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

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Final Flight

One of my volunteers who works for me happens to be an ex-Navy guy. He sent me a link to an on-line slide show covering the final flight of the F-14 Tomcat on this past July 28th.

The F-14 was the fighter jet showcased in the Tom "Thetan cleared" Cruise movie, Top Gun, and it is being let out of service and replaced fully with F-18 Hornets.

The F-14 was the first plastic airplane model I ever built and it, along with the SR-71 I had, was my favorite.

This may sound sappy, but I got a tad weepy watching the slide show. I'm such a geek for this sort of stuff.

The Last Carrier Flight of the F-14 Tomcat


I'm outraged

I'm a seething volcano of anger. Its a conspiracy I tell you, a conspiracy.

Popped over to Drudge this morning and the lead article at the top was a story from the This is London entertainment page about a fake documentary investigating the assassination of George Bush. The mockumentary supposedly takes place a couple of years into the future and looks back at Bush's assassination in the year 2007. It tells how a poor, innocent Syrian man was rail-roaded and tried as the culprit.

I clicked on the link and read the article and at the bottom, there was a place to leave a comment, so I thought, "Hey, why not?" So I penned something similar to the following,

A Syrian man is falsely accused? I guess the film will show that it was a leftist moonbat who really did it? Maybe a Cindy Sheehan disciple? Some professor at Berkley? Just wondering Fred

I posted my comment, and a little message said my comment would appear after an editor-administrator approved it. Do you know it has now been nearly 4 hours and my comments have not showed up on the comment page? What on earth? Don't they believe in free speech over across the pond? Come on!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tin-foil Hat Theology [pt. 3]

With this post, I finally wrap up my thoughts about tin-foil hat theology and conspiracy theory driven Christianity. It is my contention that any person obsessively indulging speculative conspiracy theories is doing great harm to his spiritual health and will stifle personal sanctification.

I have broken my critique of tin-foil hat theology into 6 areas where I believe the imbibing of conspiracy theories can be harmful to a person's spirituality. The first 4 can be found in part 1 and part 2. With this post, I will consider the last 2 points.

5) A conspiracy theory mindset brings sinful accusations against others based upon pure speculation. Because tin-foil hat theology is based largely upon pure speculation, any one supposedly tied to a specific conspiracy is accused of lying or covering up the truth concerning the particular conspiracy theory under consideration. Even when the speculations of tin-foil hat theologians are challenged by others, their defense is to blameshift by saying the people they accuse in the conspiracy are lying by denying their involvement; or they charge those who challenge their conspiratorial notions with being woefully ignorant and mis-informed as to fact.

Accusing someone of lying with no tangible evidence based upon personal interpretations of highly speculative and allegedly suspicious scenarios, especially accusations leveled against a fellow Christian, is dreadfully sinful. Accusing someone of lying smacks to the core of a person's character and is tantamount to gossip and slander. Neither should cross the lips of a God fearing Christian. Yet sadly, tin-foil hat theologians engage in these sinful practices when they accuse decent men and women of acting with deception in a conspiracy theory designed to harm others. Even more disappointing is their refusal to be corrected on the nature of their slander with many of them believing they are justified in naming other Christians and tying them to all sorts of hidden malfeasance to "protect" the Church or provide a "wake-up call" to the Christian community.

Let me share a few examples of what I mean from personal experience.

A number of months ago I blogged about the crackpot who was standing out side our church handing out literature charging that our church had been infiltrated by Purpose Driven Life philosophy and that we were essentially courting the devil incarnate by having Al Mohler speak at our Shepherd's Conferences.

I am a friend of one of the accused pastors allegedly involved with this plot to bring PDL-Church growth-Marxist philosophy into my church, so I was rather mifted this fellow - who knows absolutely next to nothing about the person he is charging with conspiratorial intent - was raising such ridiculous charges against my friend. I told the guy that my pastor friend denied these charges, to which he replied, "he's lying." I was stunned. Such an accusation strikes a foundational charge against this pastor's character. I responded by asking, "are you telling me that this pastor is deceiving me as to the intentions of his ministry?" To which this guy responded by saying, "yes." Even more stunned dismay. I pressed further, "Then is it your opinion that this pastor is not saved, because lying is a characteristic of a sinner, not a Christian?" and then I followed up by asking, "And is it your opinion that the elders of this church are either ignorant of what is happening under their noses, or that they are duplicit in the plot to bring in PDL philosophy, and both would demonstrate that the elders are unqualified to shepherd this Church?" I think my questions stunned him, because he didn't really supply a solid answer, but it showed the gravity of what he was accusing our pastors of doing.

Later, via email, I ask the same guy about Al Mohler. He is of the opinion that because Dr. Mohler was a founding member of some morality organization connected to the Southern Baptist Convention, and that the organization is listed on the U.N.'s group of non-governmental organizations, this some how makes Dr. Mohler a U.N. agent or something along those lines.

Now, just as an aside, I am mystified Christians have tied all sorts of evil plotting to the United Nations. The U.N. has been primarily identified with the final, one-world government of the end times, but the U.N. has only demonstrated a general incompetence and impotence in unifying any nation under a so-called "one world government." They sure did a good job of uniting nations in the recent Israel-Lebanon war. The U.N. is only good for eliminating hook worms in 3rd world countries, not organizing a "one world government" with Anti-Christ as its head.

At any rate, Al Mohler's connection to this non-governmental organization in the SBC is enough to have his name slandered and mocked by tin-foil hat theologians, especially this fellow who was protesting our Church. Again, it doesn't matter how theologically sound Dr. Mohler comes across on his daily radio program, or even how anti-U.N. he may be in his various comments addressing the U.N. at times, this is all a big ploy to deceive and he should be considered a liar. Additionally, all those people who benefit from his ministry by radio and the Internet, along with all the hundreds of thousands of pastors who listened to him preach at a shepherd's conference, are either blind to the truth, or in agreement with his lying. Do the accusations ever stop? Everyone can't be a liar. Is it that the only people telling the truth, as well as believing the truth, are those people who join hands with the tin-foil hat theologians?

6) A hardcore belief in conspiracy theories denies the sovereignty of God The Bible is clear that God is sovereign over the affairs of this world. The book of Daniel, for example, clearly teaches that God is sovereignly directing the governments of the world, setting up and taking down kings and world leaders, to bring about His ultimate purposes. Can we not conclude then, that God is using the so-called conspiracy theories? Let us say for the sake of argument that the U.N. is out to secretly usher in a one-world government ruled by an Anti-Christ-like figure. Even if they could pull off such a thing, would it not be God's purpose in establishing that one-world government? It could very well be that tin-foil hat theologians who decry the U.N., the Illuminati, the big oil syndicates, world bankers, etc., are fighting against the will of God.

A recent commenter under the second post on this subject raised some interesting points along this line. A few of his comments are worth bringing to the front page,

Psalm 33:10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.

I think the Lord is always doing things that conspiracy theorist always are blaming on "they".

Pslam 44:14 You have made us a byword among the nations; the peoples shake their heads at us.

Notice how many people have all these crazy conspiracy theories about the Jews being the ones behind it all. I think God did such an incredible work with the Israelites bring them out of Egypt into the Land of Israel and people still have a phobia about it.

Isaiah 41:2 Who has stirred up one from the east, calling him in righteousness to his service? He hands nations over to him and subdues kings before him. He turns them to dust with his sword, to windblown chaff with his bow...

I'm sure if America loses it's power that the conspiracy theorist will blame it on the illuminati or some group of men known as "they". Notice how conspiracy theories reject God and uplift man?

His last comment is an excellent point: Tin-hat theology places too much ability on men to overturn the decrees and works of God. It is as if God is powerless to do anything against these nefarious individuals, or that the individuals have all the power to thwart God.

