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

Friday, March 31, 2006

Whom Do You See
1) Relax and lazily stare at the 4 tiny dots in the picture
for at least 30 seconds.

2) Slowly shift your gaze
from the screen to a wall near you.

3) You will see a circle of light formed on the wall.

4) Start blinking and continue till you see a figure within the circle.

5) Whom do you see?

Twenty Ways to Answer a Fool, [pt. 5]

Does Christianity breed arrogance, a chosen people mentality?

Just when you thought my review and critique of Chaz Bufe, the Christ hating anarchist and blues guitar player, had stalled, I return once again to examining his 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity. We come to his 5th complaint, that Christianity breeds arrogance, a chosen people mentality. I will let Chaz explain himself:

5. Christianity breeds arrogance, a chosen-people mentality. It’s only natural that those who believe (or play act at believing) that they have a direct line to the Almighty would feel superior to others. This is so obvious that it needs little elaboration. A brief look at religious terminology confirms it. Christians have often called themselves "God’s people," "the chosen people," "the elect," "the righteous," etc., while nonbelievers have been labeled "heathens," "infidels," and "atheistic Communists" (as if atheism and Communism are intimately connected). This sets up a two-tiered division of humanity, in which "God’s people" feel superior to those who are not "God’s people."

That many competing religions with contradictory beliefs make the same claim seems not to matter at all to the members of the various sects that claim to be the only carriers of "the true faith." The carnage that results when two competing sects of "God’s people" collide—as in Ireland and Palestine—would be quite amusing but for the suffering it causes.

Honestly, this point could have been combined with his previous point, Christianity is egocentric, so I will be brief. Arrogance and egocentricism are pretty much one and same, or at least you could say they emerge from the same attitude of self-centeredness. Again, I do find it a bit humorous that a Christ hating anarchist is calling for the abandonment (if we are honest, really an overthrow) of my Christian worldview and its replacement with his communistic worldview. No arrogance in that belief.

However, I think what Chaz desires to hammer against with this point is not so much the concept of arrogance, as it is the idea of a chosen people mentality.

I mean if you think about it, anyone who genuinely believes communism is a viable worldview and whose thinking about life is driven by anarchist philosophy, will be utterly offended by an outside people group claiming to have superior values. Even more odious to the anarchist communist is the direct challenge those values may have to an anarchist philosophy, especially if the purveyors of those values claim they are superior to anarchism and are bold enough to say so, as well as call the anarchist to abandon his anarchy and embrace that competing set of values. That reason alone is usually why communists feel the need to eradicate all religious thinking by first executing all the spiritual leaders and then persecuting their followers when they take over a country with a violent show of anarchist force. Of course, Chaz ignores this particular display of a chosen people mentality. This is why his 20 Reasons list is a joke; a dishonest farce that cannot be taken seriously.

Additionally, Chaz dabbles in a tad more dishonesty with a comment that can easily be passed over if one is not paying attention. After complaining about being label a "heathen" and an "infidel" by those terrible Christians who dare to think they have a unique place before the true and living God, Chaz lists one final alleged slur uttered by Christians against the non-chosen: atheistic communism. He then writes in parenthesis, (as if atheism and Communism are intimately connected).

Now, does Chaz really believe atheism and Communism are not intimately connected? Can he name me one devoutly religious Communist? All of Chaz's communistic forefathers he so reveres developed their communistic philosophy in a matrix of hatred toward religion. This is true of Fredrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Fredrick Engels, V.I. Lenin, and Bertrand Russell. All of the minds who wrote extensively about Communism wrote just as extensively against God and religion. Those individuals who applied Communism to their society had to exterminate religious thinking because it is so diametrically opposed to Communistic ideology. For Chaz to even suggest Communism can be implemented apart from atheism exposes the true ignorance of what Chaz is attempting to promote.

Next up: Christianity breeds authoritarianism

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Well Go Figure,

I learned this week from our Master's Seminary newsletter that Bug attended TMS. You remember Bug, right? He played the jerk boyfriend in the movie Uncle Buck and has one of the most quotable scenes ever from a John Candy movie.

[Bug is necking with Buck's niece, and when Buck pulls up in front of the school with his beat-up old car to take the kids home,]
Bug: Ever hear of a tune-up? Hee hee hee hee hee.
Ah, heh heh heh. Ever hear of a ritual killing? Ah, heh heh heh heh heh

I don't get it.

Buck: You gnaw on her face in public like that again and you'll be one. Ah, heh heh heh heh!

Bug eventually gets his comeuppance when Uncle Buck kidnaps him from a party with a power drill, strips him down to his underwear, stuffs him in the trunk of his car, and then makes him apologize to Buck's niece for being a cad. Then after Buck turns him loose, he pelts him with golf balls as Bug tries desperately to run across an open field to cover.

Who would have thought he would become a pastor? Talk about God working in mysterious ways.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Reconquista in the Streets

Here in LA yesterday, several thousand students from the Los Angeles Unified School District, as well as the Orange County school districts south of LA, took to the streets to protest a recent Immigration Reform Bill. Keep in mind these students had to ditch school all day in order to march in this protest parade.

The reports I have been hearing tell me they gathered at the LA city hall where the mayor addressed the crowd. Eventually, they got onto the freeway at the 10 and 101, one of the most heavily traveled freeway interchanges in the world, and stopped traffic for a period of time. The LAPD was able to channel the herd down an off ramp and back on the surface streets. The students in Orange County attempted to storm the gates at Disney Land, but were prevented by police. By the afternoon, the LA crowd had walked nearly ten miles from where they started, but the LAUSD kindly provided school buses to take them back to their respective school locations.

I live in the farthest north part of LA county in Santa Clarita, about 40 minutes from downtown LA where all this protesting was going on. Santa Clarita is populated with Mormons, uppercrust suburban socialite families, and homeschool moms; the most a-politically active group of people on the planet next to the fine folks of Salado, AR. I was happy the throng of unintelligible baggy pants wearing tattoo aficionados didn't spill over into our valley clogging up the streets so that I would be involuntarily stuck in grid lock forced to listen to anti-American slogans for two hours.

Putting aside the debate over illegal immigration, there were a couple of things troubling me about this entire student protest.

First is the skipping out of school. Maybe it is just my up bringing, but when I was a high schooler, I had enough respect for my school authorities, meaning teachers, regardless of how much I thought some of them were boring and incompetent to teach, that I would never dream of just skipping out of class. And along with a healthy fear of my teachers, I was afraid of getting behind in my school work. The last thing I wanted to happen was to be held back a year because I missed one of Mrs. Burge's history quizzes, and remembering how hateful she was, she would give one on the day I skipped class just to spite me.

I believed my education, even in a po-dunk town, was valuable and worth something upon graduation. Only the deadheads involved themselves with ditching class. You know, that group of kids who always wore Molly Hatchet shirts and stood around the "smoking tree" during recess, down next to the shop class area of campus.

The good portion of the LA protesters were Hispanic kids of illegal alien parents, and like the deadhead kids of my high school days, the great bulk of them are taught neither to respect societal authority, nor value education. This is tragic in my mind, because it is producing an underclass of perpetual uneducated dependents. In some ways, it is as if they are content with mowing lawns, working McDonald's and being maids.

Even worse is how the LAUSD, in the guise of being progressive minded and forward thinking, promote this worthless social activism to these kids detriment. Such liberal nonsense is deplorable and angering. In essence, school administrators are keeping these kids shackled to ignorance in light of pseudo first amendment ideology. Already compounding the problem is how every school subject is taught in Spanish, which prevents them from having to be forced to learn the English language. I can recall many conversations I have had with school teacher friends who are told by political correct administrators to not give out homework because the parents won't let children do it, but instead make them go out to work an evening job. Hence, homework is a waste of time and not the best way to help a child learn, or so goes the muddle minded education enforcers.

