ to review his life on an enormous movie screen in some Chick tract nightmare.

For those not familiar with Peter Ruckman, consider yourselves blessed. He is one of the more vile of false teachers, because in the name of the Christian faith, he stirs up strife, division, and factiousness into a big stew of bitter herbs and serves this poisonous swill to the untaught and unstable who eagerly lap it up to become his minions. Just like the men Paul warned Timothy about, Ruckman and his zoo crew have the appearance of godliness but deny its power and are always learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

If he is not fabricating imaginative conspiracy theories into a weird science fiction theology replete with UFOs and aliens (if you don't believe me, see fellow KJV wacko David Cloud's review of Pete's book Black is Beautiful), old Ruckman is bad mouthing and cursing every pastor, Bible college and seminary professor, and Christian radio personality with slanderous lies both spoken and in print. What ever Pete says must go, and if you disagree with Pete you're condemned as an apostate. If Pete says President Bush is a two headed woman, then you had better say "amen" or you will find your self mocked by name in his monthly screed, The Believer's Bulletin.

Realizing how a crackpot as big as Ruckman will leave a gaping hole when he finally kicks off, Jeffrey Nachimson has stepped up to establish a campaign to become Ruckman's heir apparent crackpot. Some readers may recall I had a run in with Mr. Jeffrey back in August of this year when he posted (with out my permission) an exchange of emails we had, along with my personal email address. I wasn't mad about the email posting, just a tad annoyed, because I figured I was open season for all the crackpot-in-training groupies who follow the Ruckman/Nachimson circus.

I braced myself for what I thought would be an onslaught of profanity laced emails from Mr. Jeffrey's fans, but I was surprised when I began receiving supportive emails from unknown folks who had run into Mr. Jeffrey in the past. He certainly has crossed a lot of people, including one unnamed woman who accuses Mr. Jeffrey of being a dead-beat with paying his child support.

Be that as it may, Jeffrey has taken his campaign for Pete's replacement quite serious because he has an entire website devoted to pseudo-research in biblical subjects and the exposing of Alexandrian Apostates, of which I am a card carrying member, because I had the honor of receiving that award direct from Mr. Jeffrey himself. As I noted in a previous article, he has the name calling down to a science; something that is an absolute must if you plan to be the new KJV only pope.

Who has become the target of Mr. Jeffrey's crosshairs this time that prompts my post here? Why none other than John MacArthur, host of Grace to You radio ministries. Mr. Jeffrey cleverly titles his new article Guff to You, and not only that, it is part 1! Meaning there is a part 2 and possibly a parts 3 and 4! Wow. That is a lot of extra busy work for someone who is already spending long and grueling 18 hour days preparing street preaching tracts, soul winning pamphlets and Bible institute course work on top of his other numerous duties.

Why would Mr. Jeffrey take it upon himself to name call and pick on one of the meekest and humble men I know who loves God and His Word with a deep, passionate conviction? Well, because John doesn't buy into Mr. Jeffrey and Pete's KJV only conspiracy theories and affirms the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy.

Now, if John were to go on national Christian radio and talk about the CIA cutting deals with aliens to kidnap children to harvest their organs (see the afore mentioned Cloud article), well Mr. Jeffrey would have high praise for him. Or, if John were to use one of his invited times on Larry King Live to bad mouth Bob Jones University for rejecting the belief of advance revelation for the King James translation, then Mr. Jeffrey would think John was a pillar of the Christian faith. But, John does not acknowledge the warped view of reality Mr. Jeffrey and Ole Pete maintain and as such, he must be shamefully scorned and ridiculed. It's Mr. Jeffrey's duty, you know.

I look forward to Mr. Jeffrey's future exposes of John in his Guff to You series. Just as a closing footnote. He attempts to lump my website, Fred's Bible Talk, together with Grace to You as if we are sister ministries or something. This is hardly the case. Apart from the fact that the audio devotions are recorded at GTY, I alone bear the sole responsibility of what is on my website and my opinions do not necessarily reflect the management of GTY. Just so that you know...

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Monday, October 24, 2005

KJV Only Arguments Defending Exclusivity

(Examining the apologetics for King James Onlyism [pt. 2])

I am finally able to continue my examination of KJV onlyism with this post.

If you recall, King James onlyism is a belief primarily practiced among independent, fundamentalist. It is the conviction that the English translation, the King James Version, is the only accurate and trustworthy copy of God’s infallible revelation to men. God’s Word is only to be found in this one English translation and all other Bible translations both English and non-English are suspect as containing error.

In order to evaluate KJV onlyism as a system of belief, I have broken the KJV apologetics down into what I believe are 6 key arguments used by KJV advocates to defend their convictions. I imagine there could be more, but when I was a practicing KJV advocate and I was called upon to defend my belief, I generally appealed to these 6 arguments, at least in skeletal form, and my discussion with my challenger rotated around them.

The last post on this subject took up the first argument, the exclusivity argument. This is probably the primary, presuppositional argument the other following five builds upon. It is the idea that the KJV alone = the Word of God alone, or in other words, the KJV translation is alone the only translation that contains the Word of God alone. Thus, anyone who wishes to truly know what God has revealed must go to the King James as his final authority.

Prominent KJV champion, D.A. Waite, outlines this argument in his book Defending the King James Bible under the description of the four-fold superiority of the KJV. According to Waite, the King James is superior to all other English language translations (and non-English language translations for that matter) in four categories: The KJV is superior in its original language base texts of Hebrew and Greek; with the translators who translated the KJV; with the technique of how the KJV was translated; and in the overall theology the King James conveys. These four areas, argues Waite, demonstrate beyond doubt that God has chosen the King James alone to be the Bible that carries His divine revelation to mankind. Hence, once again we see the formula the KJV alone = the Word of God alone.

Despite how scholarly Waite’s argumentation may sound to the unlearned reader, it is factually wrong, and blunderously as we will see, but this time, I wanted to look at some KJV onlyist rebuttals to my assertion that the exclusivity argument is flawed. There are three I have noted. Perhaps there are more if anyone would like to offer them in the comments.

So, Where's your Bible?:

First, is what I guess I could call the Where’s your infallible Bible? stumper question. This is usually the starting question people hear when they first engage a KJV only advocate. I have encountered this stumper question a lot on discussion boards. The KJV proponent will simply ask "Can you show me a copy of God’s infallible Word?" or maybe ask, "Where can I get a copy of God’s infallible Word?"

The question is designed to be a set up. The translation debate novice will respond by saying something like, "Well, I read the NASB," or some other non-KJV translation. The KJV onlyist springs his logic trap with a canned overloaded response comparing alleged corrupted verses in the stated non-KJV translation with readings in the KJV. The new comer to the translation debate, if he is even familiar with textual criticism, is so overwhelmed he can never truly answer the KJV advocate with any meaningful substance. The KJV onlyist then seizes upon his lack of a response as a way to gloat about how the only true, infallible Bible is the KJV.

On the surface, the question appears to be a good one. The Christian is a Bible lover and holds tightly to the doctrines of infallibility and inerrancy. Yet, when the KJV advocate shows what appear to be conflicting verses and says something like, both of these Bibles cannot be infallible, the Bible loving, non-KJV Christian is stumped. How can there be two Bibles defined as God’s infallible Word when they so contradict each other?

There are two approaches I use to turn this stumper question around:

Any time I have encountered a KJV advocate who throws the "can you show me a copy of God’s infallible word" stumper question my way, my response is to ask him to define what he means by infallible. If he has also thrown out the descriptions, inerrant, pure and preserved, I also ask him to define those terms as well. Most of the time, but not always, he tends to become agitated when I ask this, because it puts him on the defense. He is attempting to argue for God’s Word being found exclusively in one English translation, yet it is his burden to demonstrate with reason why I must abandon my favored, non-KJV translation as not fitting the qualifications of infallible, inerrant, and so forth. Now, he can chide and mock me by saying I believe in poly-scriptura not sola scriptura or what ever, but he is still in the position of establishing why his view of the biblical text is correct and mine is in error.

