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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Suicide and Assisted Suicide in the Bible

The Bible doesn't specifically address the actions of suicide and assisted suicide, so when ever it is discussed people divide their opinion on whether it is murder, and if the act is unforgivable. On one hand, there are those who say it is murder, because a person is taking a human life, even though it is the person's own. While on the other, there are those people who say murder only really applies to when an innocent life is taken that is not a person's own. Additionally, those folks who see it as murder claim it could very well be an unforgivable sin, because the person is no longer alive to ask God to forgive him of the sin of murder.

I just recently finished the book of First Samuel as a devotional series for my volunteers. When I was studying the death of Saul in the last chapter, I found myself looking at the few instances of suicide and assisted suicide as recorded in scripture. Though the act of suicide is not specifically addressed in scripture, I believe there is enough information for us to make some conclusions. Let me recount all of the instances of suicide and then draw some application.

Abimelech - Judges 9:53-54

An OT saga of epic proportions. Gideon was a womanizer who had up to 70 sons by wives and concubines. Abimelech was Gideon's son by a concubine woman of Shechem. After Gideon died, Abimelech stirred up his kinfolks on his mother's side in Shechem to kill his 70 half-brothers and make him king. Jothan, Gideon's youngest son who hid himself from the murderous slaughter by Abimelech and his thuggish Shechem relatives, pronounces God's curse upon both Abimelech and the people of Shechem for their crime.

Sure to his word, God moves by sending a "spirit of ill will" between the phony king Abimelech and the people of Shechem. The events which follow are an amazing illustration of being given over to one's own sin. Read the entire chapter, but in short, Abimelech's men kill the people of Shechem and specifically burns alive in the temple of their false god the men and their families who had helped in killing his half-brothers. But, when Abimelech attacks another Shechem town, a woman drops a millstone from a wall that crushes his skull. Abimelech then has one of his men kill him so he won't die at the hands of a woman.

Saul and his armor bearer - 1 Samuel 31:4-6

Saul, who was the first king of Israel, led a monarchy that was filled with disobedience to God. On one specific occasion, after Saul directly disobeyed a command from God (1 Samuel 15), the prophet Samuel pronounces a final judgment upon Saul: God would remove him from being king and give his kingdom to a man who will serve Him with his whole heart.

The closing days of Saul were truly sad as he became more and more isolated from God Who gave him over to his own personal madness and paranoia. During a pending attack by Israel's enemies, the Philistines, the silence of God with a divine word of direction brought Saul to a place where he foolishly consulted a witch to conjure up the then deceased Samuel so as to find
out what he should do. Samuel (I believe it was the real Samuel) reminds Saul of the judgment God had already pronounced upon him and that he and his sons would die within a day.

The next day, during a fevered battle with the Philistines, Saul witnessed the death of his sons, including the faithful Jonathan, and he was left mortally wounded. Fearing the encroaching Philistine soldiers would viciously torture him to death, Saul asked his armor bearer to kill him. He refused. Saul then threw himself on his own sword, as did his own armor bearer.

Ahithophel - 2 Samuel 17:23

Ahithophel was the grandfather of Bathsheba and a counselor in David's government. His advice was considered to be so good that he was regarded as if he were a genuine "Oracle of God" (2 Sam. 16:23). When David's son Absalom set in motion a treasonous rebellion against David, Ahithophel sided with Absalom. Later, as David fled with his loyal subjects, Hushai the Archite was sent back as an inside "mole" to counter any advice Ahithophel may give to Absalom. One interesting side note is the passing comment by the author of 2 Samuel, For the LORD had purposed to defeat the good advice of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring disaster upon Absalom (2 Sam. 17:14).

During a key moment of decision as whether to chase David and kill him immediately or to wait until later, Absalom decided to take Hushai's advice of waiting over Ahithophel's advice of immediate action. Once Ahithophel knew his counsel was rejected, he went home, put his "house in order," and then hanged himself from a tree.

Zimri - 1 Kings 16:18

After the death of Solomon, the kingdom of Israel was divided into two: the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. The northern kingdom writhed and seethed in all sorts of turmoil politically and religiously. The northern kingdom was particularly wicked in that idolatry was tolerated and practiced.

Zimri was the chariot commander under king Elah, the son of Baasha. He conspired against Elah and killed him during one of his drinking parties. Zimri then made himself king and killed all of Baasha's remaining family, children and grandchildren. He reigned in Tirzah for just seven days, for the people received word of his treacherous acts against Elah, made Omri, an army commander king, and went to Tirzah to execute Zimri. Upon learning that he was a wanted man, he went into the king's house and burned it down upon himself.

Judas Iscariot - The four Gospels

Judas is fairly self-explanatory. He betrayed the Lord Jesus to the Jews and Romans so as to be crucified. Feeling the mighty weight of guilt, he went out and hanged himself. Acts 1:18, 19 records he burst asunder in a field, but I think that is just a prophetic way of saying he received his just desserts, as it were.

As a footnote, some may say Samson's death was a suicide, and in a manner of speaking it was, but his death was much different than the ones listed here. First, God did not have to provide the miraculous strength for him to push down the Philistine temple, and second, by his death, God's enemies were destroyed and judged.

I have known an acquaintance or two who has committed suicide. I certainly have friends who had family and acquaintances who committed suicide. Practically speaking for those who are left to fit the pieces together as to why a person would do such a thing, the tendency is to mark the action as being caused by an emotionally troubled soul, or a person depressed for one reason or another. External factors the person could not control and was causing undo pressure upon his or her otherwise normal life which the person could not handle personally.

Though I don't wish to be callus in the wake of such a personal tragedy, I think it would be mistaken to ignore the circumstances surrounding these biblical examples. If we learn from these biblical warnings, it would help us to frame the act of suicide in a biblical perspective, as well as provide a help with helping one who may be counseling a suicidal person.

There are a couple of observations I note from the suicides of these six individuals. First, suicide seems to result from individuals troubled by unrepentant sin and willful disobedience to God. Saul is probably the most revealing example because he acted during his entire reign as king in unrepentant and willful, high-handed disobedience to God. A person driven to suicide often times is wrecked with guilt and shame for sinful conduct, and refuses to deal with it according to God's means of redemption in Christ.

Next, suicide seems to be born from a defiant, arrogant mindset. A selfish, bitter autonomy which seeks to control its own destiny and refuses to submit to one's creator. For example Abimelech refusing to allow a woman to take credit with killing him, and Zimri escaping the hands of his enemies by burning himself alive in his own house.

Now that is not to say all suicide falls under these two observations from these stories, but I would imagine a good deal of those who commit suicide have at the source these sin issues. If anything, when counseling a suicidal person, it is wise to draw them to considering a theologically correct understanding of who God is and who we are as his creatures. Truly that is their only hope. For I believe much of our emotional problems as people, in whatever way they may manifest themselves, stem from severely muddle headed ways of understanding who God is and who we are as sinful men in need of a savior. When we come to this place of understanding these profound truths, that is when a person will often have his sin revealed so as to be dealt with in an appropriate manner.


