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

Monday, December 31, 2007

Our Modern Times

A bad case of no discernment -

Woman escorted off bus for reading Bible out loud to children.

Curious if the bus driver would have escorted some Muslim young men off the bus for reading the Qu'ran out loud, or doing their prayers?

Just wondering...


Slaves or Servants (pt 1)

What is the more accurate translation of doulos?


Advocates for the King James Bible will insist that the venerable translation is the only printed English edition that accurately conveys God's revelation to men in our modern world. When the KJV was translated, they will boldly argue, it was translated by the most learned language scholars the Christian world had ever known and has known since. Those men were so expert with the command of Hebrew, Greek, and English, they used just the right English words to precisely translate the meaning of the original biblical languages.

Overseeing this miraculous work of translation was the Hand of divine providence. God Himself, in the fullness of time, brought together all the conditions necessary to have translated once and for all the one and only Bible to be used by God's people throughout the English speaking world, and that Bible is the King James Version.

Those are some extremely lofty claims for a translation of scripture. The implications are profound. It means no other English Bible translation before or after the publication of the KJV can rightly be called "God's Word." Moreover, any revision done to the KJV text with either updating spelling or English usage for the purpose of clarifying difficult to read passages is, in a manner of speaking, changing "God's Word." That certainly holds true for any meaningful revision involving the re-translation of specific words or phrases where the KJV translators could have been more accurate with their translation into English.

I have been writing on KJV-onlyism for a few years now, and one of my key ojectives has been to demonstrate the absurdity of the exclusive claims made on behalf of the KJV. King James apologists have good intentions with their beliefs. They merely wish to up hold God's revelation as being infallible and inerrant. Yet, regardless of how well intentioned their motives may be, the apologetics they have developed to defend the exclusivity of the KJV are woefully misguided. Instead of helping Christians stand confidently upon the Bible as God's Word, they only serve to undermine a Christian's faith when challenged to defend his beliefs against intelligent critics.

That is because the KJV-only view of how the scriptures were preserved and transmitted over the course of time is historically inaccurate. More importantly, the claim that the KJV has never been in need of any serious textual re-translation is dangerously false. In other words, if it can be shown that there is a better English translation for specific words and phrases from the original biblical texts than what the KJV has translated, then the KJV-only claim of perfect preservation for the King James is made a mockery which in turn ruins any meaningful defense of scripture.

With in recent months, this Achilles Heel in the KJV-only apologetic has become vividly clear to me when I have been considering the translation of the NT Greek word doulos. The primary definition of doulos is "slave." The word is used over 100 times in the NT and carries the idea of slavery in the sense of a person being owned by a master. Ever since Christians have been translating the scripture into English the word "servant" or "bond-servant" has been used to translate doulos, and the KJV is no exception. In fact, the only time the KJV uses the word "slave" is in Jeremiah 2:14 and Revelation 18:13 and neither one of those passages is even translating the word doulos.

Now, there isn't anything specifically wrong with translating doulos as "servant." A slave is definitely a servant to a master; however a slave is a servant who serves involuntarily and in many cases, under severe compulsion. There are several key instances of doulos being used by biblical writers where the concept of slavery is clearly being expressed and the word "servant" just doesn't capture the true intent of the original author's meaning and hence the claim of "most accurate" translation for the KJV is erroneous.

My study is born out of a series of email exchanges I have been having with a couple of cranky KJVers who frequent an email discussion group where I participate. During the course of our interchange on the subject of "superior" Bible translations, I raised the problem with the KJV translating the word doulos consistently as servant rather than slave. Pressed to back up my challenge, I began the process of doing some research, but figured it would be beneficial for a larger audience, so that is why I am making it available as a blog post.

In order to keep this brief study manageable for my readers, I will close my introduction here and go into more depth with the next post. What I would like to do is consider some lexical definitions both Greek and English, demonstrate the theological importance of the word doulos and the necessity of it being translated as "slave" in the English text, and then draw some conclusions in relation to the KJV-only claim of perfect accuracy in translation for the King James Bible.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Nothing says Christmas like tacky Jesus figurines

Toy maker says there is a market for "inspirational" figurines.

So what shape do these "inspirational" figurines take? According to Eric Dyson, founder of Fishermen, Inc,

Why, none other than Jesus with a golden crown of thorns riding a Harley!

I think he looks more like Travis Tritt, but that's just me.

I just love the robes billowing behind him like a Batman cape.

You also have Jesus playing football wearing a golden crown of thorns,

Who reminds me more of one of my good ole' boy cousins when the family got together in Arkansas for Thanksgiving or Christmas and all the older boys went out and played football behind my aunt's house before dinner.

There is also surfer dude Jesus, and as someone who has tried surfing, Jesus would probably do much better if he would take that robe off; but hey, He can walk on water. He may be in danger of loosing that golden crown of thorns.

And of course, there's homeless Jesus wearing a golden crown of thorns, which, you would think he could sell to make a bit of cash to buy food.

By the way, he does look like some of the homeless guys I have seen standing at the end of off ramps here in L.A.

This of course takes me back a couple of years to another set of "inspirational" figurines produced by a Roman Catholic outfit who display Jesus playing a variety of sports with a couple of pastey white, flabby "Campbell soup children" who otherwise couldn't play sports unless Jesus played with them,

There's Jesus playing football in long robes and sandels,

Personally, I would be a bit uncomfortable with the notion of tackling the Son of God to the ground.

And another favorite of mine, the long robe wearing Jesus playing ice hockey,

Make sure if you visit the site, you scan through all the pages with the pictures. The skiing Jesus is also amazing to behold.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

This Christmas at Home

Welp, another Christmas has come and gone for the Butler clan. This is the first year we were by ourselves. We weren't visiting family out of town nor did we have any family here visiting with us. My wife decided she would make a nice dinner for us, so me and the boys went to Costco during the weekend to pick up Christmas style food like roast, pumpkin mix, and sweet potatoes.

