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

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Gone Fishin'


Hope to be back around after Wednesday the 5th of July, the Lord willin'.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Web Watch

I will be much busy as we prepare for inventory for the end of this week here at work, and then the family and I will take a quick 4th of July weekend road trip. I have some posts in the works that I hope to file this week, including the next review of in my series critiquing Chaz the Christ hating anarchist blues guitar player.

In the meantime, I came across a couple of fun websites.

www.proofthatgodexists.org

I heard Canadian Dutchman, Sye Ten Bruggencate, interviewed for a couple of hours on Gene Cook's webcast. I would recommend creating an account at Unchained Radio and give the interview a listen. It is stellar. In fact, pretty much all of Gene's webcasts are outstanding and worth the time spent listening.

Anyhow, Sye is a recovering evidentialist oriented evangelist-apologist who is now a biblical presuppositionalist. His clever website, which is about 2 to 3 weeks old at this posting, challenges atheists to justify their worldview convictions by asking them a series of 8 set of questions. Each set demonstrates the reality of a sovereign creator and to deny that reality is due to rebellious foolishness, not a lack of evidence. I look forward to Sye's work to become a fine tool on the Web.

www.insignificantthoughts.com

I am sure that by now many of my readers have heard Vincent Ferrari's aggravating phone call with an AOL customer agent in which he attempts to have his AOL service discontinued. After repeated attempts to have his account cancelled, the agent still would not allow him to leave AOL, insisting that Vincent was using the AOL account in question. Just recalling the entire phone call is infuriating to the point of wanting to lay a beat on the agent with a rubber hose. In a manner of speaking, the whole thing is an example of why you must be careful not to push geeks too far. Vinny was prepared to tap the phone call and expose the horror of customer service for the world to see.

One of the great talents my wife has is the ability to twist customer operators into pretzels. She practically has them giving us free stuff when she hangs up the phone. A lot of that has to do with the fact she is tenacious and undetered in her personality, but she also informs herself about promotional scams and the interworkings of customer agents. I just love her for this, because I tend to be a gullible pushover.

Anyways, I link to Vincent's site because he has a lot of fun geek links in his blog roll. I spent about 10 minutes checking a variety of them out, so if you are into electronics, optical illusions, and odd gadgets, you may want to check some of them out yourself.

I Drank What?

And I cannot end this web watch post without giving a shout out to the newly graduated, Officer Pecadillo. He is fresh from his LAPD bootcamp and will be out on the beat in the near future. He is also free to return to blogging about his life and other amusing things.

I saw him at church this past Sunday and he had a police like appearance to him as he was hanging with his homies outside the college department. He even had a pair of those mirrored sunglasses so common among law enforcement officials. You know the kind where you can't see the eyes of the person wearing them and all you see is yourself talking. They can be quite intimidating. Maybe one of these days he can become a motorcycle cop and wear those cool breeches with the white strip running down the legs, along with those sweet knee-high leather boots.

The one thing he needs to do as a brand new recruit is to expunge the word "chief" from his vocabulary so he won't be using it when he pulls over people. You know, like, "So what's the hurry there, chief?" or "Do you not see that stop sign back there, chief?" It may also be helpful to give up chewing gum so he won't be smacking it when he is asking a motorist for his or her driver's license.

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Must Hear Interview with the Fide-O Boys

I had the privilege of briefly socializing with Scott Hill and Jason Robertson at the 2006 Shepherd's Conference. Apart from being fellow Southerners with a rural church background like me, we all have traveled a similar theological path to come to many of the same theological and biblical convictions, particularly the severe importance of preaching and maintaining an expository pulpit.

Last summer, they launched their Fide-O blog and it quickly became a big hit. One of the reasons was a post written by Scott called 15 Lessons I Learned at Saddleback. In it, Scott shared some amusing, as well as troubling, experiences he and Jason had while visiting Saddleback church on a variety of occasions. The post gained the attention of Rick Warren's "intellectual" body guard, Richard Abanes, who would post his long, tedious comments blasting the Fide-O boys and defending the goings-on at Saddleback Scott and Jason had exposed in their post. They later wrote a follow up article expanding on some of the points.

Gene Cook interviewed them both for his Narrow Mind Broadcast and it is a must hear. They talk about their coming to California, church planting, and blogging. A good part is the reminiscing about last year's Saddleback-Abanes controversy. Down load it and listen to it over the weekend before it disappears. I was thoroughly blessed and encouraged.