Friday, September 26, 2008

MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto - Rejoinder #3

peace and mercy .... upon the Israel of God

Continuing with another rejoinder to Sam Waldron's book, MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto - A Friendly Response.

Sam devotes at least 11 chapters both directly and indirectly addressing the subject of Israel in his MacArthur rebuttal. Like all faithful Covenant Theological, Reformed Baptist, a good part of his agenda is to make sure when his readers finish his book they go away knowing Sam believes the NT Church is simply the "New" Israel.

The view John presented in his Shepherd's Conference message is that God has promised to ethnic Israel a future salvation and restoration where they will dwell in an earthly kingdom with their messiah reigning from Jerusalem for 1,000 years. This is an unconditional promise God originally gave to Abraham and his descendants and is reiterated throughout the history of the OT and this kingdom is assumed to have fulfillment as taught by Christ and His Apostles.

Contrasted to John's position, Sam, along with many Covenant Theologians, argues that the Church, composed of both Jews and gentiles, is now a corporate, spiritual entity that has become a new covenant holy nation. The notion that God will save and restore national Israel to a future kingdom in the physical land known as "Israel" is misguided. Rather, the true "future" of ethnic Israel is found in the new covenant body known as the Church and the true restoration of a physical kingdom to Israel is the progression of the gospel as proclaimed by the Church starting from Jerusalem and spreading to the entire world. See Acts 1:6-8 for example. Thus God fulfills His OT promises to Israel through the believing Jewish remnant who believe by faith in Christ, so that in this holy nation "all Israel" is being saved (MMM, 32).

This idea that the Church is now the "New" Israel isn't new in church history, nor is it unique to Sam and Reformed covenant thought. Some early Christians in the centuries immediately following the time of the apostles thought the church was a "new" Israel replacing the old Israel. Sam mentions Justin Martyr who held to a form of "replacement theology" who believed the Church was spiritual "New" Israel replacing the old Israel (MMM, 21), but Martyr also held to the idea of a future millennium where the salvation and restoration of Israel will take place, the one important distinction supporting MacArthur's message that is over looked in Sam's citation.

Augustine was the most dominant Church Father who solidified in his theology the teaching of the NT Church being a "New" Israel, and it was passed along by the Roman Catholic Church down through the centuries. In fact, Roman Catholic theology even today reads similarly to how Sam and Covenant Theologians argue. For example, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 877 states, "in fact, from the beginning of his ministry, the Lord Jesus instituted the Twelve as 'the seeds of the new Israel and the beginning of the sacred hierarchy.'" Also, in the Catechism of Vatican II under chapter 7 entitled, The Work of Salvation: The Church, we read, "As Israel according to the flesh which wandered in the desert was already called the Church of God, so to the new Israel, which advances in this present era in search of a future and permanent city is called also the Church of Christ" (par. 77). When the Reformers broke away from the Roman Catholic Church during the Reformation, they carried with them over into their ecclessiology the Church ="New" Israel teaching and developed their views of eschatology around it.

Now, lest anyone accuse me of arguing according to a guilt by association because I take historical note of the connection of this doctrine of the NT Church being a "New" Israel with the Roman Catholic Church, allow me to be clear: The determining factor of the truthfulness of any doctrine is whether or not the doctrine is formulated and taught in scripture. Roman Catholicism has always held to the proper, biblical understanding of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ, for example. And as Sam, who is an amillennialist points out in a footnote, even though the Catholic church has been historically amillennial doesn't discount that system of eschatology. There are many pseudo-Christian cults like Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons who have held to a form of premillennialism (MMM, 17, f.n. 1).

What needs to be considered in this discussion is whether or not the term "Israel" is used as a synonym for the Church, the body of Christ, as Sam argues. John stated in his Shepherd's Conference message that throughout scripture the term "Israel" means Israel, a nation of ethnic Jews. No where in the NT is there any indication that the Church is called the "New" Israel. John goes on to say that the two references which are often raised as proof of the Church being called "Israel" are Galatians 6:16 and Romans 9:6. Sam writes that "This is one of those outrageous statements which could be used to make MacArthur look and sound silly" (MMM, 36).

The reason John's statement is outrageous, argues Sam, is because John is appealing to some majority-rule hermeneutic that employs an Arminian-like logic in which the word "all always means all." A good Bible expositor should know the context of any biblical passage helps to define what the original author meant by all, and in many instances all doesn't mean all without exception as Arminians like to claim. Sam goes on to point out that for the most part in scripture Israel does mean the Jewish nation. However, like a true Covenant Theologian, Sam says simply there are at times when "good and necessary reasons" makes the term "Israel" to mean the Church when the text requires such a connotation (MMM, 36-38). Galatians 6:16 and Romans 9:6, along with a small number of other passages, are those instances where good and necessary reasons insists one is to understand the word "Israel" as referring to the Church, the body of Christ.

But is Sam's understanding of these texts correct? Is the typical Covenant Theological position that there are "good and necessary reasons" for the word "Israel" to mean the Church forced upon these texts, or derived from them? Sam seems to think his exegesis of these passages is sound, so let me address his take on these two passages along with Ephesians 2. I will begin with Galatians 6:16 first, and address the others in later posts.

In the NKJV, Galatians 6:16 reads, And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

The disagreement between Dispensationalism, John's position, and Covenant Theology, Sam's position, centers around how one understands the phrase "Israel of God" in this verse. Dispensationalists generally take the phrase to be referring to Jewish believers who were in the Galatian church, where as those of the Covenant perspective see the phrase as describing a new, spiritual Israel of God, the Church.

Sam is of the second position and asserts that in this passage, Israel does not refer exclusively to ethnic Jews, but to the entire Church of Christ (MMM, 41). The reason he concludes this is because the context demands it, and he unfolds his argument as follows:

Because this passage stands close to the end of Paul's letter, and nothing in the following verses shed any light on how to take the phrase "Israel of God," Sam's approach to interpreting this passage is to work backwards through the epistle. When a person takes this approach, the first thing he will notice is the immediate context before 6:16. Paul is wrapping up his letter which was a polemic arguing against Judiazers who were compelling Christians in Galatia to be circumcised according to the Jewish law. Paul states that these men who insisted the Galatian Christians must be circumcised, do not keep the law themselves (6:13). He then says that a true boast of a Christian is the crucifixion of Christ, not the circumcision of the flesh (6:14). Paul concludes by stating that what matters is being a new creation in Christ, not whether one is circumcised or uncircumcised.

Now, with that context in mind, Sam asks, why would Paul make such an emphatic, doctrinal statement saying circumcision no longer matters only to contradict his point by singling out the very group whose identity is marked by circumcision? It would be absurd to think such a thing. The only conclusion one who is accurately handling the text can draw is that Paul is using the phrase "Israel of God" to mean a new, spiritual Israel composed of both Jews and gentiles. This interpretative conclusion is also affirmed in the earlier portion of Galatians chapter 5 as Sam notes.