Then a second thing troubling me was how none of these kids knew the facts of what they were protesting. Most glaring was the march to LA city hall over a federalbill. If I can recall my civics class, because I never skipped out of it, local government is not the same as federal government. When interviewed by local radio reporters, none of the kids knew any specific detail about the immigration bill. They were of the opinion it would give authority to the army to chase their illegal parents out of the country. If pressed to explain why they thought this, usually the kid let fly with profanity laced comments about racism and the right to be here because California was stolen from Mexico, or they would giggle uncontrollably. One high school teacher opined to a report that he would have to double his efforts when teaching about American government. Of course he assumes that these students will want to learn about American government, or they won't be skipping out of class the day he discusses the subject.

Just one word of wisdom if you plan to trample your free education under foot by ditching school and marching in a protest parade: At least have a working understanding of what you are protesting. It prevents you from looking like an idiot on TV.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Have Heretics Corrupted My Bible?

Examining the Arguments of King James Onlyism [pt. 7]

I continue today in my series examining the arguments made by Christian who defend the King James Version (KJV) as being the only translation that accurately conveys God’s Word. I have attempted to boil their key arguments down to six points.

The last few articles have undertaken a study of the third point: what I call the textual argument. This is the idea that the King James Bible is translated from original language texts that supposedly demonstrate clearly God's guiding hand of preservation.

Now, before we close out this study of the textual argument, it is important to address two areas of contention used by KJV advocates in establishing the King James as being the only translation based upon the best original language texts. First, we need to explore the charge that the texts used by modern versions have been corrupted by heretical men, the subject of this post, and then the vilification of Westcott and Hort, which I will take up in the next post.

With this entry, I want to turn our attention to the allegation that the original language texts used in translating modern versions have been corrupted by heretical individuals in Church history past, particularly during the first 2 to 3 centuries after Christ. This is a major charge to consider because I have never encountered a KJV onlyist either in person or in print who does not raise it. In fact, the corruption by heretics charge was one of my main talking points any time I had the opportunity to proselytize for KJV onlyism. This claim is unarguably one of the top challenges KJV advocates make against modern Bible translations so it must be addressed.

KJV onlyists will tie their charge of corruption together with two threads of argumentation: From the Bible itself and then from Church history. Allow me to sketch out their basic argument for heretical corruption.

To begin, KJV advocates will first appeal to scripture to establish their case, usually starting with Genesis chapter 3 and the fall of Adam and Eve. They argue that Genesis 3 is where we see the beginning point of the devil's attack on God's Word by corrupting it. Self-published KJV apologist, Robert Alexander, explains the devil's corruptive activity,

The first words out of the devil's mouth are "Yea, hath God said…" I find that very interesting. The first time he appeared, he said Yea, hath God said, and then changed what God said. The devil misquoted, questioned, and twisted what God said. The devil has been in the business of revising and updating the word of God ever since. [How to Study the Bible, p. 88].

KJV apologists argue that if we examine the account of how the devil deceived Eve, we can identify three ways God's Word was corrupted:

1) First, the devil casts doubt upon the trustworthiness of God's Word when he asks Eve mockingly, Yea, hath God said?

2) Then Eve adds to what God had told her and Adam when she responds to the devil by saying we are not to eat of the tree nor touch it.

And finally, the devil outright lies about the truthfulness of what God had said when he tells Eve you shall not surely die.

Thus, doubting the Bible, adding to the Bible, and lying against the Bible are the three ways the Devil has used heretical men to attack the scriptures over the years and this is the modus operandi of modern day textual critics who say the modern Bible versions are based upon the oldest and best manuscript evidence.

KJV advocates will also appeal to other passages of scripture. For example, Jeremiah 23:36, where the prophet speaks of men who have perverted the words of the Living God, as well as other similar sounding rebukes from the prophets and apostles, like Deuteronomy 16:19, 2 Corinthians 2:17, and Galatians 1:7. KJV advocates believe these passages imply the enemies of the Bible were physically altering the text to promote their heresy.

After attempting to give a biblical account of men corrupting the Bible, KJV onlyists will then try to tie their argument to some historical factors. Quoting once again from KJV defender, D. A. Waite, president of the Bible for Today, he writes in regards to heretics corrupting the Bible,

These so-called old texts of the New Testament, such as B (Vatican) and Aleph (Sinai) and their some forty-three allies, were corrupted, I believe, by heretics within the first 100 years after the original New Testament books were written. Therefore, even though they may be the oldest, they were doctored by heretics and therefore are not the best. [Defending the KJV Bible, p. 28]. Emphasis mine.

Later, he names some of these heretics who are alleged to have doctored the NT,

Some of the heretics which operated in this period were Marcion, (160 A.D.); Valentinus, (160 A.D.); Cyrinthus, (50-100 A.D.); Sabellius, (about 260 A.D.); and others [ibid, p. 46]

It is believed these heretical individuals and others like them were responsible for the Alexandrian texts so despised by KJV advocates. Their hand in producing these manuscripts and the fact they originated in and around Alexandria, Egypt, was the main reason why God's people never used those manuscripts.

Moreover, the textual scholars who found and utilized them later during the 1800s were ungodly, theological liberals. KJV defender, William Grady, writes an entire chapter in his book, Final Authority, linking the philosophy of these Bible changing liberal heretics to the Nicolaitans mentioned in Revelation 2:6, 14-15. The Nicolaitan mindset was supposedly evident during the 18th and 19th centuries when the liberal textual critics began to defer to textual readings found in the then newly discovered corrupted Alexandrian Greek manuscripts, over similar readings found in the traditional TR from which the KJV was translated. These textual scholars were in essence altering God's Word by publishing their edited New Testaments with the corrupted readings and claiming they were superior.

With that brief outline in mind, we need to consider the reliability of this charge that heretics have corrupted our Bibles. This is a serious accusation and I do not believe we truly appreciate the gravity of what KJVO apologists are leveling against our modern translations. King James advocates are telling me heretical men have tampered with God s revelation throughout Church History, and the devil made sure their tampering would find its way into the hands of modern day Christians in the form of modern English translations. My faith and my Christian walk are dependent upon the leading by God's divine revelation He has given me in the pages of scripture. If it is true the Bible was altered to the point heresy has been injected within its pages, then it is imperative we discover and affirm what KJV advocates are charging. However, if it is found out they are misinformed and the charge of heretical corruption is exaggerated or outright false, then KJV onlyists are guilty of promoting a gross lie. So, the question before us is simple: does the KJV claim of scriptural corruption by heretics stand up against scrutiny?

It may interest many readers to note the strange irony with the KJVO charge of a corrupted Bible. In an odd twist, this is exactly what true haters of the Bible, like Islamic apologists and supporters of Da Vinci Code like conspiracies, also allege against the biblical manuscripts. The difference, however, is where as the KJVO proponents argue for preservation in only one divinely blessed and preserved line of manuscripts, the anti-Bible apologists believe the corruption was made in order to promote Christian doctrine, say for instance the Deity of Christ, over against what they consider to be the real truth, i.e., Jesus was just a man.