Good Dog, Carl

Monday, June 19, 2006

Islamic Apologetics and Christian Evidentialists

Amateur NT critic and blogging newbie, Rambo, was annoyed by my post pointing out the vast chasm of difference between the worldviews of Islam and biblical Christianity. He doesn't like the notion of there being two entirely different deities, the living God of scripture and the false god of Islam; two entirely revelations of salvation, one monergistic and the other synergistic; and two entirely different perspectives of reality. Both cannot be true. Either one worldview is true and the other false.

I will not flatter Rambo with a sense of relevance by giving a full expose of his post against me, but some of his concluding remarks are interesting, because it does reveal one area of similarity that he as a Muslim shares with several well known Christian personalities. When Rambo argues against Christianity, he has much in common with Hank Hanegraaf, Lee Strobel, Ravi Zacharias, Norman Geisler, Hugh Ross, and a host of other popular Christian apologists. Simply put: Rambo is an evidentialist.

These Christian apologists believe they can present undeniable proof for Christ’s Resurrection, or for intelligent design, or for the integrity of the NT scriptures and non-Christians can be reasonably convinced by the evidence and moved to abandon their unbelief and embrace Christ. In the same way, Rambo believes he can set forth proof for Islam and Islam will be established as true and people will be compelled to abandon their particular religious convictions and become Muslims.

Rambo writes:

Such simplistic circular arguments may work when having a discussion with fellow Christians, but they are quite useless when having a discussion with non-Christians since they do not presume the Bible to be "inspired," "inerrant," and Christianity to be "true." Therefore, with all due respect, I really don't give a monkey if the Bible and Christianity disagree with Islamic teachings at times since, for me, only the Islamic teachings are true. Instead of making use of circular arguments with people who do not accept the Bible and Christianity, Butler needs to invest some efforts at demonstrating and explaining why his beliefs and Biblical teachings are "true" and sensible. But Butler makes no such attempt.

There is much we can learn from this paragraph about the inadequacies of Christian evidentialists and their apologetic methodologies. The most obvious is that here we witness a Muslim hostile to Christianity defend his religion in the exact same way as the popular level Christian apologists. Just like Hank, Lee, or Hugh, Rambo assumes all the alleged evidence for his religion is neutral and appeals to man's reason to consider it.

Let me demonstrate my point by deconstructing Rambo's thoughts.

Note that Rambo assumes the evidence for Islam stands on its own as being self-defining and authoritative. He fails to realize that all evidence is interpreted through the presuppositions of the individuals considering it. In other words, evidence will be interpreted according to the philosophical framework of the person examining the evidence, and a person will only conclude the presented evidence is rational if his interpretative framework allows it to be so.

For example, an atheistic materialist who rejects out of hand theistic supernaturalism will never conclude with Rambo that his evidence he has put forth for Islam is compelling. He is committed to atheistic materialism and all evidence will be interpreted through an atheistic materialistic filter. Hence, Rambo can excitedly talk all he wants about how the Qur'an says a piece of chewed gum looks like an embryo, or that it confirms the theories of modern day cosmologists, or reveals how rain is formed in the clouds, and that these so-called evidences shows the divine origin of Islam, but everyone but Muslims are going to shrug their shoulders and explain away his evidence according to their presuppositions.

Christian evidentialists apologists also put forth similar "evidence" for the reliability of the Bible, and like Muslim's evidence, critics of Christianity can easily explain it away. In fact, I could list all sorts of excellent evidence for the veracity of scripture and the truthfulness of the Christian faith, but I know Rambo would have an alternative explanation for each item I would present. His blog is clear proof of my claim, because he has found a counter answer to everything James White raised against Shabir Ally.

Like the Christian evidentialists, Rambo does not fully appreciate the noetic affects of man's fall into sin. Being a Muslim, Rambo's theology denies the imputation of Adam's sin. In a manner of speaking, he is a Pelagian. Thus, he mistakenly believes the mental and rational faculties of all men are intact so that he can reason with non-Muslims as to the "truthfulness" of any particular evidence he believes is convincing for his faith. However, the Bible clearly declares that all men are not only fallen into sin so they are under God's judgment, but also their minds and emotions are subject to sin. Even though men know God in their hearts because they are the image bearers of God (Genesis 1:27; Romans 1:20ff.), they suppress, or better, ignore and explain away any obvious evidence that clearly testifies of their creator God. Thus, the noetic affect of the fall only helps men to make up convenient excuses to deny the truth.