On top of that, when he produces the big comparison chart showing how my selected translation supposedly departs from orthodoxy, it is also his burden to show why the KJV reading is to be favored over the non-KJV translation. Notice once again how the KJV advocate is engaged in circular reasoning. He assumes the superiority of the KJV text without question as the standard by which to judge and criticize all other translations, presupposing any departure from its reading is a move toward unorthodoxy and heresy. This is also where I will call upon the KJV advocate to define what he means by corruption, and ask whether or not it was an intentional corruption, meaning did heretical copyist intentionally change the text. Pretty much all KJV advocates hold to some conspiratorial theory about how apostates attempted to alter the Bible to introduce damnable heresy, so I will further ask him to demonstrate from historical record where heretics have corrupted the Bible without being called out by other Christians. I will deal with the intentionally corrupting heretic charge in more detail at a later time, but here it is good to note the need to ask the advocate to prove his point.

Where's your original autographs?:

A second rebuttal by KJV advocates in defense of their view of exclusivity is what I call the, But the original autographs have turned to dust appeal. It can also be simply worded, There are no original autographs, just copies.

The idea with this no original autographs/just copies argument is put forth as an illustration of why Christians must submit to the unique perspective of KJV onlyism defining preservation, transmission and translation. Paul’s original letter to Titus no longer exists, argue KJV advocates, and all we have are copies, with many of them differing with one another due to textual variants. To say God’s Word is only inerrant and infallible in the original autographs robs the Bible we hold in our hands today from the description of being God’s infallible and inerrant Word.

KJV advocates also attempt to argue the idea of purity only being found in the original autographs is something new with Christians. In other words, all Christians before 1850 or so would treat the copies of scripture as same as the original autographs and conclude the copies are just as error free as the original autographs, especially the copies representing the text used to translate the KJV. According to KJV advocates, the appeal to the original autographs was a concession to modernistic Bible critics who were attacking the veracity of the biblical text.

Let me identify a couple of problems with this line of argument.

First, KJV onlyists have the bad habit of muddling the distinction between what is called the autographic text (the words of the document) from the autographic codex (the physical documents). I have addressed this distinction in a post called a defense of inerrancy against an errancy believing Unitarian. I also point out that liberals often utilize the same argumentation against the scriptures as KJV onlyists do supposedly in defense of the scriptures.

Be that as it may, KJV onlyists give the impression with their publications that if we do not hold in our hands an exact Xerox copy of Paul’s epistles to Timothy, then we cannot say with honestly we have God’s Word in our hands. The loss of the autographic codex with out a faithful, word for word copy made available, means the loss of the autographic text. Thus, unless one subscribes to the KJV only view of preservation, where God is supernaturally preserving His Word through a genealogical family of original language manuscripts, then no one can say with certainty the Bible is free from corruption.

We will get into this in more detail when I come to textual criticism and the KJV only view of preservation, but suffice it to say for now, this belief does not only cut against all of what we know about the transmission of ancient, handwritten documents, but hovers in the realm of the subjective. It is factually mistaken to say the loss of the original autographs entails the loss of God’s Word, because the over abundance of biblical textual evidence witnesses against such a claim. The Christian Church has a massive wealth of textual evidence. Textual critical techniques allow Christians to determine to near perfection what the originals did say and that in turn rubs against the KJV onlyist’s view of preservation because it does not necessarily favor the base texts used to translate the KJV. Additionally, this belief is subjective in that it forces one to believe with blind faith in the idea of God superintending the transmission of the Bible through individual copyists and eventually a group of translators selected by a king for political purposes. As I noted last time, God does not call us to believe blindedly.

As to the claim that the Christians never believed in the concept of original autographs before 1850, any cursory reading of the sermons preached by early pastors and theologians would reveal this was not so. Augustine, Ambrose, Venerable Bede, John Wycliffe, John Owen, and John Gill, just to name a handful of preachers and commentators from before 1850, talked about the purity of God’s Word being found in the originals and that copyists made mistakes. Moreover, none of them ever believed God’s revelation was to be found exclusively in one translation. This is something completely novel to KJV onlyism.

That brings me to a third and final rebuttal. The historic roots of KJV onlyism can be traced back to a Seventh-Day Adventist named Benjamin Wilkinson who took issue with the Revised Version changing a lot of his pet heretical doctrines. His work went unnoticed until it was republished by two Baptist preachers by the name of J.J. Ray and David O. Fuller. Before Wilkinson, no scholar ever defended the KJV as the exclusive translation which contained God’s Word. KJV onlyists, however, still insist that all Christians believed in and defended the KJV way before Wilkinson’s work was published in the 1930s. KJV advocate, David Cloud, attempts to show the defense of the KJV in the 1800s by citing various articles from the Trinitarian Bible Society and a handful of other textual scholars who favored the Received Text, the Greek text used by the KJV translators. Just a cursory reading in context of these sources cited by Cloud reveals he is being disingenuous by quoting them. Apart from some of the fundamentalists named by Cloud, none of these individuals argue for the exclusivity of the KJV, nor do any of them adhere to KJV onlyism in the same manner Cloud and his ilk do today. A case can be made that they hold to a Received Text only view of the New Testament manuscripts, but that is a different thing all together than saying God’s Word is exclusive with one English translation that should never be revised, updated or corrected for error – something the King James is in need of having done to it.

The next time I hope to undertake a critique of the second argument, the Promise argument. That being the idea that scripture promises a word for word preservation of the biblical documents from passages like Psalm 12:6-8.

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How Bizarre!?

That was exactly my reaction after I read a news article this morning claiming that vampire loving ghoulish author, Ann Rice, has found Jesus and plans to do nothing but write books for the Lord.

I have to confess that I am absolutely ignorant of her work. I have never read any of her books and I never saw any of the movies adapted from them. I only recall a big stink rising up between her and the producers of An Interview with A Vampire after it was announced Scientology wonder boy, Tom Cruise, had been picked to play the lead character. If memory serves me, I think she later recanted her disgust with Cruise and took out a full page article supporting his work in the movie.

At any rate, now that she has become a renewed Roman Catholic, her first novel written for the Lord is due out next week. What exactly did Ann write about concering the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? Did she search the gospel narratives to produce another Passion of the Christ type story? Nope. In fact, it would be fair to say that Mel's epic at least attempted to be biblical. Ann decided to write about the one event in Christ's life no one knows anything about because God decided not to reveal any details: Jesus as a 7 year old boy in Egypt. That's right, she has written a book with the young boy Jesus as narrator telling of his adventures in Egypt with his ma and pa. Does he find the lost ark of the covenant? Raise a Pharaoh from the dead? Use his deity powers to fight an army of mummies?

With all the hype over the Da Vinci Code and the Left Behind series, I think I can feel another fantasy Jesus movie in the works. We'll have to wait and see. Now that she is a Jesus aficionado, it may be wise to have some one explain to Ann the difference between heresy and truth.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What This Man Needs is A Night in the Box

Saddam appeared before a court to be tried for crimes against humanity. He defiantly declared he was not guilty and then as court dismissed, got into a minute long shoving match with the guards escorting him back to his cell.

It is too bad he isn't in that rural camp prison from the movie Cool Hand Luke. Shoving guards would certainly get him a night in the box. He would be stripped of his clothes, given a white, cotton gown, a metal bucket for his toilet and another bucket for his drinking water and be placed in a small, metal out house to spend some time alone. In the heat of Iraq that would not be a good place to be. Sometimes there is failure to communicate, because some men just can't be reached.


Other things that could get Saddam a night in the box as explained by floor walker, Mr. Carr:

Them clothes got laundry numbers on them. You remember your number and always wear the ones that has your number. Any man forgets his number spends a night in the box.