Before we consider some of the key points, I will state now that this charge of heretical corruption is false. There is absolutely no historic proof that heretical men intentionally tampered with manuscripts so as to introduce unorthodox doctrinal teaching to the Church, and that their tampering either went unnoticed by the Christian Church, or is to be found in the so-called Alexandrian manuscripts later utilized by textual critics. There were some notorious heretics who did alter the NT documents, but their alterations did not go unnoticed and those individuals were marked out by Church leaders as what they were, heretics. Rather than altering physical manuscripts, heretics re-interpreted the unaltered Bible according to their teachings. In other words, heretics taught false doctrines and then twisted the proper interpretation of scripture to fit their teachings. Never did they physically edit NT books to establish heresy.

Let us now consider some specific points of the KJVO case for heretical corruption.

Did God's people reject and lay aside the use of any manuscripts they believed to be corrupted?

KJVO advocates want their readers to believe heretics acquired biblical manuscripts and made small alterations to the text. Those changes were such things as detracting from the divine title of the Lord Jesus Christ by leaving out the words Lord or Christ and just using the name Jesus. Also, by attacking important doctrines like the virgin birth by implying Joseph was the father of Jesus (Luke 2:33), and the deity of Christ by calling Jesus the unique God in John 1:18 rather than the only begotten son. The Christian community, however, knew about these small changes and refused to use those manuscripts and thus they were laid aside, never to be copied.

There are three obvious reasons why this claim is false:

First of all is the quick proliferation of the NT documents within the first century. Christians wanted the NT to be copied and spread far and wide. So for example, if a Christian businessman visited a city where a local Church had a copy of the book of Colossians and he wanted a copy of it for his congregation, he would make his own copy by hand to take back with him. However, there is the potential risk of transmitting copying mistakes because the businessman was copying by hand. Moreover, if he were copying from a copy with written mistakes already present, he would also transmit those into his copy as well. This is one of the reasons for the vast number of variants within the NT documents. It is not evidence of heretical editors, but simple handwriting error.

Because Christians would allow their books to be copied so readily by other believers, the NT documents quickly spread throughout the entire Roman world. Thus, there were too many copies spread out all over the place so that it would be next to impossible for any heretic to think he could get away with changing the Bible without being identified. There was just no way for the heretic to gather up every available copy to alter. Hence, God protected the NT from corruption by the vast number of manuscripts produced by the early Christians.

Second, heretics made sweeping, wholesale changes, not small tweaks here or there. D.A. Waite names Marcion, Valentinus, Cyrinthus, and Sabellius as heretics that intentionally altered the NT documents, but out of that group, only Marcion physically altered the Bible. Marcion was a second century, anti-Semitic who produced the first unofficial NT canon. His NT contained some of Paul's epistles and the Gospel of Luke. These were the only books he deemed to be inspired and even those he edited to fit his anti-Semitic views, and it was Marcion's NT God used to force the Christian Church to recognize and affirm the 27 books of our orthodox NT. The other heretics Waite names did not alter the Bible. They re-interpreted Christian doctrine to teach their false doctrine and were rebuked for doing so, which leads us to the third reason,

Heretics begin with corrupted teaching and then twist the Bible to make it teach their heresy. Never has there been an historic example of heretical teaching developed out of a biblical text that had first been corrupted. The pattern witnessed through out Church History is that of a heretic developing unorthodox teaching, and then he or she would re-interpret the Bible to fit the heretical doctrine. A good many of the major cults which arose in the 1800s even used the KJV as their base text, only it would be re-interpreted to teach the cult's particular heresies. Only in some cases would heretics produce an edited Bible that reflected their unorthodox beliefs. The Jehovah's Witnesses are like this. Charles Russell began as an apostate from the true Christian faith. For many years he taught his heresy that Jesus was really Michael the Archangel, the resurrection never happened and hell does not exist while using the King James. He taught his followers that the KJV had been mis-translated, especially when it disagreed with his heresies. It was not until the 1950s when the Jehovah's Witnesses produced an entirely new translation, the New World Translation, that the actual Bible was altered and re-translated to fit their already established false doctrines.

Were the Alexandrian manuscripts a product of heretical corruption?

Nearly every King James only publication contains a chapter detailing why the Alexandrian manuscripts, especially Codex Aleph and B, are corrupted works produced by heretics. Some KJV advocates like Sam Gipp argue they were produced in Alexandria, Egypt, a known hotbed for heretical activity. Gipp goes on to argue that Egypt is a biblical symbol always equated with the world or worldliness and nothing good can ever come out of the world and that is reason enough those manuscripts should be rejected.

Also, KJV advocates will argue they are not only to be rejected as reliable because they originated in Alexandria, but also because the Church Father Origen (pictured above) helped produce them. They allege that Origen dabbled in Gnosticism and advocated an allegorical method of interpreting the Bible that reads into the scriptures all sorts of odd symbolism. I can recall the very first King James only book I read called To Be or Not to Be: What is Wrong with the Modern Versions? in which the author claimed Origen inherited many Babylonian cultic practices and was the forerunner to the Roman Catholic priesthood, even castrating himself to demonstrate his devotion to celibacy. KJV proponents claim Origen edited the Alexandrian manuscripts to reflect his extreme asceticism and this family of manuscripts is the source for many of the pseudo Christian heresies the Church has had to face over the years. It is also these manuscripts liberal textual critics used to produce the modern Bible versions like the NASB and the NIV.

For an untrained believer, the KJV advocate provides some rather compelling reasons why we should reject modern translations and return to an exclusive use of the King James. Origen was a heretical man and Alexandria, Egypt, was an area known for propagating false doctrine. Is there any truth to these charges?

First of all, it is true that Origen held to some quirky views about spirituality that independent fundamental Baptist in today's American culture would find to be odd, but that does not mean he intentionally altered the biblical text. The King James translators were Anglicans and believed in baptismal regeneration for infants. Am I to conclude, then, that they may have altered the biblical text to make it fit this Anglican doctrine? Furthermore, it is also true Origen allegorized excessively when he interpreted the Bible. But again, interpreting the Bible with the over use of allegory does not mean Origen altered the text of scripture any more than Sam Gipp claiming Egypt is a metaphor for worldliness means he altered the text of scripture. Origen was an important early textual critic, especially when it came to the OT text, but the charge that he corrupted the physical text with his editorial abilities to reflect Gnosticism is plain false.

Additionally, Alexandria was not the sole hotbed for doctrinal heresy in the early days of the Christian faith. Heretics with no connection whatsoever with Alexandria sprung up in many areas through out the Roman Empire. The most notable example is Arius who was from the theological school in Antioch. Arius denied the Deity of Jesus Christ and his teaching was the catalysis for the first major controversy the Christian Church faced after the Roman Empire declared Christianity to be legal. KJV advocates often distinguish between Antioch, the doctrinally pure area of early Christendom where the preserved texts used to eventually translate the King James originated and circulated, and Alexandria, the dreaded city of Gnostic New Age thinking and bizarre, self-mutilating heretics who altered the Bible to fit their blasphemous doctrines. However, taking the KJVO reasoning, I could easily argue that Arius the heretic, who had a prominent following in Antioch, altered the Bible along with his followers to reflect a watered down view of Christ's divinity, but it would be absurd to do so. During the Arian controversy, which eventually led to the convening of a council in Nicea and the formation of the Nicene Creed, the most vocal opponent of the Arian heresy and the lone champion of biblical orthodoxy was Athanasius, a Christian teacher from Alexandria, Egypt.

Were the textual critics who used the Alexandrian manuscripts to provide new English translation ungodly liberals?

