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

Sunday, April 29, 2007

King James Only Historiography

So a week or so ago I receive an email from none other than Jeffrey Nachimson, King James only apologist extraordinaire.

He laid down a challenging question:

Dear Gentlemen, I have taken the liberty to address a number of you today in hopes that you will answer a simple question for me straightforward and honest. I will be using your e-mails for an article I'm working on concerning the origin of King James Onlyism from a King James only perspective. So, if you are so inclined, I would appreciate the answer to the following:

-In 3 sentences or less, What is your definition of King James Only?

A definition of King James Onlyism in three sentences or less? I took the challenge and responded by writing,

The aberrant belief that the King James Bible, first published in 1611, is the only reliable language translation which adequately conveys God's written revelation.

Any language translation prior to and after the publication of the KJV 1611 is either insufficiently translated or is translated from original language manuscripts alleged to have been intentionally corrupted by heretical individuals.

Moreover, any revision of the KJV 1611 text by either updating the English language and re-translating verses and passages for the sake of accuracy and clarity is viewed as corrupting God's Word and in some cases, introducing error into the Bible.

That's a simplistic definition that over looks other significant factors, but I believe it is sufficient for Jeff's purposes.

Since I responded to his inquiry, he and I have been exchanging emails and the reason for his inquiry is research he is gathering for an article he plans to write on the historical background to King James Onlyism.

It is generally understood - and I believe rightly so - that King James Onlyism of the variety Jeff holds dear to his heart has its beginnings with a Seventh-Day Adventist, Benjamin Wilkinson, who wrote Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, the first book defending KJV onlyism. I believe this fact has been firmly documented and established.

Wilkinson was the first one to suggest Psalm 12:6,7 speaks to perfect preservation of manuscript copies and translations, as well as translational inerrancy. He also was the first person to suggest Psalm 12:6,7 teaches that the King James Bible is the 7th purified translation in a line of godly translations. Many of his errors concerning English translations can be viewed here.

Wilkinson's work went into obscurity after it was published in the 1930s, but two fundamentalists, J.J. Ray and David O. Fuller, gave his material new life by republishing his arguments, and in the case of Fuller, republishing the entire book except the portions supportive of Seventh-Day Adventist theology.

As an independent Fundamental Baptist holding firm to King James Onlyism, having an Adventist cultist as your founding father is unnerving to say the least, so according to Jeff's emails, he is attempting to debunk the connection between KJV onlyism and Wilkinson by demonstrating an historical defense for KJV onlyism by Christian scholars before Wilkinson even wrote.

Jeff claims to have documented evidence of King James Onlyism extending way back into the early 1800s, and even cited for me some authors who defended KJV onlyism in their day. Men like John Henry Todd, William T. Brantley, Arthur Coxe, Christopher Anderson, and William R. Williams. I readily confess I haven't heard of these men or the various works they produced. But, I think Jeff believes their obscurity to KJV-only critics like myself and, say, the guys writing at the KJV-only Resource Center, will work to his advantage, because he considers these authors to be unexpected witnesses for his cause who are thought will shut all the mouths of non-KJV Alexandrian apostates who believe Wilkinson is the "father" of modern day King James onlyism.

Now, I have always maintained there were men writing in the 1800s who were opposed to textual revision of the King James text, especially any new translation involving the use, at that time, of newly found manuscripts which departed in readings from the widely held Received Text used to translate the KJV. Many of those opponents of new translations were voicing their opposition against a perceived encroaching modernism that manifested itself in the utilization of higher critical methodology that denied the infallibility and authority of the biblical revelation. The King James was viewed as being the translation of the orthodox believer and any departure from its use could possibly expose the Christian community to theological error.

However, these early opponents to new translations cannot rightly be called King James Only. Many of them wrote in favor of revision of the King James text and some of them even favored the publication of a new translation depending upon the circumstances of how that translation would be commissioned. Modern day King James onlyists like Jeff would reject either one of these possibilities claiming they are unnecessary and would corrupt the Word of God.

I eagerly look forward to reading Jeff's research, though I have read similar attempts by other KJV-onlyists to demonstrate KJV-onlyism before Wilkinson. David Cloud, for instance, wrote an article defending David O. Fuller against the charge he took his KJV onlyism from the writings of Wilkinson. Yet the individuals Cloud cites as being KJV defenders were not KJV-only in the sense he is KJV-only, and certainly not in the way Jeff is KJV-only.

What I believe Jeff needs to show us are 19th century equivalents holding to the perspective of Pete Ruckman, Gail Riplinger, David Sorenson, and Sam Gipp. Such things as,

1) Individuals who defended what I term inerrant translational exclusivity, or the concept God's perfect, preserved revelation is found only in one biblical translation, the KJV 1611.

2) Documenting the KJV notion of two lines of Bibles: a preserved line of good Bibles that culminates in the publication of the KJV, as opposed to a corrupted line of bad Bibles that culminates in the modern "perversions."

3) And individuals who would refuse any meaningful revision of the KJV text and who defended the KJV reading as being infallible and never in need of being corrected. For example, an 18th and 19th century scholar who insisted the word "easter" as it is rendered by the KJV at Acts 12:4 is the inspired reading and to revise the text to correctly read "passover" places an error onto the biblical text. See my paper on this subject here.

Jeff is certain he can provide for us these pre-Wilkinson KJV onlyists. I remain unconvinced he can.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Young Earth Objections

I received a comment from a fellow troubled by my take on earth history after reading my post from earlier this week about the unfossilized T-rex tissue. I thought his comment was worthy of my response on the front page for the benefit of all. His comments are in blue.

Hey Jacob,
Thanks for the comment, let me see if I can respond,

In respect to this post... these random bits of "evidence" that supposedly support a world-wide flood really trouble me. Why? Because such arguments are pure dogma and they are a great stumbling block to scientifically educated people who seek the kingdom of God.

(Fred) This tends to be a standard complaint by those supportive of day age, long age interpretations. The "scientifically educated" people seeking the kingdom of God getting tripped up by having to believe something so incredible.

A couple of thoughts:

a) Scientifically educated people have their biases. The presuppositions I mentioned at the conclusion of the article. The issue with them seeking the kingdom of God is one of a heart change, what Jesus says as being "born again" in John 3. In fact, Christ himself stated to Nicodemus that no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again (John 3:3) or what we would call being regenerated. So, it doesn't matter how scientifically educated a person is or is not, his issue with belief is not so-called young earth stumbling blocks, but a heart submitted to the Lordship of Christ and that comes by God doing a work in the heart.

b) Is not the argument that Jesus was born of a virgin, did miracles to control nature, banish disease and feed thousands of people, and eventually died on a cross and rose from the dead, dogma? Are you telling me then that a scientifically educated person can believe the virgin birth and Christ's resurrection could and did truly happen, but are not prepared to believe God created the world in 6 days?

What qualifies you to judge the age of DNA or "intelligent design" vs. evolution? From what I can discern, you do not have any real education on the topic of biology or evolution. You have not dedicated your life to understanding DNA sequences, astronomy, geology, or archeology.

(Fred) If by qualified you mean to ask if I have advanced degrees in these fields of study, then no, I don't. I am just well read in the relevant literature both Christian and secular. But what does that have to do with price of tea in China? Are you educated in any of these fields?

I recently read "The Language of God" by Francis Collins. Collins was head of the human genome project, and he is very clear that the DNA evidence strongly supports the theory of evolution and the old-earth point of view. Arguing that evolution is only a theory is like arguing that gravity is only a theory (which is also true). Francis Collins seems much more qualified to comment on the subject than you.
(Fred) Well, I am familiar with Dr. Collins and I have heard him interviewed a number of times. I do know he is a theistic evolutionist, but I have not heard him claim his views of biological evolution itself support an old earth. As I can recall one interview, he believed in an old earth due to geological evidences, not biological ones.