Returning for a moment to my interaction with the protester in front of my Church, I specifically pointed out to him that in his eschatological theology, the one-world government being in place is necessary for Christ to return. I then asked him if it would be expedient to let the plans for the one-world government be established so as to hasten the coming of Jesus. He scratched his head on that one.

I am sure I could think of some more, but these 6 problems alone prove to me that tin-foil hat theology only serves to bring a Christian to spiritual ruin. An unhealthy pre-occupation with conspiracy theories stunts a person's growth, takes their attention off of Jesus Christ and the gospel, and causes sinful division with in the Body of Christ. I pray these Christian conspiracy chaser would open their eyes to the harm they are causing themselves and the work of the gospel in the local Church.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A couple of links of note

Keeping the masses entertained until I can get back to blogging:

Co-worker Janea laments the demise of our beloved country station 93.9, KZLA. It probably means nothing to you all outside the LA area, but believe me, in a city were there is nothing but hip-hop, gangsta rap, and mariachi bands blasting on practically every radio station, hearing some guy singing about living in the south, getting cheated on by his girl, or losing his hunting dog, or fishing with his grandpa was a refreshing change. I am more of an AM talk radio guy and I only listened on occasion to KZLA when I was in the car, but I am feeling a sorrowful loss when I hit the #2 button on my radio and it is Christina Aguilera screaming at me. At least we still have classic rock KLOS.

Then La Shawn has an insightful post about the "forced" conversions of FOX reporter Steve Centanni and his photographer friend. Good stuff. I appreciate that La Shawn has a biblical voice among an otherwise secular fan base. She is, as I always stated, our missionary to the conservative a-religious right.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tin-foil Hat Theology [pt. 2]

In part 1 of this series, I began a study in what I call tin-foil hat theology, or individuals who are suppose to be Bible-loving Christians who believe in and promote conspiracy theories as the "real deal."

I think I would be safe in saying that the bulk of these tin-foil hat theologians have a dispensational, independent fundamentalist background. I am unaware of any United Methodists or Missouri Synod Lutherans who are into promoting conspiracy theories on the same level as say, Texe Marrs. Though the dispensational- fundamentalist-conspiracy theory connection should be explored, it is a subject I need to take up in another post.

Additionally, tin-foil hat theologians promote their conspiracy theories with hideous, seizure inducing websites. Are there no Christian conspiracy people who can put together a decent looking website? Why must they all be bright, hi-liter yellow letters on a brown background with baby-blue flashing link titles and crude, rotating graphics?

So here we have two, broadbrushed generalities concerning tin-foil hat theologians: They are independent fundamentalists and lack the software and HTML abilities to generate pleasant appearing websites.

All levity aside, however, I am personally grieved when I hear of Christians who have succumbed to being influenced by tin-foil hat theologians and their conspiracies. The reason being is because such theology, if we can even call it that, is over all detrimental to a Christian's spiritual health.

In the last post, I began to point out the reasons why I believe tin-foil hat theology is harmful to a Christian. I had planned to address my points with just two posts, but I believe my 4th reason conspiracy theories are bad for Christians is worth a post all its own.

4) Conspiracy theories are based upon untenable, fanciful, and irrational scenarios

I believe Christians need to pause and ponder the importance God places upon the minds of his saints. In other words, how we as Christians think about the world is extremely important to our Lord.

The Bible describes fallen men as "walking in the futility of their minds" and "having their understanding darkened" (Ephesians 4:17,18); that he cannot know spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:14); and that even though they know God, they refuse to acknowledge the truth about God and instead dream up fanciful excuses to explain away what they know to be true(Romans 1:18-23).

Moreover, the spiritual war waged for the souls of men takes place on the battlefield of the mind. The godly weapons used to engage sinful men are designed to assail the fortress of the mind by pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and taking captive every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5). The imagery of spiritual warfare is connected to how men think: arguments being cast down, having the right knowledge about God and thoughts captive to Christ.

Christians, on the other hand, are described as having their minds freed to think God's thoughts after Him. The Bible declares, But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus ... and be renewed in the spirit of your mind (Ephesians 4:20-21, 23). The Christian is to be no longer conformed to the way the world thinks, but he is to be transformed by the renewing of his mind and to be sober in his thinking (Romans 12:2,3). Thus, a Christian should never be marked out as thinking irrationally about reality. His mind must reflect the logical mind of God by being reasonable and having a high regard for the truth in all areas of reality.

Even with this brief overview, it is clear that God places a vital importance upon how we think. Christians, then, are not free to believe any truth claim as "true" even if the person has really strong feelings about what ever it is he believes. We are to be mindful of what we allow into our heads, because what we dwell upon - think about - can influence how we view reality.

Now I highlight this about the minds of men because a Christian obsessively indulging conspiracy theories does not demonstrate a sober minded believer whose thinking is being renewed daily. The reason being is because when fully critiqued, conspiracy theories dive into the realm of the utterly fantastic and are built upon illogical premises. A Christian who thinks they are real is a person who is noted by everyone else as being gullible and out of touch and does not witness the sobriety of mind that should be common of a believer.

I say this for a handful of reasons:

- Conspiracy theories are untenable. They are untenable because conspiracy theories are unworkable in real life. Probably the main reason they are unworkable is that the secrecy needed to maintain the conspiracy is next to impossible. There are way too many necessary variables to keep it from being exposed, and probably the most risky one is the human involvement. Humans are prone to general incompetence, as well as greed and other failures of the human condition, and the more people involved with the conspiracy, those human problems are compounded, and thus the greater the risk of exposure by either overall failure or by blabbermouths who are easily paid off to talk or just want to look like a big shot down at the bar. The Watergate scandal was found out due to human error. The fake CBS-Dan Rather-George Bush Air National Guard memos from October 2004 were exposed as frauds almost the very hour they went on-line at CBS, and again, due to human error.

Take for example those who claim the Apollo missions were hoaxed. Hundreds, if not thousands of people were intricately involved with the Apollo program. Engineers, technicians, government officials, civilians, and the astronauts themselves. Additionally, millions of people were eye-witnesses all around the world, including the Soviets with whom we were in a race to get to the moon first. The sheer number of people involved is enough to guarantee the Apollo moon missions were not hoaxed. More importantly, and this point is missed by conspiracy theorists, the Apollo program had a total of five missions to the moon during which men actually walked ont he surface of the moon. That means all of those hundreds of thousands of people had to hoax a moon landing a total of FIVE TIMES! There is no way they could have gotten away with it just once, let alone five times.

Conspiracies are just too difficult to keep secret even when there are only one or two people keeping the secret. There are a couple of fun examples of conspiracies being exposed from the Darwinian world. In 2000, Archaeoraptor was purportedly the "evolutionary find of the century," that proved bird-to-dinosaur evolution. The National Geographic Society claimed it was the true missing link that connected birds to dinosaurs and prominent paleontologists said archaeoraptor was the long sought key to the mystery of evolution. However, it was a terrific hoax. As science writer Dr. Jerry Bergman, states: "High-resolution X-ray CT work found 'unmatched pieces, skillfully pasted over.' The fraud was also determined to be 'put together badly-deceptively' involving 'zealots and cranks,' 'rampant egos clashing,' 'misplaced confidence' and 'wishful thinking.'

Even another example involved archaeologist Professor Reiner Von Zieten who allegedly found remains in a peat bog linking humans to Neanderthals. His career ended in disgrace after the revelation that he systematically falsified the dates on this and numerous other stone-age relicts. His deceptions were so serious that it may mean an entire tranche of the history of man's development will have to be re-written.