We thought about a Christmas Eve dinner, but last minute shopping and running around all day prevented my wife from doing any serious cooking, so we moved it to Christmas day. My dear sweetheart labored all day making a pie, wrapping green beans in bacon, mashing potatoes and boiling yams. And bless her heart, due to a miscalculation on roast cooking time, our 6 pm dinner time was pushed back to 7:45 or so. I think we fed our kids, who were going stir crazy with hunger by this time, and then sent them immediately to bed afterwards.

We live in one of those communities filled, for the most part, with White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant Republicans, that during Christmas time, they go nuts with the decorations. So much so that entire neighborhoods join together to decorate their entire block. Icicle lights strung across the road from house to house, gigantic, over-sized Santa Clauses shouting "Ho, Ho, Ho" from atop the roofs of homes, and in some instances, real snow makers blowing faux snow.

Because of this hyper indulgence in all things festive, on Friday before Christmas, we all went looking at lights. We saw a bunch, but there was one neighborhood that topped everything we saw. It was sort of a cul-de-sac of 40 or so homes who had joined together to turn their otherwise bland looking street into a virtual winter wonder land. Some folks would say tacky, but honestly, you have to step back and admire the effort they put into this. Additionally, the thought of doing something with your neighbors, who are for the most part "strangers" during the rest of the year, is certainly delightful. There were so many people driving through, it took us at least 20 minutes to tour the route. Folks were handing out candy canes and one family was performing live Christmas carols on the keyboard-karaoke.

I was so enthralled by the display I wanted to come back and take pictures, so while my wife finished up the Christmas dinner, I loaded up the boys and drove back so we could walk around.

Here's some of the pictures I took.

Again, there were about forty houses involved in this massive display, each one with as much lighting as seen in these pictures.


There was one exception.

Among all the brilliant lights and cheerful candy cane giving homeowners, there was a noticeable black hole:

When we drove through the neighborhood the first time we saw this house and I quipped to my wife, "They must be the ACLU Christmas hating atheist family." She, not wishing to pass judgment and always desiring to think the best of all people, responded, "Well, maybe they are away for the holidays and didn't want to leave the lights on while they were gone."

If that could have only been true.

When I came back with the boys, I definitely wanted to take a picture of this house and as we passed by it, there was someone home, as can be seen with the vehicles parked in the driveway, and I saw a faint lamp glow coming from a back room. The sad thing, however, was rather than having a Bush hating sticker fixed to the bumper, there was a little fish symbol.

My heart sunk.

I truly hope they weren't Grinchy, legalistic Christians who are thinking "We aren't gonna be worldly, because Christmas is about Jesus, not Santa Claus." If that is the case, I hope they re-think their lack of involvement with doing something fun with their neighbors next year rather than being a stick in the mud separatist.

And, just so that every knows, it wasn't Phil's house.

Anyhow, before I post this, I wish to offer my heart felt thanks to the McBride, Crouse, Del Rio, Yagher, Craig, Viani, Porter, Moneymaker, Mullen, Mortimer, Meza, Parker, Douglass, Irwin, Pollet, Tessari, Howe, Halliday, Young, and Bigelow families for sending pictures that included the ENTIRE family, and not just the unknown "kids."


Monday, December 24, 2007

The Legendary Lost Ending to "It's a Wonderful Life"

For your holiday amusement.

To quote my wife's snarky comment, "Yeah, that's so spiritual."


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Festivus

Just in case you forgot, December 23rd is Festivus. I believe I will make my feat of strength this year to be the consumption of 4 pounds of prime rib.


Gleanings from Job #4

Continuing with my devotional series on the book of Job...

Eliphaz's Speech (Job 4-5)

We have been considering the book of Job and the trials he suffered.

At the direction of divine providence, Satan is allowed to touch Job. He began by destroying how Job made a living and then he kills his children. A bit later, Satan afflicts Job with serious physical maladies.

The last time we looked at Job, we saw how Job had sunk into an understandable despair. He broke his week long silence (Job 3) by first cursing his birth and then wishing he would just die. His comments were dark and foreboding; the sort of comments we are uncomfortable with hearing.

In response to his suicidal sounding remarks, his friends who had arrived to help him out and lend their comfort, begin a series of responses to address Job's plight.

There are three key individuals, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Each friend speaks three times in a cycle of three speeches directed toward Job. The only exception is Zophar, who doesn't present a third speech. Job, in turn, answers the accusations of each friend after his speech.

The three friends remain unmoved in their theological position they present to Job in answer to his trial:

Retribution Theology - The view that the righteous are rewarded for good deeds and the evil, unrighteous are punished for their sin.

From the perspective of his three friends, Job was suffering because he was being punished for being in sin, or sinning sometime in his immediate past.

The notion of retributive punishment is the common view among the quasi-religious through out all history even to this day. In fact, in John 9:1-5, the assumption of Christ's disciples when they encountered a man blind from birth was that his blindness was due to either his sin or his parents' sin. Jesus corrected them by pointing out that no one sinned for him to be born blind.

Sadly, even Christians think in the terms of retribution if they are suffering in trials. The reason a person thinks he is in a trial is because he is being punished for some sin he had committed. The sin can be either known, or unknown, and the trial, it is understood, is meant to reveal the sin and punish him for committing it.

Though it is true God will take retribution against sinners who rebel against Him and trials are a means by which God deals with sin in a person's life, a mentality of seeing all trials as being rooted in retribution is often blind to God's grace. Additionally, the whole of scripture teaches that not all trials are meant to be punishment, but are designed to forge Christian character and prove the reality of saving faith. In the case of Job, the idea of him suffering due to punishment contradicts God's earlier testimony of him in 1:1,8 and 2:3.

We will see that many of the speeches offered by Job's friends are similar in argument and are repetitious. Yet, as they move along they become more and more vitriolic as his accusers go from suggesting his is in sin to insinuating his sinfulness and making out-right accusations against him.