With all due respect to Francis Collins, however, his dismissiveness of the age issue has to do with his view of scripture, not lack of scientific evidence. I do not deny his expertise in his field, but what do you do with the large number of individuals who are just as expert in their fields of study as he, but come to opposite conclusions? Dr. Kurt Wise, for example, is a Harvard trained paleontologist who earned his doctorate working for the late, Stephen J. Gould. Is Dr. Wise an idiot and unworthy of our respect according to your point of view?

If you are familiar with the various sides of the debate, you then should recognize a difference between what is,

a) large scale evolution, or particles-to-people, increasing information over long periods of time evolution;

b) and what is simply adaptive changes within animal groups due to environmental pressure or other modifying factors style evolution.

Biblical creationists reject the first and affirm the second.

There is absolutely no scientific evidence that particles-to-people style evolution suggested by the neo-Darwinian theory, has ever happened. Organisms can only adapt and change genetically in relationship to the DNA information already present with in them. No animal has ever evolved with the increase of information. Thus, it is dishonest to claim evolutionary theory is as firm a fact as gravitational theory. Generally, the person making such a boast has in mind the small-scale, "information already existing with-in the genetic boundaries of the organism" evolution which takes place in all animal groups by natural selection, but makes the comparison claim for the unscientific, particles-to-people evolution. There is hard evidence for gravity, there is none for particles-to-people evolution.

I also recently read Walt Brown's book on "creation science". The man's references were outdated, his arguments were specious and incoherent, and his theory is so ridiculous from a scientific point-of-view that I was dismayed. Is this the best argument Christians have to offer for intelligent design? It is my experience that most people making intelligent design arguments are ignorant of science and lack any modicum of intellectual honesty when it comes to the topic.
(Fred) I happen to think Walt Brown makes a plausible and compelling argument for a hydroplate theory; but that aside, are you serious? Are you telling me the scope of your study into the subject of ID and biblical creationism is limited to Walt Brown? If this is the extent of your exposure to the issue your complaints here are unimpressive. My goodness, Jacob, there is so much literature out there on this subject that to over look it is self-imposed ignorance. Try the Discovery Institute, look at Answers in Genesis, the Creation Ministries International, try the Creation Research Society. These people are not hacks, but expertly trained individuals in their fields of science. They cannot be so easily dismissed.

I recently saw Pat Robertson demonstrate love of his neighbors by telling a secular school system in Pennsylvania that they would be punished by God for "kicking him out" of the classroom. Oddly, he doesn't prophecy against the other 95% of Americans who are fornicators as demonstrated in a recent poll. Intelligent Designers make Christians look like dishonest fools because they selectively acknowledge evidence that supports their position and dogmatically disclaim evidence that is contrary to their position.
(Fred) I have as just as much, if not more disdain, for Pat Robertson as you do. His muddled bone-headness is irrelevant to the over all debate, however.

So I just ask the intelligent design proponents... please do not try to pretend that you understand science enough to argue that science supports your idea. If you do, please acknowledge that the overwhelming bulk of the evidence is contrary to your position and that people vastly more expert than yourself on the age of the earth and the DNA sciences disagree with your position, using the best evidence that they have available.
(Fred) Jacob, first off, Intelligent Design DOES NOT equate biblical creationism. This common error on your part demonstrates to me even more that you have not seriously considered their work so as to be so harsh against them. Most ID proponents are not even evangelical Christians, let alone young earthers, so it is erroneous to equate the two camps. Secondly, contrary to what you advocate here, most alleged experts are divided among themselves on the interpretation of the relevant scientific data pertaining to their fields of study. You write as if they are all unified around an infallible body of evidence, but this is not true. Many of these experts across their various fields of science disagree with each other as to what conclusions to draw from the evidence to the point of becoming hostile to one another. Read Dr. Jerry Bergman's article, Controversy in Paleoanthropology from the January/February 2006 edition of Creation Matters.

I know, you have the authority of scripture when you argue for a global flood and a 10,000 year old earth. But perhaps your interpretation is wrong. Was the Pope right when he used scripture to claim that the sun revolved around the earth? The scriptures are extraordinarily difficult to interpret.
(Fred) Well, I see having the authority of scripture on my side as being a rather significant witness in may favor.

Moving along... No, the pope wasn't right, but the pope was interpreting the scripture through a philosophical grid of Aristotelianism. The main stream academia of the day held to Aristotelian ideas of our universe. Its similar to the current consensus of among big bang cosmologists in spite of the major difficulties inherent to the theory.

By the way, the Bible no where suggests a geo-centric cosmology as being standard. You may want to study the historical background to the situation.

And this is my complaint. How can I believe the important evangelical Gospel message from a Christian, if I can use intelligent design arguments to empirically prove that said Christian is interpreting scripture wrong, ignorant, and dogmatic?
(Fred) Again, consider my point above. Are you telling me the non-Christian world is ready to uncritically embrace the idea of a dead man rising from the grave over the idea that God created the world in 6 days? What evidence is there that dead men rise from the grave, especially one who died 2,000 years ago?

I hope, that as a Calvinist, you do not just write off the potentially non-elect skeptic like myself who perpetually struggles with these and similar questions. I was brainwashed as a child, but I still have trouble with literal interpretation of scripture.
(Fred) This last comment has a lot of personal, unknown baggage connected to it and so I cannot respond in any meaningful fashion. All I can say, Jacob, is that I don't write you off as an unbeliever (you cannot know if you are "non-elect"), but from my perspective, your struggles with a "literal interpretation" of scripture, however you may be defining the word literal, has more to do with personal objections to God specifically, rather than the plausibility of the Genesis record. It seems as though your hang-up is with the ramifications of the Genesis record, rather than its plausibility. To believe Genesis is a true, historical record of God creating has far reaching consequences in meddling with how a person has thought over a period of a lifetime.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Kentucky Fried T-Rex

While I was waiting for my doctor's appointment on Friday, I read an interesting blurb in a recent edition of Newsweek magazine. A fuller, on-line article is here:

T-rex analysis supports dino-bird link.

The story really began in 1997 when a group of dinosaur diggers discovered what appeared to be traces of red blood cells in fossilized T-rex bone. Evolutionists and long age creationists alike have been skeptical of the find, because the thought of 68 million year old fresh bone marrow does not play well to the mind-set of gradual, uniformitarianism for the earth's history. Tissue millions of years old should be completely fossilized. The researchers played down their discovery and were quite dismissive of it until "further study could be performed."

Biblical creationists, however, correctly saw such a find as telling evidence that dinosaurs are not millions of years old and fitted perfectly with a biblical, worldwide flood. Yet, they were condescendingly patted on the head, and even old earth creationists, like the Reasons to Believe crowd, embarrassed by young earth ideas, attempted to dismiss the significance of the find by publishing a web article mocking the creationists and pooh-poohing the soft tissue as being only mistaken for soft tissue and really just remnants of blood cells.

Well, the soft tissue was much more than just remnants of blood cells, because the gist of the Newsweek article is to inform the world that protein sequencing was done on the tissue and now we know Dinosaurs are related to chickens. Well, not quite. There is a 58% similarity between the T-rex and the chicken; but similarity between organisms is not uncommon. Many biological lifeforms share similarities which is something to expect from a creator creating life to exist in a specific biosphere.

At any rate, the part of the article which caught my attention was the response by the evolutionists who claim that we now need to re-think how long protein and DNA can stay viable. In other words, they are refusing to give up their presuppositions of slow, gradual uniformitarianism and entertain wild-eyed speculative opinions as to how a fossil can have unfossilized parts after millions of years.