When presenting their case against the use of the Alexandrian manuscripts, KJV advocates will list many of the early textual critics from the 1700s and 1800s and accuse them all of being theological liberals who hated God's Word and desired to see it corrupted. A good percentage of the Christians who read KJV publications are entirely ignorant of any form of modern day textual criticism, let alone the history behind the early pioneers who forged many of the principles of biblical textual criticism used today. Because the unlearned reader really knows next to nothing about the obscure individuals listed in the KJVO literature, the writer appears to have done his or her homework and the research is never questioned. This is sad, because the terrific misinformation presented by the KJV advocate presented as fact, only serves to solidify the Christian in his ignorance of the true history of our Bible.

It must be kept in mind that when the KJV was published in 1611, textual criticism was still an immature scholarly discipline. There was a renewed interest in the original Hebrew and Greek languages beginning with the Renaissance, so before then, no one had done any serious textual critical work with the Bible. That is just close to 100 years before the start of the translation for the KJV. Then, the 1700s saw the beginnings of the Enlightenment and the rise of Modernity. KJV advocates are correct in pointing out that it was during this time when theological liberalism began to spread throughout European seminaries, but it was this theological liberalism that drove conservative scholars to scour monasteries and libraries in the Middle East in search of ancient biblical texts.

Despite their diligent work in establishing the authenticity and preservation of the biblical manuscripts, these good men are viciously maligned by KJV advocates. In reality, many of them were far from being liberal Bible correctors. For example, Johann Bengel was a staunch Pietist Christian who believed firmly in inerrancy. He was bothered by the so-called 30,000 variants among the many manuscripts of the NT, so he began a massive work of determining whether or not these variants did anything to undermine the Christian faith. He discovered these variants to be few in number than expected and concluded there was nothing in them to shake any article of the evangelical faith. Bengel is considered the father of modern textual criticism, because it was he who first began to divide manuscripts into families (even identifying the Alexandrian manuscripts) according to common readings. He also believed manuscripts needed to be weighed, not merely counted, and believed the shorter readings were to be preferred over the longer ones.

Another important textual critic was Constantin Von Tischendorf, who discovered the Sinaticus manuscript at St. Catherine's monastery on the Sinai Peninsula. He is the biggest target of the more libelous criticism by KJV advocates who attack his character, but he was far from a godless liberal. He was a man desirous to please the Lord with his work, and his main goal was to find ancient biblical manuscripts that affirmed the authenticity of the NT. The chief reason he hunted down ancient biblical manuscripts had to do with the theological liberals he was encountering among the scholars back in Europe. In his mind, Tischendorf saw his work as a means to elevate and affirm the Bible, not tear it down with heresy, and to silence the true liberal critics of his day.

These men, and many others like them, did important work in Bible preservation and translation for which the Christian Church should be grateful, but shamefully, KJV advocates dishonor them by spreading lies against their character and life work.

As I conclude, I think the most damaging thing the KJV advocates do when they charge heretical corruption in God's Word is to smear the character of our Lord Himself. The notion of heretics being able to freely introduce damaging heresy within the pages of scripture suggests God has no ability to protect His revelation from corruption. Moreover, to say God's preserving ability is narrowly contained in one group of texts, and in order for Christians to really know what God said they have to read an antiquated 17 th century English translation limits God and makes Him to be impotent to preserve His Word in the manner He sees fit and in the way the evidence clearly shows He did.


Friday, March 24, 2006

From the Email Box

Readers may wish to read these two articles first, Here and Here

To: fred@fredsbibletalk.com
From: ****

Subject: Your website is WRONG!

You say that Jesus never explicitly taught against drug use and therefore, we might assume it is OK. This is based on your argument that the fact that Jesus did not teach against homosexuality, does not make it OK. However, since "drug" use such as your example of cocaine was not an issue then, why would Jesus teach about it? On the other hand, homosexuality was well known and yet, He did not teach against it. His teachings were on the sanctity of a one-person relationship. A man was not to abandon his wife (except to follow God, of course) and he condemned divorce. In spite of that, we hear very little about changing the divorce laws. Heterosexuals seem to be very selective on what they condemn. The Old Testament teaches many things that no heterosexual would dream of enforcing today.
You need to take really in depth look at the kind of hatred you are spreading and think about what kind of reward that will get you on judgment day. John 8.15: Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man

Thanks you for your comments. I know you mean to infer that I am a mindless bigot and worse, biblically illiterate, but I take such unfounded attacks as a way to sharpen my own thinking. So please understand I am sincere when I thank you for the challenges to my arguments.

Allow me to respond to your individual comments:

You write:
You say that Jesus never explicitly taught against drug use and therefore, we might assume it is OK. This is based on your argument that the fact that Jesus did not teach against homosexuality, does not make it OK. However, since "drug" use such as your example of cocaine was not an issue then, why would Jesus teach about it? On the other hand, homosexuality was well known and yet, He did not teach against it.

(Fred) If you read carefully what I wrote, I was responding to the typical claim that because Jesus did not specifically address homosexuality as a sin in any of His public sermons or private teaching with His disciples it therefore must be sanctioned by the Lord as a legitimate lifestyle. This is poor reasoning. Just because Jesus did not specifically condemn homosexuality does not equate to His commendation of homosexual behavior. Furthermore, drug use has been a fixed part of human culture through all of history. Perhaps near east cultures 2000 years ago did not dabble with cocaine use, but there was prevalent drug use throughout all of the Roman Empire, including Judea, so my illustration is relevant for the argument I am making.

You write:
His teachings were on the sanctity of a one-person relationship. A man was not to abandon his wife (except to follow God, of course) and he condemned divorce. In spite of that, we hear very little about changing the divorce laws.

(Fred) Well actually, Christ'’s teaching on divorce in the particular context of Matthew 19 is about correcting the Pharisees' abuse of the OT teaching on divorce. It has nothing to do with the sanctity of a one-person relationship. I am not sure what you mean when you write "a man was not to abandon his wife (except to follow God, of course)." Divorce is only allowable if there were some uncleanness found in the woman - sexual immorality. Jesus is specifically condemning the idea of a man abandoning (divorcing) his wife for any other excuse but sexual immorality. God would never allow a man to leave his marriage to "follow" Him, as you suggest.

But be that as it may, let us assume for the sake of argument that Christ was teaching about the sanctity of a one-person relationship. How exactly does he define such a relationship? Note that He appeals to the Genesis account of creation when God created one man and one woman. God's initial creation of marriage was between one man and one woman and establishes the standard of what God deems as an acceptable marriage relationship. God's creation of man and woman and His sanctifying their relationship with the words "a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife," eliminates any other combination of participants in the marriage covenant. I point this out in my original article.

You write:
Heterosexuals seem to be very selective on what they condemn. The Old Testament teaches many things that no heterosexual would dream of enforcing today. You need to take really in depth look at the kind of hatred you are spreading and think about what kind of reward that will get you on judgment day.

(Fred) It is a rather convenient excuse to think I, as a heterosexual, am selecting the portions of the Bible I wish to enforce while rejecting the others that do not suit may current spiritual tastes. I personally would like some examples of the many things found in the OT heterosexuals would never dream of enforcing today. From my perspective, it seems clear to me you are confused between those laws written in the OT that reflect God's nature and character i.e., personal holiness laws, especially pertaining to sexual behavior and lifestyle; and those laws designed particularly for the theocratic nation of Israel to mark them as a special people distinct from the other nations which surrounded them. The first set of laws is universal and transcends both testaments because they are tied directly to God's nature and character. The second set pertaining to the theocratic nation of Israel is not universal and in point of fact was designed to be limited and come to an end when God's redemptive purposes spread beyond the boundaries of a national, physical people state, to encompassing the entire world of His spiritual elect. The condemnation of homosexuality mentioned in Leviticus 18 and 20 falls into the category of those laws tied directly to God's nature, hence, they are still enforce and their repetition in the NT clearly affirms their enforcement.

