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

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Anti-Hippy Ray Gun

I can think of no greater thrill than watching hundreds of anarchist, anti-war punks having to drop their Bush puppets and run screaming like they had been scalded by boiling water.

They need to deploy this thing to Berkeley or Seattle forthwith.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'M SICK!!!

Those were the desperate words yelled by my oldest boy moments before he blew projectile puke all over the backseat of our Camry. He had been suffering with a belly ache, diarrhea, and vomiting and my wife and I thought we should take him to the ER to get him hydrated. He couldn't make it to the hospital in time, bless his heart.

I will never forget those words. So much so that I now tell you all

I'M SICK!!!

I have had this lingering head cold thing for like the last three weeks. At night, when I sleep, I start in with coughing spasms. I have been eating Mucinex like candy and greasing myself with Vic's every night to help get rest. This past Monday it was the worst I have ever experienced my coughing so that I couldn't sleep. I went to work, and started getting a fever. I figured I should see a doctor.

My regular doctor was booked up until Thursday, so I settled for sitting an hour and a half in a walk-in clinic. I praise the Lord for Ipods. The doctor there thinks I have the flu, so no antibiotics could help me, but he did give me some cough medicine with codine. I loooveee codine in cough syrup.

After I left the clinic, I spent another 20 minutes or so sitting at Walgreens to get my prescription. Ohhh, that codine helped bunches. I was able to sleep and I didn't even attempt to get out of bed until later in the evening. I think I got up to use the bathroom once at some point during the day, but I can't recall. I honestly don't believe I have been this sick in years.

I slept much better last night thanks to the codine syrup, but I am still extremely under the weather. I managed to get up to eat a bite of breakfast and to write out this post to say I won't be blogging for a while. When I return to work on Thursday, the Lord willing, I will have a lot of things stacked up to finish. So maybe on Monday of next week I will be back to my regular routine. See you all then.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

The Assurance of Eternal Security (pt. 3)

I return with a third installment of my critique of conditional security, or the belief that a Christian can lose his or her salvation. My previous two posts on this subject can be viewed here:

Part 1 and Part 2

As I noted in my first post, my reason for even addressing this subject was motivated by my email interchange with an Arminian fellow who insisted that the Bible undoubtedly teaches a Christian can lose his or her salvation. He responded to my first post with an article charging that I was building up and knocking down strawman characters of Arminianism, though much of his claims were merely dogmatic assertions that really didn't exactly prove how I was doing what he alleged. I in turn responded to his article with a separate post that can be read here.

In short, my antagonist argues for a cooperative view of salvation, or what would be technically termed synergistic salvation in which sinners cooperate with a preset plan of God in order to be saved. According to him, cooperating with God really is not works because God has so ordered salvation to be synergistic.

He then asserts that I am misrepresenting the Arminian view of regeneration, defined as prevenient grace, a grace the regenerates all men to free them from the bonds of depravity to give them the opportunity to either believe or resist the gospel. The key difference he claims I am missing is that whereas Calvinism assumes the grace of regeneration is irresistible, Arminians believe it is not.

I plan to do a separate post on prevenient grace in the future sometime, but for the sake of discussion now, I have always wondered how exactly the work of Arminian regeneration plays itself out in real salvific evangelism. I have read some Arminians who say the work of Christ on the cross is what activated prevenient grace in the hearts of sinners. What exactly, then, does that mean? Does that mean all men from the time of Christ all over the world were divinely impacted by the gospel, but due to geographical limitations, say for example the Chinese, or the Goths, or the Australian Aborigines, they were the recipients of a work of prevenient grace but never had opportunity to actualize that grace by either belief or resistance because no evangelical missionary would see them for 1000 years later? I ask more for a point of clarification, not of criticism, though I do think such a criticism is warranted in relation to the purposes and plan of God.

Also, I have yet to see any meaningful exegesis on the defense of regeneration from the Arminian perspective that demonstrates the resistable aspects of grace as the Arminian claims. All the doctrinal teaching in scripture on regeneration proclaims a regeneration that isn't resistable. In other words, those to whom regeneration comes will most certainly be saved. Roger Olson, in his book, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities, devotes an entire chapter to the subject of how Arminians understand the working of divine grace but offers absolute no exegesis what soever except for a citation from an unpublished thesis that says the word draw in John 6:44 doesn't have to mean drag or compel as the Calvinists argue it means, but could also be defined as to draw or attract which has more of the idea of resistance attached to them. But the entire section from John 6 has Jesus insisting that if the Father does draw those who otherwise will not come to Christ, they not only come, but he will lose none of them. The language here, as is every where else in the Bible where regeneration is taught, is one of irresitability.

Laying aside those things for now, let me then return to my original subject of how I believe conditional security, or the insistence a Christian can fall away from the faith, ruins the doctrines of salvation. In my previous two posts I wrote that conditional security is, 1) Contrary to the new birth, 2) Ruins the doctrine of redemption, and 3) Denies the lordship of Christ. Coming then to a fourth point,

IV. Makes the Doctrine of Sanctification Meaningless

The primary NT word for sanctification is hagiazo and it basically means to set apart. Throughout the Bible it carries the idea of being set apart for special, divine use. That which is holy or sanctified and cannot be utilized for any other purpose than what God had determined. For example in the OT, the temple utensils that were holy could not be used for anything else but the Levitical sacrifices.

The biblical data shows that sanctification can be viewed in two parts: a definitive sanctification and a progressive sanctification. These two designations must remain distinct as one considers all the relevant exegetical information in the Bible pertaining to sanctification. Probably the major misunderstanding of Christians regarding the Christian life is a result of failing to recognize the distinction between these two aspects of sanctification. Let me look at each one in turn.