It's a perfect illustration of how entirely different presuppositions that shape entirely different world views can look at the same evidence and draw opposite conclusions. The question, though, is which world view better explains the evidence? That dinosaurs lived only thousands of years ago and were killed in a catastrophic flood known as Noah's flood as Genesis records? Or there is some unknown reason that defies all rationality as to why soft tissue is still present in a dinosaur bone 68 millions years of age? Which one sounds more plausible?


Monday, April 23, 2007

Replacement Protesters at Grace Church

Sunday morning I had parked our van and was walking across the lot back to the church building when I noticed large, school bus yellow square shapes near the Roscoe Blvd. side of our church.

I immediately diverted my course.

Its spring time, and big, school bus yellow square shapes out in front of our church usually means one thing: "theological" protesters!"

Like the return of the swallows to San Juan Capistrano, each spring the self-appointed "wall watchers" arrive to hold protesting vigils against our pastor and church. There were no candles, though.

I have written previously about one from last year.

These individuals are prepared to make embarrassing spectacles of themselves, including the use of hideously crude signage, under the misguided belief they are confronting "error" in God's church.

As you can see from the picture above, these were preterist, amillennial protesters extremely bothered by John MacArthur's opening message from this year's Shepherd's Conference, "Why every self-respecting Calvinist is Premillennial."

I'm kidding.

I'm just wanted Jason and his Fide-O boys to follow the Technorati tags over here so I can give them some good old fashion Baptist ribbing.

Nah, the group protesting us this Sunday are out of Arizona and call themselves Project Straight Gate. They are a group of anti-Semitic conspiratorial wackos who wrap their bizarre beliefs in scripture. Oddly, they hold similar convictions about world affairs as the anti-war left and it wouldn't surprise me they embrace 9-11 conspiracy non-sense.

At any rate, they're angry with John because they claim that because he had appeared on Larry King Live back in 2003 and said positive remarks about the Iraq war, he is a neo-con Zionist, and now the target of their tacky signs.

They have been to our church on previous occasions. The first time was a few years ago with just a handful of folks. As I recall, it was rather non-eventful and when I asked one of the men holding a sign if they were a white supremacist group, he denied it vehemently.

The second time they came was a year or so later. The second time didn't go too well for them, because a couple of their guys were arrested for trespassing. They ignorantly didn't pay attention to where they were standing and wandered onto our property next to the sidewalk. I remember one of the fellows busted wrote a complaining account about the ordeal which was posted on their We Hold These Truths website.

This present time, they were all much more careful. They always send the church a nice letter a week or so before hand telling of their intent to protest, so our security guys were ready with a "parameter" to keep them corralled on the sidewalk.

(just as an aside. I am mystified as to why all the groups who come to protest us think we are obliged to allow them the use of our restroom facilities. What on earth!? Darwin Fish was all the time getting thrown off our property because his people think they can come to our church, bad mouth us, and then have the gall to ask if they can use the restroom. It just annoys me to no end).

Intrigued by the Straight Gate group, I came home and did some research on them. As is typical with cults like this one, they are not affiliated with any specific church. It looks like they are lone ranger. At least I know where Fred Phelps attends church.

Moreover, they don't have an official doctrinal statement on their site. So, the best way to find out what a group believes is to consider the books they recommend. On their website you will find a small handful of good (one John Bunyan book and a couple of Gary Demar books) mixed in with a whole lot of bad.

Most of the books and materials are written by anti-Semitic and fascist historical revisionist authors who promote world dominating conspiracies by the (spell it out with me now) J-E-W-S. You know, Jewish bankers, the Jewish controlled Illuminati, Jews started all the major wars, and one author listed, Benjamin Freedman, held to the kooky idea a good portion of the Jews died out centuries ago and most of the individuals claiming to be Jews today are really a people group from Turkey lying about their identity. Its like Chick tract nonsense about world history, except Jews are the bad guys, not the pope and Roman Catholics.

Also, their signs suggested they support Islamic terror states over and against the state of Israel. There were many slogans about killing innocent Arab babies, war mongering in the Middle East, and peacemaking and the like. Of course, a person who has taken the time to listen to our pastor on the subject of Israel knows he recognizes the state of Israel to be a secular, man-made nation and that their current day presence may or may not have any eschatological significance. When he made the comments on Larry King Live, it was strictly in the sense of affirming a nation's right to defend its citizens.

Whatever a person's eschatological beliefs regarding Israel whether Amill, Premill, or Postmill, I would hope the person recognizes the real threat by Muslim radicals to destroy the nation of Israel off the face of the planet and that Israel should have every right to defend itself against those threats.

In a twist of divine, providential humor, Dr. Richard Mayhue was preaching in place of John because he is away in England at a pastor's conference. His subject for the morning message, utterly unrehearsed: "Did God Lie to Israel" taken from Ezekiel 37, the passage about the dry bones. He did not once mention the protesters right out side the worship center, however, the last comments he made before he closed was that the state of Israel is a man-made, secular government, the Jews who occupy the land today are in apostasy and need to repent, but one day they will recognize their Messiah.

I am not sure if any of the Straight Gaters heard those comments.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

To the Heart of the Beast

I have to drive down to the Beverly Hills-Wilshire district this afternoon for an appointment with my surgeon from last year. There's nothing major happening, he just wanted to do a follow up on my neck surgery in which he removed a cancerous tumor.

The difficulty in this appointment is the drive down into the heart of LA. It is not one of my favorite things to do. The traffic is unbearable, sometimes taking me an hour to drive the surface streets just 3 miles or so.

The first time I went, I took Wilshire off the 405 freeway. Going to the Cedars-Sinai medical center was about a 45 minute drive on the surface street. Leaving the medical center and returning to the freeway was nearly an hour and 15 minutes. That is just 2 or 3 miles.

When I was in the hospital, I took La Cienega north off the 10 freeway. My drive was much quicker. Maybe just 20 minutes. That drive takes me by the famous Sinkin' Rose Italian restaurant and the grand, Larry Flynt publishing offices.

There is one funny thing about my drives down into this part of LA. Keep in mind, as you sit in traffic, high end automobiles like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes, Rolls-Royce, with mega-rich drivers pass by you on all sides. Once, when I was sitting in traffic, a blonde gal pulls up next to me in sporty Rolls. She had the big diamond, gold rings on every finger wearing Tiffany bought clothes. If I recall correctly, she even had on a fur, which is unusual for the PETA supporting folks who live in this area of the world.

As I was sneaking glances at her car while trying to keep from being noticed, I see her reach up with her finger and go knuckle deep into her nostril. I was so stunned, I wasn't sure what I was looking at for just a second. Then it dawned on me: Even the super rich have to pick sometimes, just like the rest of us.

The nose pick, the great equalizer of men.

I have a cellphone camera with me this time. If I see something like this again, I'll take pictures.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Debate on Atheism

I learned this from an email discussion list where I am a "lurker:"

When ABC ran a story in January about hundreds of atheists video-taping themselves blaspheming the Holy Spirit, Ray contacted the network and told them he could prove God’s existence, absolutely, scientifically, without mentioning the Bible or faith. He said that he and Kirk would like to challenge the two originators of the “Blasphemy Challenge” to a debate on the existence of God. ABC loved the idea. The debate will be filmed for Nightline in New York City, and will be streamed LIVE on their website on May 5, 2007.

As you probably know, Ray has credentials for this debate as the author of God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists, a speaker at Yale on the subject of atheism, and a platform speaker at the 2001 American Atheists Inc. annual convention. And Kirk, possibly the most highly respected ex-atheist in Hollywood, is the perfect choice to address the unscientific nature of Darwinian evolution.

Please keep this event in your prayers. We couldn't be more excited about the opportunity!