These here spoons you keep with you. Any man loses his spoon spends a night in the box.

There's no playing grab-a** or fighting in the building. You got a grudge against another man, you fight him Saturday afternoon. Any man playing grab-a** or fighting in the building spends a night in the box.

First bell's at five minutes of eight when you will get in your bunk. Last bell is at eight. Any man not in his bunk at eight spends the night in the box.

There is no smoking in the prone position in bed. To smoke you must have both legs over the side of your bunk. Any man caught smoking in the prone position in bed spends a night in the box.

You get two sheets. Every Saturday, you put the clean sheet on the top... the top sheet on the bottom... and the bottom sheet you turn in to the laundry boy. Any man turns in the wrong sheet spends a night in the box.

No one'll sit in the bunks with dirty pants on. Any man with dirty pants on sitting on the bunks spends a night in the box.

Any man don't bring back his empty pop bottle spends a night in the box.

Any man loud talking spends a night in the box. You got questions, you come to me. I'm Carr, the floor walker. I'm responsible for order in here. Any man don't keep order spends a night in the box.
Some Housekeeping

I appreciate Scott McClare for notifying the folks over at the Bible Version Discussion Board to my articles I will be posting examining the key arguments for defending the KJV. From the comments some have left, many are eager to read them.

Just to give a heads up, I am busy for the week with a big project here at work, so my posting will be limited. For those regularly checking back here looking for some new posts on KJV onlyism, I hope to have the next one up either by Friday or maybe early next week on Monday or Tuesday. Stay tuned. Once I get past this work project, I will have more free time to write.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Israel's Self-appointed Messiah-ess Speaks

Madonna is preparing a new documentary entitled, I am Going to Tell You a Secret, in which she reveals that our world is really the beast of Revelation. Other secrets she lets out of the bag: People go to hell for bad behavior and pretty much all Roman Catholic priests are flaming perverts. No kidding? Gay, you say? I think Father Chiniquy already beat her to that one.

Turk has some fun comments along this line.

Any word from theonomist/postmillennial folks on her idea about the beast being our world system? Just wondering.
God, Man and ET Conference Cancelled

Bad news to report. I had mentioned way back in June of this year about a conference entitled, God, Man and ET II - Panspermia, Intelligent Design and Human Origins. It appeared to be a group of crackpot UFO people meeting together to discuss - as really happening, mind you - how life on Earth was seeded by an off world, alien intelligence. Sadly, the event has been cancelled due to a low number of registrations. I wonder why that would be?

So, why did I mention a conference attracting a bunch of goofballs who listen with unflinching devotion to Art Bell, George Noory and Coast to Coast AM? Because there was a Christian connection: Hugh Ross was one of the key note speakers. Yes, that's right, Hugh Ross. The progressive creationist guru who is held up as some sort of competent Christian apologist by the likes of Hank Hanegraaff and Greg Koukl.

I was at a loss as to why Dr. Ross felt the need to attend this conference a second year in a row just to give a lecture on why aliens are mythical and extraterrestrial cultures don't exist, but he was also bringing along with him Jay Richards of the Discovery Institute. Personally, I think they should be thankful for the cancellation. With all the pillorying happening in the media on the subject of intelligent design, the cancellation may help in securing the reputation of these principle ID proponents.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Meeting some blog personalities

This past week, the God blog conference was held down at BIOLA. I heard a little bit of it on Hugh Hewitt's radio program this past Friday.

Two well known blog personalities stopped by my Church on Sunday.

First was Jason Janz, the site publisher of Sharper Iron, one of my favorite blogs I read that highlights smart thinking fundamentalism. Some folks believe the words "smart thinking" and "fundamentalism" in the same sentence are oxymoronic, but this is not the case with Sharper Iron.

I saw Jason speaking with my friend Nathan outside of Grace Life, the fellowship group where Phil Johnson is pastor. Jason was a delightful fellow. I told him I was glad to know he was given the opportunity to lead a workshop at God blog, especially in an atmosphere like BIOLA where serious minded fundamentalists are treated like the proverbial red-headed step child.

The second person I met was La Shawn Barber. That was a personal thrill for me, especially because I enjoy her writing. I was talking with Jason when she and her sister walked up. I know La Shawn's sister Shannon from my fellowship group and I was grateful she thought of introducing us. Thankfully I behaved dignified when I shook her hand, because I had the desire to squeal like a 14 year old girl at an Orlando Bloom movie premiere. I overcame my nervousness and was able to blurt out a Jerry Lewis like, "hahloow."

La Shawn attended my fellowship group, so I was privileged to chat with her a bit. My oldest boy thought she was beautiful, because he played all bashful around her when she would talk to him. He always does that with girls he thinks are pretty.

I asked both Jason and La Shawn what they thought of the God blog conference. Both of them said it was an excellent effort for being the first time. The one thing they would like to see next year, however, is more emphasis on the Christian aspect of blogging. I encouraged them both to write up their thoughts, so I hope they do. I look forward to reading about their experience.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Exclusivity Argument

(Examining the apologetics of King James Onlyism)


In a previous post I outlined what I believe are 6 essential, or key arguments, advocates for the King James Only position utilize to defend their belief. Here I want to consider the first major argument, what I call the exclusivity argument.

The exclusivity argument is the idea that the English translation of the King James Bible (what many KJV onlyists generally call the "Authorized Version"), first published in the year 1611, exclusively contains the infallible, inerrant, and inspired Word of God. The reverse would also be true: the infallible, inerrant, and inspired Word of God is exclusively found in the King James Bible first published in 1611. Hence the description of King James Onlyism. It would be as how popular KJV only advocate, D.A. Waite, describes the King James: "God's Word kept intact in English"

This in my mind is the key presupposition of KJV onlyism, the main argument on which the following five turn. It is a rather bold claim on part of the advocates of the King James, because their argument is clearly stating that any modern translation, English or otherwise, like the New International Version, the New American Standard or even the New King James, does not genuinely contain the message of God's divine revelation.

Now, to be fair, some KJV advocates may not go as far as to say the modern versions are really just modern per-versions and thus not God's Word, but they may perhaps say they merely contain God's Word. Modern version, then, can be called God's Word, but they are considered to be mixed with enough error so as to be deficient and inadequate as a trustworthy translation. God will use them to bring people to salvation, and Christians may derive some spiritual benefits from them, but overall they don't contain the pure, infallible Words of the living God. So, even though these folks tend to water down the condemnation of non-KJV users, the position is saying a person who uses the modern version merely has some of God's Word and will be spiritually handicapped unless he or she switches to using the KJV.

Conversely, the exclusivity argument would rightly apply to any translation, English or otherwise, before the publication of the KJV in 1611. That means the Latin Vulgate, Wyclife's Lollard translations, Tyndale's work, Matthew's Bible, the Bishop's Bible and the Geneva translations do not contain the pure and infallible Words of God. It must be assumed these pre-KJV translations were also mixed with error so as to make them deficient and inadequate as translations attempting to convey God's revelation to mankind. In fact, some KJV only advocates believe this very thing, and appeal to the 7 fold purification process of God burning the dross, as it were, off the pre-KJV translations so that the KJV is the "tried as silver" translation. More about that argument at a later time.

Even though KJV onlyists cradle their position in a fundamental conviction of desiring to protect the veracity of the scriptures, anyone with a sufficient understanding of Church History recognizes the uniqueness of this belief and that it does not even come close to the true, orthodox Christian view of inspiration and infallible. Moreover, anyone with a working knowledge of the Bible's transmission and the history of English translations realize it is impossible to hold the conviction for God's Word being permanently fixed in one 17th century English translation. The exclusivity argument is refutable on many levels.

First, it is circular reasoning. The KJV advocate presupposes as the unquestionable starting point that the KJV alone = God's Word alone. So, starting with that equation, the KJV onlyist uses the KJV translation as the measuring rod by which to evaluate all other English translations. If any translation departs from the message of the KJV, then that translation is described as being corrupted.