Definitive Sanctification. Simply put, definitive sanctification is that work of God in which a sinner, upon his justification due to the application of Christ's cross work to his behalf, is set apart, made holy, for the service of God. This sanctification is forensic, a declaration of a sinner's position before God due to Christ's righteousness being imputed to him. This sanctification is solely the work of God.

In Acts 26:17, 18, when Paul recounts his vision of Christ on the road to Damascus to Agrippa, he tells how Jesus told him,
17 I will deliver you from the people, as well as from the gentiles, to whom I now send you,
18
to open their eyes, to turn from darkness to light, and the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.

There are a couple of things to note with Christ's words here. First, according to Jesus, it is faith in Christ which sanctifies a person, setting him apart from a previous service to the devil to now serving God. This sanctification is alone Christ's work brought to bear upon the person. Additionally, that setting apart affects a change in the person so that now he is no longer identified with darkness and the power of Satan, but with light and the power of God. This new identification so marks out that Christian, that in nearly everyone of his epistles, Paul greets the believers in the churches he is writing by calling them saints or holy ones, what would be also termed, sanctified ones.

In Romans 6, even though Paul does not specifically use the word translated as sanctification, he certainly outlines the concept by speaking in terms of death and dying. For example, he writes in Romans 6:2 How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? And in 6:6, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. And in 6:11, Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Peter also uses similar terminology in his first epistle when he writes in 1 peter 2:24, who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness...

Our definitive sanctification brings us into a new relationship with respect to the former reign of sin our lives, and subsequently we enter into a new relationship with God, being set apart for His service by our spiritual union with Christ.

That brings us to a second understanding of sanctification,

Progressive Sanctification. Because the Spirit of God enables us to be obedient by the action of the new birth, we are no longer oriented away from God in rebellion, but now oriented toward God in worship and service. Thus, progressive sanctification involves that part of our obedience by which we submit ourselves to be righteous and no longer slaves to sinful behavior. This sanctification is consider progressive because it is a life long process of spiritual renewal we experience while we live upon the earth.

Once again, Paul addresses the principle of progressive sanctification in Romans 6, particularly verses 6-14.

6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
12
Therefore do no let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

There are a handful of thoughts to glean from this passage.

First, the descriptions of the Christian being dead to sin and made alive to Christ is that definitive, forensic sanctification outlined above. A Christian being set free from the bondage of sin to now being identified with Christ has been set apart as being a servant of God. This sanctification is not done by the person, but is work created by the divine hand of God.

Second, it is important for a person to recognize that Paul is saying Christians now have the power to be obedient to God in righteousness they once lacked when they were sinners. Paul writes that the person crucified with Christ has his body of sin done away with. The phrase, done away with, is from the Greek word katargeo. The root meaning can have the idea of made inoperative or rendered powerless. When the person was a sinner, he had no desire or willingness to be obedient in righteousness. That is because he was in bondage to sin and under the influence of the devil. Any effort he may had put forth to even attempt to be righteous was both half-hearted and non-committal and ended in failure to be righteous as God required. But now that he is identified as being made dead to sin and alive to Christ, God's divine work has negated the influence the power of his sin once held upon his life. Now his desires have changed and what ability he previously did not have to live righteously he now can utilize.

Third, Christians cannot become perfectly sinless. This was the error of John Wesley. He taught that a Christian can obtain sinlessness so that he or she will cease from sinning in the flesh during this life. This is accomplished by living a life of sustained, personal righteousness and daily exerting the effort to abide in Christ. Perfectionism, which spawned a variety of bizarre religious cults and the various modern day manifestations of Pentecostalism, is utterly foreign to scripture. Though it is true a Christian is to pursue righteousness in his personal life, he will not obtain sinlessness until he is made perfect in glorification.

Fourth, what Paul writes in Romans 6, and explains elsewhere in scripture, is that a Christian progressively grows in righteousness by a daily life of obedience. In this respect, a Christian does put forth cooperative effort with the Spirit, but the cooperation is not intended as a means to secure the Christian's justification before God, nor as a duty to perform so as to continuously abide in Christ and prevent any possibility for apostasy and the final forfeiture of eternal life. This cooperation is an outflowing of a changed heart that now desires to pursue godliness and it is the way God has ordained to conform His children to the image of Christ.

In other passages of scripture, Paul writes of our need to renew our minds. For example, in Romans 12:2 he writes, And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..., and in Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. Then in Colossians 3:10, And having put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him...

This renewal Paul speaks about is a spiritual renovation that takes place as we are sanctified. When a person is saved, he or she will not automatically know how to think godly about everything. They still may have a lot of baggage from the bad thinking that once saturated their minds as sinners. Their minds have to be retrained to think like Christians. For Christians, they have first been freed from the power of sin that prevented them from a genuine pursuit of God, they now desire to please God, and though they may have much sinful thinking left over from their past, their new orientation toward God causes them to resonate with the truth of God's Word. The purpose of sanctification is to renew the Christian to think godly and to conform him to Christlikeness.

Though I would love to go into more detail, this renewing is accomplished as we submit ourselves to the work of God's Spirit in our lives (see Ephesians :18ff.). How is that accomplished? It is accomplished when we read God's Word, seek to understand it properly (which we can because of our regenerated minds), and apply it to our lives. As we live according to scripture, being aided by the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we are progressively renewed in sanctification.

This renewal begins with the transformation of our inner being, but encompasses our entire outward person. Returning to Romans 6, Paul describes how we are to cease from presenting our members as instruments of unrighteousness, to instruments of righteousness. Our members speak of our whole person both inwardly and outwardly. Our thought life, emotions, and attitude, as well as our behavior when we interact with the rest of the world.

