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

Friday, June 29, 2007

Ridiculing Unbelief

A couple of weeks ago I posted a sarcastic response to an email I received from a disgruntled and embittered biblio-skeptic. A handful of the commenters were a tad put out that I, a man of pure Christian virtue, would respond with such a mean-spirited, dismissive post that in essence ridiculed the emailer's inquiries into the Faith. My response, I was told, was hurtful and doesn't witness the gospel.

I personally think my response was the proper use of biblically ordained ridicule.

I believe there is a distinction to be made between individuals who do have sincere questions concerning God and the Bible, and those, like this emailer, who are just mocking scorners.

The sincere person has a genuine interest in discovering an answer when he asks about difficult passages, or perceived moral dilemmas recorded in scripture, or what is misunderstood as a "contradiction." I love those type of questions from inquirers who really want to have an answer. I thrill at the opportunity to inform a weak faithed Christian, or a person who hasn't been taught well.

The mocking scorner, on the other hand, needs to be handled differently. Though I can almost immediately smell the venomous tone dripping off such a person's questions from the start of the conversation, I tend to give the individual the benefit of respect when I respond. I'm never cowed by ignorant, misinformed and bufoonish unbelievers who have wrong-headed ideas, and I certainly relish the privilege of correcting a loud mouthed know-it-all about what the Bible teaches. But it has been my experience with such people that my respect will quickly be abused and I before I know it, I am just wasting my time.

The Bible has a lot to say about answering the person who is a scorner of God. In fact, one of the key themes of scripture is the distinction between the wise and the foolish. These are descriptions of a person's obedience to God and how the person's obedience, or lack thereof, impacts his overall perspective on life. A wise person is one who fears God, whereas a fool is one who lives in rebellion to God. It should be noted that when Psalm 14:1 says "The fool says in his heart, there is no God," it is a comment upon the fool's willful disobedience in light of the truth. The idea is not that the fool hasn't discovered any compelling evidence for belief in God; rather it means the person has chosen to reject a clear and decisive call to live in obedience to God, so as to live a life in pursuit of self interests.

Thus, throughout the Bible, the fool is described as one who makes bone-headed decisions, who pursues stupid courses of action, who is easily led astray into error, whose life is often times ruined by his or her folly, and vocally scorns the Lord. One of my favorite Proverbs in recent days is Proverbs 19:3, which reads so well in the ESV, When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD. In other words, foolish people destroy themselves with their foolish ideas and behavior, and then blame God for their personal calamities. I have seen this Proverb come to light many times in the lives of unbelievers.

With that said, the foolish are known to be unteachable and any one who attempts to correct a foolish scoffer will only get themselves turmoil. That is because the foolish person thinks he has it all figured out, and even though he may boast that he is a free thinking, open-minded person, unlike those mind-controlled Christians who believe anything they are told, in reality his mind is the tightest shut. The fool has no true interest in being instructed in anything truthful, because truth has as its starting point a fear and worship of the true and living God who is the source of all wisdom.

The Proverbs are absolutely clear about this:

Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you (Proverbs 10:7-8a)

Because a fool is unwilling to receive instruction and the person offering the instruction will be ridiculed, sometimes it is necessary to offer ridicule in return to silence the fool. Proverbs 26:5 says to, answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. There may come a time when a fool needs to have his mouth shut by a well spoken response of ridicule.

This was my tactic in answering this mocking skeptic who emailed me. I could tell from the tone of his email that he was not interested in having a meaningful response to the questions he asked. Moreover, his questions were so simple and have already been answered by Christians in history past that if this person was not satisfied with those previous answers, he most certainly would not be satisfied with any thing I wrote. He was just looking for an occasion to heap more scorn and mockery upon the Christian faith. As Proverbs 29:9 states, If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.

Now, it may interest the reader to know that after I posted my response, I sent the individual a link so he could read it. He did, and I have exchanged some additional emails with this person and my initial suspicions of his sincerity have since been soundly affirmed.

First, he claims to be a former Christian, having attended church for many years. I asked him at least three times what church it was he attended, as well as its denominational affiliation, and my inquiries have been utterly ignored. Go figure.

Second, the biggest portions of his emails are cut-and-pasted articles he has found somewhere on the internet that equate to being canned overload. Canned overload is defined as stuff that is previously written, in this case, third or fourth hand, and it is so much a normal person like myself with a job and family and the responsibilities of a daily life cannot possibly answer all of it in any meaningful fashion. Because I don't have the time, energy, or desire to answer his long, rambling cut-and-pasted emails point by point in meticulous detail, he smugly takes my lack of response as indication that I can't answer his arguments.

Next, he mockingly refers to my convictions as being a product of Christian "mind-control," all the while dismissing the reality that he is just as "mind-controlled" concerning his convictions. He boasts that he is unbiased because he has spent so many years studying the truth of Christianity, even though, once again, he ignores my inquiries as to which scholarly resources it is from where he derived his information.

His main point of contention is the nonsensical notion popular in some anti-theist circles these days that Jesus wasn't a real person and Christian theology is built upon ancient mythologies, like Mithras. When I pointed him to articles written by the leading Mithras scholars who deny any plausibility to the theory that Christianity is derived from Mithras legends, my emailer rejects them as being incompetent and that anyone can claim to be "scholar." Hence, he is selective as to which "scholars" he considers authoritative. Those "scholars" supporting his position are real "scholars." Those "scholars" meaningfully critiquing their scholarship are "mind-controlled."

I sent him a link to Paul Manatas' massive response to the atheists of the Rational Response Squad in which he answered similar facile questions posed to me by my hostile emailer. He told me he read it, but he thought they were stupid because they were written by a "mind-controlled" Christian. When I asked him to demonstrate how Paul's responses were illogical and stupid, he again skipped over my question and returned to the Mithras foolishness.

I could provide more examples of the unprofitability of arguing with a fool. So, with these points in mind, I hope a person can see why I went with a post with more of a humorous bite.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Moses' Step-mother Found

Hatshepsut's Mummy Identified

Hatshepsut was more than likely Moses' adoptive mother, the daughter of Pharaoh who found him in the river when she was bathing (Exodus 2:1-10).

Doug Petrovich has a stellar article about the defacing of Hatshepsut's image by Amenhotep II, the possible Exodus Pharaoh, because of her involvement with rescuing Moses from the river.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Celebration of Great Canadians, Eh

Neil, my friend, this is for you. Your doughnut cake is on its way.


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FBT Updates

The Lord willing, I will be uploading some newer audio series to my other website, Fred's Bible Talk. It has been in need of a serious updating for sometime. Time constraints just prevent me and my web smart friend, Will, to do it on a regular basis.

The MP3s are the devotional teaching times I present to my volunteers whom I have the privilege of serving twice a week at Grace to You radio ministries.

I have two series I need to upload, one on answering the apologetic claims of the homosexual "Christian" community, and another one that supplements the apologetic methodology series I posted to my blog.

In the meantime, my friend Will did upload two stand alone messages from earlier this year.

