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

Monday, July 23, 2007

MacArthur the Mystic?

Have you discovered God Tube yet? It is the Christian version of You Tube.

Youtube is the website where anyone and his crazy little brother can up load personal videos for all the world to see Youtube's motto: Broadcast Yourself.

Godtube is the Christian version where anyone and his crazy little brother can up load personal videos for all the world to see. Godtube's motto: Broadcast Him.

And, just like Youtube, you can find the good, the bad, and the down right ugly on Godtube where the motto could just as easily be: Embarrass Him.

Case in point.

A buddy of mine alerted me to a video he saw recently where it is claimed my pastor, John MacArthur, is a mystic. Knowing that John doesn't have a mystical bone in his body, I was intrigued by the assertion.

The video begins with a War Games computer voice reading selected citations from two of his sermons: Reasons for the Wrath of God, pt 1 and Judgment on a Reprobate Society. The computer voice reads the out-of-context quotes that are strung together by ellipses in a Gail Riplinger/KJV-only fashion. The quotations are designed to imply that John believes and teaches universalism and that people don't need to hear the gospel so as to be saved. If you didn't have the original sources and were unable to read the quotes in their context, a person would quickly conclude John taught this heretical doctrine.

The remainder of the video is the "apologist" standing in his poorly lite dinning room deconstructing the out-of-context quotations and proclaiming: Wow! Pastor MacArthur says men don't need to hear the gospel to be saved. BOOOO! Beware of John MacArthur!

I even noticed on the comments under the video some wacky KJV onlyists has added his two cents about John by reminding everyone that he denies the blood of Christ.

Three thoughts in response:

First, if anyone takes the time to read the actual, unedited transcripts I linked, they will quickly see what John is really teaching on Romans 1. In those two sermons, he describes how men everywhere are responsible before God for their sin because they willfully sin against the knowledge of God that has been revealed in creation and their conscience. John never says they know God in a salvific sense apart from the proclamation of the gospel. In fact, he says the exact opposite, that men everywhere are rightfully condemned because they willfully sin against what they know to be true. Reading these two transcripts in the full, unedited form clearly demonstrates this amateur "apologist" is a lying fraud.

Second, the video "apologist" is an Aussie fellow by the name of Andrew Bain. I have encountered him on a few forum discussion boards I use to frequent. As far as I can recall, I personally never interacted with him, but watching any discussions he would be involved with unfold, he quickly exposed himself as being a hyper-Calvinist nutter. (And, just so that we are on the same page, a hyper-Calvinist is not a person who believes in limited atonement. Limited atonement is orthodox, biblical Calvinism). The discussions would eventually degrade into him saying every Bible teacher and pastor in the world teaches a false gospel and he would be kicked off the forum by the administrator. Now he has his own site and the ability to upload dishonest video screeds to the world wide web.

Lastly, note who else is the object of his video apologetics. Such Christian luminaries as John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Charles Spurgeon, and Jonathan Edwards to name a few, and I am sure that if I were to track down the original sources for the quotes Andrew attacks, they too would be shown to be taken out-of-context and dishonestly abused.

From my perspective, it appears as though we may have an oddball cult leader in the making. This is usually how the cultist begins. Everyone has a false gospel but me and in order to prove the point, I will misrepresent my opponents I am criticizing.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

An Islamic IDer Evangelist

The NY Times reports on Adnan Oktar who is an "evangelist" for Islamic creationism. He utilizes many of the arguments against Darwinianism put forth by the Intelligent Design community here in the U.S. by publishing them on his website and in a multi-colored, well-designed, glossy book that he has been sending to prominent Darwinian evolutionists around the world.

Interestingly, Mr. Oktar would fit in well with his American ID counterparts because the one key pitfall for ID ideology is the notion of a generic, unnamed designer that is left to be defined by individual ID proponents. Thus, IDers are not keen on saying the self-revealed God of Scripture is the "designer" because that is a belief of faith where as ID is a matter of science. To be dogmatic on the point of actually identifying a designing creator, especially the one true Creator who has revealed Himself, would push away, not only secular intellectuals who are thought to be persuaded on matters of "evidence" only and should not be troubled by questions of religion, but also friendly ID proponents like Mr. Oktar who may not share the same faith commitments as all the other IDers.

That means the biblical teaching that Jesus is our creator who came in flesh as the Son of God to die for His people is just too divisive, especially for a strong ID proponent like Mr. Oktar the Islamic creationist. In fact, if you hit his website linked above, there on his mainpage is a study as to why Jesus is just a prophet and not the Son of God.

For me, an Islamic evangelist for ID is just another indicator as to why the ID movement as a whole could possibly face some major internal struggles as its supporters attempt to position their ideas as being taken seriously in the secular community. If you are confused as to who the designer is, why should anyone listen to what you have to say? At least Darwinians are united as to their rejection of the biblical God being the true Creator.


Bust Out Your Thesaurus

Jeffrey Nachimson has written a new article about me and in the spirit of being even handed, fair and balanced, I thought I would link it here.