So, minds that once easily led people astray into error so they would make poor choices that resulted in disastrous consequences, are now anchored in the faith directing them to exercise wisdom and discernment. A thought life once polluted with filthy, perverse images, now delights in the pure thoughts of who God is. A person who entertained himself by dreaming up sinful schemes which he replayed in the theater of his mind, is now turned to dwelling upon how to serve and please the Lord. Hands which once stole from others, now give sacrificially. Feet which were swift to run to evil are now shod to carry the preaching of the gospel across the earth. Eyes which once sought out pictures of sinful lust, now lift themselves up to look upon the Lord. Lips which uttered lies, now speak the truth. And tongues which spoke blasphemies against God and cruel slander against people, now praise God and exhort the saints in the Lord.

Now, how exactly does a belief in conditional security make sanctification meaningless? Two thoughts:

1) The language of our forensic sanctification insists upon our continuing identification with the Living Lord. The work of God in justification sets us apart - removes us, as it were - from our previous identification with the old man and sin. We are no longer under the damning influence of sin that placed us in the position of being eternally under God's wrath. Our identification is with Christ and a gulf exists between the two kingdoms. We could no more undo our identification with Christ so as to return to our old identification with sin, as we could no more gain entrance into an identification with Christ when we were once identified with sin. Only God can do that.

2) God's renewing process in a believer's life has no purpose. Christians will always have a lifelong battle against sin until they are glorified at death. Each individual will experience great victory of past patterns of personal sin, but they will also experience struggles and setbacks with temptation that may trouble them all their life. The important thing to remember is that due to God's regenerating work in their hearts, they will always desire to continue to press onward to godliness.

Conditional securists argue that any Christian who does not continue to abide faithfully in Christ is in danger of becoming apostate and being cast out by Christ. The problem, however, in light of the various exhortations to be consistently renewing our minds is the limit set by conditionalist as to how far a person can persist in habitual sin and be considered not abiding in Christ and thus apostate. Exactly how long must a person continue in unrepentant sin before he or she is considered "fallen away?" David, who was declared to be a "man after God's on heart" by the Lord Himself, remained unrepentant as to his hand in the murder of Uriah and his adultery with Bathsheba for nearly a year or more. Maybe he will be considered a special circumstance by conditionalists, I don't know. Also, what persistent sins can a person do that could place them in the category of apostate? Are sins of the heart, say for example, thinking lustfully on a gorgeous woman, a lesser sin than actually engaging physically with the exact same woman? Jesus never saw them as lesser or greater as far as God was concerned.

Seeing there can be many years a new Christian may struggle with patterns of sin left over from his previous life before the process of sanctification begins to replace those patterns, at what level can we offer any affirmation to him of Paul's words to the Philippians when he wrote, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (1:6). They were confident as a church body that if God began a work in them, it will be completed. The Christian who may struggle with sin for a long time has been set apart to be identified with Christ, just like the Philippians. As he presses on in his faith, daily being sanctified, having his mind retrained to think godly, he too should lay hold of that confidence, in spite of the set backs he may encounter which grieve his heart.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Worthlessness of Postmodern Theology

I saw this clip over at the Biblical Thought blog. An outstanding comment on the worthlessness of the emergent/postmodernist's abilities to genuinely minister to those who desperately need the gospel.

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Fred's Recommended Audio Links

Podcasting is an outstanding technology. With a MP3 player, a person can have a massive audio catalog of great lectures and sermons, music, even audio books, to be listened to anywhere and anytime.

I have been meaning to put together a post I can permanently link in my sidebar highlighting all the podcasts and MP3 pages I believe my readers would enjoy.

I plan to periodically update this post when I find new stuff to add.

I will begin by listing my podcasts I personally subscribe to, and then later this weekend, I'll add some important audio links I think are beneficial. Any recommendations can be emailed to me at my address linked on my profile page.


Unless otherwise noted, podcasting/downloading instructions should be available at the links provided.

Fred's Personal Podcasting List



The Dividing Line

Fred's Bible Talk (Of course it's narcissistic. But I have to podcast myself)

Hugh Hewitt (I'm not a big Hewitt fan, but I love Emmet of the Unblinking Eye and his "top 10" movie lists he gives on Fridays during the last hour)

The Narrow Mind (A ministry of Unchained radio)


Stand to Reason (Greg's accomodation of naturalistic philosophy when doing apologetics is a big negative for this program, but for the discerning Christian, there can be some useful gleanings, so I don't totally dismiss him)

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The 7 island wonders of the world

I came across this while reviewing a LOST episode guide.

I just love this sort of stuff.

The Seven Island Wonders of the World:
Amazing, Mysterious, and Remote...

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gleanings from Job #7

...continuing in my devotional series on Job

Zophar's Speech and Job's Response (11-14)

We have been considering the record of Job and how God brought about a series of trials upon Job by the hand of the devil.

After Job suffered greatly from massive calamity that took from him his livelihood and children, three of his friends came to offer their comfort. Instead of comforting him, however, their dialogs with him were contentious and accusatory. They basically accused Job of being a great sinner and called him to repent and confess his sin before God so he can have his suffering ended.

Their accusations were developed out of a mindset of retribution. That is, any suffering a person experienced is caused by personal sin that remains unconfessed.

With this post, we come to the speech of a third friend by the name of Zophar. He speaks last because he may be younger than the other two. Zophar answers Job by self-righteously defending God's honor. In Zophar's mind, Job was not innocent and his insistence that he was innocent was in fact accusing God of malpractice in His universe.