It's taken from the latest, Way of the Master Newsletter.

Sounds interesting, and I hope the best for the guys as they do this debate, but I was a tad disturbed by this comment:

Ray contacted the network and told them he could prove God’s existence, absolutely, scientifically, without mentioning the Bible or faith.

How exactly does Ray plan to prove the existence of a supernatural being with the use of natural means alone? Proving God's existence scientifically? "Scientifically" implies the use of measurements, weights, observation. How does one exactly "measure" God?

I am sure the idea is Ray plans to present lines of evidence that "proves" God exists, but that presupposes the skeptical atheist will acknowledge the verifiability and authority of his evidence. The problem, however, is no atheist will acknowledge this sort of evidence in favor of theism. In fact, they deny the reality of it and invent fanciful excuses to explain it away.

Additionally, why is Ray attempting to prove to a group of atheists something the Bible affirms they already know to be true, that God exists? What Ray needs to do is confront their inconsistent living and behavior, i.e., living life as if their is a God setting moral rules and laws of rationality, juxtaposed to their philosophical world-view of materialistic naturalism which excludes morals and rationality.

By setting the terms of the debate along the lines of proving God exists apart from a entire, comprehensive Christian world-view, I am fearful Ray is going to find himself in a spot of trouble if these atheists are shrewed. We'll have to see.

By the way,

As I have been checking my site meter stats, I have been noticing links from the chat community from Ray's, School of Biblical Evangelism directing folks to check out articles I have written. The last link I noticed directs folks to my post I wrote earlier this week addressing the use of Chick tracts. I can't follow the links to the sources because I have to be a paying, registered user of the site to view the forums. If anyone has access to those forums, I would be curious in knowing what people are saying about me, if anything.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Curing Diseased Thinking

Here's an excellent essay exploring the value of critical thinking in relationship to our conspiracy theory driven society. It's well written and even chuckle inducing. I was embarrassing myself yesterday by letting out snorty laughs while I was reading it at Starbucks waiting for my wife to pick me up.

I appreciated the author's call for the sane people to unite together and stand against the big-mouthed, Rosie O'donnells in our world.

If you have a loved one or an acquaintance who regularly drinks from the mental cesspool of conspiracy theory infected world-views and then attempts to poison your own mind after Easter dinner with his or her non-sense while you all sip coffee and watch the basketball game, this essay will provide a sound inoculation.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

...And Pecadillo Posted...

And all was well in the world.

If Pec puts together any Pectator designs, I will buy a coffee mug.

Chick Tracts Get You In Trouble!

According to a MSNBC.com report, a female chaplain at a prison facility in New York state was suspended for handing out Jack Chick tracts critical of Islam.

I confess that I have mixed feelings about this story.

On the one hand, I am becoming increasingly annoyed with how our society is more and more accommodating of Islamic religious idiosyncrasies at the expense of relinquishing normal societal functionality. At the complaint of Islamic activists, non-Muslims, for instance, are prevented from purchasing a pepperoni pizza because the cashier is a Muslim who is forbidden to handle pork. Rather than pointing out to the Muslim that the vast majority of customers buying pepperoni pizza do not share his convictions concerning pork, and telling him that if he insists on maintaining this conviction he needs to find another non-pork related job, our enslavement to P.C. philosophy forces the non-Muslim to give up pepperoni pizza.

In a manner of speaking, the suspension of this female chaplain is a cowardly reaction by the prison administrators. Granted, I am sure the Danish Mohammad cartoon world riots are still fresh in their minds and they merely want to prevent a similar situation happening with in their prison facility, but I do not believe they are fully aware of the dangerous slope on which they stand. By giving into Muslim sensibilities in this matter, they are slowly whittling away the intellectual and religious freedoms of non-Muslims, particularly Christians.

Yet, on the other hand, I have to admit my reluctance to support this lady chaplain for handing out Chick tracts. In a way, I am happy God used the hyper-sensitive P.C. activism to prevent the circulation of biblical error among the population of believers inside the prison.

Anyone raised in American Christian fundamentalism is familiar with Jack Chick's deplorable tracts and Crusader comics that attempt to illustrate fundamentalist themes in a crude, comic book style. I specifically say fundamentalist themes as opposed to Christian themes, because as much as his supporters believe he is really promoting biblical Christianity, this is not the case at all.

His tracts are written to attack the bugbears shaping an hysterical, independent, psycho-fundamentalist world-view. They attack contemporary Christian music, modern Bible versions, so-called neo-evangelicalism, and of course the largest subject of his attention, Roman Catholicism. Chick blames Roman Catholicism for every major ill the world has ever known, from the emergence of Islam, all the major historical wars, both secular and religious, and even the Holocaust.

I personally would exhort Christians to avoid the use of Chick tracts in the use of evangelism for at least four reasons:

1. The Author: Jack Chick has turned himself into a paranoid recluse. He has been heard claiming he is on Jesuit "hit lists" and refuses to allow himself to be photographed. He's like J.D. Salinger weird. A person with these type of troubling character traits cannot be a credible minister in Christ's church.

2. Chick's Theology: Chick promotes the typical man-centered, fundamentalist gospel in his tracts and comics. Salvation is not a work solely done in the hearts of rebellious sinners by the divine act of a gracious God, but its a product of "decisional" regeneration on the part of the person making the "right choice" about Jesus.

The newest tract published by Chick called Set Free keynotes the ransom view of the atonement (See Phil Johnson's article on the nature of the atonement). This was a view developed by early church father, Origen, that suggests Christ's death, rather than appeasing the wrath of God against sinners, actually paid a ransom to the devil. Christ is pictured as a weak, powerless savior with no ability to defeat the devil's enslavement of humanity UNLESS the person enslaved chooses to follow Jesus. Our Lord is reduced to a pleading beggar and the devil is elevated to being on equal authority as Christ. Additionally, panels in the tract depicting enslaved humanity, suggest men are not born sinners and are only sinners because the devil so enslaves them. What bit of the biblical doctrine of original sin even presented in the tract is utterly warped. Read a full review of it at Scott McClare's blog.

3. Chick Entertains Conspiracy Theories: Lookit, the Roman Catholic Church has serious theological problems, but as I noted above, to suggest Catholicism runs a conspiratorial "black ops" Jesuit group out of the basement of the Vatican whose purpose is to infiltrate Protestant churches so as to undermine them and eventually shut-em down, is pure fiction. More so the idea that this clandestine group is interested in a strange little religious comic book publisher out in California.

Along the lines of conspiracy, Chick's bizarre, fundamentalist world-view drawn in his work only heaps mockery upon the Christian church. Has anyone ever thought that HE is part of this Jesuit "black ops" to minimize the effectiveness of Christian evangelism?

4. The Chick tract users themselves: The Chick tract users I have encountered over the years could easily be described as lacking interpersonal skills. In a manner of speaking, it is as if they suffer with a mild form of autism.

The first time I ever examined at length any Chick tract literature, it was when I was helping my father with his work one summer. My dad was an electrician, and one day he was called out to a trailer park to re-wire this fellow's air conditioner outlet. As my father switched the outlet, I entertained myself with the stacks of Chick Crusader comics I found on this guy's coffee table. A good portion of them disturbed me with the images of apocalyptic visions. But, across the room on a separate table was a pile of Playboys. I was maybe in 6th or 7th grade, unsaved, and devoid of any true understanding of the gospel, but even I recognized the strange contradiction of having religious comics and Playboys.

Another Chick aficionado I knew in college was a "non-traditional" student who was in his mid to late 20s and lived down the hall from me in the freshman dorm. He had stacks of Chick tracts he would hand out or leave in classrooms and bathrooms around campus. The strange thing, however, is how he was all the time getting into angry shouting matches and the occasional fisticuffs with other students.