He also attempts to build his case from a key, exegetical point. A lot of the debate as to how one understands the phrase "Israel of God" hinges upon the translation of the Greek conjunction kai. Without getting too complicated in the original languages, the kai could possibly be translated one of two ways:

The normative use of kai would translate verse 16 as, As many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them and mercy, and (kai) upon the Israel of God. This translation suggests Paul blesses two distinct groups: Those who "walk by this rule" and "the Israel of God." Dispensationalists favor this translation because it suggests Paul had in mind gentile Christians, those who walk by this rule, and Jewish Christians who are given the honorable title, "the Israel of God."

Then there is the epexegetical or appositional meaning of kai where the verse would be translated As many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them and mercy, even (kai) upon the Israel of God. With this rendering, Paul had in mind one group of individuals who "walk by this rule" that being "the Israel of God" both Jews and gentiles in Christ as a "New" Israel. The main difficulty - and it is a rather big difficulty - with this translation is the epexegetical use of kai is rare in Greek.

Sam favors this second way of translating the kai in spite of its grammatical rarity in the Greek language, and devotes a four page excursus defending the epexegetical meaning of kai in Galatians 6:16. Again, his primary reason for translating the kai as "even" has to do with contextual factors: It is unreasonable to think Paul would spend an entire epistle condemning circumcision as a necessity for Christian salvation only to turn around and offer a blessing upon Jewish Christian thus singling out the one specific group who would be identified by circumcision. He also appeals to one grammatical point, the phrase as many as walk by this rule. The phrase as many as is translated from hosos and it means as many as - no more or no less. In other words, the phrase includes every one who walk by this rule both Jews and gentiles. Hence there is no need to see an additional group of Jewish Christians being blessed with the phrase "Israel of God."

On the surface, Sam's interpretation looks to be compelling. He makes some good points, particularly against the traditional Dispensational view that there are two different groups of believers Paul is blessing in his benediction. However, a couple of points strike against his conclusion.

First, as Sam himself even admits, a lot of his interpretation is driven by Covenantal presuppositions. This is particularly true of his study on the epexegetical use of the kai. Because his theological system demands the Church be considered the "New" Israel, it is much easier for Sam to make the text teach the epexegetical translation of the kai rather than the normative use.

Second, there is a third translational option for kai that Sam doesn't consider which takes into consideration Paul's argument as Sam has outlined and maintains the unity of both Jews and gentiles as those who walk by this rule. The late NT scholar, Carl Hoch, suggested a third interpretation of kai in Galatians 6:16, the adjunctive sense. In this manner the translation of verse 16 would read, as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy also (kai) upon the Israel of God. Hoch remarks, Taken this way, Paul would be pronouncing peace upon all who walk by the rule (whether Jewish or Gentile Christians). At the same time he adds a prayer for God's mercy upon those within the nation of Israel, who although elect, had not yet come to faith in Christ (All Things New: The Significance of Newness for Biblical Theology, p. 276).

Now one may argue that the adjunctive translation of kai is as rare as the epexegetical, I believe the normative use of kai can represent Hoch's essential point. That being, Paul blesses those who walk by this rule, the Christian Church both believing Jews and gentiles, and then he offers a plea to pray for unbelieving Jews, the Israel of God.

In other words, Paul is not addressing two separate groups of Christians as some Dispensationalists claim, but neither is he redefining the word Israel and pouring onto it a spiritual meaning for the New Testament Church, as Sam claims.

I'll consider Sam's arguments for Romans 9:6 and Ephesians 2:12-19 shortly.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Hip and Thigh Classic

While I am preparing some longer posts, I thought I would dig back into the archives and bring to the front one of my more interesting posts so as to expose it to a fresher audience. It was brought back to mind after having a handful of conversations with some border line food pharisees.

Just as a note: The context of cancer is from two years ago. I wanted everyone to know a head of time that I am fine and cancer free... In spite of my eating habits.

Food Pharisees

Since I announced I have an acinic cell carcinoma sitting in my neck (now officially confirmed), I have been exhorted on occasion as to the substance of my diet by what I like to call food Pharisees.

Food Pharisees are folks who vehemently insist that if I change my base diet from eating pepperoni/pineapple pizza, Noah's bagel dogs, Costco chocolate dipped ice cream bars rolled in roasted almonds, and an assortment of otherwise unhealthy foods, and switch to only consuming juiced wheat grass, organic carrots, and purified water, my tumor would disappear.

Now I will confess I could eat better and I certainly need to lose a little weight. I would also imagine there is some truth about the impact of a proper diet on my overall health. However, these food Pharisees go way beyond just encouraging folks to eat healthy food, they assign a measure of intrinsic spirituality to eating their prescribed foods. In other words, if you really wish to be a spiritual Christian, as well as a totally healthy Christian with no physical problems, then you will eat the foods God has prescribed in the Bible. The fact that you do not eat them is the reason you have asthma, heart disease, sinus troubles, and cancer.

I had one person tell me once with a straight face and a voice full of authority that any cancer can be reversed and eliminated no matter how serious it is and how far along it has progressed, if only the cancer victim eats the foods ordained of God. This individual went on to inform me God's foods are not processed by man; things like whole, uncooked vegetables and pure grains. Of course the term processed by man is rather vague. Something tells me Hamburger Helper and Lucky Charms falls into the category of processed by man.

This is not the first time I have encountered food Pharisees. Back in college when I was a fresh, brand new believer in the Lord, I had some close friends who started to imbibe the food Pharisee ideology. They had come across some alleged Christian food guru who insisted the food laws outlined in Leviticus was God's special diet for all His people in both the OT, as well as the NT. Hence, spiritually minded Christians will have a diet reflective of the clean and unclean animals and other foods regulated upon the theocratic nation of Israel during the OT.

When confronted with the account of Peter's vision in Acts 10 where he sees a great cloth lowered from heaven with all the unclean animals displayed on it, and then a voice tells Peter to rise, kill and eat, my friends told me that was not God repealing the Levitical food laws, but it was the inclusion of the gentiles to be under the Levitical food laws. (I am still scratching my head over that one).

They further appealed to 1 Timothy 4:3,4 where Paul writes concerning certain apostates forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from food which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving. Rather than understanding this passage to be another confirmation of God lifting the food law restrictions, my friends told me it was an affirmation of their continual binding on the life of the Christian believer because Paul writes of food which God created to be received and every creature of God is good -– the food and animals God declared clean in Leviticus.