Scholarship Only Hysteria

It may be a bit long and is certainly a tad ponderous for some readers, but he is quite certain that I am wrong, wrong, wrong, not to mention misguided and down right ignorant when it comes to understanding the history of KJV onlyism and the preservation of God's Word in only one translation. It is his article he was promising to write that I mentioned here.

He alerted me by email that he had written it and essentially stated I would be better off blogging against atheists and homosexuals, though he used an old English word describing a bundle of sticks in place of "homosexuals."

At any rate, I have only had opportunity to glance over it because I have been preparing to take a short trip with my family. I may respond to it at some point in the future if I have the time and willingness to do it, but some of the more notable highlights that I saw was Jeffrey's insistence that I am a disciple of Doug Kutilek by following blindly his research and his citations of alleged pre-Wilkinson KJV onlyists in the 1800s. Again, re-read my previous post Jeffrey is attempting to answer in order to understand the context of what I mean by "pre-Wilkinson KJV onlyists."

So, if you need something fun to do this weekend, give it a look over.


Friday, July 13, 2007

F.J.A. Hort and Seances

Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort were two 19th century Greek scholars who played a significant role in the developmental history of New Testament textual criticism. These two men utilized established textual critical principles of their day, as well as developed their own methods of criticism, in order to produce a fresh New Testament Greek text that incorporated manuscripts discovered in the mid-18th to mid-19th century. A translation committee then used their new text as the textual apparatus to publish the Revised Version in 1881, a revision of the Authorized Version, or King James Version, first published in 1611.

Yet, in spite of Westcott and Hort's contribution to the science of textual criticism, the work of these two men has been scrutinized by their critics. Even while they were in process of producing the Revised Version, the main point of contention raised against their work was the manuscripts they used for their revision.

It was charged that the manuscripts they favored were inferior due to the minority status among the other family of manuscripts available. Both Westcott and Hort were accused of too readily elevating their chosen manuscripts to a superior status when in fact they were so few. The "Received Text," on the other hand, from which the early English translations like Tyndale's, the Geneva, and the prominent King James were translated, is edited from a family of manuscripts clearly in the majority as to number and the most widely copied and used by Christians. Moreover, the two men were accused of exercising heavy influence upon the revision committee when it came to textual critical matters at the exclusion of considering the readings of the "Received Text."

There is certainly room for scholarly criticism that evaluates Westcott and Hort's textual theories. Their work was not perfect and more than likely had room for improvement. However, apologists for King James Onlyism go beyond critiquing their textual critical theories to attacking their personal lives. In fact, many of those personal attacks are entirely ridiculous and out right dishonest.

One of the most fanciful personal attacks against both Westcott and Hort is that they were secret occultists. KJV onlyists specifically point to Westcott's involvement with a college society called The Hermes Club and his brief participation with a paranormal debunking group called The Ghostly Guild. I cannot go into extensive detail about these groups now, but I have written on their involvement with these societies in a previous article and even more information concerning these societies can be found here and here.

The Hermes Club was merely an essay reading group interested in classic Greek and Latin literature. KJV onlyists attempt to seize upon the name Hermes and claim it is a synonym for Satan, but that is a seriously ill comparison. The Ghostly Guild was a group interested in evaluating the legitimacy of people's claims of experiencing the workings of the paranormal. Westcott only had brief dealings with the group and even wrote later in life that the club was a waste of time. But, even though these groups are harmless, KJV onlyists wish to attach some nefarious darkness to them so as to discredit their work as textual scholars.

However, probably the most preposterous accusation leveled against Westcott and Hort's involvement with these societies comes from Gail Riplinger, who charges that these two men were active in the London occultic underground. She essentially alleges that when these two men were not dabbling in their hobby of textual criticism, they were meeting together with other like-minded occultists to prance around a sacrificial altar in sheep leggings. Riplinger has several chapters in her book, New Age Bible Versions, trying to connect these two men to the occult and their true desire to create a New Age Bible translation with their revised Greek text. Yet, try as one might, when a person genuinely examines the written works of Westcott and Hort in light of Ms. Riplinger's claims of their occultic pursuits, one quickly discovers the allegations are entirely false and totally a product of her disturbed imagination.

Now, with that background in mind...

A little while ago I received an email from a friendly, non-KJV onlyists, who thinks he may have found the KJV apologists' smoking gun linking Hort to the occult. He said he was reading through Dr. Hort's two volume biography and collected letters which were published by his son. In the second volume, page 33, there is a letter to his wife dated October 23, 1864 in which he recounts a dinner he had with a group of friends. After dinner, Hort writes,

We tried to turn tables, but the creatures wouldn't stir.

My emailer went on to explain that the phrase turn tables clearly describes a seance, and Hort's words concluding "the creature wouldn't stir" only affirms that the group most certainly performed a seance, but were unable to conjure up a spirit. My emailer wanted to know my opinion about this citation and whether or not I had read any specific KJV onlyist who noted this quote for he had never come across it any of their literature.

I was intrigue with the quote and I wrote him back that I was certain Riplinger had mentioned it in her NABV book; but when I glanced over her sections outlining her charges of satanism against the two men, I couldn't find it. I even did a search of the major KJV only websites and none of them list this specific quote as "smoking gun" evidence that these men were occultists.