Beginning in chapter 4, Eliphaz spoke first, probably because he may had been the eldest or more prominent of the other two.

I) Eliphaz's compliment:

Eliphaz starts out by offering some niceties to Job.

> At one time, Job had supported many (vs. 3). He had "strengthened weak hands," meaning he was also a first responder when trials had visited others he knew.

> Job had encouraged many, offering his "instruction" to them as they suffered (vs. 3)

> And Job was quick to be the support to help bear the burden of one who "was stumbling" under the weight of the trial (vs. 4).

However, now, the tables had turned on Job and his friends came to offer their support to him (vs. 5, 6).

II) Eliphaz's accusations:

BUT what appears to be the beginning of supportive words quickly turns to insinuations.

Eliphaz says that Job should have confidence in the blamelessness of his ways if he were truly fearing God and was innocent of any sinful wrong doing (vs. 6,7), because God has never cut off the innocent to allow him to perish. He goes on to say that a person "reaps what he sows" (vs. 8), and if Job were truly not guilty of sinful behavior, then he would not be reaping these horrific trials. It is the sower of trouble who gets judged by God and blasted by His breath (vs. 9).

Eliphaz draws the picture of a prideful lion and his cubs suffering to illustrate what he means (vs. 10,11). Commentators are of the opinion that Eliphaz was using this illustration to suggest Job may not have protected his children from evil doing as he should have. Like the power of a lion who gets what he wants by preying on the weak, in similar fashion, Job had received his wealth and power by ill gotten means and was using his power to oppress others. Thus, God judged Job by taking away his physical wealth and his family as well.

III) Eliphaz's authority:

In order to add emphasis to his words, Eliphaz appeals to a supernatural vision he experienced that, according to him, affirms his convictions about God judging sinners. He claims he had a spirit visiting him in the middle of the night (vs. 12-21).

The spirit, states Eliphaz, gave him special revelation concerning men and how they are unable to be made right before God (vs. 17). If God, states the spirit, charges even His servants and angels with error, how exactly can a man, a creation dwelling in "houses of clay" (frail human flesh) even think he can have a hearing with God or stand before Him in any fashion? (vss. 18-21).

Similar to Eliphaz appealing to this experience with a special message granted to him by a visiting spirit, many Christians, even to this day, look to some unique sign or unusual dream or some other subjective experience in order to place their confidence when making a decision or offering advice to a friend.

This confidence in an experience, even if from a real spirit, is problematic as we can learn from Eliphaz's comments:

1) It is his personal experience so there is no way to test what he is saying is true.

2) The only thing to test it against is a sure Word from God, what we have now contained in our holy canon. The spirit never claimed to speak for God nor described his message as divine revelation.

3) The "revelation" given by the spirit describe men as worthless, but we know man, in spite of his depravity, is God's special creation and he bears the image of God.

4) Though there is truth about man's depravity, there is no mention of God's grace toward sinners to declare them right so as to stand before God.

These four items alone make Eliphaz's counsel suspicious.

IV) Eliphaz's advice:

Drawing his first speech to Job to a conclusion, Eliphaz offers two bits of advice:

1) First, confess your sin. Job's attitude suggest a man who is in secret sin (5:1-7). Job had allowed foolishness to take root in his life (vs. 3). He was one not thinking about God, nor allowing the beginning of wisdom to govern his life, and as a result his home and family had been put in jeopardy. These afflictions hadn't appeared for no reason (vs. 6), but he had brought trouble upon himself.

2) Then appeal to God. Eliphaz describes the majesty and sovereignty of God to Job (As if Job didn't know these truths, vss. 8-27) over the arrangement of His creation and the affairs of all men both poor and rich. He suggests that because there is no creature either earthly or heavenly who could intercede for Job concerning his trials, his only appeal will have to be directly to God Himself.

God is the one who ultimately punishes the wicked and vindicates the innocent and offers reproof to the sinner, and hence the reason it is wise to never despise God's discipline.

Of course it is always good to recognize our sinfulness and confess it to the Lord as we appeal to Him for mercy.

BUT Eliphaz is basing his counsel,

-- on misinformed observations. What he has supposedly seen or experienced in his own life.

-- upon the misguided visions he believes is from a spirit from the Lord.

-- upon the wrong-headed notion that ALL suffering is punishment for sin.

Eliphaz speaks out of ignorance of the true nature of Job's circumstances. He shows no graciousness with his words and merely speaks "matter of fact" with certain directness.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Blonde Men

Take a moment, look at the picture, you'll figure it out.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Richard Dawkins' post box

To: Richard Dawkins
Cc: Sam Harris; Daniel Dennett
Subject: Sped up evolution

Dr. Dawkins,

First I would like to say I have truly enjoyed reading your books. You are to be commended for your work in articulating evolutionary thought in our otherwise unscientific world. Your theories regarding "memetics," for example, is particularly outstanding. I also appreciate how you have in recent days put those backward thinking ignoramuses in the Christian world on the run. That is why your God Delusion book really satisfied me, because you wrote some things that needed to be said against those Christ-o-tards that people are just afraid to say because of fear of being censored.

At any rate, I was curious to get your opinion about something. Now that science has shown us that the evolution of our genetics is going much faster than we have previously thought, I was wondering if you think this may mean mankind is on the verge of evolving into a newer, more advanced stage of humanity on a cosmic scale?

The reason I ask is that I just finished watching Heroes, Season 1 on DVD and it shows how the mutated genes of these ordinary people caused them to evolve these extraordinary abilities like being able to fly, or turn invisible, or even manipulate time and space. I personally would like to evolve the ability to have super fast healing qualities like that Claire Bennet girl. My friend Ronnie thinks he would like to evolve those nuclear energy producing abilities like the Ted character, but Ronnie says he would never attempt to blow up a city. In fact, if human beings were to evolve in any extraordinary fashion, and I were to evolve mental telepathy, rest assured, Dr. Dawkins, that I would never be like that Sylar fellow who ate everyone else's brains so as to steal their abilities.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.