I expect Rambo the Muslim to be clueless to the devastating impact of sin upon the minds of men because he rejects the reality of original sin and all its implications upon humanity. Lee Strobel and Hank Hanegraff, for instance, ought to know better. Yet oddly, they would see any positive recognition of their Christian evidences as a good thing, even if the person remains a non-Christian. The gushing celebration of long time philosophical atheist, Anthony Flew, and his abandonment of atheism to embracing deism is a good example.

Rambo writes:

Instead of making use of circular arguments with people who do not accept the Bible and Christianity, Butler needs to invest some efforts at demonstrating and explaining why his beliefs and Biblical teachings are "true" and sensible.

There are a few things we can learn from this sentence.

Note Rambo's self-contradictory inconsistency. He criticizes me for arguing in a circle, meaning I presuppose the authority of Christianity without the appeal to external evidences to establish the authority of Christianity. But notice how Rambo levels this criticism of me from a position presupposing the authority of Islam when he states, Therefore, with all due respect, I really don’t give a monkey if the Bible and Christianity disagree with Islamic teachings at times since, for me, only the Islamic teachings are true. Yes, he does assert that he appeals to evidence to establish Islam as true, but it is evidence only compelling to someone presupposing the truthfulness of Islam, and even then, it is hardly compelling. I would be embarrassed of Islamic evidence if I were a Muslim. It is clear to me that Rambo is philosophically myopic.

Also note how in his zeal to accuse me of circularity with my arguments that he has to appeal to other authorities, i.e., his Islamic apologetic evidence, apart from Allah to establish the truthfulness of what Allah revealed.

Let us pretend for the moment that Allah really exists and Mohammed was telling the truth. Does Rambo believe there are some neutral authorities in the universe that are self-defining and authoritative apart from Allah giving them any meaning? In other words, in order to prove Allah is real and Mohammed is a genuine prophet, the Muslim apologist has to first list a series of evidences that speak for themselves as uninterpreted brute facts to demonstrate his claims and then a non-Muslim can judge for him self whether or not to believe that evidence? Am I to conclude that Allah's revelation is not good enough or maybe sufficient enough by itself to affirm the reality of Allah and his supposed claims upon humanity? I guess this is the only obvious conclusion seeing that Allah has no power to keep the OT and NT documents from being corrupted by Jews and Crusaders.

And what happens if I choose not to believe the evidences presented by the Muslim because they are unconvincing? Will I get my head loped off with a scimitar? Islam is not historically known for being a volitionally friendly religion a person can just take-it or leave-it, if you know what I mean.

The sad reality is that Christian evidentialists defend their faith and argue in the exact same manner as Mr. Rambo the Islamic apologist. They believe evidence for the Christian faith is neutral. They then believe a Christian apologist only has to first present credible evidence that is considered reasonable to the non-Christian. Once the non-Christian can be convinced the evidence possibly proves the truth claims of Christianity, the Christian apologist will come in and tie those evidences to a gospel presentation.

For example, In an otherwise outstanding book, Total Truth, Nancy Pearcy undermines her own thesis when she writes in a footnote to her discussion explaining the difference between biblical creationists and ID proponents:

"Creationism starts with the Bible, and asks, What does the Bible say about science? That's a perfectly valid inquiry ... But it is not the way to do apologetics. In speaking to a non-Christian culture, we must start with data that our audience finds credible. Thus Intelligent Design theory does not begin with the Bible - it begins with the scientific data and asks, Does the data itself give evidence of an intelligent cause?" (Total Truth, p. 415, fn. 70. emphasis mine).

It depends on who is looking at the data. And does the person necessarily conclude it is the true and living God of scripture who is the Designer?

Christian evidentialists mistakenly believe the proof of evidence can be separated from the God who gives meaning to the evidence. Why is that exactly? Michael Kruger, in his article, The Sufficiency of Scripture in Apologetics (PDF format) (an article all Christians - and even Rambo - would benefit from reading) suggests it has to do with how modernity and post-modernity have done a philosophical number on muddle minded Christians.

Modernity insists upon empirical evidence apart from any biases and preconceived opinions.

To avoid the charge of having "preconceived opinions" or of being biased," writes Kruger, Many Christians have insisted on leaving the Bible out of the discussion - after all, you cannot use what you are trying to prove. In an effort to show that Christianity passes the scientific test, they insist that scientific evidence, and scientific evidence alone, should decide the debate. Therefore, they start their argument from neutral ground, being neither for nor against Christianity from the outset, in hopes of gaining credibility with the unbeliever and showing him that the facts 'speak for themselves' and undeniably lead to Christianity.