So what is my opinion of this quote?

Now, I haven't done an exhaustive search of all KJV literature, so there may be some KJV onlyists who mention this quote, but I find it amazing Riplinger doesn't have this in her groundbreaking book. It is, of course, a book that boasts of being extensively documented and has 50 pages of detailed footnotes. How then could she miss such a damning piece of evidence? How could many other KJV onlyists miss such an important quote like this? I think it reveals that KJV onlyist critical of Westcott and Hort and their monumental work are not as careful with their research as they let on. Though they claim to read their opponents, they must only do so on a surface level, selectively citing passages they think incriminate the two men, or they are just quoting second-hand material through the research of another KJV onlyists. This sort of lazy sloppiness shows me that KJV only apologetics needs to be read with discerning caution.

But what about the quote itself? Does it not prove that at least Dr. Hort was a secret occultist?

Well, not exactly.

First of all, I don't believe we are entirely clear on the context of this comment to his wife. He could very well had intended it to be sarcastic. In other words, maybe Hort was talked into doing the seance, nothing happened, and his comment is sort of his poking fun at the experience for his wife's sake.

I can recall as a college student visiting an alleged haunted bridge on a Friday night. I think we hung out there in the middle of the night for at least 3 hours and nothing happened, except for seeing a freight train go under us as we stood on the bridge. Later the following week, when another friend asked us about our time, I remember telling him something along the lines of, "The ghost never showed up, I was truly let down." Would a person not knowing any better think I believe in ghosts? The truth is, I do not, but visiting a so-called haunted bridge so as to see if something will happen doesn't make me a believer in ghosts any more than Hort participating in a seance makes him an occultist. Granted, there are critics who will complain that such participation does place him in that category, but I think that is being nit-picky for the sake of personal attack.

Secondly, as an historical fact, seances were a popular fad during the mid-1800s, and I am not entirely sure we can judge one's curiosity with group seances, at least during that time, as being intended for the communion with demons as modern day IFB KJV onlyists imply. Granted, I believe Christians should not mess around with seances, but does it necessarily mean that an Anglican Christian in the 1860s who understands seances to be a popular game has evil intentions? Gary Bates is an expert in UFO mythology and abductions. He has an interest in the subject because of its current, modern day popularity, and even attends UFO conferences, but he doesn't believe in UFOs.

Third, let us grant the KJV onlyist's notion. I do not wish to excuse Hort based upon my dislike of KJV apologetics. If this citation is the only reference to him being involved in any questionable un-Christian supernatural activity, then it is rather lame. In order for the KJV onlyist's charge to stick against Hort of being an occultic new ager looking for fellowship with the deceased in the after life, a person will need to produce something more substantial.

If seances were a common part of Hort's spiritual life, then I would imagine he would had written more about his experiences, especially in his private correspondence with his wife. A person genuinely given over to occultism as a worldview will certainly reflect that worldview in his personal letters. There would be much more material to consider than a sparse comment in a biography compiled after his death. Perhaps there are more quotes, I haven't read all of Hort's biography, and to be honest, I don't plan to do so anytime soon because from what I saw, they would make for some extremely boring reading. If someone has more citations like this one, I would certainly take a look at them. Also, as a footnote, my emailer did inform me in one of his follow up responses that a good portion of Westcott and Hort's letters to each other and family members remain unpublished, so if anyone wants to travel to London and dig around in the historical archives where these things are stored, maybe they will uncover more confessions of participation in seances. I personally don't see any KJV onlyist doing that anytime soon.

Finally, the KJV onlyists will need to document how, if at all, Hort's involvement with seances impacts his textual scholarship and translational work. KJV apologists attempt to document an impact, but in reality their evidence is contrived and conspiratorial in nature.

One last question my emailer asked me was whether KJV onlyists should be informed about this quote. Well, I am blogging about it right now. I figure they will run hog wild with what I have written even to the point of generating sensational news headlines that say something like, "King James Critic Admits F.J.A. Hort's Involvement with the Occult!" I guess I'll have to see. In the meantime, I hope they have the courtesy of thanking me for doing their work for them.

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For those of you like me who think biblical fasting is either a) a weird thing ancient people did, or b) were curious how it was relevant to us in this day and age, or c) have ever been weighed down with inter-personal guilt because you never practice fasting as a spiritual discipline and if you really, really want to chase hard after God, then you will fast at least once a month like a person who really, really desires God, well Don Green has an encouraging sermon that puts fasting into proper perspective:

Getting to the Heart of Christian Fasting

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Birds of Paradise

A friend has loaned us a copy of the BBC's Planet Earth series. We only watched the first episode on the first disk, but the images I have seen so far are just mind blowing. I sort of wish I had the Hi-Def entertainment center to get the full effect, but our puny 30 inch TV does a fine job none the less. I have to say I find it amusing how the series ascribes personality to "mother nature" as if there is a goddess directing the diversity of life on our world. The disconnect the fallen mind has with their creator in light of such grand displays of life can be astounding at times.

Here is an exceptional scene I thoroughly enjoyed on the mating dances of Papua New Guinea "Birds of Paradise." I figured it would be on "you tube" and I found it in 30 seconds.