Furthermore, your objection demonstrates a dismissive attitude of the entire revelation of the Holy Bible–, sadly, a widespread attitude found among many homosexual theological revisionists. You want to argue that because we no longer keep a kosher kitchen, wear clothes made of wool and cotton, and eat pork, we should also admit homosexual behavior into our midst. Yet, the OT is not the only place God condemns homosexuality as being sinful. The NT epistles of Romans 1, 1st Corinthians 6, and 1st Timothy 1 are clear instances where God, through the instrument of His chosen apostle, tells us He still does consider homosexuality a sin and justly condemns it. Moreover, as I mentioned in my article, the marriage relationship is meant to picture the covenant Christ has made with the Church. Christ is called the husband where as the Church is His wife in Ephesians 5. This is a crucial spiritual illustration God expressly reveals to demonstrate His redemption of sinners. A marriage relationship between a man and man or a woman and woman perverts this illustration.

In actuality, it is you who are being selective when handling God's Word. You wish to only accept the Gospels because in your mind you believe Jesus never condemned the gay lifestyle and it is all right for Christians to engage in homosexual behavior. However, you reject the other significant portions of the Bible which so clearly condemn a gay lifestyle as being a perversion of God's original creative order and reveals sinful hearts given over to utter depravity. Perhaps it is you who may wish to reconsider the reward of judgment.

Thanks again for the email.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Next Time Tom Cruise Jumps Up and Down on Oprah's Couch...

I meant to blog about South Park and Scientology, but other duties called and by the time I came back around to it, Scott McClare beat me to it (Canadians, Eh?)

Begun this Scientology War has

Apparently, Matt Stone and Trey Parker have a working knowledge of Scientology mythos and are not afraid to parody it on South Park, which by the way, I have never seen one episode. They lampooned Hubbard's sci-fi "religion" last year in an episode reminiscent of the Jeremiah Films God Makers cartoon, and when it was due for a repeat, Comedy Central ran another episode in its place. Rumors are swirling about that the nefarious underlords of the Hollywood Scientologists got to the suits at Comedy Central and strong armed them not to re-air that particular episode.

I appreciate Stone and Parker's response:

"So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle but the million-year war for Earth has just begun!Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies . . . You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail!"

So, this summer when Tom is doing his publicity rounds for Mission Impossible 3 and he goes to jumping on Oprah's couch, or bad mouths Brooke Shields' depression, I hope one of the interviewers simply asks: "So Tom, where does this Lord Xenu guy come into play with your beliefs?" or "What exactly is a Thetan?"

Monday, March 20, 2006

Ruthless Darwinian Tactics Against Educators

This past Saturday I had opportunity to hear Roger DeHart present the nine tactics atheistic Darwinian naturalists use to smear the Intelligent Design movement. Some of my readers may recognize Roger's name. A few years ago he was the subject of national media attention because he became a victim of the ideological bigotry by small-minded, "free thinking" intellectual elitists. What did he do? He was accused of teaching religion in his high school biology class in Burlington, Washington.

For nearly ten years, Roger was doing what all thoughtful teachers do by exposing his students to a well rounded, full education. As a high school biology teacher, he had his kids reading supplemental articles written by evolutionists critical of Darwinian evolution. You would think an intellectually honest person would want their children learning all angles of a subject, even those critical opinions.

One of his students, however, a son of two high powered attorneys, was actually learning to use his mind and when he questioned the liberal atheism of his parents they became wildly alarmed to find out he learned this "anti-establishment" nonsense in biology class. The attorney parents did what all knee-jerk activist attorneys enslaved to their anti-God dogma do in cases like this: they immediately notified the ACLU to tell them religion was being taught in one of their son's class rooms.

Long story short (you can watch a documentary addressing Roger's epic struggle), the high school administration under the crushing pressure of a mouth foaming national media and crackpot activists groups, did not wish to appear foolish by supporting a "religious" nut on their teaching facility (as well as spend the money for court costs to fight the ACLU), so they removed Roger from teaching biology and sent him to teach earth science. Roger's biology classes were given to the assistant baseball coach and P.E. teacher who had no formal training in biology and was more interested in the Mariner's starting line up rather than thinking correctly about the philosophical ramifications of origins and science.

In God's providence, however, Roger was offered a job at a new school in Simi Valley, California and he has been able to tell his story of educational censorship and prejudice to a wide audience all across the United States. He even recently testified before the Kansas State school board on the issues of evolution and intelligent design.

The subject of his talk was the nine tactics used by Darwinians against educators who are critical of evolution and dare to introduce their class to such horrific ideas:

1) ID is not science

This is probably the main attack by the anti-ID crowd. The claim is that the arguments put forth by ID supporters cannot be verifiable or falsefiable, so ID falls outside of any meaningful scientific inquiry. Whereas science is considered hard and objective, religion is considered subjective and a matter of personal opinion or faith.

The problem, however, is the confusion Darwinians and their supports make between what Roger describes as historical and bench science. In other words, between theoretical, origins science which requires a lot of speculative faith comments to make an interpretative guess as to what may have happened in the far, distant past and operational or applied science that deals with repeatable and testable science like chemistry or physics.

2) They narrowly define religion

This charge implies that religious people cannot clearly interpret any evidence because they are "religiously biased." The charge ignores the fact that Darwinianism is a worldview of its own with its own presupposed biases. Darwinians are just as religious as the so-called religious people they attack.

3) Show case "religious" individuals who embrace Darwinianism

This is where Darwinians invite liberal and phony religious priests, bishops or other pastors who feign commitment to God and the Bible to a symposium to talk about how faith in God can be compatible with Darwinian evolution. The religious "Christian" Darwinian can be quite convincing, and it is as Eugenia Scott, the high priestess of evolution, has said "Give me 2 collars over 4 Ph.D.s any day." But, the religious Darwinian is wildly inconsistent, because the Bible clearly states God created, that life has a purpose and there are no "chance" events that happen outside of God's control, all things that Darwinians affirm.

4) Argue that students will lack proper science training

But, proper science training involves exposure to the terrific problems inherent with Darwinianism, not ignoring it or pretending such problems don't exist.

5) Claim that science is not political

Becaus science is not political, it is argued, there is no need for this to be discussed in the courts. All ID cases should automatically be dismissed.

6) Equate the teaching of ID with creationism

This is a comparison I just despise, because ID and creationism, though similar, are clearly distinct. Roger described their differences this way:

- ID does not identify a creator or designer.
- ID does not concentrate of the age of the earth.
- ID does not appeal to religious authority.

In my mind, this is a major stumbling block for ID proponents. Roger, though he is a committed biblical creationism, does not think these distinctions are important or necessary for us in the Christian community to consider. I respectfully disagree, because as a Christian committed to biblical truth, I am obligated to defend God's Word and proclaim the truth. I cannot promote some nameless, non-personal designer just for the sake of philosophical argument. I am compelled to proclaim the sovereign creator who has revealed Himself and given us His Son. Yet, Christian ID supporters compartmentalize God and the ID designer, separating them out so as to have an audience with the world. I believe this is akin to denying the Lord.

Roger mentioned how a Muslim sent him a book arguing for many of the same things ID supporters believe and teach. He responded by saying, "why should I dismiss him just because he is a Muslim?" The simple answer is that the Muslim believes in a false god who does not exist and appeals to a book, the Qu'ran, that is hopelessly muddled and is not a true revelation as his authority. That is why he should be dismissed.