Oh, I am sure there will be readers of this article who will say I am being too general and broad brushing with my comments and my personal anecdotes do not reflect the reality of those individuals who utilize Chick tracts in meaningful evangelistic encounters. I am sure there is someone out there who has an uncle who has taught applied calculus at MIT for 25 years who hands out Chick tracts on a daily basis. But I am telling you, my experience with all die-hard Chick tract users is that they are all cut from the same, disheveled cloth.

Now, as I re-read this post and reflect upon the situation with this lady chaplain, I am more inclined to express disagreement with the decision to have her suspended because she was handing out Chick tracts. That is because there are larger matters at stake here with her freedoms being removed so as to "protect" as minority class. However, I just wish she would change her preferred use of religious literature. Surely she can find the same material written by sound individuals and presented in a more compelling way.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Readings from Paul Johnson #3

Continuing with selections from Paul Johnson's historical work, The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830

The Barbary Pirates

Algiers, with a population of 50,000, was the most notorious of the Barbary Coast towns which preyed on Christian shipping in the Mediterranean. Tunis, near the site of ancient Carthage, was another pirate town, and so was Tripoli in Libya. Many other harbors were frequented by Muslim pirates along the North African coast, but these three were the most dangerous predators and the focus of Western attention. Officially, they were provinces of the Ottoman Turkish Empire, and their beys, or Pashas, were appointed by and responsible to the Sultan in Constantinople. They recruited their troops from his dominions in Anatolia and sometimes came to his assistance when he was in trouble. But for all practical purposes they were independent. Their principal trades were kidnapping, hostage taking, slavery and ransom.

In the 19th century slavery was almost ubiquitous in the world, but they Barbary Coast, stretching 1,500 miles from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Gulf of Sirte in Libya, was unique in being the only area where white men and women were subjected to it in large numbers. The Barbary pirates, using what would now be call a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam as their pretext, regularly kidnapped Christian livestock from Italy, Malta, Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica and from the ships of all nations sailing the Mediterranean. In the 17th century their corsairs had cruised in the waters of Northern Europe as well and at one time Algiers had held as many as 25,000 white Christians as slaves.

Wealthy captives could usually obtain ransom without difficulty. The rest were treated with varying degrees of barbarity. Few were actually behind bars, being allowed to roam the town, prevented from escaping by chains weighing 50 pounds. Torture was used to obtain conversions to Islam: "turning Turk," as Western sailors called it. Crucifixion, the bastinado, impalement and castration were routine. Well-connected women prisoners were ransomed quickly and were not usually molested. But rape was also common and there were tales of Christian women being mutilated and murdered. Most women who could not raise a ransom were, if pretty, married off to locals, or put into harems as concubines. To make them fat and thus increase their salability, they were forced to eat large quantities of bread dipped in syrup.

The West's supine attitude toward the horrors of Barbary piracy had long aroused fury in some quarters. Officers of the British navy were particularly incensed since seaman were frequently victims of the trade. More effective in this respect were the exploits of the Americans, who put the British government on its mettle. The activities of the corsairs, who did not scruple to kidnap Yankee sailors, led to the new republic's first experiment in geopolitics. It was principally on their account that Congress decided to establish a navy in 1794, and America consistently refused to ransom captives in the European way by handing over money, powder, shot, and arms to the Muslims. As President Jefferson put it, "Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute." From 1803 Washington, in effect, made war against the beys. In one episode in 1805 American marines marched across the desert from Egypt into Tripolitania, forcing Tripoli to make peace and surrender all American slaves, and giving rise to the famous line in the U.S. Marine Corps anthem, "From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli." (Birth of the Modern, pp. 286, 287, 288).


Friday, April 13, 2007

It's Raining Whales

Back in the mid-9os, when the Internet arrived at Grace to You, most of the staff had to surf the net on a shared, common computer sitting in the staff break room. Everyone planned their breaks accordingly so they could utilize those precious 20 minutes to email and hit their selected websites.

The cool thing about the Internet, at least to me, was the ability to watch videos and movie trailers on-line. I sat unflinchingly transfixed in front of our monitor watching the Godzilla teaser trailers over and over again. It was like the first time I saw the Incredible Hulk on colorized TV.

During those early, Internet pioneering days, there was one video making the rounds I found to be absolutely delightful. In fact, I bet it probably was the VERY first Internet video I ever watched and well worth watching again if you have already seen it.

It was the exploding whale. There is even a website dedicated to the event that happened on November 12th, 1970 on the beach of Florence, Oregon.

Listen to the sound of wet, rotting whale blubber hitting the ground after the explosion. It's awesome.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Book Recommendation:

Grace Like a River
Christopher Parkening, with Kathy Tyers

Over the years I have read many biographies of famous folks. Never have I read the biography of a famous person who sits across the aisle from me at church. Christopher Parkening is unarguably one of the greatest classical guitar players in the world today, but more importantly, he is a lover of Christ and a committed Christian.

Christopher's autobiography, Grace Like a River, tells his story as a young man who rose to fame at an early age. His key goal he set for his career was to be a retired millionaire by the age of thirty, and so he devoted his life to becoming a world class guitarist. He eventually had the privilege of sitting under the tutelage of classical guitar legend, Andres Segovia. Christopher writes about his experience touring the U.S. in concert, and then Europe, and then becoming one of the youngest classical recording artists for Capital Records.

Yet, even with all of that success, he was not satisfied with his accomplishments. Yes, he retired at age 30, moved to Montana to live on a ranch and trout fish the rest of his life, but there was still something missing. In God's gracious timing, He revealed to Christopher that all the success in the world is nothing compared to the riches of Christ. Through a series of providential encounters, God brought Christopher to Grace Community Church where he heard John MacArthur teach the Word of God. For the first time in Chris's life, the Bible came alive, and the Lord was pleased to save him.

By this time, Christopher had laid aside playing classical guitar with any amount of seriousness, but his salvation gave him a renewed inspiration to not just play for the sake of playing, but to play to the glory of God, which is what he has been doing ever since.

One of the blessing I have had over the years of attending Grace Church is hearing Christopher play occasionally during the worship service. I have also been blessed to listen to him play in a small gathering, where his talent is more alive and intimate. Before I came to California, I had never been exposed to classical guitar, but seeing and hearing Christopher play has giving me a major appreciation for the instrument. It is probably, along with classical piano, my favorite music I enjoy.

A second, little known fact about Christopher brought out in the book is that he is a world class fly-fisherman. Most folks would not imagine a person being a world class guitar player and world class fly-fisherman AT THE SAME TIME. It is almost like learning that D. Martin Lloyd-Jones holds the world record for bow hunting wild pig. Yet, Christopher won the International Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament, the Wimbledon of fly-fishing and he tells the shocking true story of how he did it. In fact, that is one of the extra things I like about the book. Woven in between his retelling of his rise to becoming a classical guitar concert star, he tells his amazing fishing tales, building to the last one where in retells the Tarpon tournament story.

Grace like a River is a quick, but exhortive read about a contemporary Christian with an amazingly blessed talent. Not only will the Christian readers be encouraged as they read about Christopher's struggles, but I believe if they have not been exposed to classical guitar, especially the talent of Segovia, after reading this book you all will want to go purchase some CDs for your collection.

One personally anecdote about Christopher. I have small talked with him every now and then when he would come out to Grace to You during board meetings. I even ate with him during a staff lunch. Nothing really big, just chit-chat and me mainly listening to him recount events in his life in conversation around the table with other folks.

When his book was released last summer, there was also a companion CD collection of Christopher's "greatest hits" released in conjunction under the same title, Grace Like a River. The evening Christopher was to sign his book for the Church members, he played the first piece off the new CD, Domeniconi's Moderato and Presto. I was enthralled by his playing and wanted to get a copy of the CD just for that one piece of music. At the time, however, I could just get the book.