I guess I like it so much because it reminds me of my woeful attempts to win Julie Allison's affection in 8th grade. You have to love David Attenborough's soothing narration.


Monday, July 09, 2007

Google Earth's Strangest Pictures

PC World has a list of the strangest places and sights located on Google Earth. The big Indian head with I-pod head phones in his ears is quite outstanding. I bet aliens made it to be a sign for humanity, like the "face" on Mars.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Roswell 60 Years Later

For those non-sci-fi geek people, this weekend marks the 60th anniversary of what has become known as the "Roswell Incident" and thus the beginning of modern day UFO mythology.

A week or so before Roswell, a private pilot by the name Ken Arnold, made the first "official" UFO sighting when he claimed to have seen a group of winged-shaped objects flying around Mt. Rainier in Washington. His report sparked a series of UFO eye-witness accounts. But, on July 8th, 1947, The Roswell Daily Record ran a sensational headline claiming the Air Force had captured a flying saucer on a ranch. Unusual debris had been found by a rancher, William Brazel, and hearing about other "flying saucer" stories, he thought it could be a crashed saucer.

The next day the paper retracted the headline and story, and carried a more accurate report of a downed weather balloon. The Air Force showed the debris to the media, some photos of it were taken, and the events were forgotten until...

Thirty years later, in the late 70s, a UFO researcher interviewed Major Jesse Marcel who was involved with the original recovery of the debris. He claimed there was much more to the Roswell crash than a "downed" weather balloon, and that the Air Force and the U.S. government were covering up the truth about what was found. In addition to the mysterious debris, a crashed spaceship was recovered, along with the 3 bodies of its alien pilots. Apparently, advanced races of extraterrestrials can master the physics necessary to traverse great distances of space so as to travel from world to world, but lack the technological know-how and basic navigational ability to keep from crashing in the New Mexico desert.

Anyways, from 1978 onwards, Roswell has become the "Mecca" of sorts for UFO proponents who believe firmly the government is hiding the truth about UFOs and extraterrestrial visitations. Each year there is a festival drawing crowds of thousands of UFO enthusiasts many of who believe a real spaceship from another planet, or dimension depending upon your understanding of where these aliens are coming from, crashed near Roswell. They would also claim American scientists have performed experiments on the wreckage and many of our best technological wonders of the 20th century like microchips, stealth fighters, velcro, and Tang, were "reversed engineered" from that crashed ship.

The question I have in light of the 60th anniversary is, "How should the Church respond?" Its easy for Christians to wave a dismissive hand and declare all UFO believers as kooks. Christians, I believe, should be prepared with something of an apologetic response.

The X-filing of America does have an obvious foundation in science fiction literature, but more so than that, there is a deep connection to naturalism and evolution. The reasoning plays out like this: If life evolved here on earth over millions of years, and we know there are millions of galaxies with millions of stars similar to our own, then the chance of life evolving elsewhere in the same way it evolved here is a real possibility. If this evolution is a million years a head of us here on earth, well then an advance race of intelligent beings could easily visit us in a craft. Thus, the idea of biological evolution is a key factor in UFO mythology.

One resource that may help Christians with a sound apologetic response to UFO beliefs is Gary Bate's Alien Intrusions: UFOs and the Evolution Connection. Gary has done extensive research as a Christian into the UFO phenomenon. His book is the detailed product of what he uncovered and found. He covers the historical development of UFO lore and goes into an examination of alien abductions, showing how the good portion of individuals reporting to have been abducted were involved with new age mysticism and other occultic activity. Gary was recently interviewed by Gary DeMar and though you have to suffer through nearly 25 minutes worth of commercial interruptions every 6 minutes shilling DeMar's products (thankfully, I could fast forward) in order to hear him, the program is worth the listen.

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Notable Books on Adventism

Many Christians don't know much about Seventh-Day Adventism. They may know its a funny group of Christians who meet on Saturday rather than Sunday, and the really devout are vegetarians. I happened to learn about the vegetarian thing the hard way. My second oldest boy was born in the Glendale Adventist hospital. While I was waiting around for my wife to go into labor, I thought I would venture down to the cafeteria to grab a bite to eat, but I found only vegetarian menus available at the time of night. That was a soul crushing moment for me.

People may also have heard about a woman named Ellen G. White who was a leader of the group way back in the old days who held to some quirky ideas about sex and of course, theology.

In his most recent issue of As I See It, Doug Kutilek reviews three key apologetic books on Seventh-Day Adventists.

Notable Books on Adventism

I very highly recommend the following works on the history and doctrines of Seventh-day Adventism. The authors were in every case long-time Adventists thoroughly acquainted with SDA history, doctrines, claims and controversies, and all left the movement when they honestly faced the irreconcilable conflict between Adventism and the Bible:

The Life of Mrs. E. G. White, Seventh-day Adventist Prophet: Her False Claims Refuted, by D. M. Canright. Salt Lake City, Utah: Sterling Press 1998 reprint. 185 pp., paperback.

The White Lie, by Walter T. Rea. M & R Publications, P. O. Box 2056, Turlock, California, 1982. 409 pp., paperback. 383 pp.