Micky Stup


Monday, December 17, 2007

Gleanings from Job #3

Continuing in my devotional series on the book of Job....

Godly Grief (Job 2-3)

We have been considering the book of Job and in the last discussion we watched the destruction of Job's life at the hand of Satan.

HOWEVER: It is important to remember that it was the LORD who directed the Devil's attention toward Job when in 1:8 He asks Satan,

"Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man , who fears God and turns away from evil?"

God was divinely directing the Devil to be His instrument to demonstrate the power of saving faith and in the life of a believer, in this case Job, and how salvation can never be lost.

At the hand of the adversary,

> Job had his livelihood destroyed: Camels, donkeys, and sheep.

> His beloved children were all killed.

> Lastly, he was smitten with boils and brought to a place of agonizing physical pain

Sadly, as we see this time, even Job's wife abandons him and his friends begin a series of discourses designed to reveal how Job is really a terrible sinner.

In Job 2:9, Job's wife mockingly told him to stop acting self righteously and curse God. In a manner of speaking, she had become the mouthpiece for the devil who had boasted to God that if He were to remove His hedges of protection from around Job, then he would curse God to His face. She responded with unbelief.

Yet, Job does not curse God. The scriptures declare that Job did not sin with his lips.

Instead, Job gives his wife a warranted rebuke. He tells her she speaks as one of the foolish women. Her attitude of foolishness demonstrates atheism. A "fool," according to the Bible, is one who denies and rejects God (Psalm 14:1). This foolishness is scornful, militant and deliberate unbelief. It is unbelief that knows better, intentionally shaking a fist at God.

Job then concludes his comment to his wife by uttering one of the most important theological truths in all of scripture.

"Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?"

His words acknowledge God's complete sovereignty in all the affairs of our individual lives.

Though it is true God is good, that He is quick to save and to bless His children, it is sinful misplaced devotion to think of God only as our glorified Santa Claus or our magic lamp. Worldly people with a "fair weather" religiosity view God in this manner, and such an attitude should not be the mind-set of a true God fearer.

Then, Job's three friends arrive (2:11-13):

Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. Elihu, it is assumed, was also among them, but because of his youth, was not immediately mentioned until near the end when he final spoke (Job 32-37).

We know little about them as individuals except their names. Perhaps they were business associates or fellow elders in the nearby town where Job lived. Whatever the case, their main argument against Job is that he is suffering because he has sinned somewhere in his life. I will look with more detail at their argument later.

And, despite the poor counsel they will give Job as we will see, they did some things right for which they should be commended. During one of my pastoral ministry classes in seminary, Phil Manly, chaplain at USC medical center in Los Angeles, spoke to us about what to do when ministering to the sick and dying and those grieving. He listed at least four things Job's friends did right from which we can learn:

1) They came to Job. When they heard of his trials and problems, they stopped whatever it was they were doing and came to their friend. We must have the same loyalty to our friends when they are in a similar situation.

2) They wept with him. When they arrived, they cried with Job, showing forth their sympathy with his difficulty. Sometimes, sitting and crying with a person during a hard trial can be a strong way to minister to his or her needs emotionally.

3) They sat with Job. They stayed around. They didn't get up and leave immediately, but waited with Job as he worked through his grief. Staying long term with a person in distress shows true love and friendship.

4) They remained silent. They didn't come with a ready answer, but sat silently waiting for Job to speak first. A person suffering in grief may not want an immediate response. Just coming to the person, weeping with him, and sitting quietly with him as the person expresses his emotion can mean a lot.

After seven long days of darkness and despair, Job finally breaks the silence and speaks. Chapter 3 records his first lengthy words following his trial, and those opening remarks lamenting his condition are difficult to read. His words sound morose, almost suicidal, as he expresses his grief.

With out going into specific detail, the chapter can be broken into three sections:

1) First, Job curses the day of his birth in 3:1-10.

2) Next, Job wishes he had died at birth in 3:11-19.

3) Then finally, Job longs to die now in 3:20-25.

I think in our modern day world, we have lost the importance of proper grieving. Because we live in a society in which our problems are for the most part easily solved, and those who are "depressed" or troubled with sorrow are placed in facilities or given drugs to help them overcome their dark thinking, we may become uncomfortable when we encounter a person who verbally expresses his or her despair.

The idea of depression, I believe, is even too speedily diagnosed by Christians as being "sinful." Certainly the way the world may attempt to deal with a person's depression by quickly prescribing medications is not the best solution, but neither is throwing out canned "theological" responses in a biblical counseling situation. When a dear friend has just lost her husband and children in a catastrophic automobile accident, it is not the best time to remind her of God's lovingkindness or providential hand. Though reflecting upon those divine attributes will serve well later, letting her sob uncontrollably for a long while is probably what she needs at the moment.

Job desperately bemoans his circumstances, even longing for death to alleviate his suffering, but such grief should not be readily dismissed as sinful. David expressed similar words throughout his Psalms, Psalm 69:1-3 coming to mind, and Paul also experienced despairing circumstances during his missionary journeys, 2 Corinthians 1:8-9.

People should have an emotional response to tragedy - it would be weird for a person not to respond with any emotion. That is why I believe it is important to let folks have their moment of grief, allowing them the freedom to bewail the circumstances of their trial. It is our duty, like Job's friends, to come along an offer our personal support.

But, we are not to loose perspective with grief. Depression and sorrow can become sinful when a person allows his circumstances to so dominate his life it excludes the trusting of God and submitting to His hand. David's response to the death of his child born from an adulterous affair with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 12 is a good picture. Though David was under a cloud of despair for the few days the baby linger at death, when news reached him that the infant had died, David's response was to get on his feet, bathe himself, and then approach God in worship.