I. Zophar's mocking

Zophar opens with sarcasm, suggesting Job was mocking God and needs to be rebuked (11:2,3), and though Job thinks he speaks about God's wisdom and swears to his innocence, he wishes God would really show Job what true wisdom is (11: 4,5). Later in 11:12, Zophar rudely calls Job an idiot.

II. Zophar's theology lesson

After he opens with his cutting words against Job's argumentation, Zophar attempts to give him a theology lesson as to who God really is.

1) God is inexhaustible in His nature (11:7, 9)

2) God is limitless in His power and sovereignty (11:10) - No one can hinder his judgments or stop Him from exercising His power.

3) God is omniscient with all His knowledge (11:11) - He knows the deceitful men, those who seek to hide their wickedness.

III) Zophar's conclusion

Just like his previous companions, Zophar calls Job to repent, then prepare his heart, and then stretch out his hands to the Lord. Once he did this, God would surely deliver him from his misery.

The problem with his comments:

- It is merely a call to achieve God's favor.

- Zophar abuses theological truth. I think this is a most important point to consider, because through out these discourses, Job's friends abuse theological truth when counseling Job. In other words, even though they are correct with their understanding of who God is, they misuse their teaching about God that only offers hoplessness to Job. When we counsel others, we must be theologically correct in our understanding of God, but we must use our understanding of God to encourage, not discourage. Implementing proper doctrine when counseling must be saturated with mercy.

- He fails to recognize God may have purposes for suffering other than punishing for sin.


Job then responds to Zophar with a lengthy, three chapter speech.


I) Job's Anger

Job responds to Zophar's accusations with bit of an angry tone. In a way, he is directing his comments not to Zophar only, but all three of his friends.

First, Job says he is not inferior to them, and just like all men, their wisdom will die with them (12:2, 3). In fact, argues Job, the things Zophar mentioned about God is common knowledge. He wasn't telling Job anything new (12:3). Anyone can go to any number of witnesses in nature to know these things Zophar mentions are true, the beasts, birds, the fish in the sea, and even men themselves, all testify to God's wisdom and power (12:7-12). However, none of these realities explains God's actions against Job. How do those things suggest Job was not innocent of sin and God was punishing him?

II) Job's Illustrations

In order to illustrate that all Zophar said about God is common knowledge and in a sense, irrelevant to Job's situation. That being, Job is not being judged for sin. He expands upon Zophar's words and provides a series of illustrations that show how God's sovereign power can be the great reverser of fortunes regardless of a man's sinfulness (12:13-25).

- If He breaks down a city, it can't be rebuilt.
- If He imprisons a man, there can be no release.
- He controls the flood waters.
- Those who seek to deceive are deceived by Him.
- He raises up and takes down kings and princes.
- Secrets that are thought to be hidden He will reveal.
- He raises up nations and brings them down.

III) Job's Rebuke

Beginning in chapter 13, Job says he seeks to reason with God about his situation. His "friends" on the other hand are "forgers of lies;" Their counsel is worthless. That is for at least three reasons:

- They were presuming to speak for God when in fact they really have no knowledge of why God was doing what He was doing.

- Their attempt to defend God by accusing Job of sin makes them to speak wickedly for Him (13:7) and in truth is showing partiality (vs. 8).

- They are placing themselves in danger of being judged by Him because of their presumptuous dialogs against Job (13:11, 12).

However, in spite of being falsely accused, Job continues to declare his innocence before God and he is confident God will vindicate him for doing anything sinful in his life. Job believes this so much so that he states he will trust God even if He slays him (13:15).

The remainder of Job's words from 13:16 - 14:22, is a challenge to his three friends to make his sins known to him (13:23). Additionally, Job affirms the total inability of man to rescue himself from sin in chapter 14, particularly verse 4. Moreover, because of man's lack of ability to do anything pleasing to gain God's favor, Job has no one else capable of delivering him from his circumstances. God's person, His power and holiness, drive men to their graves, and just as water destroys mountains, so too does man disintegrate before the LORD.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Olympic Gold

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Arminian 'Toons!

Prevenient Grace

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

For the Inner-Geek in us all...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Beagle Power

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dashed Utopian Dreams

Three articles caught my attention last week highlighting the dashed dreams of Utopian visionaries. Generally, these "visionaries" tend to be of liberal persuasion who speak about equality among all the citizens, yet when the practicality of enforcing their rules for the perfect society bump up against human nature and real life, they must resort to more severe means to make sure those dreams become real.

First, my friend Gregg links to an older article explaining the woes experienced by diversity trainers attempting to implement their propaganda.

Diversity Training Backfires



Next, a Swede writes about the impotent, draconian measures his enviro-Nazi government, held up by the rest of the world as the perfect green-friendly government, has taken to make sure the citizenry are recycling properly.

The Recycling Myth



Then finally, a report about the 22nd tallest building in the world, and the most hideous. Located in the ultimate Utopian society, North Korea. A staggering engineering debacle.

The Worst Building in the History of Mankind

Its from Esquire on-line, so beware of the pictures in the sidebar

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Richard Dawkins' post box















To: Richard Dawkins
Subject: Evolved Monsters

Dr. Dawkins,

Please allow me to begin by offering my sincere praise for your contributions to science. Your works educating the world on the glories of evolutionary theory are monumental to say the least. I personally believe "The Blind Watch Maker" should have won you the Nobel prize, but perhaps minds must evolve still more for them to recognize true genius. Where you have done even greater work is with exposing the lunacy of religious thought in your masterpiece, "The God Delusion;" and even though nearly 90 percent of the world's population is saturated in religious supernaturalism, your book has been the much needed first steps to free mankind from this mental tyranny.