- conspiracies are based upon fanciful scenarios. One of the first questions I ask a tin-foil hat theologian is, "why does he think his conspiracy is needful?" "Why is there a need for a conspiracy with thus and such?" and "How exactly is this thing pulled off?" The reason behind the conspiracy is almost all the time ridiculous and defies all credulity and the explanation of how it was accomplished is almost even more unbelievable.

Gail Riplinger, the Queen of King James Onlyism, suggests that modern Bible versions like the NASB or NIV, are designed to corrupt the Christian churches so they will be more willing to embrace the new age and the Anti-Christ. How exactly does the new age movement and modern translations connect? Ms. Riplinger ties together all sorts of absurd ideas that make no sense and are unsupportable by any known historic fact. I won't rehash them here, but you can check out a couple of reviews of her claims here and here.

The current big conspiracy involves 9/11 and the destruction of the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon building. In spite of the fact that the government is nothing but a massive, bloated bureaucracy that looses my tax returns, many people believe they had the know-how to fake hijacking 4 airliners full of people, set off controlled demolitions to knock down the towers, while at the same time keeping it all hidden from the millions of eye-witnesses in the general public (except of course for the anointed few with the open minds and dot connecting capabilities).

Others suggest that the government used holographic missiles that only looked like 757s. Since when has the government had Star Trek like holographic technology? Am I to conclude that all those terrified passengers who called from the cell-phones were really on some holo-deck in a government facility? Yet tin-hat theologians will continue to buy into these fanciful scenarios because it apparently justify some religious reasoning.

- Conspiracies are based upon irrational scenarios. The fanciful ones are bad enough, but even more telling evidence showing how bogus conspiracy theories can be is how the ones with similar themes will contradict each other.

For instance, moon hoax conspirators are convinced that none of the Apollo missions went to the moon and the government is covering it up. Yet, other conspiracy theorists claim the Apollo missions did get men to the moon, but the government is attempting to cover over the fact that the astronauts saw giant building and other alien structures. Now, both of these scenarios cannot be correct. Which one is wrong and which one is right and why?

It would be good to remind ourselves of Ockham's razor, the philosophical principle developed by the philosopher Christian William of Ockham in the 14th century. Simply put Ockham's razor states: all things being equal, the simplest explanation is probably the correct one. What is the simplest explanation for the moon landing? Was it hoaxed and then systematically covered up over the last 35 years? Or did NASA really send up 17 Apollo missions with the last 6 (excepting #13) landing on the moon?

These are just a handful of examples of how conspiracy theories are detrimental to a Christian's spirituality. A Christian who gives himself to pursuing conspiracy theories or allowing them to shape his or her view of the world is in danger of putting his mind in subjection to futility.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Whom do you See?

A). 70s era Neil Peart of Rush

B). Frank Zappa

C). Our Lord, Jesus Christ

D). Stuart "Angel" Margolin

If you answered C)., Our Lord, Jesus Christ, then you are correct.

Face of Jesus seen in baby scan.

When the Turners received their baby scan pictures, they noticed something or some person had "appeared." And coincidently, the Turners had planned to name their baby "Joshua" the Hebrew version of the Greek, Jesus BEFORE THEY EVEN SAW THE PICTURE!

How providential. God sure works in mysterious ways.

I guess we will have to wait and see if baby "Joshua" has some special anointing or maybe he is one of the two witnesses out of Revelation 11.

HT: Greg Linscott


Some House Cleaning ...

I plan to work on my follow up to the first conspiracy post this weekend, so I should have it up by Monday if not sooner, D.V. (the "Lord Willing" for those of you Latin challenged).

In the meantime, the comments under the first entry are amusing and troubling at the same time. I appreciate all the folks contributing, even our tin-foil hat theologians. Your comments particularly provide a fascinating window into the human psyche. I likened conspiracy theorists and their musing to the attraction on the side of the road with the two-headed squirrel, and I believe the rest of you now see what I meant.

For those silent lurkers who are completely stupefied to discover someone who genuinely believes the Apollo program was hoaxed and no man ever went to the moon, please note that his information has been soundly refuted by others. Ransom has gone far beyond the call of duty to provide some meaningful responses. There are some additional Internet resources that offer further rebuttals. See the Bad Astronomy page, the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, Keith Mayes' website, and Ian Goddard.

Then one final note. For those who may subscribe to my podcast off of Fred's Bible Talk, I apologize for the lack of recent downloads. One of the blessing I have where I work is the privilege of teaching and preaching at least twice a week to about 50-60 folks. I speak to two, entirely different groups of volunteers. That affords me the opportunity to teach through the same material twice so as to fine-tune it. I just finished my series on Evolution, ID and Creationism for my Tuesday crowd, which are available in MP3 for downloading, and I am in the middle of re-teaching the same material to my Thursday crowd. I was teaching on Islam to my Thursday crowd and I just introduced the series to my Tuesday crowd.

Basically, because the material is already on line as MP3s, that means I will not have any new messages for a while. I hope to pick up on the subject of addressing "Christian" homosexual apologetics this fall, and maybe move from hitting apologetic lectures to teaching directly from the Bible. I'll have to see.

Anyhow, I thought I would pass along that bit of information if there were any wondering what was up with the Bible talks. They're coming, so be patient.

Oh, by the way, for you moon hoax believers, please hold your comments about the subject until my next post. There really is no need to clutter the combox with off the wall comments just because I linked to some hoax debunkers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Conspiracies afoot in the Combox

I had a tin-foil hat theologian leave a long, detailed comment criticizing my post from yesterday regarding how conspiracies can be deterimental to a Christian's spiritual health.

Those who are interested may find my comments useful, so I thought I would bring them from the combox to the frontpage.

Well Nate, I owe you some ice cream. =-)

The comments are in bold; my response follows:

Please allow me to make a few points.
The verse you quoted at the beginning is from Isaiah 8:12 and not 8:14.

(Fred) Thanks for the correction. The post has been amended I appreciate it when dutiful readers point out my mistakes.

You cite this verse because it warns God's people not to fear talk of a conspiracy between the 10 tribes and the Assyrians. This is a warning against sinful fear and the distrust of God. The KJV, God's true word, says "confederacy" instead of conspiracy which is really what this threatened union with the Assyrians was. As you may know, in order to obtain a copyright, modern Bible translators had to change or alter God's word by a certain amount and it is by no small amount either. This is why the word confederacy was altered to conspiracy. But let me get on with the blog topic.

(Fred) A couple of things:

1) Actually, the word for conspiracy or confederacy is qesher which means "treason" or "unlawful alliance." A confederacy is the old English word for conspiracy, so it is inaccurate to argue that a modern version, in this case, the New King James, is changing around the text to hide something.

2) The folks in Israel to whom Isaiah was preaching consider him, along with other pre-exilic prophets like Jeremiah, to be servants of the enemy when they told the people to trust the Lord and not a foreign power. My citation of this passage is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I believe there is some comparison to those individuals, perhaps like yourself, who insist that I have been duped into believing lies regarding conspiracies. This passage is also a good corrective to those individuals I have blogged about in recent months accusing my Church of being infiltrated by church growth philosophy.

1. Though you accurately state that there have been many conspiracies (Manhattan project,etc.), you then seem to broadbrush the "harmful, illegal" conspiracies that occupy the minds of theorists as being "fantasies." You seem to say that there are no "harmful,illegal" conspiracies. Or are you saying that conspiracies acknowledged by the conspirators are true (like d-day or the Manhattan project), but conspiracies denied by the conspirators through the media must be fantasies?

(Fred) I plan to address this point in more detail with my forth coming post, so stay tuned. But for now, yes, I do believe there are harmful conspiracies, but those conspiracies, as harmful as they may be, get found out. That is the main difficulty with any conspiracy: having the conspiracy revealed to everyone else. Conspiracies on a grand scale are impossible to contain to absolute secrecy.

The Watergate scandal was a harmful conspiracy, but the culprits were all found out and a president resigned over it.