The problem, however, is the equation places the conclusion among the premise without demonstrating its truthfulness and thus it is a circular argument. In other words, the KJV advocate has not adequately validated his conclusion and has made it a part of his starting premise. If either portion of this equation can be falsified, then the argument is false.

Now granted, all systems of belief have some degree of circularity in them. Meaning, there are always going to be unquestioned premises, or presuppositions if you will, that a person will utilize in order to make the case for his convictions. Circularity, then, is not a bad thing in and of itself. The question is, what sort of circularity is being used? Is it either narrow circularity or broad circularity? Broad circularity is what everyone uses when interacting with others in a debate, but narrow circularity, what we find with the KJV onlyists, is illogical.

The equation of KJV alone = the Word of God alone falls into the category of narrow circularity. That is because it has not provided sufficient reason to believe God's Word is only to be found in one English translation from the 1600s, and all other translations before and after are to be rejected as untrustworthy representations of divine revelation. The premise of the KJV alone can be falsifiable to equate the Word of God alone, so the argument fails on this point alone.

The Bible does not claim God's Word is to be only found in one translation. KJV onlyism is unsupported by the Bible itself. No where does God tell us in holy writ that His revelation will only be at its purest - to be kept for ever in this state - in one 17th century translation. This is a belief of utter conjecture. KJV advocates will attempt to make a case for the Bible teaching such a thing, as we will see later, but the passages they attempt to use are terribly misinterpreted.

King James Onlyism or anything remotely like "onlyism" has never been the Historic Christian view of the Bible. A lot of KJV only literature will claim the Christian church has always held to some form of onlyism with one particular Bible. This is patently false for anyone familiar with the history of our Bible. The closest we can come to seeing any form of "onlysim" in Church history is the slavish devotion the Roman Catholic Church had with the Latin Vulgate. When men began translating the Bible into English, the primary text they used was the Latin Vulgate and there were actually "LV only" apologists with in the Roman Catholic Church who argued that anyone translating from the Latin Vulgate into any other language is corrupting God's Word. Knowing how KJV advocates have a dislike for anything smacking of Catholicism, I doubt they would consider the "LV onlyists" to be illustrations of their position.

This has never been the orthodox position of the Bible. Christians have never considered translation to be a bad thing, nor have they ever believed God's revelation will become fixed in one, never to be revised or corrected, English translation. If Christians believed men were capable of producing one final, perfect translation which contained God's Word, why exactly did they continue their work of revision and updating their translations? This happened even with the KJV after its publication.

Additionally, if anyone were to read the original preface of the KJV called the Translators to the Readers which use to be published in full with each edition, they will discover that the KJV translators rejected any notion of "onlyism" and even anticipated a revision of their own work if need arose for it to be updated. In fact, the original preface offers some of the best refutation of KJV onlyism because it comes directly from the KJV translators themselves.

The idea of God's Word being contained only in the KJV is unreasonable and limits the Bible's availability to the world. By that I mean any non-English speaking Christians will then be required to learn English to have a copy of God's Revelation. Oddly, this is exactly the argument made by KJV onlyist, Sam Gipp, in his book, The Answer Book. He attempts to make the argument that God never saw fit to give a multitude of translations, but only revealed Himself to the Jews in Hebrew, then the Christians in Greek and then the entire world in English. Because English is an international language, most if not all citizens must learn English to function in the world, so there really is no need to go to the trouble of making the Bible available in foreign languages.

Once again, this has never been the orthodox view held by any of God's people, let alone Christians, who immediately began making translations of the NT documents with in a hundred years after the Apostles. Furthermore, if I am to conclude Mr. Gipp is correct, then non-English speaking countries should face the fact that unless they take the time to learn English, and not only modern English, but also Elizabethan English from the 17th century, then they are limiting themselves in knowing what God has revealed. Missionaries, then, should not trouble themselves in actually teaching natives their own language, and then translating the Bible into that native language, but they should teach the natives English. Such an idea is both unreasonable and stifling of God's gospel.

The KJV alone = the Word of God alone is purely subjective and tends to mysticism. When all their arguments have been soundly refuted and they have been clearly shown the error of their beliefs, it becomes evident that KJV advocates believe their position with a subjective, blind faith. When pressed to provide a reason as to why a KJV advocate believes the KJV is alone the Word of God in light of all the evidence to the contrary, his ultimate reply will be, "I believe it by faith; I trust the Lord to preserve His Word."

God does not call us to a blind faith, but a faith grounded in objective truth. For example, He has provided irrefutable evidence of His divine activity in human history and the redemption He made through Christ dying on the cross and rising from the dead. God has most certainly preserved His revelation to men, but am I to conclude it is to only be found in one 17th century English translation? And why should I be forced to believe the contrived historical revisionism manufactured to support the KJV advocate's starting presupposition when in point of fact, the true history of preservation is so clearly before us? Is it because the KJV onlyist's arguments will not stand firm in light of that true history? I find it amazing that a group of individuals who would normally be against the mysticism often practiced by charismatics when it comes to knowing God, so readily embrace the same form of mysticism for their pet translation.


In order to make these posts more manageable, I will stop here for the time being. The next time I wish to consider some arguments and rebuttals put forth by KJV onlyists in defense of the exclusivity argument.

Related articles:

Confessions of a KJV advocate
The Great Inconsistency of KJV onlyism
A Ride on The Hindenburg: KJV Arguments Crashing and Burning

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Conservative Snobs and Christian Wanna-bes

I doubt I can add any thing new to the already old Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination debate. I do find it amusing, however, how Bush's pick of this lady has polarized conservative right-wingers into two staunch camps.

On the one hand, you have what I call the conservative snob elitists who pander to red state, middle America values as being warm and quaint, but believe only "conservatives" from Washington D.C., New England, and the left coast who have attended Ivy league schools should even be considered for such lofty positions as a Supreme Court nominee. These are the conservatives illustrated by Ann Coulter's sarcastic pillorying of Meirs intelligence. She was only the president of the Texas Bar Association, complains Coulter, a dumping ground for losers.

Coulter represents the crowd that says, "Hey, we like the fact you Red state folks helped to re-elect Bush, and we most certainly appreciate your God and country philosophy and the sacrifice of your children in Iraq; but "ya'll" need to stay in your place because you're just too backwards to do anything really important for Republican causes, especially be on the Supreme Court. So, Harriet, dear, why don't you be a good little southern bell and go back to cooking up your bar-b-que and doing your Texas lawyering."

Then, on the other hand, there are Christian's - the God and country people Coulter and her buds like to patronize - who think Harriet Miers is the pre-cursor to the return of Jesus Christ. These are the folks like Jay Sekulow who believes the end of abortion as we know is likely to happen and gays will return to their closets if Miers is confirmed.

Personally, I don't believe the fate of the western world hinges on whether Miss Harriet is confirmed or not. In fact, my mind is not the least bit agitated by her nomination one way or the other. People like Coulter, and the Republican shills who believe she is a dolt, are being ridiculously absurd with their criticisms. I only desire to be cautious. Honestly, as far as the Christians are concerned, I wish they would wise up to realize when they are being used as a patsy by Republicans. At the heart, the Republican party and the conservative pundits both in print and on the radio, are not genuine friends to Bible loving Christians. They don't really care a wit about the gospel and the God Christians are suppose to serve. Oh yes, they may say they do, but when it comes down to the proverbial brass tacks, they will abandon any person who makes statements of exclusivity (Jesus is the only way to heaven), or dares to place disasters like Katrina in a spiritual perspective (read Jerry Falwell is a blow hard and doesn't represent "mainstream Christianity"), and they certainly will have nothing to do with those wacky creationists who believe the world is under 10,000 years of age.

