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

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Perspectives in Parenting

Rob Iverson, the chairman of our elderboard here at Grace, just finished up a three message series on parenting. He is soft-spoken and humorous, but to-the-point, honest, and convicting with his advice. Even if you are not a parent, his lectures will encourage you; if you are a seasoned parent, he will provide a mindful exhortation to evaluate and improve your parenting. At the end of each lecture, his wife joins him for an audience Q&A, and the last lecture has an extended Q&A with Rob and his wife.

Click on this link that will take you to the "Chapel Electives" section of the Grace Church website. Part one was on Sept. 9th, part two on Sept. 16th, and part three on Sept. 23rd.

Once you click on a download, you will be taken to a blank white screen with a short announcement saying you can only down load a total of 7 messages at a time due to bandwidth restrictions, so don't let that scare you. You may also have to register a name and password, but don't let that scare you either.

Believe me, the messages are worth your time.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Book Review

For Us and Our Salvation: The Doctrine of Christ in the Early Church
Stephen Nichols

One thing that concerns me about Christians today is their ignorance of Church history. It would be heart-breaking if it were not so deplorable. Sometimes I am left wondering if average church goers even care about the historical background to their faith.

Maybe big fat, multi-volume sets of Church history books can be daunting, but I don't think that is an excuse to ignore it all together. None the less, for those overwhelmed with the thought of having to read a big fat book on Church history, Stephen Nichols has provided the contemporary Christian with a mercifully concise study on the most essential, core doctrine of our faith: the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In his book, For Us and Our Salvation: The Doctrine of Christ in the Early Church, Nichols opens his study by outlining why the biblical doctrine of Christ's Deity is imperative for Christians to understand and defend. It is the essential doctrine which defines who Christ is and why Christianity believes what it believes concerning salvation. The title of his book is taken from the words of Athanasius, the leading figure in the post-Nicean debates with Arian heretics who denied Christ's divinity, and it succinctly captures how Christians should view the person of Christ, it is for us and our salvation.

From there, Nichols starts this engaging story by telling how early heretics began challenging the doctrine of Christ's Deity before the ink was even dry on John's Revelation. With a clear, easy-to-read narrative, he covers every major heretic, the false doctrines he taught, and the responses to those false doctrines by the early Christian apologists.

I particularly appreciated his study of the first century apologists who defended Christ's deity, because it is argued frequently by those who deny this doctrine that it was invented during the time of Nicea in the early 4th century. Nichols demonstrates with this study that this claim is false. The fact that early Christians wrote against heretics who attacked the biblical teaching of Christ's person reveals they affirmed the truths as doctrine way before Nicea was called.

Nichols then moves into reviewing the three major periods of Church history when Christians had to wrestle with false teaching concerning Christ's Deity: The first two centuries after the establishment of the Christian Church, the period leading up to, and after the Council of Nicea in the 4th century, and then Leo the Great and the Council of Chalcedon in the 5th century. He covers every major player in these periods. From Arius to Athanasius and all the other sinners and saints who played a role in challenging orthodoxy, defending orthodoxy, and clarifying orthodoxy. In between the chapters on these subjects, Nichols provides a chapter of selected writings from those three periods by the Christian men who with stood the onslaught of heresy.

I also liked how Nichols provides quick reference charts overviewing the heretics and the doctrines they taught. He also does this to help the reader understand Plato's cosmology and how his philosophy of Ideas and Forms played into presuppositions that in turn led to outright twisting of the person of Christ as presented in scripture. There is even a glossary in the back. That's a plus.

The one draw back: End notes. I am like Dan the man, I don't care for end notes. I prefer footnotes so I don't have to turn to the back to hunt around for a reference or keep my finger stuck in between a bunch of pages so I can flip back and forth. What's more, the end notes were at the very end of the book. Just an exhortation for publishers. If you must have end notes put them at the end of the chapter. Its a terrible interruption to have to look for them way in the back.

In spite of the end notes, the books is an outstanding introduction for a history novice to an important battle that took place through out the Church. Its also an excellent review for the seasoned historian. I personally would like to see more of these shorter, concise studies of key historical theological themes in the future. Maybe the Pelagian controversy or the formation of the Canons of Dort. This would be a great series by Crossway.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bible Living

A man lives an entire year according to biblical rules and regulations.

It never occurred to me that living according to the Bible would turn you into a hippy, or worse, a homeless looking guy. Is this how theonomists want us to all live?