Even the D-Day invasion, a conspiracy of massive proportions, was constantly in danger of being found out by the Germans, and in point of fact, the Allies believed the Germans may had known their plans and in order to throw them off, had General Patton stage a "fake" invasion way north of the Normandy beach.

What you wish to suggest is that these harmful conspiracies remain a conspiracy and no one ever finds out the exact truth. Everyone involved refuses to talk or they are rubbed out by the higher ups to keep from talking. It gets to the point that there is so much implausibility with the conspiracy that it becomes fantasy. Other conspiracies have to be thought up to plug the logical holes in original theory, and it continues on and on and on.

Take the moon landing for example. If you sincerely believe it was staged, then you are saying that the hundreds of thousands of people involved in the Apollo program were either faked out or duplicit with the hoax. Moreover, there were two Bible believing Christians astronauts involved with the Apollo program, Jim Irwin being one of them, which means these two men had to violate the ethics of their faith to be involved with the hoax. Furthermore, the Russians were in a race with the US to be the first to land on the moon. The Russians were on the look out for these sort of antics. If it were true the US faked the moon landing, then the Russians would have gleefully said so.

2. You then seem to say that only those whose minds are "darkened in sin" "can be snared by these fantasies" [conspiracies]. You seem to believe that a Bible-believing Christian can't believe them. Both Christians and non-Christians can and do believe in true conspiracies and false conspiracies.

(Fred) No. If you read carefully what I wrote, I said that I expected minds darkened in sin to be easy prey for belief in conspiracy theories. Sinners are always looking for some way to excuse away reality so as not to have to deal with God and their guilt before him. They don't think rationally according to God's truth, but act according to their sin nature, which is opposed to God. My shock is that Christians, who ought to know better, are tricked into believing conspiracy theories. The sinners has something of an excuse - they're sinners. Believers have no excuse.

3. You say it grieves your heart to see people who name Christ as advocating conspiracy. Why, if what they advocate is the truth? Again, you assume all "negative" conspiracies are false.

(Fred) But the so-called "truth" these believers advocate are foolish things. There was no moon landing? The government orchestrated 9-11?

4. You say, "before the internet, there were pastors and Bible teachers who preached about massive conspiracies that were going to usher in the anti-christ, or establish the new age, or force people to get a barcode, or the UN rounding up Christians and locking them in concentration camps." Then you call those Christians who promoted those theories as "cranks" and "KJV onlyists." All those "cranks" as you call them were speaking the truth. There is a vast conspiracy afoot to usher in antichrist as well as to usher in a new age--people will be forced to use something like the mark (the technology is already here), and Christians will go to concentration camps. Then you further insult these Christians by stating that they have "paranoid delusions" and are in need of "tin foil hats."

(Fred) Yes, that is what I did. My desire is that the followers of these conspiracy theories will come to their senses, repent of this mindset, and experience the true joy of their relationship with Christ. It is not to be found in being consumed and advocating conspiracy theories.

I don't have much time, so let me answer your remaining points with some one liners:

With number 5, you make my point for me. (You'll have to see the original comment under this post)

With number 6. Again, what relevance is the JFK assassination to Christian morality and a biblical worldview? How is saying that Oswald acted alone a denial of the truth? You equate having some knowledge about secular conspiracy theories with being a spirit filled believer.

Would you be willing to learn and proclaim a truth if it resulted in you losing your job, your friends, your church fellowship, or even your life?

(Fred) Yes. In fact I have had this happen in my life early on in my Christian walk.

Or are your job, friends, and church membership more important to you than learning and proclaiming truth?

(Fred) No, but the truth in mind here is not who killed JFK or 9-11 conspiracies, but more serious, real world truths like the person and work of Jesus and the authority of scripture. Biblical theology has no relevance to believing the moon landings were hoaxed.

Are you controlled by what others think and feel about you?

(Fred) Yes. Because I want to model Christ for others. If a person visits with me and does not walk away with an understanding that I love God, I believe I have done the Christian faith a disservice. Pestering the person to believe my pet conspiracy theory does not witness Christ to an unbeliever.

If you are, then you can't be a witness for Christ.

(Fred) Why?

Can you take a stand for the truth that goes against your your church elders?

(Fred) Seeing that my Church elders and I agree on the core tenets of the Christian faith, this question is irrelevant to me.

Would you proclaim an unpopular truth at the risk of being called divisive and hateful by your so-called brethren?

(Fred) Yes, and I have done it in the past. BUT, a couple of warnings:

1) Make sure it is the truth of scripture for which you are being divisive. Not who hoaxed the moon landing, or who brought down the WTC, or who shot JFK.

2) Secondly, make sure it is the truth of scripture that is being divisive and not your attitude.

It is one thing if the so-called brethren believe you are homophobic because you believe the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin and thus they refuse to have fellowship with you.

It is quite another if you have fallen into believing the elders of your local church are allowing church growth philosophy to rule the congregation, because you happen to believe small discipleship groups indicates a Hegelian-Marxist philosophy has taken root. If the elders disagree with you and believe you haven't convincingly demonstrated your claims, and so conclude you are adhering to a view of church growth that is unique and there is no evidence of this methodology having any negative impact on the church, then it may be wise for you to do one of two things:

a) obey the scriptures and submit to your elders' conclusions in the matter,

or b), quietly move on to another church where you believe they hold to your convictions in this matter. That means you don't stand outside on the sidewalk in front of the Church and protest or cause further division by speaking sinfully against the pastors.



Monday, August 21, 2006

Tin-foil Hat Theology [pt 1]:

How conspiracy theories are detrimental to a Christian's spiritual health

Do not say, "a conspiracy," concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, nor be afraid of their threats or be troubled. (Isaiah 8:12)

As I travel over the Internet super-highway I will drive by websites dedicated to the promotion of some elaborate conspiracy theory. Just like the attractions along the side of the road promising to show those willing to stop such glorious curiosities as the world's largest gum ball or genuine jackalope skeletons, these conspiracy websites promise that if you are willing to open your eyes, read all the facts, and connect all the dots, you too will be awakened to the truth of reality.

Now, before I go on, it may be helpful to define what I mean by a conspiracy theory. A "conspiracy" is simply defined as a "planning together to do something." Additionally, the conspirators - the group of individual conspiring together - do so in secret or with a limited knowledge of what is going on by others outside the group.

Generally, the word "conspiracy" has a stigma attached to it because it is assumed that the conspirators are attempting to perpetrate something illegal or harmful. Normally, that may be the case when we speak of a conspiracy, but a conspiracy and those conspiring together need not be thought of as being harmful or acting illegally. The Manhattan Project, for example, was a massive conspiracy designed to develop the atomic bomb. It was necessary for the entire project to remain a conspiracy - top secret - for the purposes of national security. Even the Normandy Invasion of June 6, 1944 was a large scale conspiracy which also necessitated absolute secrecy. I myself once participated in a "conspiracy" when I was invited to attend a private get together with a well-known pastor that was limited to the number of folks who could attend. I was told the gathering was impromptu and I was to keep it secret because there was no way to accommodate a large group of people.

Those type of conspiracies are not bad.

However, the conspiracies that occupy the minds of conspiracy theorists are of the harmful, illegal type and they cover a broad spectrum of subjects and scenarios. For instance:

- Zionists and Jews attempting to take over the world.

- International bankers trying to take over the world.

- The Illuminati, or other clandestine groups, attempting to take over the world.

- NASA and the government covering over the truth about UFOs.

- NASA and the government covering over the truth about cities on Mars and the moon.

- NASA and the government covering over the truth that the Apollo missions were hoaxed.

- The government covering over the assassination of high profile government officials like JFK or Ron Brown.