7) Misrepresents what has actually happened in the courts and school systems

This is more prominent in the mainstream media and on editorial pages of major newspapers. The idea is that ID proponents want to do things like ban the teaching of evolution forever or make every teacher believe ID or creationism. Both notions are false. If any thing, ID proponents want more evolution taught, including all the outright stupid stuff that gets glossed over in slick PBS or Discovery Channel productions. And who wants a teacher who hates ID being made to teach it when that teacher will more than likely create strawmen arguments just to knock them down?

8) Misrepresent historical relationship between science and religion

They make the claim that ID wishes to return us to the middle ages when scientists were persecuted by the Church and everyone believed in a flat earth.

9) Bully and threaten law suits

Roger DeHart's experience is a prime example. What school system wants to risk a million dollar lawsuit for academic freedom and true intellectual honesty?


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Podcasting: I have finally moved out the year, 1993

If you will note in the righthand sidebar column, I just added a podcast button for my FBT devotionals. I am slowly getting with the times.

Not that it is the greatest preaching-teaching in the world, but I personally think I can beat the Angie Evan's Squirrel Talk podcast and Roger's Burning Things with Acid in your Mama's Basement podcast.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Fun Time With Atheists

I don't know either Evan May or Paul Manata on a personal level. More than likely, I may never meet them in this life. I have only met them in a peripheral manner from reading some of their posts on the Triablogue web site. I can say this about them: I truly envy their ability to squash anti-theistic arguments and speculations that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. I also envy their ability to write long, intelligent, wit-filled posts on a daily basis and still enjoy their families, be able to work for a living, and catch a little TV before turning in for the evening. It truly is amazing. How Paul and Evan are able to long suffer interacting with the so-called "free thinking" know-it-alls is a wonder. But, I guess they could say the same about me and my long suffering with KJV onlyists.

None the less, I hoped to introduce some of my visiting readers to their material, if you all haven't read any, because these guys have provided an important service for the Christian community by demonstrating how to engage anti-theists in an apologetic encounter.

You see, most Christians are like I used to be years ago as a wet behind the ears, greenhorn believer. I would encounter a smart mouthed skeptic and would challenge him or her by saying something like, "Have you consider my evidence A?" Normally, the person would respond by saying something like, "Yes, and it is refuted by my evidence B and arguments C,D, and E." I, in response, would say, "Oh Yeah? What about my evidence X?" And the skeptic would say, "It doesn't stand up to my evidence Y and Z." So the encounter would generally end in a stale-mate of ideas, because the smart mouthed skeptic had his worldview through which he interprets the meaning of life and I had mine.

The key to getting past the "my evidence can kick your evidence's rear end" dialogue is to focus upon foundational starting points in the person's worldview. Ultimately, a person who is saying your beliefs are stupid is asserting his beliefs are the only way to believe. If that is not the case, then what is the point of going around and telling other people their beliefs are stupid? In a nutshell, smart mouthed skeptic is claiming his way of looking at reality, or the world hence the term "worldview," is better than mine. OK then, if smart mouthed skeptic is convinced his way of looking at reality is the only way to think, well then, we need to put his claim to the test. Does his beliefs play out in a logical, coherent fashion in the real world? Does it adequately explain the big questions in life that all humanity shares in common such as, "Why are we here?" Where did man come from?" What is the meaning of life?" "What is truth?" Where are we going as humanity?" and "What happens after we die?" In order to demonstrate the veracity of any worldview belief, the proponent of the worldview under scrutiny needs to show that it is rational and can answer those basic questions of life. In other words, he needs to justify his basic beliefs.

Now, what Evan and Paul have done is through an ongoing debate with a self-proclaimed apostate from the Christian faith, John Loftus of debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com, is to show how to press a smart mouthed skeptic and his pals into the corner to make them face the cruel truth of the illogical and unjustifiable nature of their skepticism.

To get those of you fresh to this discussion started, I have linked to some fun articles to read from both Evan and Paul and one from Steve. I would also encourage you to read through the comments as well, because you can actually see how the skeptics respond to being challenged. It ain't pretty, by the way.

Evan May:

Crayon Theology

The Logic of Apples and Oranges

Objective Morality and Punishment

Paul Manata

Lampooning, Puncturing and Deflating the Self-debunking Debunkers of Christianity

And a good one from Steve Hays

Sean is for Suckers

From the "Praise the Lord!" Files.

Movie theaters may ask to jam cell phone reception

From all of us occasional movie goers who have to hassle scheduling a baby sitter way in advanced, lay out nearly 20 bucks (for the matinee, mind you), and then have to suffer listening to 15 year-old Dillon receive phone calls for two hours from his current girl friend, Paige, we give a hearty Amen!

Now if only we can get permission to jam them during Church services and develop the technology to jam them in the cars of teenage girls who always seem to be in front of me on the road. Wouldn't that be glorious?


Friday, March 10, 2006

Can You Find Noah's Ark?
From the Space.com website comes this exclusive article detailing the search for Noah's Ark with satellite technology. Identified as the "Ararat Anomaly," an odd shaped feature submerged in glacial ice at an altitude of 15,300 feet on the NW corner of the mountain, the object has within the last few years become the scrutiny of high tech satellites and commercial remote-sensing spacecraft.

Driving this search is Porcher Taylor, an associate professor in paralegal studies in Virginia. It has been Taylor's quest for some 13 years to identify this anomaly and with the aid of the newest, commercial satellite technology, he is convinced he will be able to in the near future.

Now, before any Christians go running out the door to wrestle to the ground the first God mocking atheist they come across so as to rub his nose in the Bible because it is believed the Genesis record is on the verge of being vindicated by the discovery of a massive, coffin shaped ocean liner on Mt. Ararat, let us all take a collective deep breath; count to three; and then let it out. OK now, let us ponder some thoughts...

First and foremost, nothing has really been confirmed. All we have are a series of "interesting" photos. Apparently, this anomaly has been of interest for ark hunters for several years, but until someone actually goes up the mountain to give an eyewitness investigation and collect data, the object is left in the realm of active imaginations.

Though the Canadian radar imaging satellite seems to suggest there is some solid object underneath the glacial ice, who are we to say the object is not a rock formation giving the appearance of a barge due to light and shadow?

Remember the "face" on Mars? Mars was surveyed by the first man-made satellite back in the mid-70s and one of the more intriguing images the satellite captured was what appeared to be a "face" carved into the top of a plateau. All of the barking at the moon UFO kooks claimed it was proof of extraterrestrial life. Books were written speculating as to what the "face" represented. Other UFO believers expanded the image to include what they believed to be a lost, ancient martian city. Still today, if you were to listen to Art Bell and Coast to Coast radio, you may hear on occasion Richard Hoagland who operates the Enterprise Mission website. He is the foremost apologist for the ancient civilization on Mars fantasy.

Mr. Hoagland capitalized on the "face" image and invented an entire ancient history on Mars replete with pyramids, cities with a network of glass transportation tubes, martians and a cultured civilization. Some unknown disaster threatened Mars, and so the inhabitants came to earth where they planted their "seed" so to speak among our ancient cultures. Foreknowing that eventually humanity would gaze out into space with wide-eyed wonderment at all the glorious celestrial objects, before the ancient martians left their home, they erected archaeological clues on the surface of Mars, i.e., a humanoid face carved on top of a plateau, in order to remind humanity from where they came. That sounds like a plausible theory, doesn't it?