However, sir, I am not writing to you today to merely offer my congratulatory flattery. No. I am writing to express my grave concern over what I know could possibly be the impending doom of all humanity, and this is where we must double - even triple - our efforts to rid the world of religious thinking, most significantly, evangelical Christianity.

I just recently watch Cloverfield with my sons, and after seeing the film, I became disturbed. So much so that I had to do something to take action. You see, in the manner in which mankind so stupidly pollutes the earth with either carbon emissions, or radioactive waste, and even driving SUVs, I am fearful our mindless behavior is impacting our environment to the point of altering the DNA of our world's lifeforms. We could very well be on the verge of unleashing skyscraper tall, mutated monsters on ourselves. And to think people drive to work every morning not realizing that a 300 meter tall, fire breathing sea terrapin or marine iguana could at any moment crawl out from the Puget Sound and wreck havoc on downtown Seattle. Let us also not forget the swarms of Buick sized, mutated insects and arachnids attacking townships in New Hampshire ensnaring the people and using their bodies as hosts for their larva.

Christians seem to be so "heavenly-minded" that they scoff when I present them these real, scientifically based apocalyptic scenarios. It's angering, Dr. Dawkins. The evangelicals I speak with (who are rare where I live, thankfully) only care about their Bible studies and right-wing politics. But what good are Bible studies and politics when gigantic acid spitting beetles are tearing through your home, eating your children, and destroying our national monuments? They really will be wishing for a "rapture" when the folly of their environmental irresponsibility returns to literally bite them.

This is why I have turned to enlist you, Dr. Dawkins. I implore you to immediately address this concern. Your prestige and scientific mind can move this reality from being only considered hokum and science fiction to being science fact. We must act quickly and I trust that you, an evolved man, will do the right thing.

Thank you for your time, Dr. Dawkins,

Niles Pinkerton, Ph.D., M.D.
Director of Psychiatrics
University California, Berkeley

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

J.C. Responds

J.C. has crafted a response to my first article defending eternal security.

He's the fellow who was the catalyst for me writing in defense of eternal security in the first place.

What Jeffrey Nachimson is for Ruckman-style KJV-onlyism (see here and here), J.C. is for anti-Calvinism. What he lacks in flair and flamboyant bombast that was exhibited in Jeffrey's smackdowns, however, he more than makes up for with voluminous writings, as self-congratulatory and ponderous as they are. He even has created a cute little graphic mocking Grace to You ministries where I work.

(And just so that there is no confusion, I never have, nor I never will assume to speak on behalf of "Grace to You." My blog and my comments are my own and in no way reflect their opinions, though many of my opinions are certainly in line with their's). But I digress...

I am not going to give a blow-by-blow response to J.C.'s. I don't have the time or the desire. I will say there are at least three foundational problems with his overall polemic against mine:

1) He doesn't believe regeneration does anything specific to change a sinner's heart.

He writes
,

Sin proceeds from the heart (Matthew 15:19), and just as good works are the outworking of faith, so sin is the result of a heart turning away from God

However, the biblical evidence, as I noted, tells how a sinner's heart is so entirely changed that his desires are now only to please the Lord (see my article). He will never turn away from God, because his heart has been created anew. Just as we didn't have the desire to come to God without the divine work of the new birth, after the new birth, we don't have the desire to turn from Him. J.C. doesn't interact with any of the information I presented. He just waves his hand and pronounces me an idiot of sorts.

J.C. attempts to argue for a prevenient grace view of regeneration, that we have to believe in faith and with obedience to the gospel message in order to be regenerated. I will leave the discussion of why that is such a pagan concept for a later time, but those interested in getting a fuller treatment on the error of prevenient grace can review these two articles:

Does the Bible teach prevenient grace in the Wesleyan/Arminian sense?

Arminians and prevenient grace

2) His view teaches works salvation. In spite of J.C.'s scornful protests to the contrary, his view of salvation is most certainly works oriented. He writes,

Ah ah ah, no one said God couldn't save anyone without their cooperation, simply that scripture indicates that He requires it.

What? If God requires that we cooperate with His plan of salvation as J.C. so adamantly claims the Bible teaches, then how is this NOT works? The sinner has to do something in order to cooperate, correct? Believe the gospel with his faith, be obedient, produce good works, keep pursuing God or risk having sin so over take his heart he forfeits salvation, etc. What is the difference between J.C.'s view of salvation and say, the Muslim's? Or maybe the Mormon's? Or even the Roman Catholic's schtick? How exactly am I mis-understanding, mis-representing?

He continues,

"Works oriented?" Sorry, faith in Christ is not a 'work,' and remaining in the faith of Christ is not a 'work.' If that's the crux of his argument for condemning conditional security as blasphemy, he lost before he started.

But J.C., don't you have to exercise faith in order to cooperate with God as the Bible requires? You just wrote that a person did. Don't you have to remain in the faith of Christ by producing good fruit and guarding your heart from being over taken by sin in order to prevent forfeiting salvation? How exactly is this NOT works? Either J.C. is severely muddled, or he is re-defining words to fit his conclusions, Or both.

Then,

3) J.C. equates the terms and stipulations of the Mosaic covenant with the New Covenant.

This is probably the most blunderous aspect to J.C.'s entire worldview. He thinks the promises and curses that governed the nation of Israel when they occupied the land are as equally applied to Christians. Thus, just as God stated He would bring cursings upon Israel if they refused to heed the covenant He made with them at Sinai, like giving them over to foreign enemies to punish them if the people worshiped false gods, or even completely cutting them off; so too a Christian is under the same curse of being cut off and experiencing eternal damnation if he doesn't fulfill his requirements of partaking in the covenant.