Christian apologists react in a similar non-committal fashion when engaging post-modern, pluralistic relativism. In order to win the point against the post-modernist, Christian apologists will leave the Bible out of the discussion, because, as Kruger points out, The Bible has a way of being inconveniently dogmatic - which would certainly turn off any listener with a postmodern mindset.

Christian evidentialists will charge with Rambo that such an approach to defending the Christian faith is circular, but everyone argues with circularity. That is because everyone has some ultimate, unquestioned presuppositions taken on faith that are assumed to be true. Kruger presents a good illustration for this point. How do you know your meter stick is really a meter? Perhaps you can go next door and test it with your neighbor's meter stick. But that only begs the question of how we know his meter stick is really a meter? Ultimately, there is a standard, authoritative meter stick in the Department of Weights and Measures by which all other meter sticks are judged. But how do we know the ultimate meter stick is a meter? It is a meter because it is a meter. No one can escape the use of circularity when arguing.

Just so we are clear, I am not opposed to the use of evidence for Christianity, per se. I only recognize that evidence, in and of itself, cannot convince anyone of the truth claims of Christianity. In other words, the evidence cannot be divorced from the God of scripture who provides the evidence.

God, for example, tells us He will keep His Word pure. The evidence from textual criticism demonstrates clearly the truthfulness of this claim, in spite of Rambo's and other irrational, self taught critics of the NT. Moreover, the Bible tells me God destroyed the world in a global flood except for 8 people in an ark. The geological evidence confirms that claim. However, I don't believe the Bible is reliable because of the textual, manuscript evidence supporting it, nor do I believe in the global flood of Noah because of the fossil record or a barage size ark sitting on Ararat. I believe those things are true because the God of the Bible has given me a revelation in His Word that those things can be believed as true. That is because God's Word is tied to His character. God has demonstrated to us He is utterly dependable and truthful. Evidence confirming my dependence upon God is encouraging, but it is not what establishes my faith as valid. That is established by the character of God.

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You Have Got to be Kidding Me!?

Late in the afternoon this past Friday, I received an email from a nice gal who was inquiring as to when I met Julia "Butterfly" Hill and what town we lived in. The emailer had come across my Gallery of Infamous Arkansans post after doing a search for "Julia Hill."

Just so we are all on the same page, back in the late 90s, Julia Hill gained regional attention here in Southern California for sitting in a tree for over a year. You read that right: This stringy-haired, misguided little girl gave up personal hygiene, the use of proper sanitation, and living life as a sane human being to sit in the top of a tree doomed for the lumber yard. This was her fifteen minutes of fame.

I thought the emailer's requests were odd, but I wrote her back and told her how I knew Julia when I was in college at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, AR. Her family attended Central Baptist Church for a period of time and I knew her older brother from the college department fellowship group. I then left a "for the record" comment explaining I totally disagree with her environmental activism.

A few minutes later, the emailer wrote me back thanking me for the information and assured me she had no personal interest in Julia's environmental activism. She only had been assigned to write a 4th grade children's book about her life and needed some hard to find information.

A children's book!? About Julia "Butterhead" Hill!? Are you kidding me!?

Why is her life even relevant that it would justify writing a children's book about her? A biographical children's book should be reserved for individuals who have done something remarkable and important for humanity and society. People like Jane Austin, or William Wilberforce, or Lewis and Clark, or Jonas Salk, or Margaret Thatcher. Julia Hill is known for anthropomorphizing a redwood tree and sitting in it for more than year. This is the behavior of someone who is emotionally trouble; a person disturbed and out of touch with reality. This is not someone who has done something meaningful for mankind. The individual needs counseling, not further delusionment by being immortalized in a children's book.

This certainly stinks of an agenda. I guess this is just another sign of our postmodern times. Political activists are turned into saints and heroes and role models for the next generation. That way, all the children can learn to be little "free thinking" leftist secularists. In a manner of speaking, it is the way political activists "evangelize" for their religion.

I can only imagine there will be forth coming children's books highlighting the lives of Cindy Sheehan or Matthew Shepherd. Strike this up to another good reason to homeschool your children.

I am curious if Al-Zarqawi will get a children's book? Just wondering out loud.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Loose Ends

These have been busy days this past week. My wife and I went to Solvang, CA, this past Tuesday and Wednesday to visit with some friends. For those of you not in the know about Solvang, it is a Danish community about two and half hours north of LA. You have to drive up the 101 along the Pacific Ocean, through Santa Barbara, past Ostrich Land, and up into the area where Michael Jackson built his Neverland Ranch.