A few weeks later on a Sunday morning, as my family and I were going into church, we happened to walk by Christopher getting out of his car with his family. My wife and I stopped and told him how much we enjoyed the book, and I told him how much I really loved the Domeniconi piece he had played and how I wanted to pick up a copy of the CD just for that one piece. He says, "Oh, well I have a copy of it here in the car, I'll just give it to you."

I became all sheepish and humble, and said thanks, but he didn't have to do that. He replied, "Hey, its not a problem, I have a bunch of these things laying around to hand out to people." He starts digging through his car, looking in glove compartments, under seats, and in the trunk. Finally he says, "Hon, where's that CD I had in the car?" She replies, "Oh, I gave it to so-and-so, I'm sorry."

I smiled, and told him thanks anyway. I could tell he was a tad disheartened to have let me down. As we walked onto church, Chris says something like, "I'll see if I can get you one," and I thanked him again and left. Honestly, I just casually know the guy, I never see him except at church on Sundays and even then, at a distance. I know he sincerely meant it, but I figured it would more than likely never happen.

The next day at work, one of my co-workers who is a musician for the church comes bopping through my room and he says, "Hey Fred, Christopher wanted me to give this to you."

It was a copy of the CD.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

If I Buffet My Body...

Don't these people just make you sick?

Four Years of Persistent Training

I once was in a gym here in L.A. with a friend. There was some really ripped guy working out next to us and my friend asked him what sort of things he did to get to how he looked. He told us about his routine and habits, and my friend asks, "What sort of things do you eat? Do you eat pizza?" The man became sober faced and replied, "I haven't eaten a slice of pizza in 11 years."

I quickly darted my eyes to the floor and excused myself so as to finish my "set" of squat thrusts.

I am such a weak willed, lazy slug.

But hey, I have been told I teach a mean Bible study.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Only in my Hometown

So during my lunch break, I jumped over to my hometown newspaper, The Batesville Guard, and was met with the headline:

Possession of Stolen Chicken Leads to Arrest

My favorite line in the entire article,

“Deputy Little arrived and was told by the victim that the person had left and was described as a black male with a big mouth, wearing a blue jacket or shirt and a hat,” Plaster said. “The victim said the suspect cut an extension cord that was holding the back door closed, to gain entry to the residence.”

I am not sure if the comment about the "big mouth" is figurative or literal.


Canadian Bloggers, Eh

I recently had the privilege of meeting two fine bloggers, Neil Shay and his lovely wife Kim. They were from all places, Canada. You know the Great White North.

Neil goes by the blogger moniker "bugblaster." I am not sure of that nickname except to say maybe he's really into bugs, or maybe an exterminator by trade. His wife just goes by her normal name. She seems to be the more thoughtful, serious blogger, but I haven't read them long enough to make a fixed determination on that opinion.

If I am not mistaken, this was their first time in Southern California. I understand they returned home from a warm 75-80 degrees to a brisk -21 degrees and snow. Canada, eh. Kim has written of their adventures here in L.A.

I, myself, have been to Canada twice. When I was on a church sponsored mission trip to the Detroit area, we took a trip over to Windsor. Once we crossed over the big bridge into Canada, a feeling of isolation rolled over me. Here I was in an entirely new country for the first time and the U.S. - my home country - was directly south of me. Of course, that feeling of separation and isolation left me once I was informed that Windsor is really SOUTH of Detroit. Being in Canada didn't seem as thrilling anymore.

Later, on another mission trip to New York state, we crossed over into Canada and drove to Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I just remember how the Canadian border patrol confiscated our fruit.

I picked up some Canadian money on both trips which I have to this day. Rather than the images of famous, dead presidents (or in this case, prime ministers), Canadian money has pictures of old ladies and water fowl printed on them.

I am aware of some famous Canadians:

I have to say my wife and I were delighted to meet the Shays. I only spoke with them for about 12-15 minutes after church until Phil and Darlene whisked them away to Universal City Walk to show them a sidewalk fountain. It would had been a joy to have visited with them longer.

We also talked about other Canadian bloggers. Two of my absolute favorites are Daniel and Scott McClare, both of whom I would love to meet personally some day the Lord willing. Of course I dropped their names on the Shays as if all Canadians know each other well and hang out all the time, but I guess they live hundreds of miles from each other.

Hey, its Canada, I just figured everyone knew each other from the hockey games.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Apologetics in Action

A Jehovah's Witness at the Door

Doug Kutilek describes his evangelistic encounter with a Jehovah's Witness who stopped by his house.

Taken from the March 2007 edition of Doug's electronic newsletter, As I See It. [used with permission].

I was in my basement study one Monday morning preparing for my afternoon lectures in Greek and Bible exposition. Though at some distance from the front door, I distinctly heard a knock (usually the dog barking is my notice that someone has come to the door, but not this day). Since it was about the time that the postman comes by, I imagined that it was she, with some parcel too big for the roadside mailbox.

But no, as I opened the door, I discovered a well-groomed elderly woman, surely in her upper 60s, maybe lower 70s. I knew immediately from the literature in her hand that she was an agent of “The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society,” a.k.a. the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

She opened the conversation with some casual pleasantry. I decided to get to the heart of the matter right away.

“I worship Jesus Christ as my Lord and God, just as Thomas did in John 20:28,” I plainly stated.

“We believe that Jesus is the Son of God,” she replied.

“But you don’t believe He is God, equal with the Father, and that is a grave mistake. Your own Watchtower Bibles declare that He is God--in John 5:22-23, it states,

‘For the Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He that does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.’ [
New World Translation].

If you honor the Father as God the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, then this verse says you must give precisely the same honor to the Son. And the Son could only deserve such equal honor with the Father if He were in fact God Himself. To worship an angel or created being with the same honor given God the Father would be blasphemy and idolatry.”

She was a bit taken back by my bold assertion.

I continued, “And just who do angels worship?” I asked her.

“Well, God of course!” she immediately replied.

“That’s right, just as we learn from Revelation 22 when John was overwhelmed by all he had been shown, and ‘fell down to worship before the feet of the angel that had been showing’ him these things. [Revelation 22:8, NWT]. The angel immediately rebuked John, saying ‘Be careful! Do not do that! All I am is a fellow slave of you and of your brothers who are prophets and of those who are observing the words of this scroll. Worship God.’

“Now, over in Hebrews 1:6, we see something very interesting on this same subject. God the Father is giving instruction to His angels:

‘But when he again brings his First-born into the inhabited earth, he says, “And let all of God’s angels worship him.” ‘ [

Here, then, God Himself commands the angels to worship the Son--the Father must think the Son is God, too!”

And I didn’t let up.

“In your own The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures [published by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society in 1969], it tells us in John 8:58 that Jesus is the “I am,” that is, God who appeared to Moses in Exodus 3. Sure, the English translation has ‘before Abraham came into existence, I have been’ with some convoluted explanation in the footnote, but the Greek, as you can see for yourself says ‘I am.’ And the Emphatic Diglott [a parallel inter-linear Greek and English edition], published by the Watchtower in 1942, also has ‘I am’ as the literal translation of the Greek--and in it’s English, it gives “I am he.”

“And then, of course, there is John 1:1 where the Word is identified as God, with a capital ‘G,’ not ‘a god,’ small ‘g.’ I am a seminary Greek professor--in fact, I have a class to teach in a couple of hours, and I can say with certainty, that no one who really knows Greek would ever translate John 1:1 the way the NWT does.”