It makes me even more grateful the Lord fulfilled all those laws. Praise the Lord for the age of Grace.

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Torture Apologetics

By way of Tim Challies' A La Carte section of his blog, I was linked to an interesting site called Cruel Logic. Cruel Logic is the name of a short film which can be accessed at the site, by Christian screen-writer and film maker, Brian Godawa. There is also a graphic novel under the same title with a section available at the site for viewing.

Cruel Logic tells the story of a serial killer who video tapes his murders. That's not necessarily a new thing among serial killers, but what is different with this particular killer is that he specifically kidnaps postmodern, naturalistic Darwinian intellectuals and given their chosen worldview, attempts to debate his individual victims as to why he should not kill him or her.

The film is a clever twist on exposing the folly of "no absolutes" and relativistic morality. If there is no such thing as moral absolutes, well then, there is no good reason why a person shouldn't torture another person to death, or what reasons that are given are lame and unsupportable.

According to the website, a feature film is in development. I would be interested in seeing it, but I have some ambivalence toward such a film. First, I hope Godawa doesn't think he needs to make a film containing extreme, graphic violence just to be "relevant" to the unbelieving movie going audience so they will be tricked into coming to see what they think is a blood soaked horror movie, but really exposes them to the principles of a "Christian" world view along the way. You know, a "Christian" version of recent torture porn style films like Hostel or the Saw movies, but the characters speak like Francis Schaeffer. Of course, if Godawa's movie has pumped up violence for the sake of the unbeliever who would otherwise not watch a movie about relativism and absolutes, when he is plugging it on the Bible Answer Man, I want to hear how Hank will spin the film to his audience and explain why it needs to have graphic violence.

Secondly, I am wondering why the key detective in the story is named Cornelius Van Til. Is Godawa a presuppositionalist, which would be great, or is he merely invoking Van Til so as to mock him? What his motive behind that one?

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Prosperity Praise

Get it while supplies last!



hat tip: A Little Leaven

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Justin Peters Ministries

My church recently had the privilege of hosting apologist, Justin Peters, whose expertise is with exposing the dreadful heresies promoted by the health-and-wealth, Word of Faith preachers like Benny Hinn and the Copelands.

The Thursday before he presented his sessions, he gave a brief overview of his material at The Master's Seminary chapel. For some reason I can't make the actual mp3 a clickable link, but go here to the chapel messages and look for Justin Peters "Exposing the Word of Faith Movement" on 9/06/07.

Just his 37 minutes alone are stunning to hear. I appreciate the fact he presents the audio and video of the Word of Faith preachers he is exposing so we can hear what they believe from their own mouths. One of the more bizarre clips he plays is Gloria Copeland claiming to have the divine ability to control the weather. Which, if that is the case, notes Peters, she is a monstrous individual to have allowed Katrina to destroy so many lives.

The deplorable theology is bad enough, but what's even worse is how these preachers are spiritual serial predators, raping the souls of desperate people with serious medical and health problems. Benny Hinn is probably the worst of all of them, and his antics stirs up my fleshly side to the point I want to put him in a room and beat him unmercifully with a rubber hose until he's crying for his mama, ...but I must restrain myself.

Peters tells the heart breaking story of a young couple with a 3 month old little boy with birth defects so bad he probably won't live a year, and yet no miracle awaits them because Hinn refuses to allow individuals with visible deformities and defects on stage to heal them. Then Hinn leaves to his 10 million dollar, sea-side mansion.

Its this kind of angering stuff that tells me the Word of Faith movement isn't just misguided religious buffoonery. It's Satanic.

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Moronified Professors

James White's little girl, Summer, is all grown up and is now a freshman at Glendale Community College located in the Phoenix metro-area. And as a new college freshman, she has encountered her first moronified professor.

You know what a moronified professor is right? Its one of those barking mad professors who, rather than actually teaching the subject the students are paying for, sees fit to pontificate aimlessly the entire class hour with his or her leftist, moonbat propaganda. The hot-button topic these days are of course the evils of G.W. and the Iraq war. These are the kind of professors who would not hesitate to have Cindy Sheehan come in and guest lecture on global politics.

So James White's little girl, Summer, encounters one of these moronified professors in her philosophy class. Instead of spending the alloted class time discussing the finer points of Hegel, he chooses to give an emotionally charged ANSWERS pep talk as to why George Bush should be strung up naked in front of the Washington Monument, or something along those lines.