There are lots of Danish style buildings, some windmills, lots of monuments to Hans Christian Anderson, and plenty of places selling liver, onions and red potatoes. I didn't see anyone wearing wooden shoes, but now that I think about it, I believe you find wooden shoes in Holland. I was hoping to find some Mohammed cartoon tee-shirts, but we didn't have time to look around too much.

Meanwhile, Grace to You (where I work) is busily mailing out the New American Standard edition of the John MacArthur Study Bible. We estimate 35,000 people will request a free Bible from us during the months of June and July.

Those two things are keeping me from blogging these past few days. I hope to pick it up next week. I have plenty of interesting things to hit on when I get a chance to compose them to paper.

My friend Will just added a couple of new Bible talks to FBT. One of the latest two I did address the Intelligent Designmovement. I have a forth coming message critiquing the ID movement. I appreciate what the ID folks are attempting to do, but their overall movement has some serious deficiencies I discuss. A lot of my thinking was helped along by an article critiquing ID written by biblical creationist Dr. Carl Wieland. I would recommend anyone printing it out and giving it a read. I may talk about it in more detail later.

Also, Big Orange Truck has some spot on comments about the whole Baptist "soul winning" I was raised on. He and I think alike on the subject. Look at these two articles here and here. His comments have raised some thoughts in my mind and I am thinking up some future blogs about my college evangelism days. For me, as I noted on the comment page under one of his posts, evangelism was defined as 2 hours of aimless wondering around on a Tuesday evening hoping to find someone we could recite our EE presentation to. Generally, we would wind up at a laundry mat hassling some poor person about where he or she attended church. It was terrible.

Anyhow, I look forward to next week

Monday, June 12, 2006

Dishonest Churches

A week or so ago, the fine fellas over at Strange Baptist Fire republished an article written by Tom Ascol called Dishonest Calvinists and the Call for Integrity.

In it, Tom takes on the criticism raised by various figureheads in the SBC who suggests that "Calvinist" pastors are really lying, evil beasts with slow bellies. These "Calvinist" pastors, according to an assortment of testimonies quoted in the article, don't tell the search committees of their "Calvinism" when they candidate with a potential church, because to do so would ruin their chances for being considered as a pastor. Then, once the deal is sealed, maybe a couple of years into the new pastorate, the stealth "Calvinist" pastor begins to introduce "Calvinistic" teaching.

An otherwise shocked and dismayed congregation has been snuckered; lied to by a man they trusted. They are now stuck with a pastor they have to deal with one way or another. More than likely, they have to start proceedings to have him removed. This wolf in sheeps clothing disrupted the precious fellowship the Church had known for years. If he had been truthful when he was being interviewed for the ministry, none of this would have happened. It may even be that many in the congregation have been sucked up into the morass of his Calvinistic teaching and any move to dismiss him will only cause a church split.

Thus, the SBC pundits quoted in Tom's post are beseeching (read, "threatening with a warning") young men fresh out of SBC schools to walk with integrity; don't lie if you are a "Calvinist." Of course, in their minds, all Calvinists are natural liars, so it is rather difficult for them to tell the truth anyways, but don't lie nonetheless.

These ignorant SBC blowhards annoy me a lot. I was so bothered by their disingenuousness I was compelled to leave a comment under the post. I wanted to expand on my comments further with this article.

I believe the true dishonesty comes from the churches, not the pastors. I have listened with grief to the testimonies of beleaguered pastors who have been run out on a rail from a church they loved and served with all their heart, because they were led to believe the church was willing to pursue biblical reform, especially in the realm of salvation. Once they begin teaching with conviction the biblical view of salvation (aka, Calvinism) a mob of disgruntled members stir up a stink against the pastor and his family and move to have him kicked out of the pulpit.

Typically the stories go like this:

When the pastor-to-be is candidating with the church, he is told by the search committee, generally in the info packet he receives from them, that they are committed to finding a Bible teaching pastor: a pastor who holds up doctrine and the authority of the Word of God. He may even be told they don't want another "denominational" man. Moreover, they may even tell the candidate that this is a church desirous to be taught expositionally and there is no interest in the Purpose Driven models popular in so many congregations.