My wife's testimony (my Canadian homeschooling mom acquaintances will appreciate it I am sure) and my retelling of our dinner with the Mormon missionaries. Will even embedded this snazzy player that allows a person listen to the message right on line.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

The Pyro Magical Mystery Tour

Visitors to Teampyro, I am sure, have noticed for the last couple of months the announcement on the right sidebar proclaiming how all three T-pyro members, Phil, Dan, and Frank, will be present together at this years Founder's Conference in Tulsa OK. Only Pecadillo, the so-called "fourth" T-pyro member, won't be there.

I envy those who will be present to witness this rare conjunction of personalities; an historical event that may never happen again in our life time. This is so much of an unique event that T-pyro fans who will be in attendance are certain to be clamoring loudly for their attention.

Even though these TP fans are Christians - many of them "Reformed" Christians, mind you - who generally handle themselves with grace and proper decorum in the presence of their theological heroes, a danger exists for them to turn swiftly into a mob of groveling sycophants.

Case in point...

A few years ago I was attending a Shepherd's Conference, and during the opening session, John MacArthur recognized Christian author, Iain Murray being in attendance with us. When he stood up to greet the audience, he was sitting immediately behind me. I had read a number of his books and he was by far one of my favorite authors. So, I thought it would be nice when the service was finished to turn and introduce myself and tell him how much I appreciated his books.

As soon as John said "amen," I turned to give Mr. Murray my greeting, but before I could even get his attention and say "hello" I was immediately jostled by a press of bodies all pushing to get to him. At least five men yelled out at the same time, "Can I take you to lunch!?" It was like the media chasing Paris Hilton. He happened to glance at me with an alarmed look on his face, as if he was silently pleading with me to rescue him from this spectacle, and I quickly grabbed his hand and blurted, "Thank you for your books," and then I muscled my way out of the growing throng.

I guess even a congregation of dignified theological geeks can succumb to celebrity frenzy.

With that in mind, may I suggest to our beloved T-Pyros to be prepared for a similar reaction at the Founder's Conference. Though I am not speaking from personal experience with such a situation, if I could be so bold as to offer my thoughts on how to handle excited blog fans:

First, you may benefit greatly from your stardom, because with all the people wanting to take you to lunch, you may not have to pay for any of your meals while in Tulsa. Take advantage of any local steak places.

Also, make sure to carry a pen for autographs.

Most importantly, when you are asked to sign any T-Pyro gear like shirts, bumper stickers, or even the front leaf of a Bible or two, write legibly. People will want to show off your autograph, it helps if they can read the name.

Be gracious when the 120th person of the day approaches you outside the conference, say at a restaurant, and tells you for the umpteenth time that he is your biggest fan and he reads your blog, like, every day.

Wear nice clothes. Jeans, khakis, polo shirts. Unless you have made yourself into an internet persona of a disheveled, sweat pants and t-shirt wearing blogger, you want to maintain a picture of respectability.

Lastly, along those same lines, shave, comb your hair, and tuck in your shirt. Your wives will appreciate it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Biblically Literate Evangelism

Todd Friel, Way of the Master Radio host, spent a day at the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention. The last 5 minutes or so of the first hour (Direct MP3 link) he played a brief audio clip from Kirk Cameron challenging the pastors of the SBC. Here's the transcript:

Can I speak to you from my heart for a moment? I realize that, theologically, I’m not worthy to wash your socks. But imagine this scenario with me, if you will: Imagine I’m a “seeker”- I’m a non-Christian, sitting in your church week after week after week listening to you. Am I ever going to hear the message that will save my soul from Hell? Will you ever tell me the truth clearly enough so that I realize that my sin has made me an enemy of God: that I am currently on the path that leads to destruction, with the wrath of God dwelling upon me, and that unless I repent and put my faith in the Savior, I will perish? Or have you decided that it’s better to simply entertain me, and on Sundays I can come to have my “felt needs” met with good music and good advice? Pastor, while I would appreciate that, it’s the ultimate betrayal of my trust in you if you don’t tell me the truth. Will I ever hear the words “repent,” “surrender,” “turn to the Savior,” “be born again”? If you don’t tell me those things, how will I ever know to do it?Please don’t leave it up to the Wednesday night small-group leader. They’re taking their cues from you. You’re leading the flock.

And now I speak to you as a Christian. If you and I fail to teach the whole counsel of God, and we don’t warn sinners to flee from the wrath to come, and run to the love of Christ on the Cross to save their soul, we make a terrible mistake. It doesn’t matter how happy a person is- how much a sinner is enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season- without the righteousness of Christ, he’ll perish on the Day of Judgment. The Bible says, “Riches profit not on the Day of Wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” You see, that’s how Kirk Cameron realized he needed a Savior. I had riches, but I knew that it was the righteousness of God that I needed in order to be saved from my sin

I truly appreciate his comments and agree with them whole-heartedly. And I am not just saying that as one of Kirk's fellow church members.

It certainly is true that a seeker-sensitive mind-set, which has as its goal to entertain congregations with gimmicky and manipulative techniques at the expense of declaring an unadulterated gospel message, has blinded the focus of the Church as a whole and Southern Baptist Churches specifically.

However, seeing that I come from the official American Bible Belt South, where Southern Baptist Churches thrive, and having lived in the first notch of the belt right below the buckle for a number of years growing up, I have some experience with Southern Baptist Churches and gospel preaching. Though there is deep truth behind what Kirk said to these pastors, if I could be so bold, I wanted to expand upon those comments.

Rather than a problem with preaching the gospel, I believe a much larger problem needing to be addressed is biblical and theological illiteracy in the pulpits and the pews. I have heard hundreds if not thousands of sermons from SBC preachers and evangelists and nearly everyone of them ends with a rousing invitational call for those who need the gospel. The person who has not heard the gospel, if any are genuinely present at all in the congregation, are implored to walk down the aisle in response to that invitation, meet with the pastor or some counselor, pray a sinner's prayer, and sign a card indicating they have given their lives to Christ. So in a sense, the gospel is proclaimed to a certain degree.

But, that gospel invitation often times comes after the conclusion of a poorly preached, biblically muddled sermon. Each Sunday morning and evening is an adventure as Christians have to endure a sloppily prepared sermon that has basically three points somewhat related to the context of the passage, and then have the message trivialized because it is punctuated with inappropriate humorous illustrations that detract from the seriousness of the subject matter.

Moreover, there is no biblical continuity from week to week. A couple of verses are randomly seized from their contexts, stripped of their true contextual meaning, and employed to bolster some spiritual opinion that has no bearing on the passage being preached. Additionally, the subjects preached are all over the map and taken from a hodge-podge of books. On one Sunday morning the pastor could be in Judges preaching on temptation, and then that Sunday evening in Colossians addressing worldliness, whereas on Wednesday evening its a message on commitment from Matthew, and then Sunday morning a message about prayer from 1 Peter.

Sunday school classes are really no better. Youth groups are primarily fast paced fun-and-games style presentations covering the generic topics on morality assumed to be relevant to Christian youth. Usually messages on premarital sex are high on the list. Rarely do the kids open their Bibles to hear their youth pastor teach on the attributes of God's holiness.