Then in the late 90s, the new Mars Global Surveyor went into orbit around Mars. Guess which one of the areas it surveyed first? You guessed it, the "face" region on Mars. The surveyor intentionally took pictures during mid-day Mars time to take in account for any cast shadows. Instead of a massive stone sculpture that looked like the flying robot from Johnny Sokko, the image came back as a benign looking hill with some gullies. The entire ancient civilization on Mars scenario quickly flew into space.

Undaunted, Mr. Hoagland still vehemently maintains the face is really a face and insists the pictures have been doctored or fixed to take away the stunning truth that intelligent life lived on Mars.

Christians need to be weary of falling into this sort of foolishness with an alleged photograph of Noah's Ark that could turn our faith into a laugh stock if it is shown to be false. At this point, the picture still has to be interpreted and even the best analysts may have differing opinions as to what it is. I, for example, see a smiling, cartoon fish holding a book, or perhaps a drumstick from KFC.

Then last of all, do we need to have a physical, tangible ark to prove the Bible is true? That the global flood describe in the pages of Genesis really happened? Of course not. The fact that the Bible is God's revelation is certainty enough the historical account of Noah and the flood took place. Besides, whose to say there is an ark up there anyways? The integrity of the Bible doesn't demand it. More than likely, after Noah and his family left the ark, they dismantled a good portion of it to use in construction for their own shelter. What was left has since been covered over or left to deteriorate in the elements.

When it comes down to it, even a physical, tangible ark will do little to convince the most stubborn of skeptic unbelievers. His disbelief is a heart problem, not one that lacks credible evidence. Let us say for the sake of argument this anomaly was confirmed as being the ark of Noah. Would skeptics then fall to their knees and beat their chests with remorseful repentance for all their years of denying God and His Word? No, of course not. They would find some other clever way to conveniently explain away the discovery. In our day and age, it would be viewed as a plot by dastardly Republicans (and Haliburton) to get Bush's faith based school initiatives passed. So goes the sinful heart of men.
Cox&Forkum have put out one of the best cartoons I have seen in a while...


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Ready or Not, Here it Comes

The Da Vinci Code movie will be released faster than you think and I hope you Christians are prepared to answer basic questions on the historical Jesus and the reliability of the scripture your confused co-workers and curmudgeonly uncles are going to pepper you with after they see the movie. Even if they have already read the book, the movie will only stir up more wonderment as to whether Dan Brown is right or not. It is only going to be assumed that you, the Christian, will be prepared with some sort of response to the re-writing of history presented by Opie Taylor and Forrest Gump on the big screen.

As the Calvinist Gadfly mused last year sometime, chances are ole' Opie and Forrest are going to be paraded out onto the sets of Good Morning America and the Today Show as overnight experts on Church History and the hair brains like Katie Curric will be happy to allow them to pontificate without a challenge. That is even more of a reason to put down all the purposeless driven drivel and get your hands on some material that matters.

Here are a couple of websites I have encountered that will be a useful place to at least start:
Dr Trevelyan's Da Vinci Conversation
James White's Da Vinci Code page

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

... On a Personal Note

For those of you who have told me you enjoy my more light-hearted, non-theological musing, I have combed my archives from way back in June '05 and have listed them in my sidebar under "Fred's Personal Favorites." I know I have picked up a few newer visiting readers since then, and seeing that most folks don't care to scroll through a year's worth of archives, I thought that would be a helpful means of highlighting some of my favs. Feel free to leave a comment on any you may read.

Also, as I announced way back the first week of November, I told you those Pyromaniac window decals would become as valuable as Shakespeare's handwritten sonnets. Since becoming Team Pyro and launching the Team Pyro gear, the original Pyromaniac logo with Phil being held at gun point and made to blog, is no more. Tim Challies has an e-bay bidding thing going on with his one, autographed sticker. Neener, Neener, boo, boo, I still have mine. I think I will get it laminated.

Then on a light note, by way of Michelle Malkin, Ace of Spades invites us to take the Jay Bennish Geography Quiz. See if you can pass.
X-Men 3 and Contemporary Junk Science

I just finished viewing the new X-Men 3, The Last Stand trailer and my apologetic warning signs went off.

From what I can gather in the new, 2 minute trailer, is that an evil pharmaceutical company (I am sure is run by Republicans with ties to Haliburton), has developed a drug that can cure mutants (the X-men) of their genetic mutations that give them the power to do such wonderful things like manipulate metal, shoot fire from their finger tips, or turn into giant rocks. With this new drug, the regular folks in the world (you and me) have a weapon to use against those nefarious mutants if ever a need arises.

Tipped off by radio talk host, Frazier, captain Jean-Luc Picard desires to stop the use of this new drug in a peaceful way. However, a beardless Gandalf has a different perspective. He and his henchman see this as a major threat to mutants everywhere, and the only reasonable solution is to take the battle to the regular folks (you and me) first with an epic display of mutant force. The only true hope for the regular folks being extinguished by beardless Gandalf and his gang is to let Jean-Luc and his good X-Men defend them. That is sort of the film in a nutshell.

Now for those of you who are X-Men challenged because you are like me and never read the comic books and maybe caught the Fox Saturday morning cartoon now and then, the basic premise of the X-Men is about a group of humans who have evolved special powers and superhuman abilities that set them apart from regular folks. The evolved special powers are called a mutation, hence the name, mutants. Obviously, due to these bizarre mutations, the mutants are despised and outcast from society. Hey, any guy with sea blue colored skin with a devil's tail sticking out the back of his pants usually isn't going to have it in with the ladies, if you know what I mean.

Anyhow, the mutants have sort of polarized into two groups advocating two separate philosophies. First you have Professor Xavier and his X-men who want to convince regular folks that they are not a threat. He has built a large facility that houses all the young, teenage mutants who have been banished from their homes, families and friends and attempts to provide them with close to a "normal" life as they would have in the regular society. Then, the second group of mutants is spearheaded by Magneto, who use to be friends with Xavier, but has come to believe the regular folks will never accept the mutants. He and his group of mutants are of the mind to extinguish all of regular humanity before they extinguish them in some Nazi like concentration camp holocaust.

The characters of the X-Men were created to provide an entire ethos of illustrating the prejudices and bigotry present in our real, human world. Originally, the world of the X-Men was found only in the pages of the comic books developed by former high school geeks (of which I am a proud, card carrying member) who experienced their share of banishment from the inner circles of the jocks and preps. The characters are suppose to resignate with the pains of bitterness all geeks feel when they are picked last for kick ball, or suffer rejection by junior high supermodels like Julie Stevens when asked to slow dance at the homecoming dance.

Now, with that background in mind, there are some aspects of X-Men morality, if we can call it that, which I like. Good science fiction can be used to illustrate the problems in our real society. There is a lot of stupid prejudice against people that is senseless.

But, with this new movie, my thoughts were triggered about the contemporary debate over homosexual acceptance. You see, apart from the ridiculous notion of mutating evolution that suggests a person can evolve into an individual with the ability to turn into a moving suit of titanium armor, there is a hint of "preachy-ness" against homophobes with this new movie; at least I gleaned this from the trailer.