The candidating pastor in turn raises controversial subjects with the search committee like:

  • Lordship Salvation
  • Male-only leadership and teaching
  • Enforcing church discipline
  • Divorce and re-marriage convictions
  • Financial integrity
  • Bill Gothard's materials
  • Rick Warren's materials
  • And of course, the Doctrines of Grace
The church affirms they are in agreement with his convictions, or that they are willing to learn and submit to the pastor's convictions. After many interviews, a few times preaching to the congregation, and everyone agreeing that they love the man and his sweet family, he is called to be the shepherd. The new pastor moves his family across country with much expense paid. They are all welcomed to the community and he begins to acclimate to the new situation.

All is well and good for about a year, maybe. Then the honeymoon is over...

All of his expectations of a promising ministry are quickly dashed when the very same people who welcomed him and his family with opened arms begin to complain about his pastoring. All of the talk about exposition of the scriptures is abandoned when the people come to realize that careful exegesis and exposition of the scriptures takes time and patience. The new pastor is said to be boring when he preaches and his sermons are considered irrelevant to the people's felt needs. "They're good for seminary professors, but we need to know Jesus, not doctrine," or so goes the complaint.

Additionally, the new pastor was told the people wanted a man who upheld the authority of God's Word alone, yet when the pastor brings the authority of God's Word to bear upon some beloved tradition that is unbiblical, the pastor is viewed as "quenching the spirit of God."

The pastor was told the people wanted to practice church discipline, but when he moves to enforce discipline against a long time member who is involved with a scandalous sin, the pastor is accused of being unloving, unforgiving, and outright hateful mean.

And of course, as soon as the pastor begins to touch the subjects of election, total inability and effectual grace, he is charged with denying the gospel, or teaching that Jesus didn't die for everyone, and that only a special select few get to go to heaven and no matter how much a person really, really wants to go to heaven, if you ain't elect, then you ain't going.

More than likely, the pastor hasn't even raised the subject of election on purpose; it just flows out of his consistent, expositional preaching everyone says is boring. In fact, I recently met a pastor who was teaching through the Gospel of John. As soon as he arrived at chapter 6, verses 39-45, and he taught the text, a big group of his flock were up in arms. When I spoke with him he was ready to preach his last message on John 6:44,45, and then he was going to resign to spare the church a split. This man was losing his ministry because the people, much like the crowd Jesus was addressing in John 6, rejected the idea that it is the Father drawing men to the Son that establishes the affect of the gospel and not a person raising a hand or walking an aisle.

I met another man who was kicked out of his pulpit because he wanted to use a John Piper book for a small group Bible study. Someone who had never heard of Piper did a "google" search and discovered to his horror that Piper was a "Calvinist!" Before the pastor knew what was happening, there was a group of people calling special meetings and slandering the pastor's character.

I am sure there could be more men who could come forward and share similar stories.

So this idea that it is the dishonest "Calvinists" causing problems is false. Perhaps there are some men who are not forth right when they are interviewed during the candidating process, but I would be willing to bet a Costco ice cream bar dipped in chocolate and smothered in roasted almonds, that it is the churches who are dishonest, not the pastors.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Exciting News

A little bird has told me - well, actually it was a rather large bird; but a bird nonetheless - that Pecadillo will be emerging from his cone of silence here in the next month or so. He will no longer just be called Pecadillo, but Officer Pecadillo (which by the way, sounds like a Barney Miller character).

For those unfamiliar with the musing of Pecadillo, you must avail yourselves of the link above and start with the very first post. I was beginning to think Pec' just had one good run in him that would be forever known as a classic. Sort of like Peter Frampton Comes Alive or Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird. His imminent return is good news indeed.

I know I can't wait, especially to read about him getting soaked in pepper spray and knocking around a few hippy anti-war protesters down in Venice.

If this was a Star Wars opening, I know I would be camping out on the sidewalk.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Worldviews in Collision

Rambo, Muslim apologist and NT textual critic tyro, has a blog.

From the looks of things, it seems as though Rambo's blog is exclusively devoted to the dissection of just one Christian/Muslim debate which happened between James White and Shabir Ally. That causes me to ponder: If the sole purpose of a person's blog is to explain what Shabir Ally really said, or meant to say, or should have said, and why James White is wrong, what exactly does that tell you about Shabir's arguments? Why weren't they compelling the first time around? Moving along...

Rambo is also given to nipping at the ankles of all the Christians who happen to know a thing or two about textual issues and who point out his errors. With this track record so far, and with diminishing subject matter, it means Rambo's apologetic efforts are going to whither quickly.

He has also learned to insert photos.