Sometime during the course of his anti-Bush tirade, the professor (whose picture posted at James' site reminds me of a tuna boat captain) made the unfortunate mistake of becoming verbally combative with Summer, Jame White's little girl. Utterly unaware of the tar baby he was about to squeeze tightly with both arms, this pseudo-intellectual bully who likes to "beat up" on 18 year old girls in his class room, raised the subject of Christianity and the authorship of the four gospels during their "exchange" and the professor tells Summer she has been lied to and deceived by her church leaders.

Now, those are fightin' words if you are a thoughtful and engaged parent, especially coming from some scruffy bearded hippy dufus philosophy professor. He is basically saying James and his wife, and their family's church, intentionally lied to their daughter so as to deceive her and keep her from the "truth." So James did what any thoughtful parent engaged in his kids' lives who has a popular blog: He posted an open letter to this professor and challenged him to be a man and let James either visit his class to discuss the historicity of the gospels or debate him in a public forum on the subject.

I was sort of curious who this guy was, so after I read the open letter, I "Googled" his name and was linked to a 404 Forbidden page. I am not sure what that means exactly, but I went back and clicked the cached section of my Google search. I noticed this professor has, or had, a statement about his religion classes posted on-line, but when I tried to click to it, I got another dead link. Thinking swiftly, I popped over to the Way Back Machine site that archives old websites that may now be defunct. Isn't the internet just amazing?

I took this link: www.gc.maricopa.edu/philosophy/website/facultyprofiles/carterreligionwarning.html

Copied it into the search engine at the Way Back site, and presto, I was taken to his on-line statement. I was particular interested in his opening paragraph where he writes:

Note concerning those who should not take this course: In this course I will issue a very strong criticism of what I call the Authority-Obedience model of religion. Ultimately, however, as with all issues in life, you must make up your own mind based on the evidence. The study of religion involves more self-awareness and personal engagement than other disciplines, and this study simply cannot occur if students insist on forcing all religious ideas into the categories of their own particular faith. If you cannot tolerate discussions that: 1) argue that the Bible is not the word of God and contains many errors; 2) reveal historical contradictions between religious theory and practice; 3) take evolution seriously; 4) claim other religious are just as valid and valuable as Christianity; 5) deny that faith permits one to believe any contradictions or absurdity one wishes to; 6) claim certain religious models have been far more harmful to man than helpful; 7) show that God is necessarily a tyrant if you make certain common assumptions about His nature, then you should not take this course.

Don't you just love it? Authority-Obedience model of religion. Just say Christianity, dude.

How about those 7 points? I wonder if he applies those suggestions to his own philosophical presuppositions? You know, consider those points of view that take biblical creationism seriously, claims the exclusivity of biblical Christianity as the only viable religious worldview, and challenges the faith based assumptions of Darwinian theory.

I have a sneaking suspicion he wouldn't. He has just as much blind commitment to his leftist fundamentalism as the Christian fundamentalists do their faith, only they are not blind.

I for one hopes his arrogance gets the best of him and he lets James teach one of his classes, or even better, takes up his challenge for a public debate. No one needs to be put in their place more than a moronified community college professor, especially one who likes to verbally bully freshman in their philosophy 101 class.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Gnat Strainers

So, I am minding my own business yesterday when all of the sudden an action news alert popped up in my email warning me of theological compromise afoot in the contemporary church.

What could it possibly be now assailing God's people? What compromise is causing confusion and endangering Christ's flock so as to ship wreck their faith? Could it be some new hybrid offshoot of the emergent movement? A new take on the Arian heresy? Dave Hunt has embraced Calvinism?

Nope. According to this press release, John MacArthur made "confusing" statements about yoga during his interview on CNN Prime News when he engaged emergent guru, Doug Pagitt, on the topic of whether a Christian can practice yoga and still be a Christian.

The news alert can be read in full here.

The relevant portion of John's statement "making discerning believers to sit up and take notice" as the alert states is when he said in his opening comments:

Well that would depend on how the yoga is conducted. If it’s just purely exercise, and you’re a strong Christian, it probably wouldn’t have any impact on your faith.

The outfit concerned about John's comment is called Christian Research Service and though the website looks like it may generally contain good information, many of the articles addressing "compromise" and "error" in the church have the feel of gnat straining to them. By that I mean the author latches onto one sniggling detail and blows it way out of proportion.

This latest reproof of John is prime example. Anyone who watched the video of the interview with John and Doug know exactly where John stands. He is no way endorsing that Christians involve themselves with yoga as a religious practice. What John does say is if the Christian does the exercise portion of yoga, you know, the back stretching and leg lifts and what not, then there is no spiritual harm. The real issue is when a person pursues yoga for spiritual benefit, such as "spiritual wellness" or "wholeness," something that Pagitt fellow was promoting.