- And the most recent: the government covering over their involvement orchestrating the events of September, 11th with remote control planes, cruise missiles, and controlled demolitions.

Now, it is one thing to have a disturbed individual who lives in a one room apartment with 3 cats named after the Harry Potter children and lectures on a part-time basis at the local community college claim that the government, in conjunction with the Reptilian Guard from the planet Zinar, staged 9-11 so Bush could steal all the oil in the Middle East. I, as a Bible believing Christian, expect these kind of conclusions from men whose minds are darkened in sin and are thus easily susceptible to be snared by these fantasies. However, it is quite another thing to find men and women who name Christ as their Lord and Savior advocating conspiracy theories. These folks go beyond being disturbing to grieving my heart.

Before the Internet, there were pastors and Bible teachers who preached about massive conspiracy theories that were going to usher in the anti-Christ, or establish the new age, or force people to get a barcode burned onto their head, or the U.N. rounding up Christians and locking them in concentration camps. For some reason, the cranks who promoted these theories were fundamentalists, King James onlyists. I am not sure what that means exactly, but suffice it to say, their publications were contained to a small, marginalized fan base and didn't get much air time in the real world.

But now, with the advent of the world wide web, these same Christian conspiracy hunters have the ability to spread their paranoid delusions to the four corners of the earth and sadly, many other less discerning believers are becoming tossed to and fro by these reckless ideas. And this is something we should consider alarming, because conspiracy theory theology, or what I call "tin-foil hat" theology, not only causes problems for pastors shepherding a Church whose members are exposed to these websites, but this tin-foil hat theology will wreck havoc on the spiritual well-being of a Christian believer.

With this post, and a future second post on this subject, let me outline what I believe are at least six key ways conspiracy theory theology can be detrimental to a Christian's spiritual health. I will begin with the first three:

1) Produces an inordinate fear that should not be a mark of a Christian

An unhealthy interest in conspiracy theories can produce fear in the heart of the person entertaining them. A lowgrade paranoia that drives the way the person evaluates people and events he or she may come in contact with and experience.

Just like the by-line from the X-files, No one is to be trusted. Everyone in any position of authority could be lying or covering something up to conceal the truth. The person becomes suspicious of every person and everything. Some folks may think I am exaggerating the feeling of fear on the part of these people, but I have known individuals recently and from my past who were marked by a spirit of fear because they allowed conspiracy theory scenarios govern their hearts. I can recall one gal who claimed she would never use a computer, because the Anti-Christ would use computers and the Internet to form the one world government in the end-times.

The Bible tells us that Christians are not to be marked with fearfulness of heart. Paul wrote, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Note how the idea of a "sound mind" is connected with not being fearful. That means the person who is thinking straight about reality will not be full of fear. A sound mind is a person who has been saved, whose mind is no longer darkened by sin and is now soberminded; not given over to being victimized by the prince of this world who delights in holding men in bondage to their fears.

Moreover, the Apostle John writes that, perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). We should no longer be afraid of God, for the wrath against our sin has been appeased by Christ, but also, because Christians live in perfect love, any fear about our life and world will be cast out. It is unnatural for a believer to live in fear of conspiracies ruling the world.

2) Generates an obsessive fixation on the uncertain

All the folks I have encountered who name Christ, yet involve themselves in pursuing conspiracy theories, are more fixated on the promotion of the pet conspiracy, than they are on the promotion of Christ. They don't live the Christian life at all in some instances, but anytime there is opportunity to preach the "truth" about the conspiracy, they will do so from the house tops. The reality, however, is that the conspiracy is based upon things that are subjective and totally uncertain to the conspiracy theory aficionado even though he will claim to "know the truth." It is sad when some issue becomes so obsessive to a Christian that people know the person for their conspiratorial views rather than the fact he or she is a Christian. I have encountered a fellow a handful of times on my blog and on others who believes acknowledgment of the reality that Lee Harvey Oswald didn't act alone when assassinating President Kennedy. Why is the JFK assassination important to the Christian's spirituality? Yet, anyone who denies his assertions is dismissed as being out of touch and not desiring to know the truth.

That leads me to a third key area conspiracy theories are spiritually unhealthy,

3) Promotes Gnostic tendencies

By "Gnostic tendencies" I mean the aspect of old, pagan Gnosticism that relegated knowledge of the truth to a handful of people who then dish out the "special" secret knowledge to those willing to learn the truth from them. I encounter this mentality all the time from tin-foil hat theologians who sneer at me as someone not "willing to hear the truth" of the matter. I live in a fantasy world, according to these folks, and I am foolishly allowing myself to be duped into believing a lie about such and such a conspiracy. But I would think that because Christians have the spirit of discernment to know truth, that any obvious conspiracy would be evident, yet, I am required to go and learn from the one alleged "expert" on the particular conspiracy. Why should I have to do that?

Let me stop there. I have three more areas where the pursuit of conspiracy theories are damaging to a Christian's spirituality that I will address later this week or this weekend, the Lord willing.


Real Men of Genius

It humbles me to proudly announce that I have been officially promoted to "Gold Star Blogs" status at the world famous Pecadillo's. I confess that I am truly moved by such an honor. Really; I mean that with all sincerity. It is a similar feeling I experienced in 6th grade when I was the only student in my class to get a perfect score of 100 on our astronomy test, even beating out Sheila Stewart.

I share the "Gold Star Blogs" title with only two other bloggers: Frank Turk and Sean Higgins. It is like being one of the 12 men in the world to have walked on the moon.

What brought me into the category of "Gold Star" status? I was able to scoop Pec' on the story about the long finger nailed chick freak. I do have to offer a thanks to my co-worker, Michelle, who was stopping everyone walking by the receptionist's desk so as to show them the link. My immediate thoughts after viewing the video of this lady was that I must blog about it forth with.

By the way, I was trying to find some still pictures of the other woman featured in the video, the long toe nailed chick freak, and while I was "googling," I found a webpage dedicated to weird people. Among them is listed Radhakant Bajpai of India (see picture above) who holds the distinction of being the man with the longest ear hair. Apparently, this man is not married, because one of the first duties of a Proverbs 31 wife is to periodically pluck her husband's ear hair so he won't turn into someone looking like the original 50's "Wolfman." I am pretty sure my wife would forbid me from growing my ear hair like that. In fact, I imagine I would not be allowed to grow any hair on any other parts of my body to any world record breaking length. That's probably for my own social good.

By the way, the other woman in the video suffering from lycanthropy (see Daniel 4:33) and could slice open a watermelon with her toenails is Kathy Hayes. She boasts a maximum toe nail length of 4 and 7/8 inches. Amazing.


Friday, August 18, 2006

I am not an animal: I am a human being....

Woman claws her way to world record.

Lee Redmond, who bears a striking resemblance to a 60s era Star Trek alien or one of the space creature from out of Jabba the Hut's palace in Return of the Jedi, has recently become the world's record holder for the world's longest finger nails.

Who would want to live like this? Is she not afraid of gouging out an eye?

My favorite quote from the article:

But the extraordinarily long fingernails are a sight so bizarre, many feel they have to look away - and even Mrs Redmond admits her unsightly nails terrify children.

Terrify children? You think?

There is a video that attends the article featuring other long nailed people, like the woman with toenails so long, she could tear open a termite mound. It is quite the curiosity to watch, in the side show sort of way.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Darwin's Cry Babies

Last week I linked over to three outstanding posts by Joe Carter of the evangelical Outpost highlighting 10 ways how Darwinian apologists for a bacteria-to-Bach style evolution shoot themselves in the foot as defenders for their own beliefs. Next to the electron microscope, Darwinian evolutionists are their own worst enemy. They argue poorly, unpersuasively, and use up their talking points mocking ID proponents and creationists. Their polemics are so bad, no one but their sycophantic colleagues takes them seriously as meaningful critics of a supernatural theistic explanation for origins.