My recent interactions with a self-taught, amateur NT textual critic and Bart Ehrman sycophant, has caused me to reflect upon the vast, irreconcilable differences between biblical Christianity and Islam. The differences go way beyond the embarrassing ignorance of Muslim apologists desperate to revise the NT to fit the false teaching of the false prophet Mohammed by dishonestly handling liberal scholarship. As much as our polytheistic, postmodern society would have us believe Christianity and Islam basically worship the same God in different ways, they most certainly do not.

What we have here are two entirely different worldviews in collision. They are in essence two entirely different religions; two entirely different ways of salvation; two entirely different ways to view the world and humanity, and both religions cannot be true at the same time. Nor can one be partially true and the other partially true. One is true and the other false. There are no other ways of looking at the chasm between these two belief systems.

Let us consider a couple of ways as to how exactly these two systems are different:

The True and Living God as opposed to the false, non-existent god, Allah.

The true God who has revealed Himself in the pages of the Holy Bible is not the same god Mohammed followed. The LORD God who has revealed Himself in the pages of the Bible is a covenant making God. He displays His divine grace by carrying out the redemption of His chosen people. He alone sets the terms for their redemption, He alone meets the terms for their salvation, and He alone secures their redemption. Furthermore, the LORD God is intimately involved with the lives of His redeemed people. That means He is a personal God who desires fellowship with men.

The god Allah of Islam is in no way similar. He is not involved with any specific covenant with any specifically chosen people. Though Allah is said to be merciful, his mercy is conditioned upon the obedience of subjects correctly performing the things Allah has commanded. Hence, favor with Allah is conditioned upon the good works of the people, those in submission to him.

Moreover, Allah is not a personal god. He is understood to be so transcendent and far above humanity that no man, regardless of how holy an individual he or she may be, can have any fellowship with him. In a manner of speaking, the Islamic vision of their god is Gnostic, meaning that Allah's spiritual "divinity" is unable to mix in any fashion with physical humanity. This is the reason the Qur'an is believed to have fallen out of heaven perfect and intact, or why it cannot be handled by non-Muslim hands or unwashed hands. The spiritual cannot be defiled by the physical.

This Allah bears no resemblance at all with the true God revealed in scripture. Though God is holy and transcendent, He is also made a away for Himself to fellowship with physical men and He condescends to men so as to know them intimately.

Two entirely different ways to salvation

If there are two entirely different objects of worship between Christianity and Islam, the True and Living God as revealed in the Bible and the false god, Allah, then there will be two entirely different ways to salvation.

Salvation as it is revealed in the Bible is monergistic, meaning that the LORD God is both the initiator and securer of man's salvation. The Bible reveals there is nothing that men can do to earn favor with God or attempt to earn their salvation.

It is also imperative that we define what is meant by the word salvation. Salvation as revealed in the Bible is God saving men from His just wrath that all men equally deserve. In other words, all men are sinners deserving of God's eternal wrath being poured out upon them, i.e., hell. God is holy and just, so in order to sustain His holiness and uphold the integrity of His divine law which all men have broken due to their identification with Adam, God accomplished redemption by taking upon Himself human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus maintained the integrity of the law and then offered Himself up as the substitute for those whom God chose to grant salvation.

Thus, by this means, God sustained His holiness while upholding the law. That is what a Christian means when he says that salvation cannot be earned or worked for. There is no humanly possible way for a sinner to meet the requirements demanding for salvation, and because of that, it is also the reason why Jesus had to be God in the flesh and not just a good prophet. Only God can pay the penalty of sinners under the wrath of God.

Moreover, those who are redeemed and have Christ's redemptive work applied to their lives are granted eternal life. There is an absolute certainty that what Christ did to secure the salvation of His people will accomplish the task of bringing the redeemed into the eternal fellowship with the Father. A person cannot loose his salvation any more than he could have earned it on his own. The only one who can break the work of salvation is God Himself, but He swears that He can never do this because His holy character will not allow Him to do so.

Islam, on the other hand, is not based upon any work of redemption by Allah. The Muslims are required to keep a variety of work oriented regulations that earn favor that is hoped will please Allah. Moreover, Allah is capricious in that he could take away a person's salvation if he happens to fall out of Allah's good mercies. There is no security of salvation in Islam. It is all based upon the consistent good works of the Muslim and if he messes up, he could be cast away from Allah.

Additionally, Islam denies the imputed sin of Adam. Thus, men are not born into sin as the Bible declares. Sin is viewed more as outward conduct, rather than a condition of the heart. The Bible tells us the reason men sin is because it is in their heart to sin. The only solution to this problem is a radical heart change, what salvation in Christ demands and provides. Islam does not provide this heart change because it fundamentally denies the reality of man's sinful condition.