Most adult Sunday school teaching is done from a little quarterly booklet prepared by the national denomination which is designed to rush the class through a study of the Old and New Testaments within a few years (Or the Baptist Faith and Message), and never is there any time to stop down and ponder a key passage like Ephesians chapter 1 for a few weeks. As a result of these prefabricated lessons, the folks have a shallow, superficial understanding of the Bible once they are completed.

Certainly there are exceptions to my comments here. I am thinking in broad, general terms born from experience (keep in mind the words "broad" and "general" before leveling criticisms). However, in addition to challenging pastors to preach a clear, concise, and theologically accurate gospel message, I would also challenge them as to their preaching and teaching. I want them to set a standard of excellent for study in God's Word by presenting coherent, biblically sound messages.

No more simplistic sermons written hurriedly the Saturday afternoon before it is preached. And away with plagiarized sermons whose outlines are taken from something found on www.lazypastor.com and www.theultrabusypastor.com. If a pastor is too lazy to study so as to prepare a message, he must repent on his knees and discipline himself to prepare. If he is too busy, he must cut out superfluous activities from his life that rob his time. And shame on congregations who equate busyness with spirituality and work their pastor like a dog and don't afford him the time to study. They need to repent also.

I would exhort the pastors to preach and teach expositionally, verse by verse through a book, for that forces the pastor to deal with the entirety of God's Word. Exposition also makes the pastor think carefully through the Bible and drives him to wrestling with how to explain the text to his people. It even makes him deal with those oft avoided, difficult passages which raise uncomfortable questions, stir emotions and inflame religious fervor.

And finally, I would say pastors need to expose their flocks to rich theology from the pulpit and in the Sunday school classes. That would also include our heritage we have in a study of Church History. Pastor's must not keep their people ignorant of these things, even if the subject matter is considered difficult. I would also say include the youth, especially teens. Show them why the Bible is important and their faith profound by laying aside silly amusements and teaching them scripture. I believe teens are better prepared to handle these truths than we give them credit.

I believe Kirk is right. Certainly there is a dire need to proclaim a pure gospel message. But a pure gospel message is a result of a solid, biblical foundation and can be much more effective in presentation when the person has a firm knowledge of the truths he or she proclaims. Such knowledge can only come from sound preaching by men committed to preach and teach the full depths of God's revelation.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

When The Mind is Lost

I'm Both a Muslim and a Christian

Something tells me her Islam does not include honor killings and the abusive misogyny that permeates the religion. So much for postmodern consistency.

Isaiah 3:12 comes to mind

As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

[I am unmercifully swamped with the regular chores of life, so I don't have the time to post new stuff for a few days. In the meantime, here's another shameless re-post from back during the first year I was blogging. All the new visitors may appreciate it. The pictures are fairly self-explanatory. Comments are opened and welcomed.]


Bad Ideas

A bit of humor for the week

They must not be in the local Union


OSHA just loves these sorts of things

Somewhere, a personal injury attorney is licking his lips. "I nearly crushed myself to death under my truck with a homemade jack, and Larry Parker got me 2.3 million dollars."


Hey, if it works and gets the job done...




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Monday, June 18, 2007

Happy Father's Day

This Father's Day my children lavished on me some lovely gifts. Along with the homemade cards heaping accolades upon my good name and decorated with bug, dinosaur, and car stickers, I also received a lovely Frank Turk designed Team Pyro mug, a big ole' box of Reeses Pieces, 10 dollars in quarters (for my coffee fund) and a Starbucks gift card (also for my coffee fund).

Sunday we get ready for church and I take the boys down to the van to get them ready to go. The youngest boy, who is a year and a half, has been having an issue with keeping his shoes on his feet for any length of time while riding in the van. So, when he comes scooting down the stairs barefoot I tell him, "I'm going to put your shoes on when we get to church." He just giggles. I grab him and his shoes.

I lock him in his seat, the two other boys are locked into their seats, and my wife jumps in the car and we head off for our twenty minute drive to Sunday Worship. About mid-way to church, my wife looks back at the youngest and says, "Where's his shoes?"

"Oh," I replied in a cocky tone, as if I had out smarted this baby from taking off his shoes, "Seeing that he always takes them off anyways, I'll put them on him when we get to church." My wife looks around the van and says "Where are they, because I don't see them?" "Oh, they're back in the back," I said with my ever increasing confidence. "Well," my wife responds matter of fact, "You know the nursery won't take him if he has no shoes on, right?"

A cloud of doubt began to form on the horizon of my mind.

"Well, they are either back by his seat or I put them in the back with his stroller," I quickly retorted attempting to stay the fissure beginning to form in my facade of certainty. "I'm not going to do something as stupid as forgetting his shoes."

Thankfully, after the nursery workers had a great laugh, they took the boy in spite of his bare feet, but he had to stay in a crib the entire time. In between services, my wife went to check on him and a newer workers unaware of my son's plight, kindly whispered to my wife in her most helpful, Titus 2 style voice something along the lines of, "You may want to think to put shoes on him next time." I told my wife, "You should have responded in the best hill billy draw you could muster, 'Shewz? We'd dount let the yougnins ware shewz untel ther 12."

Once we got home, I did find the shoes sitting on a table next to our van in the garage.

On an entirely separate subject, I wish to say thanks to Team Pyro and Pulpit Live for the links. Visitors to my blog tripled for a daily average, and then for one day, I think last Friday, the traffic was up to 800 visits. I was amazed.

Thanks for sending the love guys.

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Apologetic Evangelism Methodology 101 (pt 9)

Readying Ourselves to Engage the World (pt 3)

I have been discussing how we as Christians can ready ourselves to offer a credible evangelistic apologetic to the unbelieving world. I have three major points I wish to highlight I believe can help Christians set their mind to the task.

I first considered Our Preparation, then Our Practice, and with this final point,

Our Pitfalls

In spite of excellent preparation and a flawless ability to practically present any apologetic material and provide a compelling evangelistic witness, there will be some pitfalls endangering our efforts. Our ministry will only be served and much improved if we take note of these pitfalls so as to avoid them.

1) Quickly Becoming Discouraged Even though we should expect unbelievers in rebellion against God to respond with negative reactions and hostility when we attempt to evangelize them, the experience can still be disheartening. If we really care about a close loved one, the discouragement can compound, especially if it is a sibling, a parent, an aunt or uncle, or even a spouse. At those times, we need to remind ourselves again of who it is we are speaking to: a ornery sinner. The person may be nice, sweet, and a faithful friend, but as a sinner, the person doesn't want anything to do with God.

If the individual happens to be a close loved one, someone you may see regularly, it may be wise to step back from the verbal evangelistic confrontation and merely love the person with silent, faithful service. The power of a changed, quiet life devoted to God can shout volumes into the hearts of an unbeliever. Eventually, in God's timing, the person will come back around to talking about the Lord. Just be alert to when it happens.

2) Overwhelming The Person With Too Much Information Sometimes when those evangelistic encounters come about, there is a tendency on the part of the Christian to present the person with every argument in defense of Christianity the Christian has ever learned. Such an approach can be a frightening experience and will just make the person want to shut down and not engage in any conversation. The better approach is to go slow and present a little bit of information at a time. Take as much time to answer any objections and concerns the person may have. And of course, listen more than you may talk, allowing your words to be carefully selected and to the point.