I was almost persuaded by their arguments as a naive young believer, but then they started telling me how this guru they liked suggested all new clean food converts must under go a colon cleansing in order for this new spiritual lifestyle to have maximum effect. The cleansing basically involved having to drink foul, enzyme-laden juice for a week, and then undergo a high-powered, yet invigorating, enema. I was told I would experience a little discomfort. Experiencing a little discomfort with a high-powered enema? That is like saying you may experience a little moisture in a hurricane. Any ways, that was the stop sign the Lord used to turn me away from embracing this particular food Pharisee model. Invigorating indeed.

As I have reflected on my encounters with food Pharisees, I believe it is rather telling they exist primarily in pseudo-Christian cults and false religions. That is because these groups are work oriented with their perspective on spirituality and they have to provide their personal holiness as outlined by their particular deity. The practitioners assign spiritual value to the maintenance of their rituals, and many of these rituals involve food.

For instance, Islam promotes ridiculous food and purity laws. Everyone knows they reject eating any pork, but some Muslims go so far as to insist that no one who has handled pork can touch any of their non-pork food, even if the chef has washed his hands thoroughly and hasn't touched the pork in hours or days. I had a college friend who worked at the local Pizza Hut near campus. Every day Muslims would call to order pizza. Their one rule was that no pork could touch it, like pepperoni or sausage. My friend told me the person taking the order would assure the Muslim of no pork contamination, and then proceed to squeeze sausage juice on the dough before the pizza was made. All the Muslims I knew just loved the pizza from Pizza Hut.

Mormons also have their food laws against drinking anything with caffeine and Seventh-Day Adventists are probably the most notorious of all pseudo-Christian cults in that they have their entire line of food products they insist their members eat. Even pagan religionists have their food laws. Vegans not only abstain from eating any animal by-product, the more devoted will even stay away from using animal by-products like leather belts and shoes, or down filled coats.

One of the more curious examples of food Pharisees in recent times comes from the liberal secular world. There is a major push among America leftist elites to make all mothers breast feed their newborns. I say this is a curiosity because most secular liberals seem to disdain motherhood in general and it is a viewpoint cutting entirely against their pro-abortion stance. With this recent case, the public-health authorities in the state of Massachusetts, a cesspool for leftist social experimentation, in a push to promote breastfeeding now bans hospitals from giving formula samples to women who just had a baby.

Now I will admit up front that my wife and I are breastfeeding supporters. In the case of women's breasts, God did design them to be the best means to feed an infant. However, neither one of us are breastfeeding "only" advocates, certainly not like those creepy lactation groups who breastfeed their preteen children. We definitely would not claim a mother is violating God's spiritual blessing if she is unable to breastfeed, or even chooses not to altogether.

Colossians 2:20-23 is the one passage in scripture that silences all genuine minded food Phariseeism, particularly those who truly believe there is some inherent godliness with eating "biblical" food. Paul clearly states there is only an appearance of wisdom with eating foods self imposed by one's religious conviction, but in reality, depriving one's self of "unbiblical" foods really doesn't do anything for the indulgences of the flesh (Col. 2:23). In other words, it doesn't change a persons heart. That is because sinfulness is not caused by eating outward things, but is a condition coming from the heart. People are in need of a heart change, not a diet change, in order to experience true spirituality. As Jesus stated to his disciples, it is what comes out of a man that defiles him, not what he eats (Mark 7:20-23). So for you food Pharisees, may I say a heart felt thank you that you care about my well being both physically and spiritually. I will certainly eat in moderation, however, I will not be giving up my grilled ham steaks and fried chicken and I would likewise encourage you to treat yourself to a Big Mac.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

FBT Updates

I added a few more articles to the articles page at my other website, Fred's Bible Talk.

I originally wrote these earlier this year and they deal specifically with my email interaction with the arguments of Rick Bretlinger, an apologist for the so-called gay "Christian" lifestyle who claims God does not condemn homosexual desire and behavior, but in reality approves and commends it.

Debunking Gay Christian Apologetics

I sort of got drawn to other interests and stopped my responses prematurely, so I do hope to return to finishing sometime in the future.

Also, my podcast will be getting updated this week for those few of you who subscribe to it.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Dreaming Impossible Dreams

Lewis Wolpert is a professor in Britain, which by default means his accent will make his mumbling, dry wit sound authoritative, like he knows what he is talking about.

Professor Wolpert is also a Darwinian atheist who has written a book called Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast which explains from an evolutionary viewpoint why people believe impossible things. ABC News did a web report on his thesis that can be read here:

Why Do We Believe Impossible Things

Among some of the impossible things people believe according to Wolpert are stuff like alien abductions, ghosts, and God (of course). As men evolved they were the only animals who clearly understood cause and effect. Searching for causes that are unexplainable resulted in men evolving religion, and hence a tendency to believe false things.

I always love how atheists who adhere to evolutionary genetic determinism testify how they managed by sheer will to muster the internal fortitude to throw off the shackles of small minded, less evolved ideas like religion. They lecture us small minded, less evolved folks about why it is more rational to believe in evolutionary genetic determinism. If my belief in the impossibility of God is an evolutionary trait, how exactly does mocking the product of my traits, i.e., religious practice, help me? It is sort of like an eagle mocking a penguin for not being able to fly. Am I lazy because I do not have the will power to change my genetic make up?

Additionally, seeing there are more religious people in our world than atheists, simply because our religious genetics cause us to value children and families and the desire to reproduce responsibly, wouldn't the traits toward belief in impossible things be an advantage over atheistic belief in impossible things like giant, water dwelling possums turning into sperm whales over millions of years? I always understood that how many offspring get passed on to the next generation was the important thing, not just belief.

Just wondering.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cool Video of the Day

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Manufacturing Mole Hills

A Rant

Steve Camp continues to demonstrate his awesome abilities with manufacturing mountains out of mole hills. I can't think of another internet blogger (except for maybe David Cloud, but he isn't really a blogger) who can take one issue he happens to disagrees with and blow it out of such enormous proportions a person would think the entire hope of evangelical Christianity is on the verge of complete and utter collapse.

I am often truly amazed at such feats of hyperbole that often comes from Camp.

What is it that has Steve in a tither?

The original post can be read here, but to summarize for the reader,

Desiring God Ministries, John Piper's outfit, will be having a conference at the end of September addressing the theme of the power of words and the wonder of God. As a promotion for this up coming conference, some videos were produced to illustrate the importance of the theme. One of the videos is of popular biblical counseling guru, Paul Tripp, discussing the significance of cuss words and edification called "What Makes Bad Language Bad?".

On this video, Paul retells answering a question from one of his kids asking him about why are certain words considered bad. In answering the question, Tripp explained how some language is meant to explicitly express acts of sin on which we should not dwell. However, he explains there are certain words, though they are not necessarily bad in and of themselves, that are still ungracious and just plain crass. He then uses as an example the "s" word, and I don't mean "stupid." He repeats the word at least half or so dozen times on the video. Of course, its use is in the context of providing an answer to his kids, and now the video audience. As he continues his talk, Tripp describes how after he mentions the word his children began repeating it in various expressions. Seizing the moment, Tripp explains to his kids how the word is more than just being a crass word but one that does not minister edification to the hearer, what should be the aim of all language that comes out of our mouth as Christians.