Furthermore, eternal life in Islam is, to be blunt, being rewarded with an eternal stay at a glorified brothel; sort of a giant Playboy mansion in the sky. There is no fellowship with and worship of Allah, but the partaking of opulent foods, drinking with abandon, and a sexual free for all. Oddly, those things forbidden by Allah for Muslims to partake in while on earth are those things the Muslim is reward with when coming into their Islamic paradise.

These are two fundamentally different views of salvation. Both cannot be right.

Here are two clear examples distinguishing Christianity and Islam. Try as they might, Muslim apologists like Rambo cannot explain away those differences by simplistic appeals to textual corruption. It cannot be denied there are two entirely different worldviews in conflict here.

Yet let us remember what the Bible says about those worldviews which collide with the true way:

In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. Daniel 2:44

Related:

An Open Letter to Adam Gadahn

Refuting Secular Myths about Islam

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Happy Bloggerversary

This first week in June marks the first year anniversary of my blog, Hip and Thigh. In fact, I think this week (or month) marks the first anniversary for a lot of my favorite blogs. I imagine many of them will post articles commenting on their one year. Phil Johnson, for instance has posted a retrospective. Who can forget the big comic book cover posts? My favorite of course is his number one remembered post. I happened to be the first commenter to that post, as well.

My first post was actually on May 31st, 2005. It was a bland, introduction post explaining the purpose for my blog. I am not sure I did anything I stated I would do with it, but oh well.

My next post is what I would consider my official first blog entry: Does ID = Creationism?

It was a critique of some opinion article written by a muddled minded lady who writes for a Kansas City newspaper. Peter D. Nelson was the first (and only) commenter to that blog entry and thus the first commenter on my blog.

The name, "Hip and Thigh", I took from Judges 15:8, where the KJV says that Samson smote the Philistines hip and thigh with a great slaughter. That is probably my favorite expression from the Bible, and at the time, I thought it would make a fun blog name, particularly with the idea of having some sort of apologetic theme in mind.

Looking back, I sort of wished I would have thought through the ramifications of having a name like "Hip and Thigh;" especially being linked on so many various Christian blogs. In our sleazy day and age, the idea of a website called "Hip and Thigh" implies some sort of risque subject matter. Most people just list my personal name with a link to my blog. I guess it saves them the embarrassment of having to explain the title.

I think some of the confusion would be headed off if I had more Samson related images, say for instance a snazzy looking banner with Samson whippin' on an army of men with a jawbone. I certainly would love to have something like that as a banner, but I lack the photoshop like software and the "know-how" to create it. I have a lot of fun ideas for graphics, but I need the tools to pull it off. One of my goals for this next year, or at least by years end, is to maybe improve in that area. I can't say for sure it will happen, but if I can obtain one of those Frank Turk wooden nickel awards, maybe for best improved blog, I would be flooded with personal satisfaction.

I often have been asked by folks who know I blog to explain why I blog. The simplest answer is that I like to write. I love to write on non-theological themes just as much as theological themes. Theological writing, which under that heading includes apologetics, exegetical subjects, and biblical doctrine, is a lost discipline among the majority of pastors today. It use to be that pastors wrote books, or tracts, and even their sermons so as to help disciple their congregations. This was particularly true of the Puritans. All of the Puritan books pinhead theologians like me read that were written by Puritans were originally sermon manuscripts. They were written and preached for the benefit of God's people.

The desire to address in writing any important apologetic or theological issues necessary for Christians to be affective stewards for Christ just does not happen nowadays. Yet, this is probably the one discipline that helps shape a pastor's thinking about a subject. It also helps him to communicate better, logically articulate his thinking about a subject, and forces him to interact with detractors and offer rejoinders to their rebuttals often left in the comments page.
Moreover, with the wonderful information available on the Internet, a pastor can direct readers, via his blog by a link, to an otherwise unknown website that may be helpful for others.

I also appreciate all the wonderful folks I have met over the past year that I may never meet in real life. The Internet truly is remarkable. I have friendly acquaintances all across these fruited plains, into Canada and even over across the seas into the U.K. and South Africa, I would have otherwise never met if it were not for this blog. The Lord willing I will be able to personally meet some of you great folks, but I am delighted to know you all just the same.

I look forward to another fun year. I have a lot of posts in mind to write, I just need the time to do them.