Now, this CRS "apologist" believes the exercise portion of yoga cannot be separated from the spiritual side of yoga. I believe he is wrong. I know I can separate the exercise portion from the pagan aspects, just like I can separate Christmas trees from their pagan origins, or Easter eggs from their pagan origins. A back stretching exercise is a back stretching exercise and if there is some Hindu swami who does the same exact back stretching exercise to indicate a spiritual connection to one of the many Hindu false gods, who cares? I am not doing the back stretching exercise to connect to one of the many false gods of Hinduism. I am doing the exercise to relieve my lower back pain, or my shoulder pain, or leg pain, or strengthening my body.

Paul used illustrations from the Olympic games to explain spiritual truth. Ancient Olympians use to compete in their games naked as a plucked chicken. There would be homo-erotic undertones attached to a group of nude athletes running out on a field, along with the elevation of the person's outward physical appearance and abilities. Was Paul causing "confusion" and would "discerning Christians be sitting up and taking notice" when he wrote in his letters about running the good race, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize, and buffeting his body? I hope not.

Surely there has to be real, genuine compromises out there in the Christian world for the people at the Christian Research Service to expose, rather than chasing after these windmills. John MacArthur's comment under fire here is not one of genuine compromise.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Apologetics in Action

Me and the UFO guy

I have been sitting on this one for a while...

Opportunities to evangelize can unexpectedly occur for the Christian all the time, but not only can those opportunity be unexpected, but also unusual.

One Saturday in the late afternoon I was finishing cleaning up our mini-van. I had removed all of the interior seats, vacuumed the floor as best as I could, and I was in the process of vacuuming the seats and wrestling them back into the van.

While I was cleaning up the van, I was reviewing one of my Bible talk lectures I had given on the subject of evolution on the CD stereo. As I was fiddling with one of my kid's car seat, movement caught the corner of my eye and I turned to see a guy riding up on his bicycle next to my van. I became a tad apprehensive, because he rode right up to my van and was just sitting there on his bicycle. I began to think about those crime documentaries on A&E and how many of those unsolved murders probably began with someone strolling up to a guy vacuuming a van.

That was just for a split second and I nodded to the guy a friendly "hey," and he motioned to me that he was listening to the CD. He then asked me who it was and I said, "me." He looked surprised and said, "really?" I explained to him how I worked at a radio ministry connected to my church and because I direct about 100 volunteers a week who come to help package tapes and CDs to our donors, I have the privilege of teaching them for about 30 minutes or so. I went on to explain how the talk was part of a series of lectures I gave on the subject of evolution and ID.

As I was explaining all this, he swings his leg over his bike and reaches into his pocket. Of course, I begin to eye-ball him to watch what it was he was going to pull out of there. He retrieves a cell phone and says, "Tell me what you think of this." He proceeds to show me a video image of a round light glowing in the sky over some trees. I just asked, "What is it?" He looks around and lowers his voice a bit and says, "Every night this past week, around 2 AM or thereafter, this light hovers over the wash (big, dried-up river bed behind my condo complex). It's not a plane, turns at sharp angles, turns color; my friend has a 45 minute video of the thing. There's no doubt it's a saucer."

I replied, "You mean this thing flies over the wash right over here behind our place?"
He responds, "Listen man, I'm not crazy, I don't drink, and I don't do drugs. I'm telling you, it has been there every night this past week and I bet it will be there again tonight."
I replied again pointing, "This wash right over there?"
"Yes," he affirms.

I, of course, began wondering why beings who have the technological know-how and ability to transverse interstellar space with great speeds, or travel through wormholes to our planet, would spend their time hovering over the wash in Santa Clarita at 2 in the morning. Moreover, if they were being all stealthy about it, why would they fly saucer ships that are lit up so bright so as to be seen for miles? And why do they fly their saucers at 2:30 AM, because I never get to see these things when they make their appearance?

Anyhow, I say to the guy, "Welp, I don't believe you are crazy. In fact, I believe you are certainly seeing something fly over the wash, but why do you assume it is a flying saucer from another planet or inter-dimensional beings?"

"Because," he says rather breathlessly, "It flies like no airplane I have seen before."
I say to him, "I happen to know a few people who worked at Skunk Works, Lockheed's division that develops top-secret aircraft. They tell me there's a lot of stuff the public doesn't know about that could easily be mistaken as an other world spaceship that is really just an experimental prototype airplane."