3) Attempt To Win An Argument Don't come across as wanting to pick a fight and win. Even if the person is a big mouthed skeptic who needs to be shut down and put into his place, attempting to win the argument can potentially lead to heated words, raised voices, and flaring tempers that will merely damage your character. If the conversation is becoming argumentative, the better course of actions is to graciously bow out by ending it or changing the subject.

4) Treating The Person As An Enemy Along the lines of coming across as argumentative is the danger of treating the unbeliever as an enemy. It can be easy to fall into that trap if the person is adversarial with his mocking scorn. However, we cannot fail to think evangelistically with compassion toward the individual. The person is a sinner in need of being rescued.

We shouldn't think like Jonah who wanted the people of Nineveh to die in judgment, but sadly, many Christians have these feelings against the sinners in our culture. Rather than seeing the lost as our mission field who need to hear the message of reconciliation, they are viewed as the troublers of American values who must be stopped at all costs. These people forget they were one time hostile to the gospel as well. They may had been out right mean-spirited about it, but if the people who shared with them had treated them as an enemy they may had never heard the gospel. We are the ambassadors of God's grace, not the proclaimers of eternal punishment.

5) Laziness We don't take the time to prepare our minds for the task of evangelism. It may be we don't even really care about reaching our loved ones for Christ because it forces us out of our comfort zone. Faithful evangelism means we have to take the time - time we would otherwise use to spend on ourselves - to get to know the person. We have to get involved with his life and that takes away from time spent with the people we like. I say that with all fingers pointing back at me, because I am all too familiar with this pitfall. But we must shake ourselves from that lazy stupor and involve ourselves with the messiness of people's lives that is encountered when we evangelize.

6) Forget To Bathe The Time In Prayer According to Paul's words in the opening chapters of 1 Corinthians, we proclaim Christ and Him crucified. We go in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, we need to look in prayer to the God of salvation to direct our efforts and to work in the person's heart. That is why you don't have to be super eloquent in your speech, or an expert know-it-all on every major cult, religion and "ism" in the world. As long as you do your part by preparing spiritually with sanctification and study of the Word, God will take care of the rest.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

These are the headlines I love to see

Squirrel Goes on Rampage, injures 3

No word if he left a suicide note.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

When Soul Winning Goes Bad

[This is a shameless repost from a few years ago. I feel no remorse for reposting, especially in between preparing newer posts. Anyways, I found it while searching my archives for something else, and I remembered how funny the subject matter was. I thought I would put it up for my newer readers who perhaps missed it and have no desire to search my archives to "catch up." The second comment by Highland Host is outstanding so make sure to read it.]

I am currently listening to Michael Medved interview a moonbat Bay area leftist by the name of Harmon Leon. I never heard of him before, but his writing, though from a leftist worldview, sounds as though it maybe funny to read.

Mr. Leon recently wrote a book telling of his adventures and experiences infiltrating various right-wing organizations. The book has the main title of Republican Like Me, implying that the groups he infiltrated are Republican in politics, but in all honesty, as I listen to him interviewed, a good portion of those "Republican" groups are really wacko and represent the fringe element in conservative right wing values.

Anyway, Michael asked Mr. Leon a thoughtful question. He asked him if during his adventures there were any conservatives he actually enjoyed making friends with? My curiosity was piqued when he said yes, the Christian Wrestling Federation. As Mr. Leon explained, these guys would wrestle, body slam each other, blood shooting, full on make-up and masks, and then after everything was finished, they would get all serious and present the gospel to the audience.

I had to go check this out for myself, so I googled the terms "Christian" and "wrestling" and was directed right to their website. Their governing verse is 1 Corinthians 9:22 that says I have become all things to all people that I might win some. This is just a wild-eyed guess, but I am thinking Paul didn't necessarily have in mind a couple of big guys in spandex tights body slamming each other. Of course, I could be wrong about that. Some of the wrestlers body slamming for Jesus are "Devestator," "Jesus Freak," "Psycho Simpson," and "The Cross Factor."

I could probably opine about the dumbing down of the gospel and how Christians are embarrassing Christ with foolishness, but I will restrain myself. I just thought it was interesting how the one conservative group this leftist guy actually enjoyed was the CWF.

Well, as long as there's a seed planted ...

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Double Slit Experiment

This is a geeky egg-head video on how light acts strangely as a particle and a wave at the same time. If you are not a geeky egg-head, you may want to skip it.

I thought of Neil when I watched it.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Worst Person Awards Runner Up

Early in June, Focus on the Family broadcast a sermon my pastor, John MacArthur, gave to a large church in Colorado Springs for the National Day of Prayer. It was called "A Nation Abandoned by God." You can listen to the two day broadcast here (part 1) and here (part 2).

It was a pleasant surprise to have Focus broadcast the messages because the ministry hasn't been too warm to John's perspective on Christian political activism over the years. But that aside, the two day broadcast was well received.

Except....

By a self-appointed liberal watchdog group called Media Matters that "monitors" and "corrects" conservative bias. As if leftists don't have a bias, especially a bias that doesn't need correcting.

Anyhow, they must keep tabs on Dobson's program and heard John's message that was broadcast which bent them out of shape, and then funneled the information to another leftist TV commentator on MS-NBC named Keith Olbermann who gave John the runner up for his "Worst Person" awards. Olbermann is one of those barking at the moon liberals, but it's a bit gleeful to know John was mentioned by him. It probably was the first time anyone at Media Matters or even Olbermann heard of John, seeing that he doesn't run in the typical evangelical activism circles where the Media Matters types tend to hunt.

The Media Matters reporter who wrote up a review of John's sermon closed his article by dredging up the old court trial (more than 20 years now) in which John and Grace Church were sued by the parents of a son who committed suicide after being counseled. Disturbingly, the reporter who works for a media watch group who supposedly values the truth in media, twisted the facts of the case and the results of what happened after it was thrown out. So much for valuing the correction of misinformation.

Anyhow, I love it when our pastor gets this sort of exposure. It tells me he is doing something right.

Olbermann's closing comments about John are also worth noting. He basically tells John to "Let God speak for Himself, pal." Wow. Talking about the fist shaking at God.

When I read that comment, I was reminded of William Gurnall's sermon on the wrath of God:

When I consider how the goodness of God is abused by the greatest part of mankind, I cannot but be of his mind that said, The greatest miracle in the world is God’s patience and bounty to an ungrateful world. If a prince hath an enemy got into one of his towns, he doth not send them in provision, but lays close siege to the place, and doth what he can to starve them. But the great God, that could wink all His enemies into destruction, bears with them, and is at daily cost to maintain them. Well may He command us to bless them that curse us, who Himself does good to the evil and unthankful. But think not, sinners, that you shall escape thus; God’s mill goes slow, but grinds small; the more admirable His patience and bounty now is, the more dreadful and unsupportable will that fury be which ariseth out of His abused goodness. Nothing smoother than the sea, yet when stirred into a tempest, nothing rageth more. Nothing so sweet as the patience and goodness of God, and nothing so terrible as His wrath when it takes fire.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Thank You Mr. Atheist for Your Loving Concern

From the email in-box,

To: fred@fredsbibletalk.com
From: *****
Subject: RE: [QUAR][Barracuda] Bible inerrant

Fred,

I accidently ran into your internet site and read your article about an inerrant Bible.I won't go into the area of screwed up translations.I will copy and paste some of your statements and comment on them. Paste from your site: Anything He does will be untainted with error, and because He has breathed out scripture, the scripture is then tied to His purity and holiness and can correctly said to be inerrant.