Cultic Doctrines of Seventh-day Adventists, by Dale Ratzlaff. Glendale, Arizona: Life Assurance Ministries, 2003.

These three books are excellent sources for information about the Seventh-day Adventist cult--and it is indeed a cult (the claims of late Christian apologist Walter Martin to the contrary, notwithstanding). The all but universal earmarks of a false cult are claims of 1. a new prophet; 2. a new and advanced revelation (beyond “that which is written” in Scripture); 3. salvation by works; 4. no salvation outside the group. These are the earmarks of Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Moonies and the Unification Church, Islam (which began as a Christian cult), so-called “Christian Science,” and just about every other fringe group. Also commonly characteristic of such cults is unitarianism and a direct denial of the Trinity; that Adventism is on paper Trinitarian does not remove them from “cult” status; indeed, a substantial percentage of early Adventists were unitarian in belief. Further, cults regularly (though not quite universally) are obsessed with prophecy, the end of the world and the Second Coming, usually making predictions of the Second Coming of Christ which of course always fail utterly, followed by tortured “explanations” of how the prophecy did not really fail.

The first book, The Life of Mrs. E. G. White, Seventh-day Adventist Prophet: Her False Claims Refuted, by D. M. Canright, was originally published in 1919, just four years after Ellen G. White’s (1827-1915) death. Canright was a devout Adventist for nearly 30 years (later becoming a Baptist). He knew the Whites personally and closely, and was well acquainted with Adventist doctrine, practice--he was an Adventist preacher--, and most of the major figures of the first 70 years of Adventist history (1844ff). He writes from full knowledge of his subject, and liberally sows his book with quote after documented quote from Adventist literature, the supposedly inspired and infallible writings of Mrs. White, and correspondence of leading Adventist figures to demonstrate his thesis.

In his introduction, Canright shows that Ellen G. White’s --and Adventism’s--claims of being the true worshippers of God, with the real truth from God, is paralleled by a whole host of other cult groups--the Shakers, the Christian Scientists, the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and others now utterly forgotten (and what an array of diverse false cults were generated in 19th century America!!). Adventism is just another group of those who arrogate to themselves claims of exclusive possession of the real truth, and who alone have a proper relationship with God. At least all but one of these cults must be in error, since their mutually contradictory claims cannot all be true (and of course, they are in fact all false, since they conflict with the basic and foundational teachings of the Bible).

Ellen G. Harmon (later White), severely injured as a school girl of nine by a rock smashed against her head, was a very ignorant and uneducated teen-ager when she was caught up in the manic enthusiasm of William Miller’s predictions of the Second Coming in 1843 and 1844. Though most of Miller’s followers--and Miller himself--repudiated his predictions as misguided and erroneous when they were proven unmistakably false by the failure of Jesus to appear on the specified dates, there was a small core of enthusiasts who nevertheless clung to this embarrassingly and shamefully false prophecy, among them Ellen G. Harmon. She soon began having “visions” associated with the frequent seizures caused by her earlier head trauma. She at first doubted these visions were from God, but encouraged by her husband (whom she married at 19) and by others, she began to accept them as Divinely-sent; such continued until about age 50. These visions--some 2000 in all are alleged--became the basis for her voluminous writings, which are more than 10 times as long as the entire Bible; historically, Adventism has claimed all of White’s vision-inspired writings are a continuing and authoritative voice from God, and equally infallible with Scripture. Embarrassing to say, though Adventists officially claim White’s writings as inspired, they nevertheless have systematically suppressed some of her earliest writings, and have edited much of the rest, to remove blatant errors, contradictions, and other obvious blunders (including numerous failed “prophecies”--cf. Deut. 18:21-22).

Canright shows that there is a perfectly naturalistic explanation to White’s “visions” directly traceable to her childhood head injury and the repeated seizures she had until menopause. He cites the medical literature of his day, showing that White’s “visions” are of a piece with those of other “non-inspired” individuals, and therefore have NO Divine origin. Notably, other woman in the early Adventist movement had similar “visions” but not being encouraged by others to accept them as from God, their visions soon ceased.

White also claimed something like Pat Robertson’s bogus “word of knowledge”--the ability to see into the hearts and lives of other people, with the implied (and often exercised) threat to “expose” secret sins. What “knowledge” she had of people’s secret sins was nearly always gathered through an extensive network of “gossips” who were all too happy to pander to the prophetess. Of course, White frequently “missed” seeing gross sin in close and influential Adventists, and sometimes made false “inspired” accusations against innocent parties. Oh, well.

White was easily influenced by other Adventist leaders, and could conjure up “visions” to order, to teach whatever new doctrine she had been influenced to embrace this week--the hours for keeping the Sabbath, the early “shut door” claims of Adventism, Sunday worship as “the mark of the beast,” a new Divinely-sanctioned clothing style imposed on the faithful (abandoned after a few years), and much more. Of course, her later writings often directly conflict with her earlier writings--all being supposedly inspired by the same God!