Yet strangely, Christian evangelical political leaders are prepared to compromise the conviction of their faith just so as to have an "in" with Republican higher ups and the appearance of a credible voice of influence among conservative lawmakers. In a sense, they are wanna-bes, and to obtain credibility as a wanna-be you have to support the Republican cause, which in turn may mean toning down the Jesus rhetoric a bit. Keeping it the generic "God" and avoiding comments excluding other non-Jesus, but Republican conservative, faiths.

I certainly like the idea of an evangelical Christian appointed to the highest court in America, but I don't see her as the dawning of a new golden age of Christian conviction. I trust Christians will not only keep their heads about all this as the debate continues to swirl around her confirmation process, but also keep their faith in the right place. Let's remember, the Kingdom of God is not Republican law making and conservative Supreme Court nominations and sinners are not converted by evangelical Supreme Court judges.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Blog Roller Breakdown
(defining my blog categories)

A handful of other blogs I frequent have recently posted a description of their blog categories, i.e. explaining why certain blogs and links fall under the headings they do.

I have never done this, and I have received a handful of inquiries as to why some blogs/links are under the categories where I placed them. So, let me break down the categories for you all:

Links I Frequent

These are not blogs per se, but websites of importance that I visit on a regular basis.

Blogs I Read

I pretty much hit everyone of these blogs at least once a day to see what is up. A handful I may check two or three times if there is an interesting post receiving fun comments.

Blogs of My Co-Workers and Friends

These are folks I personally know or work with here at Grace To You.

My Discussion Groups

I used to regularly participate on these discussion boards. Recently, my time has been invested in writing and maintaining this blog. I still check them from time to time to see what folks are talking about.

Apologetics

Here are a list of excellent websites I have found helpful dealing primarily with apologetics and evangelism.

Fine Theology

Websites of fine theology; theology that will "fine tune" your spiritual life if you visit them.

Muddled Theology

My dictionary defines muddled as, "to muddy; mix confusedly; jumbled mess," and this is how I would define the content found at these sites promoted by the key promoters. I don't see these folks as being out and out hell damning heretical, just clouded in their theological thinking. Now, some folks have inquired as to why I put the Christian Research Institute and the Bible Answer Man here, and that has to do with how Hank is utterly muddled on a handful of important doctrinal points. For example, the doctrines of Salvation as I have documented here. Furthermore, he tends to be too accommodating toward other muddled apologists like Norman Geisler and Hugh Ross.

Another reader asked about Dr. Dino, Kent Hovind of CSE. Though I support his view on the biblical record of creation, he has too many other problematic ideas which muddles his apologetic ministry. A big example is his King James Onlyism, which he claims to deny, but is obviously seen in allowing hereticess Gail Riplinger write some of his articles defending KJV onlyism.

Quack Theology

A "quack" is a supposed expert who pretends to have knowledge of a specific subject, but is in truth a charlatan. I list these sites under the "quack" category because they are all awash in a sea of blunderous factual error and theological hocus-pocus all the while claiming to have the final knowledge on the subject they think they are defending.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Six Arguments in Defense of King James Onlyism

Before launching into addressing the various elements of King James Onlyism, I thought I would begin by first providing an outline of what I believe are the 6 key arguments King James only (KJVO) advocates use to defend their view point that the King James Version, originally published in 1611, is the only Bible that contains the pure, infallible, and inerrant Word of God. These arguments may not be a complete list, but I know I would incorporate these in my apologetics defending KJV onlyism.

I. The Exclusivity Argument:

KJVO advocates begin with the presupposition: The Word of God Alone = The KJV Alone
If this presupposition is true, the reverse will be true as well: the KJV alone can only be God’s Word alone.

God has given us only one Bible, they claim, not a multitude of Bibles. Only the KJV represents God’s Word, thus, any other translation that will alter the reading of the KJV in either updating its language or producing translational revision is in essence changing the Word of God.

II. The Promise Argument:

KJVO advocates claim God has made clear promises to preserve His Word for ever. This promise of preservation is seen in such passages as Psalm 12:7 and Matthew 5:17,18.

This promise of preservation goes beyond just the general message of the scriptures to the very words. God did not promise He will preserve His Word (singular), but His Words (plural). If not every word God breathed out is preserved, then we cannot say with certainty that the scriptures are pure and inerrant.

III. The Textual Argument:

KJVO advocates make the claim that the King James Bible is translated from the best original manuscripts.

The KJV translators used the 1525 Daniel Bomberg, 2nd edition of the Jacob Ben-Chayyim Masoretic text for the Old Testament and the Received Text, originally published by Roman Catholic scholar Desiderius Erasmus, for the New Testament.

These are considered the best original language texts for the following reasons:

1). They represent the majority of ancient, manuscript witnesses.

2). These ancient manuscripts were used consistently and with out interruption by God’s believing people.

3). These ancient manuscripts were never lost to the “sea of time” or ever laid aside by God’s people. They were continually copied and re-copied and show signs of being worn out from use, thus indicating the confidence God’s people placed in them as being God’s holy Word.

Yet, on the other hand, the original language texts used to translate modern versions must be rejected for the following reasons:

1). The manuscripts utilized by modern translations are few and represent the minority of witnesses

2). These manuscripts have their origin in and around Alexandria, Egypt, an area known for false teaching.

3). The manuscripts utilized by modern translations are in pristine condition, indicating they were never used by God’s people.

4). These manuscripts give the appearance they were altered or corrupted by heretical men who desired to undermine Christian doctrine.

IV. The Purity Argument:

God’s Word, based upon Psalm 12:6,7, has gone through a seven-fold purification process in the English language. Beginning with Wycliff’s Lollard translations, then the Tyndale’s Bible, the Coverdale Bible, Matthew’s Bible, the Geneva Bible, the Bishop’s Bible and then the King James Bible. This providentially guided process certified the purity of God’s Word as He divinely guided the translators to burn off any dross by their continual translation. The King James represents the culmination of purity. (It should be noted that the “seven-fold” list is not standard and differs among KJVO advocates).

V. The Scholarship Argument:

The King James was translated by the greatest textual scholars in all of Church History. All of the men who helped to translate the King James Bible were the world’s experts in the fields of biblical languages and theology. God specifically directed these men by divine providence to use their expertise so as to provide His people with the best translation that represents His holy Word.

VI. The Historical Argument:

The King James Bible demonstrates God's hand of blessing by how it has impacted world history.

1). The forerunner English translations (along with the original language texts used in translating the KJV) where all instrumental in the shaping of the Reformation led by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox.

2). It was the translation carried to the new world by the Pilgrims and Puritans

3). It was the translation utilized in the preaching of the two Great Awakenings in America. Both Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield used the KJV when they preached.

4). It was the translation carried around the world in the great missionary endeavors of the 18th and 19th centuries.

5). All of the wonderful Christian literature published in the 1600s by the Puritans and Baptists used the KJV.

Now as my series progresses, I hope to draw my posts around the claims put forth in these 6 arguments. They will help us frame the discussion in a more cohesive manner.

When I presented my KJV series in spoken format, I wedged an historical overview of the development of KJV onlyism in between my testimony and the introduction to these arguments. To save a little time, I would encourage readers to take a look at Doug Kutilek's article, The Unlearned Men, that provides a good summary background to the origins of KJV onlyism being founded upon the writings of a 7th Day Adventist by the name of Benjamin Wilkinson. Wilkinson did not like the new Revised Version because it changed some of his pet, Adventist verses and so he responded by writing one of the first ever books defending the idea the King James Bible was God's final authority. He was also the first person to libel the character of Westcott and Hort as being liberal, Bible correcting heretics.

The next time, I will start with argument number one, the Exclusivity argument.

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Islam Goes to the Dogs

Little Green Footballs alerts us to a story out of Singapore about bloggers making harsh remarks against the religion of peace:

Animal shelter worker Benjamin Koh Song Huat, 27, was jailed for one month while Nicholas Lim Yew, an unemployed 25-year-old, was sentenced to a nominal prison term of one day and fined the maximum 5,000 Singapore dollars ($2,969) for racist comments against the minority Malay community.