In the moment, when the darkness of trial covers over a person's soul, it is proper to grieve with a heavy sorrow; but for the Christian, those trials must drive us to the feet of our God who is the only deliverer from such emotional blackness.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Adventures in Parenting

In case one of your smaller children should happen to swallow a penny, here are some helpful links to assuage concerns.

Why do I say that? I come home after a hard day of tearing down and setting back up my room for our volunteer Christmas party. We sit down to dinner and my middle boy, 2 of 3, says sort of proudly, "I swallowed a penny!" "Really?" I reply thinking he is playing around, "How did that happen?" "I don't know." My wife then says, "Oh yeah, I meant to tell you about that."

"What!! He really swallowed a penny!!"

"Well, my sister swallowed a quarter when she was little and it came through fine," My wife says totally non-plussed about my state of agitation. "He swallowed it yesterday sometime," she adds.

Being the fretful father that I am, a trait I must have picked up from my mother, I immediately start thinking about copper poisoning or an obstructed bowel or some other agonizing torturous death my child with suffer.

But, my wife's calm response, and the fact I didn't want to have pay a 100 bucks and sit 9 hours in the emergency room, began to abate my irrational concern. I then went to the computer and "googled" the links above.

I learned a few things:

- Penny swallowing is a common occurrence among children under 5.

- As long as the penny is not lodged in the esophagus and the child is not vomiting or gagging for air, there is not an immediate emergency concern.

- Once the penny gets into the stomach and the G.I. tract, more than likely, the kid will pass it with in a couple of days.

- If the penny doesn't pass, or you miss finding it, then a doctor's visit and X-ray should be the next step to make sure it isn't stuck. Either an enema or if necessary, a minor procedure, can dislodge it.

All the links recommend the parent don rubber gloves and go a fishing, if you know what I mean, to hunt for the penny.

Oh boy,

I don't remember reading any Focus on the Family, Ted Tripp, or Family Life today materials about this one.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Merry Tossmas

Christmas Time

The setting up and participation in our annual GTY volunteer Christmas party will prevent me from posting anything substantive for the next couple of days. Any one interested in sneaking a peek into our holiday party festivities is welcome to use our volunteer web cam.
Party time begins on Thursday morning and runs throughout the day.
By the way, for you dear friends and family beginning to send us your warmest Christmas greetings in the form of a family picture card, please, please, please, I cannot implore you enough; remember to include everyone in the family, not just your children, the good many of which I have never met. Yes, your kids are all cute as buttons dressed up like little X-mas elves, but I don't know them. I know you! So take the time to put on a snowman sweater and stand beside them.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dancing with Jesus

I had someone send this to me via email asking for my opinions.

Go HERE and watch the skit, while ignoring your desire to snicker at the Christian Yoga link advertised along the bottom of the video, and then come back for my comments.

Again, make sure you took the 5 minutes or so to watch the video or my comments will make absolutely no sense.

Are you sure you watched it?


1) First, as a disclaimer, I do not have a problem with the use of drama to illustrate spiritual truth. I know some of my Reformed minded friends, after watching this video, would argue that it is a clear reason why drama has no place in church. I, however, am fine with drama as long as it does not detract from the centrality of the word being taught from the pulpit and the skits performed are theologically accurate, biblical, and tastefully done. I realize that eliminates maybe 93% of all drama done in our churches these days, but tastefully sound drama can have a meaningful place in our worship of God.

2) I don't know what is more appalling. The image of a spurned "boyfriend" Jesus unable to win the heart of his love interest, or the vacuous comments posted under the video gushing about how it made the person cry and weep.

3) Along the lines of the dejected boyfriend Jesus I am only bitterly reminded of my experience with girls in jr. high and high school, when after many attempts to woo my love interest with purchases of movie tickets and ice cream, she cruelly stabs my beating heart by going out with Matt Flett or Daniel Pruett or some other miscreant. But I digress...

4) Why is it a nymph like young, female co-ed the Jesus figure is prancing around with? Wouldn't a college guy have the same experience being spiritually awakened by the Lord? Or perhaps a middle aged business woman, or an Army Ranger specialist, or long haul truck driver?

5) I realize the girl dancing around with the Jesus figure is suppose to symbolize the excitement and joy of the girl's new found relationship with the Lord, but why do Christians believe our experience after salvation will be like palling around with Jesus like He is our best and only friend? My experience upon being saved was quite the opposite. Rather than seeing my new faith as a time for fun and games with my buddy Jesus, I became sober minded, and my thoughts turned to an earnest understanding Christ's Lordship in my life and the seriousness of doctrinal truth pressed upon my heart. I had spent nearly an entire year as a freshman in college engaged in the frivolity of a "Jesus is my buddy" mindset that was promoted in the Baptist Student Union, and I didn't want to have anything else to do with it after I was saved.

6) In light of God's promise to discipline His sinning children as explained in Hebrews 12:3-11, I think it would had been an outstanding twist to see the Jesus figure seize a bull strap, yank the girl from the various sins, and whipped her breeches.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Handel's Hallelujah Chorus for the Hearing Impaired


Twenty Ways to Answer A Fool (pt 17)

Is Christianity Homophobic?

I continue with a review of Chaz Bufe, blues guitar playing Christian hater and his 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity. I am trying to move quickly through these last 4 points so I can wrap up this long, long on going series I started way back near the end of 2005.

With his 17th point, Chaz charges the Christian faith with promoting and engaging in homophobia. Because Chaz's descriptions of Christian homophobia are a bit crass, I will not reproduce them in full, but direct the reader here if he or she is interested in viewing them.

Like all of Chaz's previous complaints against Christianity, he demonstrates an embarrassing lack of understanding of what it is he criticizes. The first portion of his point is an attack against the book of Leviticus and the specific laws by which the people of Israel were to be governed. Chaz's reaction to these laws is to say they were unnecessarily harsh rules against what he describes as trivial offenses. The "trivial" offenses he lists as illustrations from the book of Leviticus include adultery, bestiality, high-handed rebellion against one's parents, and of course, homosexual behavior. In the real world inhabited by rational people, not some anarchist utopian dreamland envisioned by Chaz, those are not trivial offenses.