As a woman of very limited education, White relished her status as the sect’s infallible oracle, and sought to enhance her standing by voluminous publication, far beyond what a woman of such limited education could be expected to produce. Of course, the key to her productivity was the practice of wholesale plagiarism from standard and respected Christian authors of the 19th century. So brazen was her practice that at least one of her books had to be removed from the market when the publishers of the work she plagiarized threaten a lawsuit. And not a few of her claimed writings were actually done by subordinates, under her “supervision.” Such dishonesty is not of God.

Many leaders and people in positions of authority (and salary) in Adventism during White’s lifetime knew full-well of White’s all-too-human fallibility, contradictory writings and claims, failed prophecies, gross plagiarism, pretensions to knowledge of secret sins, and even her own hypocritical eating of meat after forbidding it to others, yet, for the sake of power, position, prestige or pay, they conveniently looked the other way, or helped conceal the truth from the run-of-the-mill followers of Adventism.

In short, the ENTIRE foundation of Adventism is a colossal sham and fraud. But fanaticism dies hard, and some people seem much more than willing to be led astray, regardless of the facts or evidence or truth. All this has been public information since Canright’s book first appeared in 1919 (Canright wrote another earlier work, Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, which was first published in 1889, and went through at least 14 editions, and was in print as recently as 1948; only recently I acquired a used copy of the 1948 printing).

Walter Rea’s book, The White Lie, is the product of years of investigation by a long-time Adventist pastor and scholar, who discovered on his own what Canright had written about decades earlier--Ellen White, the supposed inspired prophetess of Adventism was a profuse literary thief, who passed off the pilfered and plagiarized writings of others as though they were Divine revelations given to her in visions from God. Worse was the discovery that this dishonesty and blatant fraud was common knowledge in Adventist inner circles back to the mid-1800s, and consistently their only response to such was to cover it up and conceal it!

When Rea sought to bring his findings to the attention of the “powers that be” within Adventism, he was by turns ignored, stonewalled, rebuked, threatened and shunned. Preserving the façade of White’s status as Divine messenger was defended at all costs, including the cost of plain honesty and integrity. The Lie was defended and the truth subverted. Rea includes many, many pages documenting the blatant plagiarism practice by White and condoned by the SDA hierarchy.

Dale Ratzlaff was a fourth generation Adventist, and was educated from kindergarten through seminary in SDA denominational schools, and pastored SDA churches for 13 years. He left Adventism when his seminary study of the doctrine of “the investigative judgment” (a distinctive and central teaching unique to Adventism) led him to conclude that it could not be supported by Scripture, but was in fact based on a gross perversion of what the Bible actually taught, and destroyed the doctrine of salvation by grace. For the sake of still-enslaved Adventists and recovering former Adventists (a full 50% leave the denomination ultimately), Ratzlaff founded “Life Assurance Ministries” in Glendale, Arizona.

Ratzlaff surveys Adventist doctrinal distinctives, gives a history of the origin and development of these denomination teachings, and analyses them in the light of Scripture. He notes how a number of doctrines embraced early on (the “shut door” teaching doctrine, especially) were subsequently changed and abandoned, though they had been founded on the “inspired visions” of Ellen White. Ratzlaff in an appendix gives the official SDA confession of faith, “Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists.”

In his book, Ratzlaff, inter alia, addresses the question “is Seventh-day Adventism a cult?” His conclusion is that historic, traditional Adventism does indeed have most of the characteristics of a cult. He does note the fact that there are factions within Adventism--the historic, traditional Adventists, who buy into the whole package: Ellen White as inspired prophetess, vegetarianism, rigid adherence to Saturday Sabbath, constant fear of rejection by Christ during the “investigative judgment,” and more. Then there are the evangelical Adventists who recognize the defects, errors, foibles and mistakes of White-ism, refuse to accept her writings as normative, do preach a true Gospel of salvation by grace and not law, but who for whatever reason remain within the Adventist fold, and are scarcely Adventists at all. There are also the liberal Adventists, liberal in a theological sense, who reject the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible and deny the doctrine of substitutionary blood atonement. These differ little from mainline denomination theological apostates. And then there are the denominational Adventists, those who above all else wish to retain power and control over the denomination and its resources, and will say and do pretty much whatever is necessary to retain that power and control.

All of these books, and much other excellent literature exposing the lie and false Gospel that historic Adventism is, can be purchased through “Life Assurance Ministries,” an organization focused on rescuing Adventists from the soul-condemning errors of that cult. They also have a regular publication “Proclamation.” Their web-site is www.LifeAssuranceMinistries.org and their e-mail address is proclamation@gmail.com. They stock a very wide selection of first-rate material on the error of Adventism, all that anyone could possibly hope for or need, for his own enlightenment, or for that of others ensnared in the errors of SDA-ism.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Tunnel Cam

I understand this is suppose to be the longest in-city tunnel in Europe. It's somewhere in Russia. A river runs over it and the tunnel leaks in places. So, during the winter, the road freezes and of course, you can see the results.

It sort of reminds me of the 405 here in LA.

Oh, wait... That's right, the 405 is so congested no one could possibly drive fast enough to cause an accident.

Sorry, I had to be snarky.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Remembering Communism

My friend Greg found a brief video recapping the global impact of communism during the 20th century.