With out even acknowledging my comment, the fellow says,

"Do you really believe we are the only life in the universe? The universe is huge, we can't be the only life."

That tends to be the big argument in favor of extra-terrestrial life: The universe is so vast, with millions upon millions of galaxies, let alone stars, that there has to be others planets out there like ours sustaining super-intelligent life. Of course, I have always wondered why these super-intelligent beings want to come to our planet and probe farmers and lumberjacks in the middle of the night. I mean, if they are here to harvest human DNA to create human/alien hybrids, why not use the better DNA? Surely Richard Dawkins would be preferable to, let's say, a trailer park manager in Arizona.

Then I replied with a statement I believe he was stunned to hear coming from a Christian:

"Yes, I do believe there are extra-terrestrials and inter-dimensional beings, but as a Bible believing Christian, I believe God has revealed to us what they are in His Word. They're demonic beings. They have the ability to move in and out of our space, can travel at high speeds, and they can and do possess the bodies of human beings."

He had a blank stare on his face, as if he had never thought of this before. He responded, "Why would the devil impersonate UFOs? What purpose is there to that?"

"Quite simple," I replied, "They wish to deceive sinful men as to the truth of their creator and the salvation he offers through His Son, Jesus Christ."

He wasn't sure what to say to that and indicated to me he had been raised in church and even made the claim he was a Christian. I tried to keep the conversation on the Lord, but he says again, "I am telling you, my friend has a video of this thing." I responded, "Why don't you guys put it up on Youtube or Google video for all the world to see? I certainly would like to see it."

He became adamant, "Oh man, I can't do that, the government will find out about it and come and get me." I thought a second, "Why would the government come and get you? Why would they even care? Are you telling me the government, who can't even track the phone calls of terrorists without raising a stink with the liberals, can trace Youtube videos back to the source so that they can arrest you for posting a video of a light hovering over the wash?"

He wasn't sure what to make of that one. I jokingly said, "You ought to get a deer rifle and take a shot at it." "No way man," he says, "I'm too afraid to do that. It would shoot back with a laser gun or something." (Interestingly, when I recounted this story later for Officer Pecadillo and the other Pyromaniac children, Officer Pec said, "Nah, Fred, you don't want to encourage a person like this to pick up fire arms." There certainly is wisdom in those words).

By this time, it was getting dark and I had to help good wife Butler put the children into bed. The fellow jumped back on his bike and says, "Well, I am not sure what it is, maybe it's not a UFO from another planet, maybe it is a demon, but there is something certainly there." Then he asks, "Do you think you will go out to see it?" I paused a moment and said, "Probably not, but maybe I will look out the window."

Believe me, for a brief second, when I turned over that night and saw the clock say 2:30 AM, I thought about putting on a pair of short pants and going outside. Then good sense and sleep overwhelmed me. I didn't even look out the window.

This is certainly an odd and humorous story to retell, but believe me, in our day and age of sci-fi culture, coupled with Darwinian evolution, a Christian will have to be ready to engage individuals like this who seriously believe life exists on other planets and is regularly visiting Earth to capture humans; that is, if they don't crash their saucers in the desert. I hope my encounter helped with some starting points to engage such a person in conversation.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Colossians 3:18, 19

Though the world is laughing at the situation, I believe there's much to learn from this bit of irony:

A married couple who didn't realise they were chatting each other up on the internet are divorcing.

The bankable quote comes from the husband:

Adnan, 32, said: "I still find it hard to believe that Sweetie, who wrote such wonderful things, is actually the same woman I married and who has not said a nice word to me for years".

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Tasering the Bro

Nothing can warm my heart like seeing a leftist conspiracy kook, roaring about stolen elections and the Skull and Bones society, get taken down by The Man, even if The Man is slightly out-of-shape. What's more, it all happened at a John Kerry Q&A session. You'd expect the mean ole' man to taser a political agitator at a Karl Rove forum, but not John Kerry. He's with the people.

MM reports.

More here: it may had been a stunt.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

MacArthur on Yoga

John MacArthur was on CNN Headline News discussing the topic "Christians and yoga" with Emergent guru, Doug Pagitt, who used lots of cool emerging jargon like "Jesus Agenda."

Someone had the where-with-all to record the segment and put it on Youtube.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Drinkin' in the Boy's Room

Read this first to get the context as to why I think Camp is dead wrong. The confrontation of tacky conduct is NOT legalistic.