"Racial and religious hostility feeds on itself," said Senior District Judge Richard Magnus in passing sentence.

"Young Singaporeans ... must realize that callous and reckless remarks on racial or religious subjects have the potential to cause social disorder, in whatever medium or forum they are expressed," he said.

What exactly got these two young Singaporeans into trouble?

Lim had posted disparaging comments about Malays and Islam on an Internet forum for dog lovers in a discussion about whether taxis should refuse to carry uncaged pets out of consideration for Muslims, whose religion considers dogs unclean.

In his online journal, Koh had advocated desecrating Islam's holy site of Mecca.

No context is provided for Koh's comments calling for the desecration of Islamic holy sites, which is a reasonable tactical approach for pulling the teeth from Islamic jihadists. I have discussed this little bit here.

There could be a lot said against a spineless government who will not allow its citizens the liberty to express free speech and ideas because they cower at the thought of upsetting a minority of superstitious individuals.

However, what I want to highlight is Mr. Lim's comments against Islam's view of dogs being considered unclean. Apparently, over in Singapore, there is a controversy as to whether or not people should be allowed to bring their dogs onto public transportation because Muslims believe dogs to be unclean. Muslims would not like my mother's neighborhood in semi-rural Arkansas, because every duck/deer/turkey hunter lets his dogs roam around unleashed on the off season. We were all the time having to shew away dogs from the trash cans. If it wasn't possums tearing open your garbage bags, it was Little Bud's beagles (we called him "Little Bud" because he had an older brother, "Big Bud").

I bet Muslims wouldn't like Fide-O either.

Now, let us stop and ponder a moment a religion that declares dogs to be intrinsically unclean. In other words, being around dogs will defile a person and makes him or her unholy. Apparently, according to Islam, a person doesn't even necessarily have to be in the presence of a dog to be made unholy, but in a vehicle where a dog may had once been present. Because the dogs are so unclean, an across the board law must be passed in order to prevent the possibility of touching dog hair so a Muslim will not become unholy and fall out of favor with Allah. Is not such a belief utterly superstitious non-sense? What sort of goofball god is this Allah any way?

Now some smart aleck critic of Christianity may point out how the Jews had their clean and unclean animals, so I have no room to call the false idol god Allah a goofball. However, if one were to simply read the Levitical commands (Leviticus 11) the prohibitions were against eating the specified animals or touching the body of the dead animal, which I personal consider unclean in the "that's sort of gross" category. Moreover, the "unclean" designation was for a short period until the evening, and it did not make the Jew unholy, or unacceptable to Yahweh.

Additionally, the food laws were given for a specific time during the theocratic kingdom of Israel to distinguish the Jews from the surrounding pagan societies. God has since abolished the food laws upon the coming of Christ who initiated the New Covenant by His death and resurrection. This is clearly taught in Acts 10.

In regards to Muslims, we are not talking about eating the dog in some dog meat burrito. It is the live, so cute and wiggly, tail wagging dog which is considered defiling. The Hadith that condemns dogs also states they should be killed, hence the reason why Qur'an and Hadith honoring Muslims never have dogs as pets, nor are the animals rarely found in such Islamic societies.

This is in my mind one of the key indicators that Islam is a false religion. Any religion which connects personal holiness to not touching tangible objects is pure superstition and is akin to witch craft. The devotee to the religion then equates true spirituality and eternal salvation to outward dos and don'ts of not touching this or not touching that. In a manner of speaking, this can equally be said of Christianity, particularly what is found in Roman Catholicism, and in the legalism of Fundamental Baptist circles that make the avoiding of certain hair styles, clothing, and other so named "vices" indicators of personal spirituality and a right relationship with God.

I can recall encountering this Muslim superstition first hand back in college. During my last two years of school at Arkansas State, I paid my bills by working part time at the college cafeteria. One of the perks of working at the cafeteria was the privilege of getting to eat for free. When I worked the supper shift, I would arrive to eat, along with all my co-workers, about 40 minutes or so before we opened. I worked along side a large group of Muslims. Granted, a good portion of them were like the typical Bible belt Christians in the south who attend church occasionally, but are not really devoted to what their faith teaches. So it was with many of my Muslim co-worker friends. They went to the local mosque in town, but they were Muslim because they were raised Muslims in their home country. None of them could be accused of being sincerely devout.

One thing I learned quickly about Muslims, at least the guys I worked with, is that they loved fried food. They really like fried chicken and fried chicken day at the cafeteria was eagerly anticipated by the Muslim boys. One particular fried chicken day I sat with about 20 Muslim guys and each one must had eaten an entire bird. Near the end, right before we had to start our shift, one of the their Muslim friends who worked down in the kitchen preparing the food came rushing into the cafeteria where we were all sitting with wide eyed hysteria. Through his huffing and puffing he blurted out,

"DON'T EAT THE CHICKEN!!! IT'S BEEN COOKED IN PIG FAT!!!"


A heavy shroud of dread descended upon the entire table. My Muslim friends sat staring at each other's shiny, greased stained faces through mounds of bones. I don't think I have ever seen someone's olive complexion turn ashen so fast.

Finally, one of them spoke up and asked, "What will Allah, do?" Another less than spiritual Muslim replied, "I don't care what Allah does." Where as another replied, "We must go to the mosque after work," to which they all agreed.

Seizing the apologetic moment, I simply replied as I left to serve the food, "You know guys, I am just thankful my relationship with Jesus Christ is not dependent upon my diet." And they all knew exactly what I meant.

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Hitting the Links

One of the great joy I love is typing in my blog name and discovering who around the world has linked to my blog or cited something I wrote. That means there are many like-minded folks out there in the world who I would love to meet some day in the future. Here are some recent links to me. I thought I would return the favor:

Peter Bogert of Stronger Church linked me twice in the same post! He enjoyed a couple of articles I wrote: my plug for good books and my thoughts on Leaving KJV onlyism.

My old friend Gregg Hanke thought I was insightful with my comments about news print vs. the Internet.

Frank Martens of I see daylight believes it is cool to be blogrolled along with me, Phil Johnson and James White over at Centurion's place. Seeing that I am just a young punk compared to the likes of James White and Phil Johnson, I think it is pretty cool too.

Dinsdale of I told You Once appreciated my observations concerning the so-called apologetic ministry of Hank Hanegraaf. The good Lord willing, Hank's skewed theology won't cause him to drive his truck off the road anytime soon.

Many thanks to you fine folks for the links. It is a blessing to know somebody out there likes what I have to say.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Celebrating Exclusivity

Original published at the TMS Alumuni blog

The Forth Wayne News-Sentinel published an opinion piece called, Faith-based Know-it-alls are Dangerous, by a fellow named Bill Tammeus. It basically is a complaint piece against any religion or religious people who claim exclusivity of the truth while condemning all other religions for being false.

The 9/11 terrorist were of course the first example he cites of exclusivists who corrupted Islam (as if historic Islam was and is pluralistic), but then Mr. Tammeus asserts that this wicked exclusivism is to be found beyond the poster boys of the 9/11 terrorists in areas no one would expect. Where is one of those unassuming places where exclusivism has raised an ugly head? Why none other than Grace to You and Grace Community Church under the teaching of John MacArthur, Christianity's foremost exclusivist.

Tammeus writes:

Just recently I was listening to a Christian radio network and heard a preacher I've heard off and on in the past, the Rev. John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church of Sun Valley, Calif. Sometimes, in fact, I've found he has useful and interesting biblical insights. His radio show is called "Grace to You" (www.gty.org).