The Mosaic covenant that governed Israel as a people was certainly conditional. That is because it was meant to function as a temporary covenant governing a temporary theocratic nation. The Mosaic covenant was meant to be replaced by fulfillment with the New Covenant. The New Covenant expanded beyond the borders of the land of Israel to encompass the entire world. Where as the New Covenant is described as being eternal, the Mosaic wasn't. It never was meant to be. Thus, for J.C. to apply the same stipulations of blessing and cursings that governed the Mosaic covenant to the New Covenant is an embarrassing error.

Consider the promise of the New Covenant as outlined in Jeremiah 31:33, 34:

33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my My people.
34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying "know the LORD," for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.

The language of this covenant is also reiterated by Ezekiel in chapters 36 and 37 of his prophecy, and the entire book of Hebrews is a treatise describing how this New Covenant, with Christ as its mediator, is superior to, and replaces the Old Covenant that was ratified at Sinai. The writer of Hebrews even quotes Jeremiah's passage in both chapter 8:8-12 and 10:16, 17 to emphasize this fact.

In addition to the New Covenant replacing the temporary Mosaic covenant, it also brought about an internal change with the participants. Where as Israel had to obey external stipulations in order to maintain terms and conditions of the Mosaic covenant, the New Covenant is applied by God's Spirit in the hearts of the people so that the people obey willingly. Thus, obedience is the outworking of a heart changed by God as a result of the New Covenant.

J.C. mocks that I don't provide any examples of how the new birth, or regeneration, is permanent in the believer so that its affects can never be undone. Note the key phrases in Jeremiah's prophecy of the New Covenant that is also cited in Hebrews,

I will put My law in their minds...
I will write it on their hearts...
I will be their God...
They shall be my people...

There is a divine work that takes place in this covenant that will change the participants. In this case, a divine heart change that will make them godly. Obedience is now a result of an internal motivation created by God. Ezekiel also uses similar language in his description of the New Covenant when he writes in 36:26, 27,

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

How can this be any clearer? God says He will cause them to walk and they will in return keep His judgments and do them. They won't fall away into sin because there remains no longer a heart desirous of sin. The principle of sin that enslaved us has been made inoperative as Paul describes in Romans 6:6, because the heart of stone is replaced with a heart of flesh that has God's laws written on them. That is the promise of the New Covenant, and its promises of bringing its participants to eternal life is so certain that the sun and moon will cease functioning as God has ordained them before that promise is broken (Jeremiah 31:35, 36).

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Friday, February 08, 2008

BOF

Big Ole Fish

We use to catch these in Arkansas

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Arminian 'Toons!

The Universal Atonement

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Assurance of Eternal Security (pt. 2)

Last week I introduced a short series of articles I plan to post addressing the Arminian concept of conditional security, or the belief that a Christian can lose his or her salvation.

I will refer the reader to part 1 to get the full background for the context of why I am addressing this subject. My introduction was a tad lengthy, but it was necessary to establish a foundation for my responses. Hopefully, these next handful of posts will not be as long.

I believe that having a firm grasp on the doctrine of eternal security is vital for the spiritual health of the Christian. I have met many Christians who have fretted restlessly over whether or not they had "lost" their salvation because they were fearful they had engaged themselves in some form of sinful behavior. One individual I recall worried that God had disowned him because he thought he had smoked way too many cigarettes.

The doctrine of eternal security, as I noted in my introduction, does not stand alone. It is the capstone truth in the entire theological superstructure of salvation. The goal of God's saving grace is to turn rebellious sinners into being humble servants of Christ and to bring those sons and daughters into His glorious presence.

Salvation is the work of all the members of the Godhead. The Father chose to bestow His grace on a countless number of sinful individuals and to bring them to salvation. However, in order to deal with the penalty of their sin and His just wrath against them, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in perfect payment for those sinners. God's wrath is averted from them and they are made righteous before God in faith as they are drawn out of the world by God's Holy Spirit. The sinner who could never merit good works to even court God's favor now stands before God his creator declared an innocent and righteous person all on account of Christ's work on his behalf.

When we have a biblically informed understanding of all the foundational doctrines of salvation as they are revealed in scripture, then our understanding of eternal security will be focused into the correct perspective. Rather than being plagued with anxiety and doubt, a person can truly examine his heart as to the nature of his salvation and joyfully praise God for his eternal life.

It must be understood that the plan of God to bring sinners to salvation is perfect in all that was intended to accomplish and complete in the totality of what it affected. Paul affirms this truth in his letter to the Philippians when he writes, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete until the day of Christ Jesus. A person can be confident that if God has saved him by making him a recipient of Christ's justifying work on the cross, setting him apart by the work of the Spirit in his heart, and giving the person a love for God in Christ, then God will complete that work He began so that the person will stand in the presence of God in eternal life.

Yet in spite of these many clear words found throughout the entire revelation of God, there are those who would teach that such a confidence is unwarranted. They argue that a Christian must maintain a consistent pattern of good works and conduct himself in such a manner of personal holiness that any deviation from the path of righteousness with disobedience does not merely risk the chastisement of the Lord, but risks being permanently cut off from Christ resulting in the forfeiture and utter loss of one's salvation.

I believe this view of conditional security, or the teaching that a Christian can lose his or her salvation, is deplorable and undermines the core doctrines pertaining to our salvation.