...Is it a sin, a bad habit, or has the church been just plain legalistic?

Drinking can be a bad habit. Alcohol is proven addictive, proposes a real health risk over time, and can be very hard to quit once a significant habit has begun.

But is drinking a sin? Does it damage a witness? Is all matters of drinking wrong whether it be beer, whiskey or wine? How should we address those that may drink socially outside in our church parking lots? Has the church at large been too legalistic in this area?

This was the subject that I and some friends were discussing this past week. Let me share with you a hypothetical scenario to illustrate this issue. A few 21+ year old young men and women (who are part of a local church) were found drinking in the parking lot of the church. A "greeter" from the church went to them and asked them to stop drinking or possibly leave the parking lot. Take this to a more broad picture of anyone drinking outside on church property (member or visitor) and how that would look "image wise" for any church.

What say you?
I realize that this is a relatively small issue with all that is going on in the world around us. But as you know, the devil is in the details and it is these little things that can divide Christian fellowship quicker than anything.

Here is a common concern of drinking to help swirl your thoughts:

Because drinking is often perceived as a sin (at worst) or a casual pastime (at best), should we be concerned with the impression that it might leave upon those who come to our church or who are new visitors to the church, if they were to see people drinking in the parking lot of our church? Or should it even matter?

Here are some initial thoughts in response to the above:
Is this 1957 we’re talking about here? Were they wearing leisure suits too? :-).

Horrors!

Can you imagine... some people actually drinking in the hallowed area of the parking lot of a church? Oh my... Did they shake or stir their drinks? Sounds like an immediate Matthew 18:15-20 situation to me. Can you imagine such a thing? Sinners, real life sinners that "bottom up" are in our church parking lot enjoying a "sippy" before or after the service. They’re definitely going to hell — no question about it — drinkers all end up there. No drinker could possibly be elect — no way. And if they profess to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, they’re definitely carnal,... backslidden at best.

Can you believe it, there are drinkers who even twist the words of praise songs to support their "evil practice" by singing: “I have the love of Jesus, love of Jesus down in my mug..." They just can’t be trusted; we should get rid of them all. You can almost imagine the headline on the church kiosk next week would say:

NO DRINKERS ALLOWED ON OUR CHURCH PARKING LOT
TAKE YOUR "KEGS" SOMEWHERE ELSE...


Can't you just hear The Church Lady from SNL say about now, "what does that "D" on your shirt stand for... Drinker?

Time to Wake Up and Smell the Ministry
This is not an issue.

Drinking is not a sin (btw, I don’t drink beer). A famous radio preacher whose name escapes me at the moment really put this in perspective when he once humorously said, "Drinking is not a sin; but if you like swallowing watered down soured barely mash that’s your business.” :-).

Precisely! Scripture nowhere prohibits drinking anywhere; it is a preference issue at best. Does it smack of legalism to actually say things like: “is this the first impression you want to make on people coming to the church...” People that come to our churches come with serious problems and needs—and drinking in the parking lot is not one of them. Lots of Presbyterian theologians drank wine (so have I on occasion) - would it have been better if they were drinking a nice Merlot? How about scotch? Scotch is good too — it's really smooth, especially on a cool autumn evening (I drink scotch on occasion, too). Football season is here and it’s a great time to bring your favorite cooler or scotch to a ball game and have at it.

I think here’s a great first impression to make on people coming to our churches:
that everyone would be warmly welcomed whether they are drinking or not in the parking lot and never asked to leave because a “greeter” sees someone enjoying a Michelob before or after the service.

BTW, that person in the parking lot who confronted the young people drinking should never be allowed to serve as a greeter. Honestly, what exactly is a "greeter" anyways? Nothing but a "spiritualized" version of a hotel doorman. Where does he get off making authoritative judgments as to what is appropriate or inappropriate standards of conduct for members on church property? The next thing he will start doing is telling those young people it is distasteful to smoke on church grounds. Put that man in charge of something really important like... straightening all the hymnals in the backs of the pews before the service begins :-). It will better serve the Lord and His people to keep him as far away from those coming to the church as possible—especially the visitors.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

BOHs

The BAM Blog

I am not sure this is the real deal and there isn't much to look at just yet, but Hank "BAMerrific" Hanegraaf allegedly has a blog.