Honestly, that is the video. But, the way Camp tears into Tripp for even uttering the "s" word (and I don't mean "stupid") with the righteous indignation of an armchair mullah, and of course beating on Piper for just having his name attached to the video, you would have thought it was a porno or something.

Now, let me be straight up honest with a few thoughts.

Could one make a case that Tripp should had exercised wiser discretion with his descriptions of language? Certainly. I for one would had cautioned firmly to modify his language so that he would not be actually using the word in the video. First there is a propriety of a well-known, reputable Christian teacher in biblical counseling using language like that, but secondly the addition of folks like Camp and his many back slapping readers irresponsibly twisting the video out of proportion will lead to unnecessary strife. But the video is hardly the vile, smutty rag Camp is making it out to be, and Tripp is hardly a "pomo" as he is falsely accused on his blog. I wasn't "offended" by it when I watched his comments in the context they were offered, and I definitely feel no need to stir up pretentious feelings of outrage against either Tripp or Piper at the behest of Steve Camp.

Further more, I have never been a big fan of Piper. I have liked some of his books from the past and he has preached a few message that have touched my soul, but he is not a preacher I seek out to hear. I know he has been the darling of the young and restless reformers for near a decade now, but he does hold to some quirky ideas which I will leave for the time being, and his preaching is too saturated with histrionics for me to truly enjoy it. Lots of people like him, I don't so much. That being said, he is hardly on the verge of apostasy for posting this video of Tripp and allowing Mark Driscoll to speak at his conference.

And for Driscoll, I am not a big fan of his either. I think he is too frivolous in the pulpit. His explicitness in his preaching has become a stumbling block for many and that is something no preacher should want to have attached to his ministry. What do you want to be remembered as when you die? An edgy speaker who pushed the barrier of appropriateness in your messages? Or someone who proclaimed clearly with out compromise the Word of God with class, dignity, and gravitas? Think Martin Lloyd-Jones, and perhaps S. Lewis Johnson. I also don't care for a lot of Driscoll's ministry philosophy. By thinking practical ministry must be altered to specially meet the needs to the post-modern, younger generations, I believe he undervalues the sufficiency of the gospel and the sovereignty of God in salvation. At the same time, however, I do believe he has been too harshly criticized and turned into a much bigger boogie man than what he truly is.

I know Camp wants to carry on like he is some sort of modern day Amos calling the Church back to godliness, but in this instance, this perceived ill is a manufactured illusion. Believe me, he has a repeated history of this sort of misdirected rebuke. I can remember, about a year ago, he was the guy who posted a blog article scolding and mocking a deacon for appropriately telling teenagers to not smoke in the parking lot of the church. (Read my response, too).

Camp cites Ephesians 4:29 as the passage Tripp violates, but he did no such thing. If one would consider the context of what he actually said in the video and why he said it in a responsible manner like the disclaimer at the beginning of the video tells the watcher to do, Camp's complaint is just plain misguided and is needlessly stirring up division when none should occur.

Ephesians 4:29 speaks to an established pattern of conduct and speech. In other words, a person who is marked out as having a foul mouth. This conduct and speech, though, is more than just cuss words. It directly speaks to edifying speech, and a person can have unedifying speech with out the use of cuss words. Mark Driscoll, I believe it can be argued, fits this category. Even though he doesn't use specific cuss words his sermon illustrations and other content in his messages are often times corrupt words as explained by Paul in Ephesians. I can think of several fundamentalist preachers who could easily fit into this category. Many in the KJV-onlyist crowd certainly fall under Paul's warning.

Paul Tripp's video when he uses the "s" word does not, however; and I think Camp making this an issue is much more damaging to the Body of Christ than a cuss word uttered a few times for the sake of explaining proper edification. In my opinion, Steve owes these guys an apology for overreacting.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Thoughts about Ray Boltz declaring his Homosexuality

When I was in college I was a member of the drama team in our church's college department. We called ourselves The Illustrators, and we put together short skits to illustrate biblical truth for our Sunday school class and on occasion for the congregation.

We managed to arrange performances for our team in a few rural churches in north east Arkansas, so we put together a 40 minute program of our skits. We concluded our presentation with a grand finale of us acting out the popular, emotional stirring song, "Thank You." The song tells the story about a Sunday school teacher, a lady in our particular rendition, who learns upon getting to heaven that her humble, meager service which went unnoticed on earth impacted thousands for eternity as they all come to greet her around the throne of Jesus, who was played quite convincingly by your's truly (I even had longish hair). This skit would knock the audience dead. There wouldn't be a dry eye in the entire house as people would get all weepy. We even learned sign language to the chorus that added an extra emotional zing to the entire performance.

Ray Boltz, who originally sang that song and made it popular, even winning awards for it and numerous other CCM hits like "Watch the Lamb" and "I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb," recently announced he is a homosexual.

According to a lengthy interview he gave to The Washington Blade, a homosexual magazine, Boltz says he had been living a double life for nearly 30 years. Citing from the Christianity Today report he explains,
“I’d denied it ever since I was a kid," Boltz, 55, told the magazine. "I became a Christian, I thought that was the way to deal with this and I prayed hard and tried for 30-some years and then at the end, I was just going, ‘I’m still gay. I know I am.’ And I just got to the place where I couldn’t take it anymore … when I was going through all this darkness, I thought, ‘Just end this.’”
The Washington Blade article goes into a bit more detail how he announced his homosexual tendencies to his wife and children back around 2004, but just recently decided to tell the public and his fans. His admittance eventually brought about a separation and divorce from his wife of 33 years. Again, citing from the CT article Boltz expressed his new found freedom in this way,
“If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be … I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.”
Boltz's testimony is just another example of those who want to normalize homosexual sin as being "Okay" with God. Allow me to offer up some thoughts in response,

I don't doubt Boltz's life long struggle with his homosexual feelings and desires. I am sure there are evangelical fans who want some explanations as to why he "turned gay" as it were, but there really is no need to make ignorant speculations. It doesn't matter whether those desires were caused by an emotionally distant father or a mother who didn't hug him enough. He could very well had been raised in an emotionally stable and loving home for all we know.

The fact of the matter is that the Bible clearly states all men are born into sin. It is in "iniquity that my mother conceived me," David wrote in Psalm 51:5 and "out of the heart" all sin springs our Lord stated in Mark 7:21. Sin impacts the whole of man including his affections and desires, and obviously human sexuality will also be warped by its influence. Where as most men succumb to heterosexual sins, Boltz happens to succumb to homosexual sin. Sexual deviant sin is still sexually deviant sin whether it is homosexual or heterosexual.