From me>>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.
#3.That man was so stupid back then that he actually thought he could build a tower to heaven.
#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.
#6.You have to believe in a flat earth because these supposedly inspired by god people said so back then.
#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.
#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 beginning to form.
#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.
#11.You have to believe Lot had intercourse with 2 of his daughters on 2 different nights and knew it not.
#12.You have to believe Jesus was concieved 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.

I could go on about the impossibilities you claim to be inerrant in your bible.The names of authors of the whole Bible is unknown the names claimed to be the writters was guessed at by Hebrews(O.T.) and Christians(N.T.)no one ZERO knows who wrote one word in the bible.Only a brainwashed,mind controlled christian could ever believe the Bible inerrant,it's to obvious that it is not for any thinking person.

Greetings ____,

I want you to know how much I appreciated your email. I was touched by the fact you took the time to express to me your concerns in writing. I am a rather obscure and unknown internet presence with a small time website and a blog that maybe gets 150 visits a day, half of which are people looking for joint pain medication. I am no where in the league of a John Frame, or Steve Hays, or Paul Manata, or the guys at Answers in Genesis, or even that psuedonymous J.P Holding. In the grand scheme of things, I am a guppy in a big, big pond of much larger, more significant fish.

Yet you thought enough of me, some one who is a total stranger to you, to become a mentor of sorts and help straighten me out. Most atheists are not even as considerate as you, but instead lace their correspondence with rude, insulting remarks and scurrilous comments. You far exceed the hacks from the Rational Response Squad. That is what I particularly like about your email. It contained none of the snarky arrogance common place among atheists. You even took the time to list some examples where you believe I have intellectually derailed.

First off, I must confess my overall dismay. Your email really shook me up. I mean, in the entire 2,000 years of church history since apologists have been answering critics with their polemics, I don't believe I have read any biblio-skeptic offer the examples you provide here. You must be praised for originality and freshness with your criticisms. And certainly I haven't read a Christian book attempting to answer them.

Take some of the Bible verses you pointed out. You mean to tell me what I learned in 3rd grade Sunday school class,via a felt board, that the Tower of Babel was just a large temple and the expression "whose top reached to the heavens" a way of saying it was used for unifying humanity around a false religion, is truly mistaken? You mean to tell me it was a mythical story describing a structure designed to take men into heaven itself? Like a giant space elevator or something? Yes, I guess I can see how that is a bit silly.

Oh, and to think I just presupposed the fact that since God is God, then miraculous, one time events like a talking snake, or a talking donkey, or Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt (assuming the expression is not a way of saying she died in the judgment of sulfur and brimstone) could be expected to happen. Gosh, I had no idea I was suppose to look at all reality only through material naturalistic uniformitarianism as a philosophical filter. Thank you for clarifying that for me.

Then, I also am gladdened your email was devoid of any phony, educated condescending huff and puff. Many atheists I have encountered in the past carry on with their criticisms about the reliability of the biblical text as if they have genuinely studied textual criticism, but in reality, they are ignorantly repeating 3rd, maybe 4th hand sources as they type away in their mother's basement.

But you are different. You seem to draw from a deep well of information and personal experience when you point out any belief in the inerrancy of scripture has zero evidence and no thinking person would adhere to such a belief. Golly, I have only been studying the Bible for nearly 20 years, a good half of that time at a seminary. I learned just two years of Greek and a year and a half of Hebrew. You must have really studied those languages a lot. How long have you been a student of textual critical principles?

I'm guessing now, since reading your email, that I have wasted my time heavily immersing myself in the critical studies of many of the brilliant textual scholars the world has known. Men like Constantine Von Tischendorf, Johann Bengel, Robert Dick Wilson, E.J. Young, D.A. Carson and Daniel Wallace, a man who actually handles and documents the original texts often under consideration when we speak of inerrancy. These guys all claim the historical documents are overwhelmingly trustworthy and reliable and provide for us an almost 100 percent accuracy when it comes to the veracity of the biblical text.

I reckon the same goes for biblical creationism. You really left me scratching my head, because I don't believe I have read any one who has ever addressed the star light problems you raised in your email.

At any rate, I apparently now have to return to evaluating what I have learned thanks to your thoughtful exposure of these non-thinking and brainwashed dolts.

So thank you for your loving concern. I am in your service, for you have saved me much embarrassment.

Fred

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Apologetic Evangelism Methodology 101 (pt 8)

Readying Ourselves to Engage the World (pt 2)

I have been considering the methodology of apologetics and evangelism. My desire is to motivate Christians with confidence to evangelize more readily and frequently. I began with my last post outlining how we can engage the world with the principles I have been sharing. Obviously, much of what I have written is theoretical, and knowledge of truth is worthless unless we are prepared to apply it.

I broke up my points of application into three, our preparation, our practice, and our pitfalls.

Just as a quick review of my first point, I wrote that we prepare ourselves to engage the world by knowing our faith and knowing our friend.

Knowing our faith entails knowing scripture, which can only be accomplished if a person willingly reads the Bible on a regular basis. Additionally, a Christian will want to supplement his daily Bible reading with exposure to theologically rich books. That would also include having on hand a copy or two of a good systematic theology. Next, knowing our friend involves recognizing those individuals we evangelize are lost, opposed to God. Their opposition to us is a reflection of their opposition to the Lord and that should not dissuade us of our evangelistic efforts.

With that in mind, allow me to turn to considering,

Our Practice

Keep in mind that when you engage an unbeliever with the truth of the gospel and discuss eternal things, two opposing world views are meeting head-to-head. The encounter could be likened to two kingdoms at battle or two authorities competing for devotion.

On the one hand there is a Christian with a God-centered view of reality with Christ as his sovereign, redemptive Lord. On the other, is the unbeliever with his self-centered view of reality with his idolatrous understanding of God or god/gods as his lord. The Christian sees the world filtered through the self-disclosed revelation of the eternal God as contained in Scripture. The unbeliever sees the world filtered through the self-deceived philosophies of fallen men.

With such diverse opposite perspectives, how exactly does one make headway?

As I mentioned in the second post to this series, The Bible provides us with some specific insights to the nature of the unbeliever. Let me quickly review the key ones,

First, All people know God in their hearts. There is not a person on earth who doesn't believe in God because he hasn't been shown enough compelling evidence. That is because all men are created in the image of God. Unbelief is not a matter of there being no evidence, its having no changed heart. What unbelievers do with the reality of God's existence is to suppress that truth. They do that by appealing to fanciful and imaginative excuses in the form of philosophies, worldly opinions, idolatrous false religions and so forth, as a justification for not believing God in the way He has revealed Himself in scripture. They know he exists, they just refuse to submit to him as their Lord.