The reason I am a tad dubious this is the real Hank's blog is because the comments are opened. Knowing how Hank tends to shy away from any serious challenge to his often times muddled beliefs, I find it hard to imagine he would allow cocky young Calvinists gunning for a fight to get into his saloon. I would also think Hank would become a goof-ball magnet for every barking mad heretic and his little brother, and he wouldn't want his comment box turned into an asylum.

We'll have to keep our eye on it.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

The Way of the Fool

Gene Cook, and his trusty sidekick, Jonathan, deconstruct a series of You Tube videos designed to teach atheists how to "evangelize" Christians. Developed by a Ray Comfort wanna-be anti-theist named Todd Gates, he uses the Socratic method to dialogue with the Christian proselytizer. Briefly put, the Socratic method uses questions to examine a system of beliefs and expose any contradictions that may exist in the system.

Todd uses three key criteria he believes demonstrates whether or not a religion is true or man-made. They are:

Stories that reflect inaccurate and earth bound descriptions of the universe,

When the religious laws contain senseless prejudices,

The religion's origins has pieces borrowed from other religions.

I will let you download the Mp3 to hear Gene and Jonathan's stellar responses to these three points, but I have to say I was absolutely stupefied at Todd's examples he gave from the Bible to illustrate the first criteria of inaccurate descriptions of the universe. I thought he would immediately go to Genesis and criticize young earth creationism, but no. He goes to various passages that tell of how the sun rises and sets and proclaims a true religion given by a real god would know the earth orbits the sun, not that the sun orbits the earth.

Yep, unbelievable isn't it? That was his big argument. I was embarrassed for the guy. Obviously he hasn't listened to his local TV weather man tell him when the sun rise will be and when the sun set will be. I can get that information from the Weather Channel website.

At any rate, a good show to shore up apologetic methodology. They plan to continue the review and critique next week. I will keep you informed.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

...who maketh ... the blind

This video puts a unique perspective on God's words to Moses

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Of Moths and Men

Paul Taylor revisits the fabled pepper-moths made famous by Kettlewell who staged the photographs of the moths for his research. Evolutionist still argue the conclusions about how the pepper-moth populations were distributed demonstrate bacteria-to-Bach style evolution, even though the research was seriously tampered with. The article should refresh your memory of high-school biology days.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

The Queen

On Labor Day weekend in 1997, Diana Spencer was killed in a car crash in Paris with her then boyfriend, Dodi Al-Fayed. This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of her death.

I recall watching the news during the week leading up to her funeral and I was a tad embarrassed by how the British folks were blubbering and ball babying over her death. You would have thought their firstborns had been killed.

Columnist, George Will, captured my feeling about the ridiculous catharsis in one of his Newsweek The Last Word columns. Entitled A Week of Sheer Fakery (Newsweek, 9/15/97), Will wrote,

Evidently many scores of millions of people lead lives of such anesthetizing boredom, emotional aridity and felt insignificance that they relish any opportunity for vicarious involvement in large events. And Princess Diana's death has been a large event precisely and only because the public, in a spontaneous act of mass parasitism, has fastened onto the event for the catharsis of emotional exhibitionism.

Even by the standards of today's confessional culture, people certainly have been remarkably "sharing" with their "feeling" about Diana. They have been sharing them with strangers, and their feelings have been about the death of a stranger who, they say, although she never made laws or poetry or shoes or butter, nevertheless "made a difference" and mattered to them more than they knew until she died. The media have been more than merely dutiful in reporting on the "grief" from which millions have been "suffering." Listening to language used this way is like watching an infant play with a Steuben vase.

As an added bonus to the thousands of Londoners camping out in front of Buckingham Palace, I was also intrigued by the little drama playing out behind the scenes with Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal family. The people were outraged the Queen refused to publicly wallow with them on their ash heap. She made no official statement acknowledging the death of Diana and she insisted upon keeping their funeral plans a private matter.

By mid-week following Diana's death, there was still no word from the Queen, and the public complained of her cold unemotionalism and were suggesting via polls to get rid of the monarchy. It wasn't until the week's end did she emerge from her privacy and visit the thousands of flower arrangements crowded around the palace entrance and gave a televised statement expressing the Royal Family's personal gratitude to her British subjects and their faithful support.

In light of these events, one of the better movies I have seen this past year is called The Queen starring Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II and Michael Sheen as Tony Blair.

The film is a docudrama chronicling the unknown events that played out between Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Tony Blair during the week in between Diana's fatal accident and the national memorial service. While we only saw what the media decided to show us about why the Queen was behaving the way she was in response to the public mourning over Diana's death, the movie provides us a sympathetic vantage point into the real reason's behind her reaction.