Boltz seems to suggest he saw adopting a "Christian" life as a means to rescue him from what he believed to be wrong. Rather than seeing Christianity as being the means of justification before God, Christ's blood the fount of forgiveness for sin, and a sanctifying pursuit of holiness by the work of the Spirit in his life, he merely saw it as just a "way" to deal with his homosexual desires. That tells me a couple of things. First he understood homosexuality was sinful because he wanted a way to deal with it. Second, he approached dealing with his sin by the use of personal works. Notice there are lots of "I" and "me" being used in his interview. There is nothing indicating how he desired to please the Lord and live in holiness. The Christianity he presents and what he wanted is what he could personally gain from it. His view of the Christian faith is selfish, at least from my perspective.

Regrettably, Boltz represents how many Christians deal with temptation and sin. I am not entirely sure of his religious background. The interview talks about his involvement with the Jesus movement of the 70s, and a lot of those Christians had charismatic and Pentecostal backgrounds. The theology taught in those denomination generally understand personal sin as brought upon a person by external forces like a demon or an unknown bondage maker. Freedom from sin is then considered the exorcising of the demon or "breaking" the bondage producing a quick fix resulting in immediate, instantaneous godliness that removes all future struggle with personal sin.

Maybe we can chalk Boltz's failure to remain straight by blaming poor charismatic theology, but non-Pentecostals travel similar avenues when dealing with personal sin. Their approach, though, is usually in the form of attending weekend seminars or reading a book that supposedly provides a spiritual key to overcoming the grip of sin in a person's life.

The Bible, however, knows nothing of this instant holiness and freedom from temptation theology saturating the minds of many in the Church. Rather, it presents a picture of a life long struggle with sin where a person, empowered by the work of the Spirit, mortifies personal sin by putting it off from him or her. But there is more than putting off sinful attitudes and habits, but a putting on of godliness and righteousness, Colossians 3:5-17.

Sadly, it appears from Boltz's testimony that he has given up on even thinking about living a life submitted to God redeemed by Christ. Instead, he is taking the gay revisionist apologist lie of claiming God "made him this way." It is just a matter of time - if not already - for him to begin advocating a gay revisionist view of scripture that says homosexuality is not condemned by God.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

...and speaking of storms of life

I thought I would add this as an addendum to my previous post on Job and how God is sovereign over the storms of life. This video is a good example of what I mean.

99 Balloons

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Gleanings from Job #18

...continuing my devotional series on the book of Job

God is Sovereign and Acts Wisely (36-37)

I have been considering the trials of Job and his dialogs with his three friends. They proved to be hapless counselors by failing to give Job the perspective he needed to worship God in his trials.

Instead, Job was moving toward bad thinking regarding the Lord and His ways. He was beginning to stew in bitterness.

A fourth friend, Elihu, believing none of the other three friends adequately answered any of Job's questions in a meaningful fashion, was moved to speak.

Where as Job's three friends attributed his suffering to retribution - punishment for unconfessed sin - Elihu reminds Job of God's character as the focal point in his suffering.

Job was in need to RECAPTURE THE GLORY OF GOD IN SUFFERING and Elihu draws Job back to sound thinking about God by hitting on three broad areas.

I have considered the first two of Elihu's points to Job,

I. God does hear and has spoken (He has revealed Himself)
II. God is Just and acts fairly

with this study, I consider the third,

III. God is sovereign and acts wisely

Elihu begins by excusing himself for having a lot to say and ask for patience as he explains his words (36:1-4). In spite of his long-windedness he affirms that what he says is what he knows to be true about God. He draws upon what he knows to be true of God because God has revealed it.

- It is knowledge from afar, meaning it is "revealed by God" (3)
- Moreover, it is perfect knowledge (4) because it is knowledge from the Lord Himself.

That revealed knowledge tells us much about who God is as our sovereign maker, and this is what Elihu relates to Job and his friends.

God is Sovereign in His Authority over Men (36:5-16). Though God is sovereign over all, described as being "mighty in strength" in verse 5, He doesn't despise anyone. Elihu is saying God has not turned his back on God.

Contrary to Job's argument that the wicked go unpunished, Elihu argues that God will deal with them (6, 7). The righteous He does preserve and He doesn't withdraw His eyes from them. Moreover, God doesn't bring affliction upon a person, even the wicked, without revealing to them why it is they are afflicted (8-10). The primary purpose of trials is for our own personal instruction.

- Those who obey the instruction will prosper (11)
- Those who are obstinate will die without knowledge (12-15)

In like manner, Elihu points out (16), Job should be instructed by his distress, that perhaps God is using those trials to mature Job, to draw him to Himself.

God is Sovereign in His Instruction during Affliction (36:17-23). Moving from his last comment about Job seeking instruction during his trial, Elihu admonishes Job's attitude. Rather than despairing, speaking about God striking him down and longing for the night (20), Job needs to rest with trust in God alone.

- Job should not trust his riches or material gain to aid in comforts (18, 19) in his distress. Only God can uphold him in this trial, or anyone in his or her trials.

- Also, Job should beware of seeking death or acting sinfully to escape a trial (20, 21). When difficulties become severe, a person may be tempted to pray for death, maybe even committing suicide, but this should not be the direction a person heads. Moreover, there is a danger of pursuing iniquity or the making of sinful choices in order to get out from under a trial. That way should also be avoid.

Rather, the right way to go is to humble submit to God's instruction (22, 23). Only God can adequately instruct during time of personal distress. Instead of allowing despair over come you, turn to God in praise.

God Sovereignty is benevolent in His works in nature. (36:24 - 37:24) In order to illustrate God's sovereignty, Elihu points to several illustrations of God's power and majesty displayed in nature. God is almighty and sovereign over all His creative works, particularly the rain. It is through the rain that God displays his benevolent sovereignty to all men, because rain benefits all men by giving them water to drink and grow food (30-33).

Elihu also reminds Job of God's control over storms. He is seen in thunder and lightening storms which instill awe in all the inhabitants of the earth, as well as snow storms and the rain storms that are directed at God's command in the clouds.

As Elihu reminds Job, storms should remind all men, especially the Christian, of God's sovereign control over all events. Thus, as Elihu concludes his remarks to Job and his listening friends, if God is the authority and controller of all earthly storms and they obey Him, then most certainly he is the controller over spiritual storms as well. If men are easily awed by physical storms and God's power over them, how then can we presume to argue against God, particularly His providence with trials. We must rest upon the truths we know of God revealed in the storm.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

On Dinosaurs and the Presidency

Matt Damon, still glistening from his intense afternoon workout down at the spa, took a few moments of his precious time to sit down with an interviewer and share his thoughtful concerns about the potential disaster waiting to befall the entire world if - God forbid - John McCain dies from a massive heart-attack a week after he is sworn in as president. Old people are all the time dying from heart-attacks and McCain who is pushing 90 something is a walking time bomb. If he were to die the next day after his inauguration, that leaves his running mate, Sarah Palin, as the president.