I have a modern day example of what I mean. Back in December 2004, I was with my family at Disneyland with a group of friends and as we were in line waiting to get on some ride, a group of anti-Bush malcontents came striding past us. One of the guys was wearing a tee shirt with a big image of a stern faced George Bush plastered on the front with the words scrawled across it, NOT MY PRESIDENT.

I had to keep from laughing at him until he walked on past with his pals, because I thought myself, "his shirt represents the nature of unbelief. " This little punk didn't reject Bush as president because he wasn't thoroughly convinced he existed. He rejected Bush as president because he hated him so much. Its the matter of this kid's heart, not what is true.

However, it is a fallacious assertion to proclaim George Bush is "Not my president," because it doesn't matter how much a person despises Bush as a person or how much he or she hates his policies in the world, he is still your president - end of issue, period. And to demonstrate that he is YOUR president, George Bush could exercise the full force of his elected office to really mess up your life. The same is true of the LORD. It is only by grace He hasn't brought the full force of his absolute sovereignty to bear upon your life to really mess it up.

Second, All people have belief convictions they trust with their lives. These personal convictions are formed from by a variety of sources, a person's up-bringing, education, religious beliefs, etc, and shape a person's perspective on life. These convictions provide a person with the basic answers to the "meaning of life," issues that have eternal consequences, like "why am I here?" "What happens when I die?" and similar questions along those lines, and they shape personal opinions that intersect with the rest of the world. More importantly, these belief convictions are often appealed to so as to help explain away the feelings of guilt all men created in the image of God, but separated from him, experience. People know they are separated from God, so the world view philosophies they allow to govern their lives provide them assurance about choices and beliefs they make which in reality have those eternal consequences.

Third, All people, by and large, live widely inconsistent to their chosen world view they use to justify meaning in their lives.
This inconsistency may be manifested in a myriad of ways, because for each person it will be different. For example, a person may have multi-cultural convictions and argue all cultures are equally good and no other culture should imply they have better values than another culture. Yet, if individuals from another culture were to express their values of burning alive widows at their husband's funerals, the multi-culturalist will become outraged. Many people may hold differing convictions about how THEY think the world should run, until they are inconvenienced by those very beliefs in their personal lives.

Now, with these thoughts in mind, the goal of the Christian is simple when he or she engages the unbeliever:

Gently, and with reverence, confront this person's convictions, along with the inconsistency often displayed between those convictions and how the person really lives. Then you bring in the gospel by showing the person he can't truly place his trust in those chosen beliefs and the only person he can trust is the Living God who has given His son, Jesus Christ, to redeem a people called by His name and who restores an unbeliever to a functional spiritual relationship with his Creator.

I realize that's a mouth full, but that will be your goal.

How the evangelistic apologist will accomplish that goal differs from person to person, evangelist to evangelist.

The easiest way to challenge your friend will be to ask questions. Ask him why he believes the way he believes. If he is prone to make dogmatic assertions, ask him to explain what he means, or how it is exactly he can justify his dogmatic assertions. If he values the teaching of a particular individual or organization, ask him to explain why.

Basically, you are asking your friend about "politics and religion." You know, the old saying of how people don't like to speak about politics and religion. That is because those two subjects reveal a person's heart and what he or she values. Your questions should be the ones which reveal a person's heart, especially discovering what he or she thinks of death and eternity and the forgiveness of sins. Believe me, no matter how hardened an unbeliever may be, those subjects do occupy his mind frequently.

And, all the while you are challenging your friend, you should be unashamedly bringing to bear upon his world view the Word of God and the Gospel. Never abandon the foundation of God's Word on which you stand. It alone is your authority. The person may mockingly accuse you of blindly believing the Bible, but he is also blindly following an authority, even though he may not realize it.

In my next post, I will flesh out some pitfalls Christians struggle with when they engage the world.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

How about "Free Bird?"

1,683 guitarists play Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water."

"Smoke on the Water?"

Surely the organizers of this world record event have better taste in music. There are so many better guitar rifts to play. We're talking world record here.

How about "Free Bird?" or "Back in Black?," or if we really needed a pull, "Dream On" or "Don't Fear the Reaper." But "Smoke on the Water?" Come on.

At least it wasn't "Stair Way to Heaven."

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Enslaved Dogmatism

Russell Moore of the Henry Institute gives his review of the opening of Answers in Genesis Creation Museum Memorial Day weekend.

Particularly interesting is Moore's report about the intellectual hypocrites protesting outside the gates of the museum called Defcon. There were dishonest signs that read something along the lines of "free inquiry." Of course they don't really mean they are for "free inquiry." As I have always noted, any one who claims to be a "free thinker" has an extremely closed mind and is often one of the loudest bigots. The folks of Defcon are the secular version of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church cult.

Rather than free inquirers, they are enslaved dogmatists, and they are the most oblivious to this fact, all lining up under the same propaganda for anti-theistic naturalism.

What is unique about Answers in Genesis is their method of challenging the foundational presuppositions of secularist when they engage the culture. They are one of the few ministries challenging the world in this manner, which makes them a significant threat to Defcon, Eugenie Scott, and the host of other enslaved dogmatists. The Defcon folks probably have never had their foundational presuppositions challenged before and this is why they know the creation museum is a serious threat to their dishonest intellectuality.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Acts of Providence on D-Day +1

Today marks the 63rd anniversary of D-Day, when thousands of American, British, and Canadian soldiers launched the Normandy Invasion to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany. One of the books that charged my interest in World War II history is Stephen Ambrose's monumental work on the subject, D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climatic Battle of World War II.

The book is a detailed study of D-Day. Ambrose reviews the lives of the two main Supreme Commanders, Dwight Eisenhower and Erwin Rommel; and then provides a chronological narrative of the preparation in training, what happened on the major beach heads, and the eventual success of the Allies. What makes his book particularly enjoyable and engaging are the thousand or so personal interviews with the soldiers who participated in the invasion. Ambrose weaves together his interviews to provide a first hand, eye witness account of what happened during the course of battle. He also interviews German soldiers to provide the enemies' perspective on the invasion.

When my boys are teenagers, I plan to make them read it.

Ambrose followed up his study on D-Day with a sequel titled Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany. It too is equally enjoyable and engaging as the first book.

When most people think of June 6th, they think of D-Day, but one story told in the prologue of Citizen Solider will forever mark June 7th off in my mind. It involves the actions taken by one, southern boy from Mississippi named Waverly Wray. I will let Ambrose tell it:

At Dawn on June 7th, Lt. Waverly Wray, executive officer in Company D, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), who had jumped into the night sky over Normandy twenty-eight hours earlier, was on the north western outskirts of the village, Ste.-Mere-Eglise. He peered intently into the lifting gloom. What he couldn't see, he could sense. From the sounds of the movement of personnel and vehicles to the north of Ste.-Mere-Eglise, he could feel and figure that the major German counterattack, the one the Germans counted on to drive the Americans into the sea and the one the paratroopers had been expecting, was coming at Ste.-Mere-Eglise.

It was indeed. Six thousands German soldiers were on the move, with infantry, artillery, tanks, and self-propelled guns - more than a match for the 600 or so lightly armed paratroopers in Ste.-Mere-Eglise. A German break through to the beaches seemed imminent. And Lieutenant Wray was at the point of attack.