In a race to demonstrate Carter's thesis, some atheist by the name of PZ Myers, wrote a rebuttal to Carter's ten points. Carter has written a rejoinder to Myer's rebuttal that is a worthy addendum to the previous three posts:

10 ways Darwinists help Intelligent Design: PZ Myers proves my point

One thing I do agree with PZ about: He is completely correct when he writes,

Personally, I think scientists ought to speak out more against the silliness of religion, and I'm a bit tired of the appeasers on my side who want to pretend that religion and science are fully compatible. [in a word, theistic evolutionists and some progressive creationists - Fred.] I'd reverse his complaint a little: it's hypocritical that we keep trotting out god-worshippers as spokespeople for evolution. They just aren't at all representative. A lot of the ID debunkers are godless, but we're actually under-represented relative to the proportion of atheist scientists he cites.

I couldn't have said it better.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Questions Mike Wallace Should Have Asked Iranian Crackpot President

Dennis Prager, one of my favorite secular talk show personalities, writes up a list of questions CBS's Mike Wallace should have asked crackpot Iranian president, Mahmoud, rather than floating him the anti-Bush wiffle balls.

Some of the noteworthy ones:

In countries with a free press and where history is understood as consisting of verifiable facts, anyone who denies the Holocaust, the systematic murder of approximately 6 million Jews by the Nazis, is regarded as either an anti-Semite or a kook or both. You have repeatedly denied the Holocaust. Why should the world not regard you as either a kook or an anti-Semite? And do you understand why most free societies wish to prevent you from acquiring nuclear weapons?

In Iran, under your direction, religious police walk around the country monitoring how much skin a woman reveals. Most of the world considers this primitive and another reason to regard you and your regime as fanatical. On what grounds do you support whipping women who reveal their arms in public? And do you understand why such policies help explain why most free societies wish to prevent you from acquiring nuclear weapons?

Last year, a teenage girl who said she was raped by two young men was not only not believed, she was given 100 lashes by your Islamic republic. Many of us find whipping teenagers for having sex, not to mention for being raped, unimpressive. Does this help to explain why societies that do not whip teenage girls are not excited about your country acquiring nuclear weapons?


Monday, August 14, 2006

The Line of Good Bibles

Examining the Claims of KJV onlyism [pt. 9]

I continue again with my examination of the claims of KJV only advocates, or those Christians who teach that the only reliable English Bible containing the Word of God is perfectly found in the King James Bible published in 1611.

I have attempted to boil their claims down to 6 foundational arguments. With this article I come to their fourth argument, what I call The Purity Argument.

A great majority of KJV only apologists will claim that the King James represents the final, complete, purified Bible having gone through what they insist was a seven-fold purification process in the English language. This process began with the first Bibles translated into English by Wycliff and his Lollard followers, continuing to Tyndale's work, onto Coverdale's translation, then Matthew's, then the Great Bible, the Geneva translation, the Bishop's and finally the King James. King James advocates will call this the Line of Good Bibles or the Tree of Good Bibles.

Additionally, they will set up their good line of Bibles in a comparison with a list of bad Bibles. Oddly, the list of bad Bibles will include non-English texts, like the Latin Vulgate and the Alexandrian manuscripts. Moreover, the bad Bibles listed by some KJV apologists will include post-KJV English translations like the Revised Version, the American Standard Version, the Revised Standard, the New American Standard, and the New International.

King James advocates draw their conviction for the line of good Bibles argument from Psalm 12:6,7 which reads:

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

Though some KJV advocates believe this Psalm is a promise from God to preserve His Word in the Masoretic Hebrew texts and the Greek Received Text, many KJV advocates point to the words "purified seven times" and believe this is a prophetic statement speaking to the published English translations leading up to the final product of the King James.

However, if KJV only apologists insist these verses are a prophetic announcement that God is providing a line of good Bibles which can be traced from the KJV back to the original, inspired text, those source texts, as well as the various translations preceding the KJV, must have the same purity or the final product will not be the genuine purified product.

What then are we to make of this "line of good Bibles" argument? I believe this argument is not only the weakest one put forth by KJV advocates, but it is also the most fantastic and contrived, and it is riddled with some serious flaws.

1) The "line of "good Bibles" begins with an inaccurate interpretation of Psalm 12:6,7.

I went into more detail about the misuse of this Psalm by KJV only proponents when I considered the Promise Argument. To summarize, KJV onlyists believe this passage is specifically promising divine preservation applied directly to the physical copies of the biblical text. They then argue that those divinely preserved copies are found in the family of original language texts used to compile the base texts of the Hebrew and Greek languages from which the King James was translated.

The problem, however, is that this Psalm is not promising a word-for-word preservation of the physical copies, so it is inaccurate for KJV apologists to use Psalm 12 as a proof text for their "line of good Bibles" argument. Allow me to consider three problematic areas.

- The context refutes this argument: The context of Psalm 12 is God's promise to keep His people Israel from being destroyed by the wicked who persecute them. The writer does not have in mind the preservation of texutal copies. Again, see my previous comments in my previous article.

- The expression, "purified seven times": The idea of a seven-fold preservation is a Hebraic expression of certainty. In other words, God can be trusted to preserve His people from being destroyed by persecutors. The reason God can be trusted is the fact that He has a proven track record. He has demonstrated His faithfulness to His people over and over by keeping the promises He made to them through the various covenants. Thus, God can be tested just like silver purified seven times to reveal its purity. The writer has no thought of a future family of English translations that will be "purified" seven times to produce a finished product.

- Note that God's WORDS are already purified: If one carefully reads the text, he or she will notice that it plainly states God's word is purified, past tense. At the point of composing the Psalm, God's word (His promises) have been shown to be faithful because they have been purified. This purification is something that has already taken place.

2) There is no standard or consistent list of the seven-fold process to determine the "line of good Bibles."

Even though KJV apologists appeal to the notion of a seven-fold process of translating a perfect English Bible, there does not exist a consistent list of the "line of good Bible" leading up to the King James. Each list may vary from author to author.

King James advocate, William Bradly, for example, provides the list of seven Bibles in his book Purified Seven Times: The Miracle of the English Bible, and names them as: Wycliff's, Tyndale's, Coverdale's, Matthew's, the Great Bible, Geneva, and then the King James. He leaves out of the list the major translation the Bishop's Bible from which the King James was a revision. On the other hand, KJV defender, Ed DeVries in his book Divinely Inspired, Inerrantly Preserved, lists Wycliff's, Tyndale's, Matthew's, the Great Bible, Geneva, Bishop's and then the King James. He omits the 1535 Coverdale translation.

Some KJV apologists recognize the difficulty of fitting all those versions into the "good line" list so as to arrive at the King James being the 7th, purified as silver translation. KJV onlyist, William Grady, presents a clever solution in his book Final Authority, in which he equates the number 7 to "perfection" and 8 to "new beginnings" and asserts that the King James is erected upon the seven-fold foundation of the Wycliff, Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew, the Great, Geneva and the Bishop's.

It is clear that the main reason for the confusion between KJV authors concerning the seven-fold list is the fact there are more than just seven English translations before the King James. Ultimately, the reality of all those translations place the entire "line of good Bibles" in the realm of subjectivity. Rick Norris, author of The Unbound Scriptures, wrote an exhaustive study critiquing the "line of good Bibles" argument. He observes:

What consistent criteria was used to determine objectively which translations to include? It seems that KJV-only advocates cannot agree on which Bibles to include on their lists and on which Bibles to leave off. Do they start with the assumption that the KJV has to be the seventh one and then subjectively pick out six others to make their count work?

That leads me to a third problem,

3) This "line of good Bibles" argument is inconsistent with known history.