Matt Damon sternly warns how such a likely event will throw the entire geopolitical world into higgly-piggly, and how could Palin, a snake-handling, holy roller Pentecostal who believes dinosaurs roamed the earth just 4,000 years ago, have the mental sanity to properly manage a global crisis that could arise if Israel decides to go nuclear against Iran. I mean, what a person thinks about when dinosaurs lived has direct bearing on how they handle America's involvement with WW III.

I paused for a moment and thought to myself, "That certainly is a good point, Matt." It really never occurred to me that what a person believes about when dinosaurs lived was a gauge of his or her ability to rationalize and make sound decisions. Then I thought, "Wait a minute, I believe dinosaurs lived just a few thousand years ago." And I think I am rational and make sound decisions. Of course, I do regret buying those pair of Sketchers just because they "looked good," but I never thought my views of biblical creationism and when dinosaurs roamed the earth had any impact upon my decision to purchase comfortable footwear.

But then I began to wonder. Is it specifically a belief dinosaurs roamed the earth 4,000 years ago that disqualifies a person from being president, or is it any ole kooky belief? I find it rather interesting that Matt dwelt upon the dinosaur question, which tells me the debate surrounding the worldview of origins is a major issue with people. How we understand origins does speak to how a person may perceive reality.

But do other quirky views about how we perceive reality determine one's ability to command a country in crisis? Like say for instance, whether or not Islamic terrorist flew planes into the World Trade Center or was it a government conspiracy? That would disqualify many people in the world for being any sort of governmental leader. And what about those people who envision a whole alternative history of the United States? Is their irrational thinking up there with the people who think dinosaurs roamed the either 4,000 years ago? I mean, these are some important questions to consider when we choose our next president and I am for sure thankful Matt Damon has the wisdom to remind us of them.

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On Bad Movies and the Presidency

Academy Award winning actor, Matt Damon, recently took a break from bedding down Hollywood starlets to share with the American public his concerns about a potential Palin presidency. With a grave expression on his face, while rubbing his thumb up and down the Oscar he won in 1995 for best original screenplay for the movie Good Will Hunting, Damon earnestly stated how he worried about Sarah Palin becoming president.

Of course, Palin is not running for president; John McCain is. But in Damon's mind, he is like pushing 90, and the moment he steps from the podium after being sworn in, he could die from a massive stroke. That leaves hockey mom Sarah in the top slot and how exactly is a mom from Alaska gonna take on the thugs and criminals in the world? By using hockey techniques? Seeing that the Ruskies are all into hockey, that may not be a bad idea.

At any rate, such a possibility is absurd, Damon lectures, like a really bad Disney Channel movie, called something like "First Mom" or "President Mom" starring a plucky Valerie Bertinelli, and Tony Danza as her lead Secret Service agent and love interest.

But like the depth of thought of many of Hollywood's finest, has Damon considered the alternative? The potentiality of a Obama presidency is like a really bad Lions Gate direct-to-DVD Oprah production that tells the story of how a young, spirited African-American man, played by Cuba Gooding (also an Oscar winner, I might add), becomes president. The movie will begin with the backstory of how he helped a group of disadvantage inner city youth save their community center from demolition by the hands of white corporate bad guys led by Tom Arnold, who only wanted to build a 5 star resort. Why they would want to build a 5 star resort in inner-city Chicago is not clearly explained, but it is beside the point.

Then, emboldened on how he stopped corporate greed, our hero becomes locked in a struggle for the state senate seat with a white, rich racist played by Charlie Sheen. Then, with the aide of some friends in the media and a LA activist divorce court judge, Gooding's character is able to expose the sleazy sex life of this bad guy and win the senate seat. It's a tremendous underdog story about overcoming great odds by pulling from your inner self. Lou Gossett could guest star as a reverend of some sort.

The rest of the story, as they say, will be explained by a slightly fictionalized biographical text inserted over the black and white still of a smiling Gooding being encircled by the original community youth group as they all rejoice in the sweet embrace of hope. That sets us up for a sequel that will go into the trials and struggles of winning the presidency.

It's not Good Will Hunting exactly, but I see all sorts of potential with a movie like that, right?

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Uppity, Evangelical Women

I only know Voddie Baucham by reputation. I know he speaks occasionally with Answers in Genesis and some of the restless, young Calvinist-T4G crowd like him.

Since watching this clip, my interest has been stirred.

I can't say I totally agree with him that women should not work outside the home, and I certainly would not say the Bible forbids them from serving in any elected office.

However, when the host and this other evangelical Palin supporter begin misapplying scripture to justify mild, evangelical feminism, Baucham champions biblical authority with style, grace, and tenacity.

ht: challies

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Cloudy Daze

One of my personal amusements is to occasionally drop by David Cloud's Way of Strife... I mean Life website and look over his daily articles listing. I don't know what entertains me more? The alarmist, hand-wringing warnings to his devoted readers to separate from such-and-such a preacher or church organization violating his list of secondary separation rules. Or maybe it is his misinformed exposes of contemporary Christian music using as his source 25 year old articles taken from Christianity Today.

Whatever the case may be, pastor Cloud is a bright and shining beacon of that misguided independent fundamentalism elevating personal preferences to the level of doctrinal orthodoxy and passing it off as being biblical Christianity.

When pastor Cloud is not chasing down theological windmills, like the danger of Calvinism in IFB churches, he takes up the cause of defending the KJV against the criticisms of neo-evangelicals.

A recent example is his August 20th article defending the KJV rendering of Romans 8:16 which reads, "The Spirit itself..." In addition to defending what is truly a horrific translation by the KJV translators, whom Cloud praises as the greatest scholars the world has ever known with the same amount of gusto bimbo actress Scarlett Johansson praises Obama as being the savior of humanity, he also launches an assault against Doug Kutilek who wrote a lengthy article explaining why the translation is in severe error.

Kutilek's article articulates clearly why the KJV rendering of the neuter pronoun auto as "it" in relation with the neuter noun pneuma "spirit" must be translated as "The Spirit Himself..." rather than the KJV translation "The Spirit itself..." Along with grammatical accuracy in translating the Greek language, one primary reason is theological. The Holy Spirit is a person, not an impersonal force as Jehovah's Witnesses and Socinian heretics have taught. Kutilek even suggests that one of the reasons the KJV translated auto with pneuma as "it" in at least 4 instances in the KJV may have to do with the fact some translators on the KJV committees may had been closet Socinians.

Supplementing Kutilek's article is James May's article adding some highlights to the Greek neuter noun/pronoun nuances as it is used throughout the NT. He addresses the ridiculous assertion by KJV defenders that the KJV is merely translating the passages literally. Together, Kutilek and May's articles demonstrate that any KJV-only argument attempting to defend the KJV translation of Romans 8:16 as "The Spirit itself..." is profoundly flawed. Such argumentation is based upon a stark ignorance of the original Greek language and to what lengths KJV-only apologists will go to blindly defend their presupposition that the KJV is error free.