Wray was a big man, 250 pounds with "legs like tree trunks." He was from Batesville, Mississippi, and was an avid woodsman, skilled with rifles and shotguns. He claimed he had never missed a shot in his life. A veteran of the Sicily and Italy campaigns, Wray was - in the words of Col. Ben Vandervoort, commanding the 505th - "as experienced and skilled as an infantry solider can get and still be alive."

Wray had deep South religious convictions. A Baptist, each month he sent half his pay home to help build a new church. He never swore. His exclamation when exasperated was, "John Brown!" meaning abolitionist John Brown of Harpers Ferry. He didn't drink, smoke, or chase girls. Some troopers called him "The Deacon," but in an admiring rather than critical way.

On June 7, shortly after dawn, Wray reported to Vandervoort - whose leg broken in the jump, was now in a cast - on the movements he had spotted, the things he had sensed, where he expected the Germans to attack and in what strength.

Vandervoort took all this in, then ordered Wray to return to the company and have it attack the German flank before the Germans could get their attack started. "He said 'Yes sir,'" Vandervoort later wrote, "saluted, about-faced, and moved out like a parade ground Sergeant Major."

Back in the company area, Wray passed on the order. As the company prepared to attack, he took up his M-1, grabbed a half dozen grenades, and strode out, his Colt .45 on his hip and a silver plated .38 revolver stuck in his jump boot. He was going to do a one-man reconnaissance to formulate a plan of attack.

Wray was going out into the unknown. He had spent half a year preparing for this moment but he was not trained for it. In one of the greatest intelligence failures of all time, neither G-2 (intelligence) at U.S. First Army nor SHAEF G-2, nor any division S-2 had ever thought to tell the men who were going to fight the battle that the dominant physical feature of the battlefield was the maze of hedgerows that covered the western half of Normandy.

How could the various G-2s have missed such an obvious feature, especially as aerial reconnaissance clearly revealed the hedges? Because the photo interpreters, looking only straight down at them, thought that they were like English hedges, the kind fox hunters jump over, and they missed the sunken nature of the roads entirely.

Wray moved up the sunken lanes, crossed an orchard, pushed his way through hedgerows, crawled through a ditch. Along the way he noted concentrations of Germans, in fields and lanes. A man without his woodsman's sense of direction would have gotten lost. He reached a point near the N-13, the main highway coming into Ste.-Mere-Eglise from Cherbourg.

The N-13 was the axis of the German attack. Wray "was moving like the deer stalker he was" (Vandervoort's words), got to a place where he could hear guttural voices on the other side of a hedgerow. They sounded like officers talking about map coordinates. Wray rose up, burst through the obstacle, swung his M-1 to a ready position, and barked in his strong command voice, "Hande Hoch!" to the eight German officers gathered around a radio.

Seven instinctively raised their hands. The eighth tried to pull a pistol from his holster; Wray shot him instantly, between the eyes. Two Germans in a slit trench 100 meters to Wray's rear fired bursts from their Schmeisser machine pistols at him. Bullets cut through his jacket; one cut off half of his right ear. Wray dropped to his knee and began shooting the other seven officers, one at a time as they attempted to run away. When he had used up his clip, Wray jumped into a ditch, put another clip into his M-1, and dropped the German soldiers with the Schmeissers with one shot each.

Wray made his way back to the company areas to report on what he had seen. At the command post he came in with blood down his jacket, a big chunk of his ear gone, holes in his clothing. "Who's got more grenades?" he demanded. Then he started leading. He put a 60mm mortar crew on the German flank and directed fire into the lanes and hedgerows most densely packed with the enemy. Next he sent D Company into an attack down one of the lanes. The Germans broke and ran. By mid-morning Ste.-Mere-Eglise was secure and the potential for a German breakthrough to the beaches was much diminished.

The next day Vandervoort, Wray, and Sgt. John Rabig went to the spot to examine the German officers Wray had shot. It turned out that they were the commanding officer and his staff of the 1st Battalion, 158th Grenadier Infantry Regiment. The maps showed that it was leading the way for the counterattack. The German confusion and subsequent retreat were in part due to having been rendered leaderless by Wray. At the scene of the action, Vandervoort noted that every one of the dead Germans, including the two Schmeisser-armed Grenadiers more than 100 meters away, had been killed with a single shot in the head. Wray insisted on burying the bodies. He said he had killed them, and they deserved a decent burial, and it was his responsibility.
(Citizen Soldiers, 17-21)

Lt. Wray was killed in action on September 19th, 1944.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Apologetic Evangelism Methodology 101 (pt 7)

Readying Ourselves to Engage the World (Part 1)

I have been attempting to provide a basic understanding of apologetic evangelism. Previous posts on the subject are available here.

It is my contention that Christians lack the motivation to evangelize because they lack confidence confronting unbelievers with the gospel. That lack of confidence, I believe, is due largely in part to the lack of proper instruction on the subject of evangelism and apologetics.

As I noted in my last couple of posts on this subject, doing apologetics and evangelism requires a good defense for the faith and a good offense to challenge the hearts of unbelievers. Defending the faith begins with a life saturated in God's Word that shows forth godly character submitted to Christ's Lordship. Challenging the unbeliever involves directly assailing the worldview he has created for himself by confronting his heart and mind with the truth of God revealed in Christ. Hence, effective apologetics and evangelism will utilize both defensive and offensive tactics to proclaim the gospel of Christ.

With this bit of background, allow me to get practical with these principles so we can ready ourselves to engage the world with the gospel. I believe there are three primary areas to address: Our preparation, our practice, and our pitfalls. I will address the first point with this post.

Our Preparation

There are two important points we need to grasp in order to get prepared,

First, Know your Faith.

This is an unspoken given. So why even mention it? Simply because evangelical Christians are spiritually illiterate when it comes to their faith. Some folks even seem to be willfully ignorant. It's as if they don't really care about learning the Bible, or key doctrines, or any theology at all. I find this attitude of self-imposed ignorance mystifying.

I would think any person who genuinely experiences a spiritual awakening would immediately desire to know the faith he or she just embraced as true. This was my experience when the Lord saved me. Yet sadly this is not the case for many Christian. Older, more seasoned Christians are often times even more ignorant.

They tend to only listen to CCM and rarely if ever think to listen to good biblical preaching. They may attend a weekly Bible study, if one is even offered, but the study is superficial. Church has become a routine done on Sunday mornings. A good service is judged by how well the pastor captivated the audience, or perhaps how much the music moved the people to experience "glory bumps." Now, there are probably legitimate reasons why this lazy attitude exists in Christians, say for example, poor pastoring from the pulpit or insufficient discipleship, but whatever the case, a Christian must stir from his spiritual stupor and begin knowing his faith. How can this be done?

Begin first by regularly reading the Bible.

The Christian must get into the disciplined habit of reading the Bible daily.

Cultivating a habit with reading scripture is an absolute, a"no other options" must for a Christian's life.

You can never defend anything you know nothing about, and you can certainly never proclaim it to others either with any authority. Neglecting the reading of scripture is inexcusable, because there are many helps available in our day and age to aide a person in this area. For example, there are a number of "Through the Bible in a Year" outlines, including reasonably priced editions which break the scriptures up so a person can begin on January 1st, and if read faithfully every day, the entire Bible will be completed by December 31st.