Once you hear about the plot with the pharmaceutical company making a drug that can switch off the mutants' mutation and make them "normal," you hear one of the characters (I think Halley Berry) respond by saying, "but there is nothing wrong with us; it is just who we are." Some folks would just let that blow by them and be awed by the scene of the Goldengate Bridge blowing apart, but that comment stayed with me. The entire gay agenda is to convince society there is nothing inherently wrong with a homosexual lifestyle. Yeah, we are different in our own way, but that doesn't mean we have to be cast off from society. Moreover, fueling this push for normalizing homosexuality is the junk science behind supposed genetic studies that attempt to link homosexual tendencies with a person's genetic make-up. Thus, a person who is a homosexual cannot help be that way because it is who he or she is a person - it is in the genes. Any attempt to alter a person's "genetic self" is cruel and stealing from that person who he or she truly is. It appears the X-Men 3 mythology provides a tremendous outlet to illustrate in a graphic way just such an argument.

Some may say I am reading too much into a trailer. Perhaps I am; and my wife and I will more than likely go see the film. Yet knowing how the media places homosexuals in the forefront as being regular Joes with such movies like "Brokeback Mountain," and morally confused state legislators, by a threat of law, want to make society accept gay lifestyles or else, I personally think I may be right about this.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Shepherd Conference Highlights

I had opportunity to attend the 2006 Shepherd's Conference on two days. First on Thursday afternoon to hear Phil Johnson's second installment critiquing and commending Fundamentalism in America. The full transcript, with pro and con comments, can be read over at the Sharper Iron, blog here. I have to confess I liked the part one presentation from last year much better, I think because the material was fresh on Phil's heart, and he presented it from a personal concern for Fundamentalism in general. In other words, he had more umpf in his first presentation. But, he did have good stuff to say this time around, any ways.

Then on Friday, I snuck into Phil's presentation on the Emergent Church. That one was extremely well done on a subject that is not going away anytime soon. Then in the afternoon, I sat in on the panel Q and A session with R.C. Sproul, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, and Steve Lawson, with John MacArthur asking questions. I appreciated the fact the time was more personal and pastoral. The group didn't really deal with theological hot topics, but reflected upon their personal experiences walking with the Lord. For instance, John asked each person to share about the one person who has impacted his life as a mentor. Steve Lawson eloquently spoke on the life of S. Lewis Johnson and what an impact he had on Steve as his seminary professor when he was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary. There was one point where he began to weep as he remembered the man's life. I was so moved by his testimony, I immediately came into work and did an Internet search of S. Lewis Johnson, bookmarked his audio page and plan to start listening to his teaching. You can hear him at Believer's Chapel Online.

The real highlight of the Q and A panel was Steve Lawson's re-telling of his heartbreaking trial with Dauphin Way Baptist Church and how the congregation essentially kicked him out of the Church for being Calvinistic. His reflections on S. Lewis Johnson and his recounting this event in his life is worth the price of the MP3 download when they come available on the Shepherd's Conference website.

And on the note of Calvinism, I met many pastors who are at odds with their Churches over this issue of Calvinism. I can see the doctrines of Grace being a major factor for the Church life in the years to come. Obviously, it has become a dividing line among Southern Baptists. It is not as though these men are forcing the doctrines on the people and telling them if they don't believe and embrace those doctrines, you might as well just leave. They are preaching through the Bible and when the pastor's exposition brings him to a passage affirming any one of the five points, the opposition in his Church get out-of-sorts.

I met one man who is returning to his Church to probably preach his last sermon this next Sunday, all because he taught on Jesus's words from John 6:44, "no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me, draws him." I met even another man who was removed from his pulpit 2 months after he arrived to serve, just because he gave out a book written by John Piper. Once the anti-Calvinist crowd at the Church discovered Piper was Calvinistic, all hell - literally - broke loose. Some of the reaction he received from unhinged anti-Calvinists that he described to me sounded demonically inspired. After hearing these type of stories, it makes me want to become a welder, or maybe a truck driver. But, thank God for His grace, because each of these men are going to return with more devotion to their calling, more love for God, and more love for His Word, even if it involves being forced from their current ministries.

I know speaking with these men gave me a deeper appreciation for my pastors who teach my family the truth on a daily basis, and it certainly gave me appreciation for the rich fellowship I share in my Church with the common folks who love to hear these doctrines preached. That is a rare thing in these days.
Yet, I cannot close this highlight review without mentioning meeting all of the major blog personalities who attended. I met Tim Challies, who did an excellent job posting live summaries on the conference. I have to confess a tinge of envy at a guy who has the ability to write quickly, concisely, and with lucid articulation. I sat near him at the Fundamentalism talk and I marvelled at his blogging ability. And, probably the biggest highlight, at least for me, was meeting the Fide-O boys, Jason and Scott. That was almost akin to meeting true, famous celebrity. I do find it amusing how blogging, to what amounts to a massive, world-wide audience, lends itself to a perverse element of the renown. I guess if you write some widely read posts on Rick Warren and his main bulldog, Rich Abanes, comes and takes you to task on your comment page, you have made it big time as a blogger. I will have to get one of their coffee mugs for sure.

Friday, March 03, 2006

In Case You Haven't Been by Triablogue in a While...

You may want to stop by. Not only did Steve Hays expand his blog into a group project with bringing on board some stellar writers, the entire blog has been redesigned. No longer do all the posts run together in a long, unbroken stream of thought, the whole thing is just easier to read. I don't have to squint anymore. The Turk described the old design as "seizure inducing" and I cannot think of a more apt description. In fact it reminded me of this website.

What is more, my blog is listed in the links column. I find that an absolute honor sitting up there with being linked on Phil's site and winning the "Best Citizen" award two years running in 4th and 5th grades. Steve is, like, mentioned in the footnotes of John Frame's books.

I would definitely encourage you all to go by now as Steve and his boys are laying a whipping upon a group of atheists, the likes of which has not been seen since the Razorbacks tore up Oklahoma in the '78 Orange Bowl. If you wish to see a proper application of biblical presuppositional apologetics, check them out. In the meantime, just excuse the paedobaptism of some of the participants.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Jerusalem Post Offers a Retraction - Sort of

I posted an entry yesterday highlighting a Jerusalem Post article that stated Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell and megachurch, TV evangelist John Hagee were big supporters of dual covenant theology, a belief system which teaches Jews did not need to be saved through the atoning work of Christ because of their special status as God's Old Covenant people.

By the afternoon, Falwell had posted a statement on his website denying the claims of the article and affirming Christian evangelism and the exclusivity of the gospel message. He also wrote that he had spoken to John Hagee earlier in the day and even he denied believing in dual covenant theology.

I doubted the article's initial claim about Falwell holding to dual covenant theology when I first saw it. Jerry may have a buffoonish media persona, but I was confident of his affirmation of the gospel. Remember all the trouble he got into a few years ago with the Jewish Anti-Defamation League because he supported a SBC declaration desiring to evangelize Jews.

John Hagee, on the other hand, I am not so sure about.

He is on record in his books and on his TV program of supporting a special status for the Jewish nation of Israel and the Jewish people. If he wishes to call his perspective on Israel something other than dual covenant theology, he is free to do so; but then, what does he call his unique view of Israel's special status?

I thought this was an interesting comment in the JP article from today:

Hagee added that he had "made it a practice for 25 years not to target Jews for conversion" at any "Night to Honor Israel" events. If Jews "inquire about our faith at a later time, we give them a full scriptural presentation of redemption."

Why exactly is that John? If you have the gospel of salvation, and know the true Messiah of Israel, why not tell your Jewish audience to repent of their dead works and embrace Him? Are you ashamed of the gospel?

Of course, the dual covenant stuff aside, I do think it is troublesome that Hagee is buddied up with many false teachers from the Word of Faith crowd like Benny Hinn. That affiliation ought to be enough to make a person stick his fingers in his ears and run away screaming.

Personal Freedom Outreach, a cult watching organization has this article about Hagee.