It is fairly obvious to the reader by now that there are more than just 7 English translations between Wycliff's work and the King James of 1611. If we were to start the "good line" with William Tyndale's translations, there are roughly 31 various translations published in English before the King James.

If we were to eliminate those translations of just portions of scripture (by the way, Tyndale never completed the Bible. He only translated the NT and some of the OT), there are 12 major translations published from Tyndale's work to the KJV.

Moreover, we could ask the question: Are multiple editions of one specific translation to be counted with the "line of good Bibles?" All of the translations went through many editions with the newer edition improving upon the previous ones. David Daniell notes in his monumental work, History of the English Bible, that the Geneva Bible alone had a total of 140 editions between 1575 and 1645. The King James was re-published in 1612 to correct a number of mis-spellings and other "printing errors." It saw subsequent editions way into the 1800s.

4) The "line of good Bibles" argument is inconsistent with itself and other KJV only polemics.

As I noted above, some KJV only apologists will contrast their "good line" of Bibles with a "bad line" of Bibles. They will often extend these two contrasting lines backward to include other ancient language editions and translations. Yet, in doing this, they contradict themselves and this argument.

For example, Peter Ruckman, the pope of all KJV onlyism, puts together his two contrasting lines of "good and bad" Bibles in his book, The Bible "Babel." He has the Syriac Peshitta listed in his "good line" and contends that the Peshitta contained the OT and NT as it stands in the 1611. The problem with such a bold statement is the fact that the Peshitta omits the books 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation. Additionally, two favorite passages of KJV advocates, John 7:53-8:11 (the woman taken in adultery) and 1 John 5:7,8 (the Trinity passage) are omitted.

Ruckman also places the Wycliff translation in his "good line." He places the Latin Vulgate in his "bad line." He fails to note that Wycliff used the Latin Vulgate to translate his work. How then can a Bible be both in the "good line" and the "bad line" at the same time?

One last example will suffice to demonstrate inconsistency. Anyone familiar with the literature of KJV only advocates knows how the authors will have a set of verse comparison charts listing how all the modern versions will omit a word here or change a passage there. One favorite passage is Luke 2:33, where the KJV reads "and Joseph and his mother marveled ..." KJV advocates argue that Joseph is distinguished from Mary because he was not really the father of Jesus. The KJV, it is argued, is protecting the doctrine of the Virgin birth. Modern Versions render the verse as "his father" or "and his parents...," which hints to Joseph being his physical father and thus undermining the Virgin birth. The KJV authors will condemn the various modern versions as "perversions" and as attacking the Deity of Christ.

However, nearly all of the pre-KJV translations listed in the "line of good Bibles" translate this passage as "his father." That includes Wycliff's, Tyndale's, Coverdale's, Matthew's, the Great Bible, and Bishop's. How is it then that KJV advocates can defend their pet translation, the KJV, if it is revised from Bibles containing what they all describe as inexcusable and damnable corruption? Is not the fruit of the tree only as good as the tree itself? How can the perfect, seven-fold purified Bible be based upon previous works so obviously corrupted?

These four problematic areas of the "good line of Bibles" argument clearly reveal that it is really no argument at all. If anything, this argument only serves to ruin the doctrines of inspiration and inerrancy, because it suggests God has to make at least 7 attempts before He can provide an inerrant Bible. And, does this same seven-fold rule apply to all other languages? Meaning, does God need to produce 7 Spanish translations or 7 Russian translations before those people can have a purified copy of the scriptures in their language? This argument is pure subjectivism and it is only contrived to protect the KJV presuppositions.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The New Hitler Version

My friend Gregg of Impacted Wisdom Truth sent me this interesting little article:

Hitler bested God by 2 commandments

HAMBURG, Germany, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Although he hated organized religion, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler rewrote the Christian bible and added two commandments. In 1941, some 100,000 Third Reich bibles called "Germans with God" were distributed to Germany's churches, and while most were destroyed by devout Christians during the war, a copy was recently found in a Hamburg church, the Daily Mirror reported Tuesday.

The most notable additions to the 10 Commandments were: "Honor your Fuhrer and master" and "Keep the blood pure and your honor holy," the newspaper said.

Variations on the remaining 10 were as follows:

Honor God and believe in him wholeheartedly,
Seek out the peace of God, Avoid all hypocrisy,
Holy is your health and life,
Holy is your well-being and honor,
Holy is your truth and fidelity,
Honor your father and mother -- your children are your aid and your example,
Maintain and multiply the heritage of your forefathers,
Be ready to help and forgive and
Joyously serve the people with work and sacrifice.

Who would have thought a megalomaniacal tyrant of one of the world's most deplorable regimes would have the gall to add to the Bible?

I'm guessing the KJV onlyists will be updating their KJV vs. Modern Version comparison charts this week to include Hitler's translation. I bet somewhere within its pages it reads in a similar way like the NIV or the ESV. It wouldn't surprise me it re-translates "Lucifer" as "the morning star." Chick has to make a tract or Crusaders comic story out of this.

More Here

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

10 Ways Darwinists Help IDers

Joe Carter of The Evangelical Outpost has posted a three part series exploring the 10 ways Darwinian evolutionists helps the cause of intelligent design.

Those who regularly read my blog know that I am not a big fan of ID theory in the sense that I do not consider it to be the last great hope of rescuing the minds of modern men from the irrationality of Darwinian naturalism. That is because the proponents of the theory practically stumble over one another to avoid identifying the designer. Thus, the identification of the designer is left up to each individual's imagination, which can result in a hodge-podge of strange, religious shipmates all rowing together in the same ID boat.

Moreover, since the very title "Intelligent Design" invokes the notion of a designer, the question is then raised as to whether that designer has revealed himself or has made himself known in any fashion beyond just designing with intelligence. I know with out a doubt He has and His revelation is absolute, trustworthy and authoritative. The revelation from that designer tells me that the minds of men are not only darkened to the truth, but men themselves are in rebellion against the designer who is their sovereign, and no amount of debate or stand alone evidence will convince them to abandon their rebellion and submit to the sovereignty of that designer.

But, that being said, when IDers are presenting their stuff in the public arena, I still cheer them on. Though I believe ID philosophy falls short with being fully adequate to answer Darwinian philosophy, they focus the debate where we must engage our attention: Evaluating the core, foundational presuppositions of Darwinian evolution, atheistic naturalism.

I will list Joe's main points, but the full articles are worth the read and can be located here:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Darwinists help intelligent design,

1) By remaining completely ignorant about ID while knocking down strawman versions of the theory. Carter observes that this may be due in part to intellectual laziness and snobbery. I couldn't agree more, and it is my experience when interacting with ID-creationist critics from the evolutionary camp that they are for the most part clueless as to the philosophical baggage of their own beliefs, let alone the key arguments supporting ID. See my review of a public debate I witnessed earlier this year between ID and evolutionary opponents to get a grasp on what I am saying here.

2) By claiming ID is stealth creationism. I have always thought it a mystery how Darwinianists attempt to equate ID with biblical creationism, especially in light of the fact that IDers are publicly embarrassed of creationists within their ranks and treat them all like the proverbial redheaded step-child.

3) By resorting to the "science of the gaps" arguments.

4) By claiming that ID isn't science since it's not published peer-reviewed literature ... and then refusing to allow publications of ID papers in peer-reviewed journals.

5) By making claims that natural selection is responsible for all behaviors and biological features.

6) By invoking design in non-design explanations.

7) By claiming that the criticism of ID has nothing to do with a prejudice against theism - and then having the most vocal critics of ID be anti-religious atheists.

8) By separating origins of life science from evolutionary explanations.

9) By resorting to ad hominems instead of arguments (e.g., claiming that advocates of ID are "ignorant").