Of course, Chaz claims Christians are selective in which laws from Leviticus they will emphasize, as in the prohibition against homosexuality, when such prohibitions also exist against eating pork and lobster. Anyone who gives a surface reading to Leviticus will quickly note the ridiculous imbalance Chaz draws from the text. The death penalty was not administered against those who ate Outback Steakhouse's coconut shrimp or Chili's baby back pork ribs. The death penalty was only prescribed for those individuals who engaged in behaviors, like homosexual sex and bestiality, that were extremely detrimental to society, and I would add, cut sharply against the holiness of God as revealed to God's redeemed people.

Additionally, in regards to Leviticus, the laws against eating unclean animals were put away at the coming of Christ. See Peter's vision in Acts 10, for example. I write about that in more detail here, but suffice it say, those food laws were for the purpose of keeping God's special people, Israel, separated from the pagan nations surrounding them at the time. The food laws were only necessary for the time Israel was a theocratic nation dwelling in the land. The laws which define, regulate, and prohibit human sexual behavior, including homosexuality, are a reflection of God's moral attributes and thus transcend both Testaments, as well as all people groups across the world.

Chaz accuses Christianity as being purveyors of homophobia, or the fear of homosexuals. I can certainly understand the common person's, Christian or non-Christian, aversion toward homosexual behavior. People instinctively know homosexuality is against what is natural concerning human sexuality, and generally, those engaged in the lifestyle are involved with such vile perversions of the flesh that the expressions of which shock the senses with a gut churning revulsion. If one were to have witnessed the recent horrific scenes from a San Francisco street fair catering to sexual fetishes engaged in by the homosexual community in that city, a person in his right mind would be homophobic.

As is typical with how Chaz argues throughout his articles, he demonstrates another paroxysm of hypocrisy when he condemns Christians for their "homophobia." Chaz has made it clear that he doesn't like Christians because they stifle sexual expression. He noted under points 9 and 10 that, in his anarchist opinion, Christians have an unhealthy preoccupation with sex and produce a lifestyle of sexual misery. Christians are foolish, he argues, to even think they can prohibit sex among people to total monogamy, because "human beings are by nature highly sexual beings , and that their urges very often do not fit into the only officially sanctioned Christian form of sexuality (monogamous, heterosexual marriage)."

But I would imagine old Chaz would be a "pedophobe," a person fearful of adults having sex with young teens or even pre-teen children. Would he be willing to grant Jack McClellan, a notorious self-confessed pedophile (even though he says he never has touched a child), the freedom to indulge his urges? Jack argued during an interview on a local LA talk radio station that his desires were really just his orientation. In fact, Jack even made the comparison of his sexual attraction for little girls to that of a man or woman's homosexual attraction to the same sex. Will Chaz advocate for Jack against stodgy, sexually repressive Christianity? Jack even says he is an atheist with anarchist leanings, so he is a kindred spirit with Chaz.

I personally believe the Christian church can do better with ministering to people caught in the sin of homosexuality. I think Christian's overall have stumbled in this area of outreach. But an aversion to homosexuality as a lifestyle and a conviction that homosexuals are trapped in a filthy sin from which they need to repent is hardly "homophobia." If anything, such a concern on the part of Christians is genuine love toward those enslaved to the sin. Statistics and real life facts show that the young men and women engaged in homosexuality live destructive lifestyles which only shorten their lives. To warn them to flee from this bondage of deceptive foolishness by calling them to repentance and submission to their creator is not a phobia to be criticized, but a compassion which should be commended.

Next up: Is the Bible an unreliable guide to Christ's teachings and is it riddled with contradictions?


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Evolution Evangelists

Ken Ham reports on the visit to their creation museum by "evolutionary evangelist," Michael Dowd. An "evolutionary evangelist? I thought Richard Dawkins, Ken Miller, and public schools were already doing that?


Dowd and his wife travel the country in a van giving a "spiritualized" evolutionary presentation, mainly to ultra-liberal Unitarian gatherings, called Thank God for Evolution!

The part of Ham's entry that captured my attention was the citation from a Louisville paper reporting how Dowd has a Pentecostal background and graduated from a evangelical college in Missouri. According to Dowd, he was "convinced the devil had infiltrated the school because professors taught about evolution." I went to his site, and sure enough, he graduated from the Assemblies of God college located in Springfield, MO. Not only that, but he graduated summa cum laude. His aversion toward evolution changed when he was introduced to conservative Christians who believed evolution was true and compatible with the Bible because "all truth is God's truth."

Now, apostates with evangelical backgrounds, even being educated in, and graduating with honors from, evangelical schools are a dime-a-dozen. I am not surprised by that admission. I mean, infamous apostate Unitarian, Dan Mages, graduated with honors in biblical studies from The Master's College and I know Master's taught him soundly.

No, what is a bit more bothersome to me is how Dowd says he was convinced of evolution by conservative Christians who believed Darwinian evolution is compatible with the Christian faith because, as they said, "all truth is God's truth." Sadly, I hear this sort of muddled apologetic coming from Greg Koukl, whom I happen to like, Kim Riddlebarger and Ken Samples, and of course Hugh Ross.

To be fair, these guys would be adamantly opposed to Darwinianism in the pure, naturalistic description, but their compromise with the idea of billion year ages, their acceptance of evolutionary cosmology, like how Ross advocates the big bang, and their allegorical hermeneutics, specifically promoted by Riddlebarger and Samples, creates a theological apologetic incubator where theistic evolution, or full on Darwinianism of the atheistic variety, can comfortably thrive in churches.

Interestingly, Dowd wrote excitedly about a progressive evangelical (a fancy title for apostate liberals) and emerging church conference that took place in the Bahamas this past October. N.T. Wright was one of the key note speakers.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Woe, Woe, Woe Feelings

Here's another contribution by my friend Hayden.