“So, even your own Watchtower translation tells you that Jesus is God, that He is to be honored as God and worshipped as God. The problem is that you have been led astray by those you thought you could trust. Don’t believe the Watchtower literature--believe what the Bible says. Worship Jesus as God.”

Somehow, she had no time to speak with me further just then. I invited her to come back, and she said she would. She hurried back to the car and has not returned. May the Holy Spirit cut through the layers of lies this woman has sincerely believed, and may she fall at the feet of Jesus, worshipping Him in truth as both Lord and God.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

How not to do Evangelism

James White laments the demise of his Mormon outreach in Mesa due in part to the invasion of KJV-only street preaching soul destroyers.

Its a heartbreaking tale.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Welcome to the KJV-Only Fideist's Clubhouse

Kent Brandenburg is annoyed that non-KJV only folks like myself call his particular belief in preservation fideism. So much so he wrote an article insisting that non-fideists, such as myself, are really fideists.

OK, so what exactly is this fideism thing and is Kent correct?

Fideism is derived from the Latin, fides, meaning "faith." Hence, a true translation of fideism is "faith-ism."

I would readily confess I, as a Christian, am a fideist of sorts as Kent claims, however, we need to clarify our terms.

You see, fideism as a philosophy has some negative connotations connected to it. Christian philosopher, Alvin Plantinga provides a formal definition of fideism as meaning an

exclusive or basic reliance upon faith alone, accompanied by a consequent disparagement of reason and utilized especially in the pursuit of philosophical or religious truth.

So, in other words, a person who is fideistic pits faith against reason as if the two are antithetical to each other. Generally, the description of a fideist is a person who is exercising a faith when all reasonable evidence tells the person his faith is ill informed.

Skeptics and anti-theists believe all religious faith is fideistic; that Christianity irrationally holds to its beliefs despite reason. Hence, according to the skeptical anti-theist, Christians will blindly place their faith in what the Bible teaches, for example, even though such "faith" is clearly contradicted by rational, reasonable evidence. At least in the skeptical anti-theist's mind.

The skeptical anti-theists, however, are severely mistaken when they describe Christianity as being entirely fideistic. The Bible never calls people to believe its truth claims with blind faith. The Bible is a divine record revealed in history by a God who has interacted with humanity. Thus, our faith as Christians is objective. It lays hold of an affirmed, historical revelation, the Bible, which was revealed by God who has undeniably demonstrated His person in space and time.

Of course there are some things I take entirely upon faith, such as God being one God revealed in three distinct persons. Obviously, I couldn't prove such a thing with reason alone or any evidence whatsoever. However, my faith is not blind, or truly fideistic, because it is confidently placed upon the divine revelation that has its source in the God who has demonstrated His person in space and time and who has told us this bit of information concerning Himself.

Now, where I apply the charge of fideism against Kent is with his view of textual preservation.

I too believe God has promised to preserve His revelation, and I believe a high view of preservation is a necessary corollary to a high view of infallibility and inerrancy. Both I affirm by faith and both I believe are affirmed by the textual evidence.

On the contrary, Kent's view of preservation involves the preservation of one particular text type, what he erroneously refers to as the Received Text, that was settled upon by a nebulous church body over the course of Church History and can be traced all the way back to the time shortly after the apostolic age.

Kent's faith is blind because nothing he sets forth in support of his view of preservation ever happened. Much to Kent's chagrin, God was pleased to allow His people to utilize Greek texts in Egypt, in Antioch, in Rome, in Ephesus and all across the ancient Roman world containing textual variants, warts and all. This also includes all of the multitudes of translations, most importantly the Latin Vulgate that held sway for nearly a 1,000 years as the one, dominant biblical text utilized by nearly all Christians.

There wasn't one text type, Kent's misnames "Received Text," that Christians readily received as genuinely reflecting God's preserved word as opposed to a set of texts that had been "corrupted by heretics" or were impure or laid aside from lack of use only to be recovered by anti-god rationalists 1800 years after they were written and are now published in the critical Greek texts of the NA28 and the UBS. This belief in a TR/KJV view of preservation opposite the critical text is shear fideism.

Yet Kent and his ilk still insist their view of textual preservation is true biblical faith against fideism. Moreover, Kent insists all of his opponents, including me, adhere to the same fideism we accuse him of unwittingly advocating. He asks a gottcha style question he believes bolsters his case:

Folks, no verse says there will be 66 books of the Bible. No verse says there will be 39 OT books and 27 NT books. None. So how do you come up with your books?

Kent is absolutely correct about that. There are no verses anywhere telling us specifically that Peter's first and second epistle is canon, while the gospel of Judas is not. However, what we do see in scripture is God raising up special, anointed individuals who were his spokesmen and he communicating through them to write down what He tells them. In the OT it was the prophetic office and in the NT the apostolic office. This doesn't mean that every thing these individuals spoke or wrote was inspired scripture, but when they spoke in the place of God by speaking forth a "thus saith the LORD," they were proclaiming the revelation of the LORD.

God's people, under the providential leading of the Spirit, recognized the uniqueness of these prophetic ministries. Generally the prophet was authenticated by signs and wonders, especially the foretelling of future events that came to pass within the prophet's lifetime to the very detail. God's people recognized the prophet's ministry and the divine messages they spoke and wrote were preserved and canonized. A similar thing happened for the NT books.

So with in the lifetime of the person writing God's Word, those writings were affirmed as authoritative and canon. This view is not fideistic in that I am blindly believing it based upon the "settled" conjecture of some Church counsel 300 years after the fact. I believe it because this view of canonization is affirmed by the historically revealed whole of scripture.

But more importantly, Kent's comparison between his view of preservation and how the books of scripture were canonized is a non sequitur. The historical revelation supporting the biblical view of canonization I laid out above is clear. Kent's view of preservation in which God preserves every single word through the transmission of one text type from the close of the apostolic ministries, until the translation of the KJV, and down to this day, is neither affirmed by the historic revelation of scripture, nor the tangible textual evidence. Thus, once again, Kent holds to a blind faith. I could never be a member of his club.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Playing Pretend

Only in a postmodern world.

I suppose we will no longer discuss the Apollo program to avoid offending the moon hoax conspiracy believers?


Apologetic Evangelism methodology 101 (pt 6)

Developing a Strategic Offensive

I have been attempting to provide a simple, layman's overview of apologetics and evangelism. What would be the basic elements Christians need to consider when offering an apologia, a defense of the faith with the gospel message, before a hostile world opposed to Christ.

The last entry in this series considered our foundational defensive measures we should use. With this article, I wish to orient the Christian's focus on an offensive strategy.

A firm offense is also important, because there will come a time during the course of any apologetic encounter when the Christian must challenge the faith commitments and overall world view of the non-Christian by calling the person to repentance and submission to Christ as his or her Lord.

I believe is vital for all Christians to keep in minds that they are confronting a person's entire belief system when they present the gospel. Often times they mistakenly approach evangelism with the notion they are addressing individual sin issues in a non-Christian's life, and they make the gospel presentations no more significant to an unbeliever than choosing between flavors of ice-cream.

Evangelism, for instance, may be viewed as an attempt to get a person to pray a quick prayer so as to add his "confession" to a growing record. What would essentially be another "notch" in the belt, or golden soul-winning star added to a collection. Others may see evangelism as a means to get a non-Christian to give up certain moral vices like hard-rock music, smoking, and partying on the weekends. This is not what apologetics and evangelism is about.

When the Christian stands in a laundry mat speaking to a non-Christian about his life, the Christian is doing more than persuading the person to relinquish his moral vices and convincing him to come to church on Sundays. That Christian is challenging the entire way a non-Christian thinks, lives, behaves, and believes. the non-Christian is living in rebellion against God, according to his own self-interests with no genuine thought to how God would desire him to live his life. Thus, when a Christian tells a non-Christian he needs to repent from his sin and place his trust in Christ alone for his salvation, the Christian is saying several fundamental truths about the non-Christian's faith commitments.