10) By not being able to believe their own theory.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

A Premillennial Rejoinder

My Difficulties with Amillennialism

The fine gentleman of the Fide-O blog have a recent post highlighting what is and what isn't Amillennialism.

A decade or so ago, I set myself to do a serious study on eschatology, and so I tried to get a hold of everything concerning the subject. For those uninitiated with fancy theological words, eschatology is the study of end-time events.

Before then, the only books I ever studied on eschatology were from the pen of Clarence Larkin. I was a fresh, brand new believer in the Lord and a Sunday school teacher back in Arkansas let me borrow his copies of Larkin's elaborate schematics of eschatological history. So, I guess you can say I started out as a premillennialist. For a few years, I never knew there were any alternate eschatological systems. I thought everyone was a classic, Scofieldian dispensationalist.

When I buckled down to get a full understanding of all the other positions, I read lots of material supporting amillennialism and critical of premillennialism. Then I moved into studying various books on the subject of postmillennialism.

Yet, after all of that reading, I still maintain my initial premillennial convictions, but not in the Clarence Larkin scheme of things.

I can appreciate how amillennialists view scripture and their complaints against premillennialism, especially how the system is foundational to the recent science fiction theology of Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins. But we shouldn't reject premillennialsim because of our distaste for pulp fiction novels based loosely on the scriptures written by two men who are premillennialists. Moreover, I don't want to be one of those guys who falls in love with the Doctrines of Grace, yet because all my theological heroes from whom I learned proper soteriology are amill, I too become an amillennialist by default.

For the sake of balance, I thought I would present my difficulties with an amillennial view of Revelation 20. Much of this post is boiled down from Matt Waymeyer's short little book surveying the views of the millennium called Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate. He managed to articulate what I had already concluded years ago in a succinct fashion. Though it is not comprehensive, Matt provides a good summary of the various positions while critiquing them from a premillennial perspective.

Also, my post is not meant as a slam against Scott and Jason (or Gene for that matter) of Fide-O. I have met both Scott and Jason once during the Shepherd's Conference and I have the utmost respect and admiration for them. In fact, I kind of hope in the future they will invite me to join them for a weekend of theological round table and pig spearing, if the Lord is willing. Again, my post is just meant as a rejoinder for reference:

My Difficulties with the amillennial take on Revelation 20

Satan being bound (Revelation 20:1,2)

Amillennialist believe Satan is presently bound, having been defeated at the cross and Resurrection of Jesus. They insist that the idea of Satan being bound is that he is no longer free to deceive the nations. In other words, Satan cannot hinder the gospel from going forth into all the world. They will often appeal to Matthew 12:29 and the binding of the strong man, equating the "strong man" in the parable with the authority and influence of the devil in the world.

When amillennialists are questioned as to how to explain the biblical teaching of Satan's present activity on the earth, for instance, Peter's words when he warns the Christians that the devil prowls about like a lion (1 Peter 5:8), they will say it is likened to a mean dog (no dig against Fide-O is meant here by the way) who is on a long chain. He has some ability to move about, but not enough to do damage.

My main difficulty with the amillennial view of Satan's binding is that the imagery of him being bound with a chain and being thrown into the abyss implies a total cessation of activity. Meaning, he doesn't act in any fashion upon the earth. It is more than just being kept from deceiving the nations so as to keep them from believing the gospel. Additionally, throughout the Bible, Satan is described as one who is very active in the world tempting believers, keeping unbelievers captive to his will, and holding the world system in his power. The picture of being bound in Revelation 20:3 does not fit with the whole of the biblical teaching on Satan.

The first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6)

Amillennialism teaches that the 1000 years is a present reality. Jesus Christ reigns in heaven and the Church is furthering His kingdom by proclaiming the gospel message to the ends of the earth. In the text of Revelation 20, two resurrections bookend the millennium: those martyred for the faith who come alive to reign with Christ, and then the rest of the dead who are raised to life after the millennium is completed.

Most amillennialists equate the first resurrection of Revelation 20:5 with regeneration. In other words, the first resurrection is a picture of a sinner being born again and raised to spiritual new life. Other amillennialists understand the first resurrection to be the soul's ascension from this earthly life to heaven at the point of physical death (6:9-11; 20:4).

However, I have three exegetical problems with both of these positions.

1) The word resurrection is translated from anastasis and it is always used to describe a physical, bodily resurrection. Never is anastasis employed to speak of being born again or regenerated. I have yet to read anything from amillennialists that adequately handles this exegetical detail.

2) The word ezesan, translated as "to come alive" or "to live," is used in verse 4 to describe how those martyred came to life before the 1000 years. However, in verse 5, ezesan is used to also describe those coming to life after the 1000 years were finished, and amillennialists consider verse 5 to be addressing a physical resurrection. If the amillers are correct, then this presents a bit of a problem. For if the "coming to life" in verse 4 is spiritual in that John is describing the new birth and spiritual regeneration, we would have to change the definition of the exact same word in the very next verse with out any indication of that change taking place by the author.

3) Then finally, the saints described as being martyred in verse 4, are killed for their faith before they are regenerated. If it is true that the first resurrection is spiritual regeneration, how then can they be beheaded for their faith before they are born again?

The 1000 years
Amillennialists emphasize the symbolic, allegorical aspect of the book of Revelation, so when they come to the teaching of the 1000 year reign of Christ, they also spiritualize the number "1000" to mean a "long period of time," or "a complete length of time," or "a period of fullness" or any number of descriptions. The conclusion made by amillers is that in a highly symbolic book like Revelation, the only proper historical-grammatical way of understanding the number "1000" is in a non-literal fashion.
However, I believe amillennialists have the tendency to read too much into the symbolic sections of Revelation. It is rather simplistic to conclude every thing is to be spiritualized. The fact that the book of Revelation contains symbolism does not automatically equate to reading the 1000 years in a symbolic fashion.
Also, John contrasts the number of years of Christ's reign, "1000," with the indefinite phrase "in a little while" in verse 3. Why is there a specific number contrasted with an indefinite period of time? Why didn't John write, "and after a long time," a phrase that is used in the NT?
Then, as Waymeyer points out in his book on pages 50, 51,
Revelation 20 possesses neither of the two characteristics of symbolic language. In order to be considered symbolic, the language in question must possess (a) some degree of absurdity when taken literally and (b) some degree of clarity when taken symbolically.
The literal meaning of symbolic language causes the interpreter to scratch his head and ask, "But how can this be?" For example, when the reader of Isaiah 55:12 comes to the symbolic clause "the trees of the field will clap their hands," the literal meaning of these words possesses a degree of absurdity and causes him to ask, "But how is it that trees can clap their hands?" With symbolic language, then , there is something inherent in the language itself that compels the interpreter to seek something other than a literal meaning: "Since trees don't have hands and therefore cannot clap their hands," he rightly reasons, "there must be a symbolic meaning to this clause."
Symbolic language effectively communicates what it symbolizes. In other words, when the interpreter has concluded that the literal meaning of the language is absurd and ought to be abandoned, the symbolic interpretation will yield some degree of clarity to the meaning of the language of the text. For example, the symbolic language of the aforementioned clause in Isaiah 53:12 clearly and effectively communicates that Israel's return from exile will be a time of great rejoicing. With symbolic language, then, the meaning intended by the symbolism is essentially clear and understandable.
So, when I considered the concept of a 1000 year reign of Christ in Revelation 20, I cannot see this as symbolic language, because it does not have any degree of absurdity if understood literally, nor any clarity if I were to take it symbolically.
Now, at this point, those are my key difficulties with an amillennialist view of Revelation. I have more, but they are minor and some may even think nit-picky. I anticipate commenters to offer their correctives to my difficulties, so I welcome them. If the interest is there, maybe I can expand the discussion in some forth coming posts.