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings

Eph. 4:14-16

by Hayden Norris

There was a song that I remember growing up by an old group called Gemini titled Feelings. The lyrics started out like this:

Feelings, nothing more than feelings,
trying to forget my feelings of love.
Teardrops rolling down on my face,
trying to forget my feelings of love.
Feelings, for all my life I'll feel it.

I wish I've never met you, girl; you'll never come again.

The reason that I bring up this song is that many of the people that we know live largely according to feelings. We as a culture are even encouraged to do this when people tell us to just “follow our hearts”. When it comes to decision making are we to let our feelings into the ‘driver’s seat’? CJ Mahaney put it this way,

“In our arrogance, we invest our feelings with final authority…Have you ever considered how thoroughly most of us live by our feelings today-how feelings-focused we are? In a typical day, how often do you make decisions and evaluate reality based primarily on your emotions at the moment?”[1]

Ask yourself, “How often do I live by my feelings?” Here is a common example of “living by feelings”:

You have a major decision that will be life altering to make (changing your job, church, or home, etc.) What do you do? You usually pray about it and wait for a “peace” to come over the decision that you make. This is investing your feelings with final authority.

You may protest and say, “Didn’t Jesus promise to give me peace?” Yes He did, but what does that type of peace look like? Peace is Christ as He sweats drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane saying, “Father if there is another way but the cross, let’s do it.” Peace is Christ being nailed to the cross saying, “Father forgive them” and “My God, my God why have You forsaken me?” That Garden of Gethsemane peace looks much different than the garden variety

“I have peace, peace, peace, peace down in my soul, where? Down in my soul.”.

Lots of people have peace about the decisions that they make and many of them are not Christians. The man who decides to leave his wife can say, “This is the right thing to do, I have peace about my decision.” The woman who is about to take her life in a suicide attempt can say, “This is the right thing to do, I have peace about my decision.” What are we to say to them? Are they wrong? Indeed they are, because Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that “our hearts are desperately wicked: who can know it?” This means that you cannot fully trust your feelings of peace nor can you look at them as a sign of God’s blessing.

Now, I am not saying that having peace about a major decision invalidates your decision. What I am saying is that having peace about a decision should not be given ultimate authority in your decision making process. Do you want to make a decision that pleases God? Search the Scriptures and let it inform your emotions. That may produce peace or it may not. You may be called to make a difficult and turbulent decision, but you will be able to face it with the power of the real peace that Jesus promised you!

This is exactly what Ephesians 4:14-16 encourages you to do. Paul tells you that you must let Scripture rule over your emotions. Paul, being the great teacher that he is, gives you the terrible results of emotion-driven lives in verse 14 and the contrasting results of Scripture-driven lives in verses 15-16.

In verse 14 he begins by illustrating the tragedy of living by your emotions. He warns that you will be “tossed around” and “carried away by every wind of doctrine”. Unfortunately this is where many spend their time. Spiritual maturity ought to be the goal of every believer but too often ease in life and good feelings are. Don’t believe me? Walk into most popular Christian Bookstores and you will be greeted by a veritable cornucopia of books on how to “become a better you” or “have a great life now”. These are all aimed at your emotions, and do very little to help you grow in dealing with the many trials and difficulties in life. They actually contribute to your discontented heart. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones had it right when he said,

“Have you ever realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”[2]

Thankfully, Paul does not leave you hopeless and helpless. In verses 15 and 16 he gives you two benefits of letting the Scriptures rule over your emotions.

The first one is found in verse 15 and it is that you will grow up. This gets to the root of the problem at hand. When you live by your emotions you act like a baby that kicks and cries when he does not get his way. You basically end up throwing tantrums when you ‘feel’ you have been ‘wronged’ by God. Scripture warns of the danger of staying immature in your faith repeatedly (1 Peter 2:2; Heb. 5:13-6:1; 1 Cor. 3:1-3). You are to ‘grow in all aspects’ of your life more and more into the ‘image of Jesus Christ”. Much like a baby grows into his head, so are you to grow into your head, Jesus Christ.

The second benefit is a result of the first, and it is that your local church and the universal church will grow as you do. Have you ever thought of that before? If you are not growing more and more into the image of Jesus Christ you have become a ‘spiritual freeloader’ in your church, and your neglect is actually hurting the rest of the body of Christ (See 1 Cor. 12:1-31). Without individual growth among the members of the local body of believers, the whole body will not grow. Imagine if your legs grew and your feet stayed the same size as when you were an infant! How would you be able to walk? The same thing happens when a believer does not grow. The church cannot grow if its individual members do not. This kind of puts a new spin on why you should spend time in prayer and in the Word, doesn’t it?

When you live by feelings alone you are demonstrating that you are spiritually immature and that not only hurts you individually, but it is detrimental to the body collectively. I believe that this is one of the most serious problems in the modern day church. In order to grow, you must subject yourself to healthy doses of the Word, and Sunday mornings is not enough. It must be a daily endeavor. You are locked in a battle and the adversary never rests. This battle begins at the moment you wake up and is with you every place you go. Why? Because the battle is ultimately between you and your feelings. From the moment that you awake until the time you go to sleep you are at war with your feelings.

I don’t want you to get the impression that I am advocating some sort of emotionless existence like some android or robot. (Think Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation.) NO WAY! Our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated an amazing range of emotions (anger, joy, sadness, to name a few), but the Lord’s emotions were always perfect and submitted to the Father’s perfect will. That is the example that we must follow if we are to grow. Feelings should be the caboose on the train and not the engine! CJ Mahaney rightly points out,

“Emotions are a wonderful gift from God, and our relationship with God should bring strong godly affections to our lives. BUT our emotions shouldn’t be vested with final authority. This should be reserved for God’s Word alone.”[3]

May God help you to live by His Word and not solely on your feelings as you grow into the image of His Son Jesus Christ!

[1] CJ Mahaney, Living the Cross Centered Life (Multnomah, 2006).