But in a sermon series called "Deliverance: From Error to Truth," MacArthur has fallen so deeply into the trap of exclusivism that he's now attributing to demonic forces all religions but his own."Satan," MacArthur said, "doesn't care what people believe. He doesn't care how sincerely they believe it as long as what they believe is wrong. ... He sponsors all kinds of religions. He sponsors every religion on the face of the earth that isn't true. He's behind them all. He's got enough diversity for everybody. He's provided an absolutely irresistible smorgasbord."

So the devil has created every religion but one, MacArthur would have us believe. And what is the one true religion? MacArthur's version of Christianity, of course. But suppose people don't buy that. MacArthur says they're doomed - even if they never have a chance to hear about this faith.

Here is how he delivered that news:

"There are those saying there are people in countries in obscure places and tribes in hidden back waters of the world who have never had a Bible and never hear the truth of Jesus Christ who are going to be saved because God is going to be gracious and kind to them and they're going to be saved even though they've never heard the truth. Well, that is a lie." So much for "grace" to you.

Mr. Tammeus then draws the conclusion we should stay away from such terrible exclusivism. Think upon the utter inconsistency displayed in this man's mind. Here we have a pluralist who thinks no one has the corner on the truth, making claims of what is the right "truth" and excluding any exclusivists like John. Of course, he implies that John is making up his own brand of Christianity when in point of fact he is simply teaching the Bible.

I do find it interesting that Mr. Tammeus singles out John. No mention of big ministries like Rick Warren or Joel Olsteen. That tells me he is doing something right. There would certainly be a red flag if he had praised John as being a picture of warmth and sharing with every false teacher and abominable heresy promoted on the air waves.

I for one am happy to know John, Grace to You, and The Master's Seminary have the distinction of being exclusive as it pertains to the truth of God's Word.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Proofs for God's Non-existence
(hat tip to the internet infidels)

Several weeks ago now, sometime back near the beginning of September, I was reading a blog entry on the A-Team blog entitled, a plea for answers. The entry was highlighting a radio interview heard on a local LA talk radio station about a new documentary made by an anti-theist claiming there never was an historical, Jesus of Nazareth who founded Christianity. The blog exhorted Christians to be prepared with reasonable answers when interacting with skeptics and hostile unbelievers.

As an example on how not to argue, an off-site link was provided to a list of over 300 "proofs for the existence of God" found on an atheist website. The "proofs" are arranged as a set of propositions with the conclusion always stating, "Therefore, God exists." For example:

Cosmological Argument
(1) If I say something must have a cause, it has a cause.
(2) I say the universe must have a cause.
(3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

The "proofs" are obviously designed to be a mockery against theism, particularly Bible believing Christianity. As I was looking over them, two things came to mind. First, they are helpful in noting how illogical Christians can be at times when arguing for their faith. Yet, on the other hand, they are also a prime example of how illogical atheists become when arguing for their alleged, non-faith.

The atheist website provides a good illustration of what I mean. Linking from the parody "proofs" is an article entitled Why Atheism? that actually attempts to engage in dismantling the classic theological arguments. The author begins his article listing the tools he uses in critiquing the theological arguments: logic and verifiable evidence. Even though the atheist discounts faith, especially Christian faith, he doesn't seems to recognize how any evidence must be interpreted and interpretations of evidence require faith commitments in the interpretations a person brings to the evidence. He then moves on to critiquing the theistic arguments, but his criticisms make claims against those arguments which requires a person to presuppose or assume the claims of the atheist with out question. In the end, the atheist is actually in the same boat as the theist he disdains when it comes to presenting his criticisms of theism.

I commented under the A-Team blog entry that if you re-word the propositions in the 300 proofs list just a tad, and always make the conclusion read "Therefore, God doesn't exist" a person can see the illogic of how atheists tend to argue, as well.

Interestingly, a few nights before the documentary maker was interviewed on this radio talk show, I heard the very same host rail against creationism and make the bold charge that no one in the entire realm of Hebrew scholarship has ever read the book of Genesis as literal history. The next day I sent him an email inquiring as to where he got his information. We exchanged emails a few times and by the end, he had never answered my initial question and refused to interact with me any longer. Amazingly, in his last email, he responded almost word for word with argument 14, the argument from intelligence, except all I had to do was replace the words "stupid Atheists" with "stupid Christians" and make my conclusion read, "Therefore, God doesn't exist." I snorted a big laugh when I read that. (Ironically, he links to the 300 Proofs list from his own home website).

I was going to attempt to re-write all of them and post my own list of "300 plus proof for the non-existence of God" as something of a lark. However, the arguments were simplistic and the list started to become repetitive and mundane, and even got a little nasty. Plus, I was getting bored reading over them all, so I abandoned the project. Maybe I will return to it someday.

Anyways, I thought I would post at least the first 20, and then some of my favorites, for a spot of fun. The original argument as it appears on the godless geeks website will be first, then I will put my response-re-write and mark it in blue.

(Addendum: I swear I didn't copy cat this person! Today, 10/7, I dropped over to Kerry Gilliard's blog, and noticed a link to a list of over three hundred disproofs of God's existence. Someone had the same idea as me. Go figure. I don't know who this J.H. person is who developed the list, but he or she is to be commended. Great minds must think a like, because many of J.H.'s proofs read like mine. Read mine, then enjoy the fuller list provided by J. H.)

1. TRANSCENDENTAL ARGUMENT
(1) If reason exists then God exists.
(2) Reason exists.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

TRANSCENDENTAL ARGUMENT
(1) Reason and God cannot exist together.
(2) Reason exists.
(3) Therefore, God doesn't exist.

2. COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
(1) If I say something must have a cause, it has a cause.
(2) I say the universe must have a cause.
(3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
(1) Who says something must have a cause?
(2) I say the universe didn't have a specific cause.
(3) Therefore, the universe has no cause.
(4) Therefore, God doesn't exist.

3. ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (I)
(1) I define God to be X.
(2) Since I can conceive of X, X must exist.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (I)
(1) I define God to be X.
(2) Since I have never experienced X, X must not exist.
(3) Therefore, God doesn't exist.


4. ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (II)
(1) I can conceive of a perfect God.
(2) One of the qualities of perfection is existence.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (II)
(1) I can't conceive of a perfect God.
(2) One of the qualities of perfection has to be existence.
(3) Therefore, God doesn't exist.

5. MODAL ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
(1) God is either necessary or unnecessary.
(2) God is not unnecessary, therefore God must be necessary.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

MODAL ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
(1) God is neither necessary or unnecessary.
(2) God is not necessary, therefore God must be unnecessary.
(3) Therefore, God doesn't exist.


6. TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (I)
(1) Check out the world/universe/giraffe. Isn't it complex?
(2) Only God could have made them so complex.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (I)
(1) Check out the world/universe/giraffe. You call that complex?
(2) Therefore, God doesn't exist.


7. ARGUMENT FROM BEAUTY, aka TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (II)
(1) Isn't that baby/sunset/flower/tree beautiful?
(2) Only God could have made them so beautiful.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM BEAUTY, aka TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (II)
(1) Isn't that baby/sunset/flower/tree beautiful?
(2) There doesn't need to be a God to have made them so beautiful; besides beauty is relative.
(3) Therefore, God doesn't exist.


8. ARGUMENT FROM MIRACLES
(1) My aunt had cancer.
(2) The doctors gave her all these horrible treatments.
(3) My aunt prayed to God and now she doesn't have cancer.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM NON-MIRACLES
(1) My aunt had cancer.
(2) The doctors gave her all these horrible treatments.
(3) My aunt prayed to God and she wasn't cured from her cancer, despite the horrible treatments.
(4) Therefore, God doesn't exist.


9. MORAL ARGUMENT (I)
(1) Person X, a well-known Atheist, was morally inferior to the rest of us.
(2) Therefore, God exists.


MORAL ARGUMENT (I)
(1) Person X, a well-known Christian, was morally inferior to the rest of us.
(2) Therefore, God doesn't exist.