Now, like with any docudrama, I am sure there are made up elements to the story to give it the extra emotional appeal. Obviously we can't be privy to specific details to every conversation that took place, so there has to be some semi-accurate "made-up" parts to fill gaps. I certainly didn't watch this film believing it presented faithfully word-for-word what happened between the primary characters. That being said, however, the writer of the screen play did interview hundreds of people close to both the Royal family and Tony Blair's administration who provided otherwise unknown information he could use to flesh out his story.

I say the film is one of the better ones I have seen, because it paints a respectable picture of the British monarch and her commitment to the Royal traditions she represented. She wasn't being cold and heartless in her response to Diana's death, she merely wished to deal with a situation in a dignified, tasteful manner instead of with the soul crushing emotionalism the public demanded.
In addition, I also went away from watching the movie having better respect for Tony Blair. In spite of the fact he was a Labor Party prime minister who was considered by many as being progressive, and a non-conservative and non-traditionalist, he actually attempted to protect Queen Elizabeth from being bullied by the media and public, while helping her understand the change in modern times and her need to be visible to her subjects.

The movie is a tad slow in places, but the actors are superb and the film makers keep the scenes moving along so that it doesn't become tedious. The rare insight into the lives of major, national figures, and the previously unseen perspective of the aged monarch, grants her a fresh respectability as a human being trying to maintain dignity in an otherwise hostile public environment.

It's worth the rent.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Techno-Driven Church


I was unsure what I was going to title this post. I thought about "When Emergent Goes to Seed" or "Fully Emerged."

My friend Travis called me into his office this morning and told me how he was in Starbucks when a guy wearing a karate out fit handed him a postcard. It was an advertisement for a new church opening up in our area. The G-Church. The first ever techno-church worship service. I am thinking early 80s Herbie Hancock's Rockit with Jesus lyrics.

On the back of the postcard is a lovely Google Earth map of the Stevenson Ranch area of the Santa Clarita Valley with highlighted directions. The meeting time is every Sunday at 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm, so I guess you don't have to worry about getting out of bed until ten to be at church. This plays well with those church goers who were out late in the dance clubs the night before.

There is also a description of the service (my snarky comments are added in blue)

Christian (Yep, it is always Christians, right? for some reason I wouldn't expect Muslims to have a techno-Mosque. They have more respect for their religion and it is leading them to eternal destruction),
Sober (I'm curious of his definition of sober. Like, not liquored up?),
Free Admission (I certainly wouldn't be paying for something like this),
Free Food (I wouldn't pay for food either),
Gospel and Techno in One (Would this be like the Jesus film with the Matrix soundtrack?), Singles meet (I imagine this place wouldn't be necessarily family and kid friendly),
A light club (How does the sober description play into being a club?).

Other things included in your G-Church experience:

3 Efx projectors (For the Pink Floyd laser light show to reach out to the "older" crowd),
Tribal Drum Circle (Tribal drums? Will there be a sweat lodge, too? I am envisioning a scene like out of Billy Jack with some guy high on powdered mushrooms trying to catch a rattlesnake and he gets bit and goes into a trance where he wrestles his spirit guide who is in the form of a big bear wearing a loin cloth).
Digital Turntable Alter (For the breakdance communion service),
Live Diva (?????? What's a live Diva? Does Barbra Streisand attend this church?)

We are also encouraged to make the Sundays even greater by bringing our own stuff like, lighting, turntables, instruments, arts and crafts, Gospel divain (what ever that is) and B-boyin (what ever that is).

Just by reading the description of this place, I wouldn't want to attend because the service would be too loud and cacophonous.

Are there any limits to how far emergent style sympathizers will go? Are there any who will step back and say, "Ya know, this is a bit over the top and a tad sacrilegious?" I am not a hard core anti-contemporary fundamentalist. I think guitars and drums can have a tasteful place in the music service, but an entire church driven by techno music? If techno music is what is used to draw people in to church, what will maintain their presence? People -- especially young adult singles 18-25 -- get bored easily these days. A person can only do techno for so long before they tire of it.

I fail to see any hint of a gospel that can genuinely change lives at this church. A gospel that can provide meaning for a person, because the message is spirit filled, transforms the person's life, awakens him to the reality of God's righteous judgment upon sinners, and brings him to fleeing to Christ in repentance as the only savior able to make a person right with God, his creator.

I don't believe I would trust breakdancer boy Jesus with my soul.

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