1) The person faith commitments are misplaced, trusting himself rather than God.

2) He is believing wrong about spiritual things, and in turn, about reality and the way he thinks and lives.

3) He is living a life in rebellion against God.

4) The manner in which he behaves himself dishonors God.

5) God has a right to justly punish his sinful treason.

6) Nothing else can save him from his condemnation, only Christ alone.

These are areas of a person's life that have eternal consequences and a Christian would be sinfully amiss if he or she only presented the gospel in such a manner the non-Christian is left with the impression the gospel is banana chunky fudge as opposed to chocolate vanilla swirl. This is why having a tactical apologetic offensive with the non-Christian is vital.

Now, turning our attention to the scripture...

The Bible often uses the picture of warfare to illustrate the confrontation a Christian has with the unbelieving world. For instance, in Ephesians 6:10-20, Paul describes the Christian's confrontation with the world like unto a soldier preparing for battle. Yet the warfare he has in mind is not one that is tangible and involves physical shoot outs and sword fights, but one that is spiritual, wrestling against the spiritual forces in high places.

This raises another problem area with Christians. Many of them mistakenly believe our spiritual battle is directly with demonic entities. In other words, the very hosts of the demonic world. Our spiritual battle, then, involves us praying up hedges of protection against the intrusion of demons into our daily lives, "binding" them with the use of "Christian" incantations, or naming them directly, like a "demon of lust" or "anger," in order to prevent them from having influence upon a person.

I remember back during my first year of college (actually before I was a genuine Christian), someone loaned me a copy of Frank Peretti's This Present Darkness and told me with a straight face and an earnest tone in the voice that after reading this book my entire perspective of reality will change. That was an ominous challenge for me, so I immediately picked up the book and began to read.

The story is about the ill happenings taking place in a small town surrounding a beleaguered pastor and his wife, as well as some other characters who figure in to his circumstances as the story moves along. What made this book popular, however, is how the author, Peretti, opens up the spiritual realm to reveal how there is a conflict between demonic, fallen angels and the good, holy angels of heaven.

The demons are described as ugly, hideous troll like creatures with bat wings, where as the good angels are tall, majestic, and muscle bound, with long flowing hair. Basically, an American Gladiator, or perhaps Fabio with eagle wings.

At any rate, we learn from the story that as long as the Christians are praying and "walking" in the spirit, the good angels have the strength to defeat the demons. If Christians don't do anything, the angels are helpless to act against the powers of evil. We are also told there are demonic hierarchies with powerful demons in charge over a state, lesser powerful demons in charge of a city, and still a lesser powerful demon in charge over a town or neighborhood block. Near the end the story, the Christians have a revival of sorts and pray together to cast out the biggest and baddest demon (next to Satan of course) who had come into town to set up shop. Their united prayers empower the leading angel in the book to lay a WWF style smackdown on the head demon.

Even though his book made for some riveting fiction, the scenarios involving the demonic hordes and angelic hosts was absolutely unbiblical and presented a sci-fi view of spiritual warfare. I can recall how many misguided Christians, taking a cue from the book, began to organize conferences where Christians would pray together to strengthen the angels in large American cities to cast out the powerful demons controlling those cities. I remember how the person who loaned me the book put together a prayer team that spent all day one Saturday marching around my college campus in the same manner Joshua led the Children of Israel to march around Jericho so as to capture it for the Lord. This type of misleading spirituality only feeds a superstitious mind set that sees a devil behind every ill wind and misplaces a person's confidence in trusting the sovereign providence of God.

The scriptures never describe spiritual warfare in this manner. Note how Paul writes in Ephesians 6:11 that our attention is directed toward combating the "schemes" of the devil. We are not fighting the devil directly, but the schemes he has put into place to hold men's minds captive.

Paul expands on this picture of spiritual warfare in 2 Corinthian 10:3-5

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

There are three areas of warfare we as Christians need to take heed to insure we will have an impactful offensive with the gospel.

1) The Battle Ground

Just like in Ephesians 6, Paul tells the Corinthian believers that we are waging war not against fleshly individuals, but against spiritual realities. But note that our warfare is not like playing a game of Halo or Warcraft. We are not fighting personal demonic entities, like a demon of lust or demon of greed, but we fight against arguments, lofty opinions raised against the knowledge of God, and thoughts.

Put simply, true spiritual warfare engages a person's mind.

We do engage the devil, but it is his methods we grapple with, not him personally. The devil's most effective method of making war is by spreading false doctrine, erroneous philosophies, false religions, and alternate, anti-God world views.

Our battleground is set upon those ideas, false doctrines and philosophies. Satan is desirous to keep men from knowing God. Granted, our rebellious sin nature does a good job, but Satan helps keep men in bondage with his schemes. Thus, our battle is waged on the ground controlling the hearts and minds of men.

2) Our Weapons

Paul speaks of our weapons of warfare. The word weapon is a generic description of anything used as a weapon like a sword, or spear, or club. There are two descriptions of these particular weapons at our disposal.

First, our weapons are not fleshly or man-made. Obviously that is because our warfare is not against physical entities. It is rather pointless to utilize a sword against a philosophy or false doctrine. Paul may have in mind the notion of human wisdom. What would be man-made techniques of persuasion. Perhaps a modern-day example would be the various seeker-sensitive approaches to evangelism that attempt to win non-Christians to the gospel by meeting "felt needs" or manufacturing a comfortable and delightful church attending experience that doesn't rub the wrong way.

Our weapons are mighty. The word "mighty" has the idea of powerful. The root word is dunamas and it presents the picture of having ability or capability. The weapons we command are capable of achieving the goal in which they are used. That is because they are spiritually energized by the Lord. We are not dependent upon weapons that cannot defend us nor hurt the enemy, but in our arsenal we have the one weapon that is able to do what we use it to accomplish.

What then is our main weapon? The knowledge of God in Christ.

We know the Lord, we are able to discern the truth, we have possession of His revelation, and we are to proclaim it as our main weapon against the schemes of the devil in which we do battle. As we proclaim the knowledge of God, particularly encapsulated in the gospel of Jesus Christ, any effectiveness is granted by God. He is the one who empowers our endeavors.

3) Our Strategy

It is quite simple: destroying strongholds, arguments, lofty opinions and taking every though captive.

The word destroy comes from the word katastrophe from where we derive our modern English word catastrophe. It means to over throw or cast down in destruction. We destroy strongholds or what would be a firmly built fortresses of unbelieving minds. These strongholds manifest themselves in clever argumentation opposed to God's truth, creative imaginations, evil reasoning, intentional purposes designed to fight against God, and any other mental devices men use to dream up ways to suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness. These arguments deny the truth, or ignore the truth, or make the truth into a lie. All of them are sinful, high-handed rebellious reasoning against the Lord.

Our offensive strategy, then, is to employ the spiritual "weapon" of the knowledge of God in Christ to the hearts and minds of sinful men so as to take their minds captive to the obedience of Christ. We are to persuade them with the truth against the many sophisticated lies they have invented to fuel their rebellion against the Lord.

That is not only an honorable calling for Christians, but also a difficult one. However, the Lord has promised the empowering work of His Spirit to aide our endeavors. The result of our apologetic does not rest in our persuasive abilities as a debater, but in the work of God drawing men's hearts to Himself. We just have the glorious honor of being the "weapon" in the Redeemer's hand.

But, does that mean we only throw out a bunch of Bible verses? Are we not to convince the non-Christian of his errors? And how exactly do Christians engage those sophisticate lies the non-Christian has invented? That will be the subject of my next post.