10. MORAL ARGUMENT (II)
(1) In my younger days I was a cursing, drinking, smoking, gambling, child-molesting, thieving, murdering, bed-wetting bastard.
(2) That all changed once I became religious.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

MORAL ARGUMENT (II)
(1) In my younger days I was a church going, preacher loving, Bible thumping, tongue speaking, holy roller.
(2) That all changed when I became an atheist.
(3) Therefore, God doesn't exist.

11. ARGUMENT FROM CREATION
(1) If evolution is false, then creationism is true, and therefore God exists.
(2) Evolution can't be true, since I lack the mental capacity to understand it; moreover, to accept its truth would cause me to be
uncomfortable
(3) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM EVOLUTION
(1) If evolution is true, then creationism is false, and therefore God doesn't exist.
(2) Evolution must be true, since I lack the moral desire to understand creationism, as well as represent the creationist viewpoint accurately; moreover, to accept its truth would cause me to be uncomfortable
(3) Therefore, God doesn't exist.


12. ARGUMENT FROM FEAR
(1) If there is no God then we're all going to die.
(2) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM FEAR
(1) If there is no God then we're all going to die.
(2) Therefore, God doesn't exist.

13. ARGUMENT FROM THE BIBLE
(1) [arbitrary passage from OT]
(2) [arbitrary passage from NT]
(3) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM THE BIBLE
(1) [arbitrary passage taken out of context from OT]
(2) [arbitrary passage taken out of context from NT]
(3) Therefore, God doesn't exist.

14. ARGUMENT FROM INTELLIGENCE
(1) Look, there's really no point in me trying to explain the whole thing to you stupid Atheists -- it's too complicated for you to understand. God exists whether you like it or not.
(2) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM INTELLIGENCE
(1) Look, there's really no point in me trying to explain the whole thing to you stupid Christians -- it's too complicated for you to understand. God doesn't exists whether you like it or not.
(2) Therefore, God doesn't exist.

15. ARGUMENT FROM UNINTELLIGENCE
(1) Okay, I don't pretend to be as intelligent as you guys -- you're obviously very well read. But I read the Bible, and nothing you say can convince me that God does not exist. I feel him in my heart, and you can feel him too, if you'll just ask him into your life. "For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son into the world, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish from the earth." John 3:16.
(2) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM UNINTELLIGENCE
(1) Okay, I don't pretend to be as intelligent as you guys -- you're obviously very well read. But I read the Bible, and nothing you say can convince me that God exist. I've never felt him in my heart, and I bet you can't feel him either, I've asked him into my life dozens of times and nothing happened. "For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son into the world, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish from the earth?" John 3:16. Bah, nonsense!
(2) Therefore, God doesn't exist.


16. ARGUMENT FROM BELIEF
(1) If God exists, then I should believe in Him.
(2) I believe in God.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM NON-BELIEF
(1) If God exists, then I should believe in Him.
(2) I don't believe in God.
(3) Therefore, God doesn't exist.

17. ARGUMENT FROM INTIMIDATION
(1) See this bonfire?
(2) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM INTIMIDATION
(1) See this bonfire? (or AK-47 for those in North Korea and China)
(2) Therefore, God doesn't exist.

18. PARENTAL ARGUMENT
(1) My mommy and daddy told me that God exists.
(2) Therefore, God exists.

PARENTAL ARGUMENT
(1) My mommy and daddy told me that God doesn't exist.
(2) Therefore, God doesn't exist.


19. ARGUMENT FROM NUMBERS
(1) Millions and millions of people believe in God.
(2) They can't all be wrong, can they?
(3) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM NUMBERS
(1) Millions and millions of people don't believe in God, and some of them are intellectuals. (2) They can't all be wrong, can they?
(3) Therefore, God doesn't exist.


20. ARGUMENT FROM ABSURDITY
(1) Maranathra!
(2) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM ABSURDITY
(1) Order from Chaos!
(2) Therefore, God doesn't exist.


25. ARGUMENT FROM INTERNET AUTHORITY
(1) There is a website that successfully argues for the existence of God.
(2) Here is the URL.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM INTERNET AUTHORITY
(1) There is a website that successfully argues against the existence of God.
(2) Here is the URL.
(3) Therefore, God doesn't exist.

36. ARGUMENT FROM INCOMPLETE DEVASTATION
(1) A plane crashed killing 143 passengers and crew.
(2) But one child survived with only third-degree burns.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM INCOMPLETE DEVASTATION
(1) A plane crashed killing 143 passengers and crew.
(2) But one child survived with only third-degree burns.
(3) If there was a God, he would have prevented it all.
(4) Therefore, God doesn't exist.


62. ARGUMENT FROM PERFECTION
(1) If there are absolute moral standards, then God exists.
(2) Atheists say that there are no absolute moral standards.
(3) But that's because they don't want to admit to being sinners.
(4) Therefore, there are absolute moral standards.
(5) Therefore, God exists.

(1) Atheists say that there are no absolute moral standards, even though they live life as if there are.
(2) If there are no absolute moral standards, even though reality says otherwise, then God can't exist.
(3) Therefore, atheists who don't believe in God are absolutely sure there are no absolute moral standards.
(4) Therefore, God doesn't exist.


77. PEACOCK ARGUMENT FROM SELECTIVE MEMORY
(1) [Christian asks "stumper" question.]
(2) [Atheist answers question.]
(3) [A lapse of time]
(4) [Christian repeats question.]
(5) [Atheist repeats answer.]
(6) [A lapse of time]
(7) [Christian repeats question.]
(8) [Atheist repeats answer.]
(9) [A lapse of time]
(10) Atheist, you never answered my question.
(11) Therefore, God exists.

PEACOCK ARGUMENT FROM SELECTIVE MEMORY
(1) [Atheist asks "stumper" question.]
(2) [Christian answers question.]
(3) [A lapse of time]
(4) [Atheist makes grandiloquent "truth" claim about how he perceives reality.]
(5) [Christian points out Atheist's unproven presupposition for such a claim.]
(6) [A lapse of time]
(7) [Atheist misconstrues a handful of biblical passages.]
(8) [Christian points out Atheist's error.]
(9) [A lapse of time]
(10) Christian, you never answer my questions.
(11) Therefore, God doesn't exist.


155. ARGUMENT FROM BRUTE FORCE
(1) [Christian tears Darwin Fish off car, breaks it in thirds, sticks it to driver's side window.]
(2) Therefore, the theory of evolution is wrong.
(3) Therefore, creationism is right.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

(1) [Atheist tears "truth" fish eating "Darwin" fish sticker off car (along with the "support our troops" ribbon) and threatens Christian with profanity.]
(2) Christian grabs his children and runs for his life.
(3) Therefore, Creationism is wrong.
(4) Therefore, evolution is right.
(5) Therefore, God doesn't exist.

202. ARGUMENT FROM APOLOGETICS WEBPAGES
(1) I was surfing the Net and came across this really cool webpage of apologetics.
(2) Their arguments were stunning. I couldn't refute them.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

(1) I was surfing the Net and came across this really cool webpage of atheistic arguments.
(2) Their arguments were above my head and I couldn't refute them.
(3) Therefore, God doesn't exist.

334. ARGUMENT FROM SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN (II)
(1) Answers in Genesis copied the full text of an article from Scientific American.
(2) Scientific American sent one email to Answers in Genesis saying that they don't necessarily want their articles distributed for free in [sic] the internet by just anyone.
(3) See? Scientific American persecutes Christians!
(4) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN (II)
(1) Answers in Genesis copied the full text of an article from Scientific American
(2) Scientific American sent one email to Answers in Genesis saying they don't necessarily want their articles distributed for free on the internet by just anyone.
(3) Answers in Genesis points out that Scientific American is woefully ignorant of copyright and fair use laws and tells them to go educate themselves.
(4) See? Answers in Genesis are dishonest hypocrites
(5) Therefore, God doesn't exist.