With the first post, I stated Conditional Security is Contrary to the New Birth

The new birth is simply defined as that divine heart change God works in the unbeliever that turns the person from being a God despiser to being a God worshiper. The new birth is also known in scripture as regeneration, and it is likened to experiencing a spiritual resurrection where in a spiritual principle is implanted in the sinner that frees him from the power of sin and imparts to him a willingness to follow Christ which grows stronger and more vibrant as the new Christian puts off his old way of life of sinfulness and puts on the new way of life that pursues Christ-likeness and righteousness.

Moving along, I wish to address two more doctrines undermined by the idea of conditional security:

II. Conditional Security Ruins the Doctrine of Redemption

The basic New Testament idea of redemption is Christ's priestly work on the cross where in he delivered us, His people, from our bondage to the law, sin, and God's wrath, through the purchase by ransom of His substitutionary obedience in life and in death. Hence, by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, God purchases the ransom for sinners.

The doctrine of redemption has it roots in the book of Exodus where the concept is employed to speak of God's freeing His people Israel from their bondage as slaves in Egypt. Beginning in Exodus 6:6, God tells Moses, ... and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. Deuteronomy 7:8 reiterates this, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. This redemption was accomplished by the blood of the Passover lamb placed upon the door post that turned away God's judgment upon that household. By this passing over, Israel was freed from their Egyptian masters and were now God's servants.

This seed image of redemption bloomed in the NT as it is applied to Christ's salvific cross work. In fact, Jesus Himself stated in Mark 10:45, For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Paul likens Christ's death to the Exodus Passover lamb in 1 Corinthians 5:7 by writing, For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us...

Peter provides an extend commentary on the redemptive work of Christ in his first epistle. He writes in 1 Peter 1:18,19,
18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible [or perishable] things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,
19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
There are a few things to note about Peter's words in regards to Christ's redemption:

1) Our redemption was set at a price - Christ's precious blood; it's not corruptible, or perishable.
2) Our redemption required a payment - Christ's sacrificial death, just like the Passover lamb.
3) Our redemption is Divine - It is Christ who redeems us- God incarnate - not gold nor silver.

Those truths should inspire hope and joy when we consider the significance of them in light of who we are as sinners and who Christ is as the God-man who gave Himself for us.

In addition to Peter's words, the NT reveals to us other truths in relation to our redemption. For example:

1) Redemption is based solely upon God's grace working in Christ (Romans 3:24). In other words, we do nothing to earn our redemption, but it is grounded solely upon Christ alone.

2) Redemption provides total forgiveness from our sins (Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14). The word for "forgiveness" is aphesis and has the idea in both these passages of cancellation of, and the release of debt to, sin.

3) Redemption delivers those for whom it was paid (Galatians 1:4). In the case of Paul's thought here in Galatians, we are delivered from this evil world. Just like the Jews were delivered from their slavery in Egypt in order to serve God alone, so too Christians are delivered from this world to serve Christ alone.

4) Redemption is complete and certain (1 Timothy 2:6). There are two key words in this verse. The word "ransom" which translates antilutron and has the idea of affecting freedom for whom it is intended, and the little preposition "for" translated from huper meaning instead of or in the place of. These two words tell us Christ most certainly ransomed those for whom it was made.

All of this exegetical information affirms for the Christian that the design and extent of Christ's ransoming death makes certain our eternal security. His ransom wasn't partial, like a down-payment that put the person on "lay away" and thus in the position of being lost if the remainder of the payment isn't paid. Moreover, Christ's ransom in place of sinners doesn't make them merely "saveable" where it is up to the sinner to receive the ransom payment in order for it to be complete. The language of these ransom texts specifically state Christ's death in payment for those whom He died was satisfactory in all that it accomplished. Sinful men could not have contributed anything to the process of their own ransom because they had no ability, nor any desire. Only the Father and the Son could engage in such a transaction and because our ransom is of a divine nature, nothing we can do can ever undo it. Thus, the Christian's salvation is secured on that basis alone.

However, there is more. God continues to affirm to His people the certainty of their eternal security.

III. Conditional Security Denies the Lordship of Christ

Building upon the last point, the Scriptures tell us Christ's ransom has affected a change in the sinner's identity and relationship with God. Just as the Passover freed Israel from the tyranny of their Egyptian masters and brought them into subjection to their God, so to is it with the redemption of sinners by Christ's death. The sinner is freed from the bondage and enslavement to the world-system, as it were, and is now made a subject to Christ who is his Lord.

It is sad there has even been a debate among Fundamentalists over whether Christ is Lord in a person's life, especially when the Bible is so clear on the issue. Though there are still many Christian's tenaciously clinging to the erroneous idea that "making Jesus Lord" is somehow adding works to the gospel, the Bible plainly states that Jesus is Lord, period; and when the Spirit draws a person to Christ and the merits of His atoning cross work are applied to the person by faith, that individual is no longer identified with the world, but is now identified with Christ.

Paul writes to Titus that, [Jesus] gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). Those for whom Christ gave Himself in His death redeemed those people from every lawless deed and set them apart to be His own special people. That speaks of a new identification. One that has Jesus as Lord.

Paul expands on this concept even further in Romans 6 to the point of utilizing the terminology of slavery and masters. He writes,

17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered
18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness...
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness...
22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
Paul contrasts two identifications for the person. Before salvation, the person was a slave to sin. According to 6:20, the sinner was "free in regard to righteousness." In other words, he had no ability, nor desire, to be righteous. That is because the sinner is enslaved to sin. It is only after he is delivered, set free from the enslavement of sin, that he is now a slave of righteousness.

That last point is an important one to notice, because Christ doesn't ransom a sinner so that now he can go live as he pleases without the fear of judgment. Christ ransoms the sinner so that now he can be a slave to righteous living with Christ as His Lord. That is the only possible way to understand the text. A slave must have a master. For the sinner it is sin, condemnation of the law, the world-system; for the ransomed believer, it is Christ and righteousness.