[2] As quoted in CJ Mahaney, Living the Cross Centered Life (Multnomah, 2006).

[3] CJ Mahaney, Living the Cross Centered Life (Multnomah, 2006).

Hayden Norris is an associate pastor at Mt. Morris Community Church in Mt. Morris, Michigan. His email is, hayden@mmccchurch.org

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Blood and the Glory

From Phil's side bar

The Gladiator soundtrack just makes this...


Twenty Ways to Answer A Fool (pt 16)

Is Christianity Misogynistic?

I continue once again examining the screed written by the blues guitar playing, anti-Christian, Chaz Bufe, entitled 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity.

In his 16th point, Chaz claims Christianity is misogynistic. "Misogynistic" is a fancy word meaning "woman hater." This particular entry is a bit long, so I refer the reader here to read it in its entirety.

Chaz writes in his opening sentence, "Misogyny is fundamental to the basic writings of Christianity." Really? Any person who genuinely believes this is either,

a) cherry picking selective citations from the Bible without any thought of context within a Christian worldview or,

b) has a limited view of world history and,

c) certainly has not traveled anywhere beyond the immediate confines of his or her hometown, let alone anywhere in the world.

I would venture a wild guess and say all of these apply to Chaz, at least the first two.

In order to "prove" his thesis, Chaz moves on to quote out-of-context Paul's words to wives in Ephesians 5, a few OT passages that speak to the "uncleanness" of women, and then lists other similar passages from the Bible like Timothy 2:11,12, and 1 Corinthians 11:3. Chaz insists these passages and other like them are responsible for the oppression of women through out world history down to our current day where women are not allowed to pastor churches. He also presents some citations from the sermons of church fathers like Tertullian, who railed against the disobedience of Eve in the garden of Eden. These sermons are proclaimed to be filled with venomous misogyny.

The amusing part of Chaz's point is how he buys into the inflated number of "millions "of witches being burned during the Inquisition and the myth about the English common law allowing husbands to beat their wives.

As to the witches being burned, the number of young women burned at the stake is certainly exaggerated, more like in the tens of thousands rather than millions, and that is over a course of 300 plus years; and I would add, the witch hunting was stopped by Christians, not "intellectual" anarchist atheists, as Chaz would have us believe.

The idea about English law allowing husbands to beat their wives is also another urban legend created by feminist. Sort of like the claim more women are abused on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day. Christiana Hoff Sommers has done a fine job of debunking this myth in her book Who Stole Feminism?, and showing how it is the invention of fevered feministic anti-traditionalism. Read the section here. Certainly there have been individual cases in history past where judges favored an abusive husband over his wife, but the true "rule of thumb" among law courts both in England and America was to punish abusive husbands who battered their wives. This protection of women is a product of Christianity elevating the place of women in God's kingdom, and it has been Christians who have advocated against domestic violence toward women.

What's more is how Chaz ends this point by listing a group of women instrumental in the establishment of feminist ideology. Two are worth noting. First is Mary Wollstonecraft who was an 18th century atheistic feminist. She is lauded as a pioneering intellectual of feminism who argued for educational opportunities for women and advocated other equal rights in her writings. As enlightened as she supposedly was, however, her choice of men for her relationships displays the mentality of a Hollywood bimbo.

She had affairs with two notorious misogynists, one with artist Henry Fuseli, an emotionally troubled painter who had severe hang-ups and hatred toward women, and Gilbert Imlay who got her pregnant and left her for another affair with an actress. Her daughter, Mary, who wrote the Frankenstein novel, didn't fair too well with men either. She married the womanizing Percy Shelley who left his pregnant wife to marry her and who eventually left her as well. These may be women liberated from the "tyranny" of traditional Christianity, only to trade it for the piggish behavior of narcissistic chauvinists.

Then Chaz lists Margaret Sanger. He even quotes favorably one her key slogans of life, "no God, no master," and says it is still relevant today. That is a frightening thought, because Sanger was a pro-eugenics racist who promoted birth-control for the purposes of maintaining a fit nation free of unevolved ethnic groups who would hold our society back. She created the American Birth Control League, what was to become Planned Parenthood, for just such a purpose. Her group specifically targeted low-income ethnic and minority neighborhoods because the people there were considered more feeble-minded than the rest of our society.

In reality, it is Chaz's view of liberated women that is a disgusting form of selfish sexism. This is typical of anti-Christian intellectuals through out history. Chaz is for sure a supporter of Darwinianism, but Charles Darwin himself was a sexist. Writing in his second major book of biological evolution, Descent of Man, he presented women as being less evolved than men and the reason why they need to stay home under the protection of men. Many of his immediate supporters also held to the notion that men were more evolved than women.

In all honesty, Chaz's concern for the rights of women in Christianity is phony. Sure Chaz decries the mistreatment of women by the hands of Christian officials over the centuries, pointing out how they have been oppressed and are not allowed to participate in church leadership and are basically told by the Bible to stay in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant. But it is all a ruse to cover up his true motive which is to have free, limitless sex with any girl of any age with impunity.

You see, biblical theology, as taught throughout the entire length of scripture, has a profound respect for women. That profound respect is demonstrated in the fact the scriptural ethics do not allow men to use women as sexual chattel. Are there examples of men abusing women in the Bible? Sure. Is this an operating moral principle taught in the Bible for a Christian world view? No. One truly important illustration of genuine love and respect for women means a man does not use women solely for his own sexual gratification. A biblical morality teaches men are to take responsibility for the women they involve themselves with sexually including committing to them in marriage first, and taking care of the children who will be the product of that sexual marriage.

Chaz, on the other hand, promotes a playboy mentality under the guise of helping to liberate women that doesn't want the hassle of the responsibility stuff. Thus, in his mind, women "set free" from the stifling life as a Christian and cut loose from the shackles of traditional Christian morality don't have those annoying sexual mores in tow.

Next up: Is Christianity homophobic?