Hoo Boy... After watching this, a person has an entirely new perspective on the Cold War, the arms race, the 4th of July, and that Joe McCarthy character.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Clash of Culinary Cultures

Life, the new job, protecting the public, smacking around hippies, and restraining drunk celebrities keeps Officer Pec from blogging as much as I would like him to. I wish he would be as prolific as George Will. But when he does blog, its literary genius.

This time, we read his adventures as a suburbian bred, middle-class white boy paying a visit to one of L.A.'s notorious Chinatown restaurants.


NEA outreach

Folks from Answers in Genesis have a big booth set up at this years National Education Association convention in Philadelphia and they are blogging their ministry efforts as they stand amongst a sea of anti-Christian hostiles.

Scroll down to the previous entries to listen to audio and see video interacting with the school teachers and administrators. The scary thing is that many of these folks educate our kids.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

12 Angry Statements

The other day I posted an article describing how I have incurred the rage of an angry and bitter anti-Christian. My antagonist initially emailed to present to me 12 dogmatic statements he claims I cannot answer IF I affirm the inerrancy of God's Word.

My original response was a spoof played off the fact that all of his objections have been soundly answered by better men than myself. If he doesn't like the responses to his statements others have already provided, then he will certainly not accept mine.

That being said, in order to prevent my emailer from gloating (and because I have a few free moments to blog), I will respond to these statements to demonstrate how easily answered they are.

His original comments will be in Arial Bold.

This is what he wrote,

To believe your bible in any translation(or original manuscripts) is inerrant & god breathed, here is what you must believe.

#1.A snake can talk(remember the snake was cursed to crawl on it's belly & eat dust.
#2.A donkey can talk.

#9.You have to believe god made the sun stand still when it already stands still or believe god stopped the rotation of the earth which anyone should know would be a disaster in many ways for earth.

#10.You have to believe Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt which is unbelievable.

(Fred) I took these set of statements out of sequence because they generally deal with miraculous interventions and extraordinary acts of providence by God. Biblio-skeptics tend to ignore the fact that the Bible presupposes the existence of God who has directly intervened in human history past. Because the writers of the Bible treat their writing as an historical record of God's divine dealings with humanity, particularly God's redeemed people, I would only expect to read about extraordinary acts of God. In fact, if the Bible claimed to be a book recording the revelation of the divine, sovereign creator, yet contained no miraculous works by that creator in order to establish His divinity, then wouldn't it raise suspicion in the minds of its critics? Yet, my antagonist would just as easily hammer that point as a means of mockery.

The Bible claims to be a supernatural book with its source in the mind of our Creator. I expect it to tell of supernatural events. Why is that hard to believe unless you are unwilling to submit to the Creator who produced those supernatural events?

Looking at each point in turn.

#1 - First off, the Bible says it was a serpent. The text is unclear as to what sort of animal that was. The idea of a snake is from the modern day and my antagonist is reading the concept of a modern day python back on to the text. Second, the serpent was satanically controlled. Third, it was cursed AFTER it talked, not before. And fourth, this was an unique, one time event never to be repeated.

#2 - Similar points apply with Balaam's donkey as with the snake. The Angel of the LORD was present when the donkey talked, even giving it the ability to rebuke Balaam.

#9 - Again, similar points apply as with #1 and #2. This was a one time event of extraordinary providence. If our Creator can create His world, He certainly can protect it from disaster when He reveals Himself in a miraculous, cosmological display, so as to deliver His people and bring a crushing blow against their enemies.

#10 - Again, similar points apply here as with the previous three. There were supernatural events that took place in the historical past which show forth God's character as revealed in judgment, wrath, and even mercy. Additionally, the description being recorded here may be a metaphorical description explaining how Lot's wife was merely destroyed in the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah because she tarried behind Lot. The text is not clear how far behind she may had been. Because she refused to take seriously the warnings of judgment delivered by the angels, she was overcome in the cities' destruction.

#3.That man was so stupid back then that he actually thought he could build a tower to heaven.

(Fred) Nothing in the text suggests they were building a physical tower into heaven. The text says the people acted as one in rebellion to what God had commanded when he told humanity after the flood to spread over the earth. Instead, they worked together to build a great city with a tower with its top in the heavens. Basically a grand skyscraper probably constructed for the worship of false gods. There is nothing stupid about this given the fact the similar relics of ancient societies still exist today like the pyramids.

#4.You have to believe against any logical thinking that all those animals,incl,snakes & all different kinds of insects and enough food to feed all of them(different kinds of food)for almost one year would fit on an ark that size,which is impossible.
#5.You have to believe there was food for them to eat when they came off the ark even though the whole earth was supposedly covered in water.

(Fred) The subject of the ark's dynamics and physical feasibility to accomplish what it did according to the biblical record of Genesis 6-8 is vast. There have been countless studies done and papers/books written demonstrating that the ark could carry all the animal kinds (not the entire species we see today), as well as enough food to feed them for a year. This statement is made from a position of scholarly ignorance by a person who is a biblio-Christian bigot.

Interestingly, the T-bloggers recently wrote a lengthy critique of an anti-creationist book written by a similar religious bigot who mocks the historical record of the ark. There are also additional citations in response to like-minded critics in the footnotes.