A person doesn't have to get up at 4 AM to read the Bible. Find whatever time works best for you and start reading it through. I personally like the evening hours. Even if a person has reading disabilities and takes TWO years to read through the Bible, well fine, if that is what it takes. The important thing is reading it.

Once you have read through the Bible a few times, I would suggest find a short, NT book you happened to like and picking up a short, but soundly written commentary, and do an in-depth study on that one book. One year, I wanted to learn Galatians. I picked up maybe 4 or 5 commentaries, short in length and written by solid guys, and spent a year (along with my daily Bible reading) studying Galatians. I have done this with Romans, though not extensively as Galatians, 1 - 3 John, 2 Peter, Jude, and the Pastoral epistles of Paul.

Also, listen to good preaching, particularly expository preaching, either by listening to the radio or purchasing CDs, tapes or MP3s. Excellent expository preaching is a fantastic way to learn the Bible as you read it regularly.

Second, supplement your daily Bible reading with reading good, biblically rich books written by solid men and women.

Along with the Bible, you want to gather around yourself good books written by solid men and women whose doctrine and ideas are shaped by the text of scripture. These are not the devotional style books found on the top 20 lists available at the local retail Christian bookstore which is usually overstocked with religious paraphernalia like Precious Moments figurines, footprints plaques, and all the CCM a person can humanly listen to.

The books I am talking about here are often written by individuals who are dead, like the Puritans, but their work is still in print because of the genuine value of their books contained. They cover important doctrinal subjects like God's attributes, the authority of God's Word, or the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, the doctrines of salvation, and Christian sanctification. Those are the books you want to find and read, for they will help familiarize you with the teaching of scripture.

I can recall the first time I met John Piper when he spoke during one of our seminary chapel times. He had given a heart stirring message on the personal priorities of a pastor and afterward, I had occasion to ask him which Christian books and authors impacted his faith. I remember him pausing and then replying that rather than picking a variety of authors and books, he recommended finding a man who has written extensively and has been tried by time as being a faithful theologian and teacher, and read everything he wrote available in print. At the time, Piper had just finished the works of Jonathan Edwards and was then studying the life works of John Owen. (I still stagger at that thought!). I was encouraged by his words, because I had read much of A.W. Pink's printed materials and was starting to immerse myself in the printed sermons of Thomas Watson. Piper provides excellent advice for supplementing consistent Bible reading.

Third, get yourself a good systematic theology.

A systematic theology is one of those real thick books with itty-bitty print and are generally more expensive that your regular book. For the laymen, they can be scary. However systematic theologies do what it's title proclaims: it systematizes theological subjects by organizing biblical doctrine in to logical categories and showing how they all function in a comprehensive whole.

A systematic theology may be intimidating for some because it is so overwhelming in volume, but don't let size discourage you for securing a couple of different ones.

The Moody Handbook of Theology by Paul Enns is a good starter, as is the classic Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof. A couple of more recent ones which are more in-depth, but geared for laymen and are easy to read, are Robert Reymond's New Systematic Theology and Robert Duncan Culver's Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical. You may not agree with every conclusion a particular author makes with his points of theology, but a good systematic theology will help immensely with framing a theological structure built upon a strong foundation of daily Bible reading.

Realize that you will not be an immediate expert in all things theological and apologetic. But, you will be developing habits which will serve you well when you evangelize.

Second, Know Your Friend.

A second important truth to keep in mind as you prepare to engage the world with the gospel is to remember you are engaging unbelievers. We tend to forget this sometimes. Even though you have a friend who is sweet and nice, he or she is a sinner in need of a savior and it is the main reason a person is resistant to your message of salvation.

I mentioned the state of the unbeliever in the second article I wrote in this series, so I would review it, but to remind us of some basic facts concerning the unbelieving friend you are about to engage:

- Your friend will be deceived by the world's wisdom of this age. He may be enamored with so-called experts perceived as authoritative in his life. These authorities can take many forms: false religions, pseudo-Christian cults, secular personalities. Who, or whatever, this authority is will hold sway in your friend's heart by forming his perceptions and presuppositions about reality.

- As a result of sin, your friend is darkened to spiritual truth (Ephesians 4:17 ff.). He doesn't properly understand spiritual truth, and may in point of fact think you are "nutty" for believing any thing spiritual to begin with.

- Your friend is also hostile to God. He is opposed to the Law of God and ultimately doesn't want to have anything to do with it (Romans 8:5-9). His hostility may be mild or severe depending upon the person.

Even though he is darkened to spiritual truth and hostile to God, you still must persevere with giving him the gospel. You possess the only message by which your friend can be saved. Only the gospel can bring him to a place where he is reconciled to God and live in a spiritually functional life pleasing unto the Lord. Additionally, you engage him in the power of the Spirit. Hence, God has mandated His people to present the gospel and He equips them with the ability to be effective, so regardless of how resistant your friend may be, God's Spirit can easily break through the hardness of heart.

With my next post, I'll consider some application. Now that you are prepared, what does a person do?

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Reclaiming History

A non-review review

Around the time I was in college, maybe 1990 or 91, I had the privilege of hearing Vincent Bugliosi, the Charles Manson prosecutor and author of the book documenting the case, Helter Skelter, speak on campus about the JFK assassination. At the time I had no idea who Bugliosi was, but I was intrigued by the subject of the JFK assassination and the fact he had prosecuted Manson.

He only spoke for about 2 hours. I could have listened to him for 12 more. He was one of the most engaging speakers I have ever heard (including preachers). I sat riveted and unflinching in my seat listening to him do something I had never heard anyone do before: debunk every JFK conspiracy theory that had been cooked up and make a clear, compelling case for Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone. Oliver Stone's pretentious movie, JFK, had been released sometime before I heard Bugliosi speak, so many of the folks he was addressing had conspiracy theories fresh on their minds.

During the course of his lecture, Bugliosi mentioned he was preparing to put together a book on the subject of the JFK assassination and ever since then, when I thought about it, I would check Amazon to see if it had been released.

That was 16 or 17 years ago. Last week, after 20 years of research, Bugliosi published his book called Reclaiming History: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

Its a million and a half words and 1,600 pages. The bulk of the footnotes are contained on a CD-ROM that comes with the book. It's also written in smaller than normal font point.

I plan to get the book in the future, but for right now, I have to content myself with listening to Bugliosi interviewed. There is one such interview I wish to draw everyone's attention to that happened on Dennis Prager's radio program May 31st. He had Bugliosi on for all 3 hours of his show. You can download each hour (34 minutes or so without commercials and top of the hour breaks):

Hour 1
Hour 2
Hour 3

When I heard Bugliosi was going to be on, I alerted one of my friends, a die-hard JFK conspiracy expert. He emailed me back a dismissive email brushing Bugliosi off as a hack. I just rolled my eyes. I wrote him back imploring him to at least download the broadcasts and listen to them, but sometimes you can't persuade those folks.

If you podcast them, they would make for some good listening this weekend if you are doing chores around the house.

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The Power of Observation

Can you figure out how they do this trick? Watch closely...
A good lesson on how we observe and evaluate our world.

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