Enter David Cloud. Handkerchief tied around his eyes and stick in hand, he is going to try to whack this pinata.

He opens up by first criticizing Doug Kutilek's credentials as a scholar and writer. According to Cloud, Doug Kutilek is no recognized Hebrew or Greek scholar of any renown expertise. Nor has he ever done any significant translation work of God's Word. So Kutilek is out of his league to even offer any critique of those heaven sent KJV translators.

[Keep this opening remark mocking Kutilek's scholarly abilities in mind as we move along]

After heaping sycophantic praise upon the KJV translators, Cloud then offers the same argument that the KJV translators were merely translating the Greek into proper English when they translate Romans 8:16 as "The Spirit itself..." This claim is utterly debunked by Kutilek and May's articles. However, who does Cloud cite as a source affirming his argument? Is it a recognized language translator? A scholar of renown expertise? No. He appeals to none other than Thomas Strouse! You know, the Thomas Strouse who has attempted to argue that the Bible teaches a geocentric view of the solar system! That Thomas Strouse.

So much for scholarly abilities to defend the KJV-only view of Romans 8:16.

Oh, but there is more.

Cloud then appeals to the argument that the English translation "itself" can refer to a person. In order to prove this assertion, he then cites from an article which quotes from the Random House New Webster's College Dictionary. Apparently, there are secondary instances where the word "itself" can be used when the gender of the object is unknown or the gender is mentioned in the sentence. But it isn't a primary usage. Moreover, Cloud seems to forget that regardless of the usage of a particular word in the English language, there is still the Greek usage. The fact remains that the Greek and English languages do not treat the grammatical gender of a word in the exact same way.

But that is not the best part. Where do you think Cloud pulled this information about the English use of "itself?" Did he consult a recognized NT language scholar? A biblical translator of renown expertise? Nope. He got it from internet gadfly, Will Kinney! The Will Kinney who operates a KJV-only website and involves himself with a variety of email discussion groups (a couple of which I have been kicked off) with a bunch of anti-Trinitarian Oneness Pentecostals. Will Kinney, as far as I know, teaches high school Spanish classes somewhere in Colorado. If Cloud was so desperate to defend the presupposition that the KJV contains no translational errors with Romans 8:16 why didn't he just quote Peter Ruckman or Gail Riplinger? But Will Kinney?

Doug Kutilek, who is a better scholar than what Cloud lets on has given a tremendous response to this cloudy mess of KJV-only apologetics. You can read it here: As I See It, Vol. 11, Num. 9, September 2008.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

FBT Update

I added another series of posts to my website, Fred's Bible Talk.

It was a series of posts I wrote over the course of a year and a half responding to Christ-hating anarchist and blues guitar player, Chaz Bufe. Some folks may remember them.

I re-formatted them and moved them all over to a second location to make them more easy to access.

The originals can still be read here, along with the added bonus of the funny pictures.

Twenty Ways to Answer a Fool


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Palin: The Day After

I watched the Sarah Palin speech last night with the Santa Clarita Prager discussion group in the showroom of a Saturn dealership. (I will have to explain that sometime later). At any rate, I generally like chit-chatting about politics with my friends. I certainly like reading about the subject on blogs and listening to talk radio. Rarely do I like to write on the subject with any length. But, the historic cultural moment we are witnessing unfold in our society this election year has drawn out some observations I want to share in no particular order.

= I personally believe the mainstream media and the metropolitan elite who see this gal as a trailer living redneck from the wilderness of Alaska have grossly under estimated her abilities. This could work in favor of her advantage. If her VP opponent comes in to their debate thinking he is going to slap around this uppity woman, his emasculation will be all the much more sweeter.

= I got the impression that Palin was like Barbara Billingsley with teeth and claws. Like the soccer moms I see running in my community pushing that off road baby buggy with the knobby tires.

= At the same time, she comes across feminine; not a mannish, pants suit wearing gal with a chip on her shoulder.

= I also believe her foaming enemies have grossly under estimated the ground swell of support she will gather as regular folks in middle America see them as thugs bullying a mother.

= I am amused by the paroxysms of hypocrisy that has seized the cultural leftist elite who are truly displaying what is in their hearts as they struggle to come to terms with their phony feministic values of women's rights and their lowbrow, wallowing in the mud like a pig after a truffle sexist attacks.

= One of the discussion group participants made this observation and I believe I agree with it: By choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain demonstrates his desire to want to win this election. He knew once he became the front running Republican nominee he would be held up by disdain from true Red State conservatives. He had to show those middle America conservatives he heard them, respects them, and values their support. Taking the easy, middle road of electing Joe Lieberman would had been a disaster. Sarah Palin has energized all those doubting conservatives.

= My favorite moment from last night was not the many zingers she leveled with laser guided accuracy, but was the crowd shot of her family. Most particularly, the candid shot of her youngest daughter dutifully preening her baby brother by licking her hand and matting down his hair. Where as the snooty San Francisco and Manhattan socialities rolled their eyes at such a trashy thing for a potential VP's kid to do (while Jon-Jon's similar antics were darling), she and her family were all the more endeared to my heart, as I am sure it was for many other normal people across the country.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

World Changing Photos

I had a friend email me a link to this site that posts some of the most famous (and infamous) photographs the world has ever seen. Some of them are disturbing, so be forewarned.

Photos that Changed the World

I have always had a fascination we photography. I am not a terribly good picture taker, but I like looking at them. I remember once in Solvang, this little Danish community just north of Santa Barbara, I was browsing in an old bookshop and came across a book containing hundreds of old black and white press photos from the 20s, 30s, and 40s. I was amazed at how the pictures were able to freeze exact moments of tragedy, or joy, or overwhelming sorrow with just a bright flash. I sort of wish now I would had spent the 20 bucks to get it.

Several of the images on that site are breath taking in their ability to stir up your emotions both in revulsion and euphoria. A lot of them need to be put into better context. That is probably one of the dangers of a good photograph: it often times fails to present the proper context for the viewer. For example, it must be remembered that Che Guevara was a mass murdering torturing thug, not an iconic fashion statement, and the shootings at Kent State were instigated by anarchists becoming violent against the National Guardsmen sent to the university in order to calm riots. On the other hand, the picture of the last Jew in Vinnitsa solidifies the context of the monstrosities perpetrated by the Nazis.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Why we believe in God

I wanted to highlight a couple of Sunday morning messages from my Sunday school class.

Don Green recently gave two apologetic messages on why we Christians believe in God.

Why We Believe in God Pt. 1: Creation, Conscience, and the Canon

Why We Believe in God Pt. 2: Christ and Conversion

Note that I link directly to the MP3 files. I don't want to wig anyone out.

Also, along this line, Answers in Genesis posted a testimony from a former atheist,

Confessions of a Former Atheist

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