Answers in Genesis also lists a plethora of articles detailing the physical reality of Noah's global flood and the feasibility of the ark. [Note: my emailing antagonist told me in writing that he dismisses anything posted at AiG's website. "They're mind-controlled" so he claims and thus are unreliable. That's how an atheist/biblio-skeptic shores up his ignorance, by automatically poisoning anything his critics and opponents write. So much for free thinking and doing your homework and all].

#6.You have to believe in a flat earth because these supposedly inspired by god people said so back then.

(Fred) Nothing in the biblical record suggest the earth is flat. This is anti-biblical urban myth.

#7.You have to believe the earth is 6 to 10,000 years old despite overwhelming proof it is much,much older,even if not 4.5 billion years old.

(Fred) And what exactly is that overwhelming proof? The variety of radioactive dating methods are wildly inconsistent with each other when tested on just one sample. Moreover, dating methods are subject to speculative interpretations, interpretations that are driven by particular presuppositions. Again, AiG has a list of technical articles dealing with this issue, but remember, most skeptics refuse to interact with the data and information, but instead choose to attack ad hominem straw men versions of their critics whom they do not respect.

#8.You have to believe all those heavenly bodies out there that they are still finding were created in one literal day(morning & evening)that is despite the fact that even now they are finding suns,stars just now begining [sic] to form.

(Fred) Usually the person who makes statements invoking the authority of modern day evolutionary cosmology are generally ignorant of the problems inherent to modern day evolutionary cosmology. He is also blissfully unaware of the in-fighting that exists between various proponents of various theories and models that are dreamed up to help explain away those problems.

For example, note the contradiction in his original statement. In #7 he speaks about the earth being 4.5 billion years old. The so-called billions of light years (a "light year" being a measure of distance, not time, by the way) are considered one of the reasons we believe in an old universe. However, in #8, my emailer suggests one solar day is way too short a time for suns and stars to form, especially now that we are finding stars just now beginning to form. OK, how exactly would we see their light if they are just now beginning to form?

Discover magazine did an article on the youthful galaxies located by the Galex telescope that are 2 to 4 billion light years from earth, but began forming just 1 billion light years ago according to the telescope observations. In the March 2006 issue, a thoughtful reader wrote a letter to the editor expressing curiosity as to how we could even see their light? He writes,

"If the youthful galaxies located by the Galex telescope are 2 billion to 4 billion light-years from Earth but started forming less than 1 billion years ago, how can they be observed at all?"

In other words, it should have taken the light from these 1-billion-year-old galaxies 2 to 4 billion years to reach us. The editors at Discover responded thus:
Your question cuts right to one of the trickiest problems in cosmology: how to refer to the timing of events when there are many different ways to describe them. The conventional solution is to describe everything from the way we perceive it. In this case, that means that when we say that the galaxies started forming less than a billion years ago, we mean that the galaxies AS WE SEE THEM TODAY appear to have started forming less than a billion years ago. Put another way, when their light started heading toward Earth 2 billion to 4 billion years ago, these objects were less than a billion years old. That convention may seem confusing, but the alternatives are even more puzzling. For instance, it would be more comprehensive to say that these galaxies, located 2 billion to 4 billion light-years from Earth, appear to have begun forming less than 3 billion to 5 billion years ago, and then their light spent 2 billion to 4 billion years traveling toward us. More comprehensive, yes, but even harder to follow!
In other words, its a mystery that doesn't fit into the prescribe view of evolutionary cosmologists.

For my antagonist emailer, its easy for him to make fun of a biblical description of creation than deal with real problems of cosmology.

#11.You have to believe Lot had intercourse with 2 of his daughters on 2 different nights and knew it not.

(Fred) This comment is strange. The text clearly states he was drunk out of his mind and unaware of what happened. Why is that hard to believe? Such things happen in Las Vegas all the time between total strangers.

#12.You have to believe Jesus was concieved [sic] without human intercourse this despite the fact that at least 20 other dying & resurrecting savior sun gods had this claimed of them long,long before the supposed time of Jesus,you claim them a myth but the same tale about Jesus true.

(Fred) This is a woefully ignorant exaggeration of historical fact. In all of my private email interchanges with my antagonist, he always returned to cut-and-pasted articles from non-scholarly, atheistic websites that try desperately to tie Jesus to some ancient myth. Mithra is the favorite these days. J.P. Holding of Tektonics has done some extensive research debunking these claims, even interacting with the world's literary experts on these various myths who also deny the connection between the alleged myth and the historical Jesus. [Note: Just like he rejects AiG out of hand, my emailing antagonist also rejects J.P. Holding because a) "J.P." still goes by the alias he gave himself for security reasons when he worked with hardcore criminals in the state penitentiary where he was employed, and b) he was too mean and direct with my emailer when he was hassling him. Once again, such self-imposed blindness only reveals a heart angry at the God of scripture and who truly doesn't care for the truth].

So there you have it. I responded to each one of his charges and none of them disprove the inerrancy of the Bible. All we have are baseless charges just like they were asked decades ago, but have once again been proven wrong.

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