How does conditional securists deny the lordship of Christ? By suggesting a Christian, once purchased by Christ's death has the liberty to walk away from His master Jesus, and return to his former master, sin and the world. Christ didn't ransom His people so they now have that freedom. They don't and they never will. We are His possession as slaves. Christ not only had the power to redeem us from God's wrath, the law and sin, but He also has the power to keep us as His possession, and knowing how Christ does all things to glorify the Father, He will be certain to possess us for all eternity.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Those Wacky Performance/ Improv Artists

Saw this linked at Tim's place.

It's pretty cool, but I don't think it really counts as "art" now a days unless all the participants had been naked, or perhaps smeared with some sort of animal excrement.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Gleanings from Job #6

...continuing in my devotional series on Job

(previous post can be viewed here)

Bildad's Speech - Job's Response (Job 8-10)

We have been considering the the story of Job. Under divine direction, Job suffered severe trial from the devil: he lost his family, his livelihood, and eventually his health. After experiencing this intense suffering, Job's friends come to him to offer encouragement. Their encouragement, however, is really discouragement for Job.

The key reason they were so discouraging for Job was they had the wrong perspective of what was happening. Specifically, they didn't know of the dialog in heaven between the Lord and Satan. Job's three friends promoted a retribution theology that suggested all human suffering is a result of just punishment for our sins either done overtly, covertly, or even ignorantly.

With this entry I come to the second speech given by the second of Job's friends, Bildad.

Just like Eliphaz had, Bildad blames Job's calamities upon his unconfessed sin. Whereas Eliphaz accused Job of resenting God's judgment, Bildad accuses Job of impugning God's justice. Rather than being bitter against God's judgment, Bildad claims Job was accusing God of being unjust.

I. Bildad's Accusation:

Immediately after Bildad opens his speech by rebuking Job for his "windy" words (8:1,2), Bildad asks Job, Does God subvert judgment? Or does the Almighty pervert justice? He is implying with his question that Job is saying God is unjust with his actions against him. Job was saying in part, "How dare God do this to me?" "What right does he have to mistreat me, I am innocent?" But Bildad simply points out that if his sons had sinned against God, He had every right to take them away (8:4).

The same can be said of Job's suffering. If Job were truly innocent and undeserving of God's just punishment, well Job could earnestly seek God and He would be awakened to set things right (8:6,7).

II. Bildad's Authority:

In order to support his accusation against Job, Bildad, like Eliphaz in his previous speech, appeals to an outside source of authority. Eliphaz appealed to his personal experience with a vision. Bildad appeals to the historical past and what it can teach Job about his situation.

Bildad says he and Job are young - born yesterday - and should consider the things discovered by their fathers: things people have known about years before they even lived on the earth (8:8-10).

Directing Job's attention to a series of illustrations from nature (papyrus whithering in a marsh, the frailty of spider webs), so it is with hypocrites and those who forget God. As all men have known from previous generations, those people who attempt to live their lives in rebellion against God in a life of sin will only flourish for a moment, but then they dry up. They can have no confidence in their houses, because like the spider's web, God can easily break it up (8:11-19).

This is what has happened to Job. He should take a life lesson from what all men know to be true from their past dealings with God.

III. Bildad's Conclusion:

Wrapping up his speech, Bildad simply says that God doesn't cast off the blameless. If Job were truly blameless, God wouldn't deal with him so harshly. However, his severe suffering clearly demonstrates what everyone knows to be true: Job isn't blameless and needs to confess his sin.

There is truth to what Bildad says as a principle. God most certainly judges those who sin against him, which is all men. The problem with Bildad's words, though, is that he doesn't understand the circumstances behind Job's trial. Job didn't do anything to bring upon himself God's judgment.

Job then responds in chapters 9 and 10,

Job does respond to Bildad by agreeing with some of what he says. His opening comment in 9:2 affirms the main points of Bildad. But Job asks a rather interesting question. Yes, Job says, God will uphold the righteous and put down the evildoer, but in light of who God is, how exactly can any man be righteous?

There is hint of a messianic prophecy speaking of Christ. The person and work of Jesus is not fully understood or even specifically anticipated, but Job recognizes no man can make himself righteous before what he knows of God. His only hope is to have a mediator.

How can a man be righteous before God? Meaning: How can he be declared "NOT GUILTY?"

This question is a serious one in light of who God is as revealed in His attributes:

> God is omnisapient = He is all wise (9:3-4).

> God is omnipotent = He is all powerful (9:56). Note how He alone can move mountains.

> God is fully sovereign (9:7-9). He commands nature. Consider verse 8 where the text says "he treads on the waves of the sea." The word treads can also mean walk. Who was it who commanded the sea and literally walked on the waves?

> God is Creator (9:9). He was the one who created the stars and galaxies.

> God is omniscient = He is all knowing (9:10)

> God is omnipresence = His is every where (9:11, 12)

> God is all consuming (9:15-19)

> God is absolutely holy = He is sinless and no sinner can stand in His presence (9:20)

Job is correct when he answers Bildad with the question: how can a man be made righteous before God? There is no way he can. Not by his own abilities. He must have one who can meet these divine attributes, not be consumed, and then can offer himself up as a substitute in Job's place ("take the rod away" vs. 34); who can serve as a mediator by laying his hand on both God and Job (vs. 33). There is only one who has met these requirements.

Chapter 10 records more of Job's despairing words and his appeal to God to grant him a legal hearing so he can present his case of being innocent before God. He wants God to show him how he has sinned. Job even miserably asks that if God merely created him to be destroyed in the manner in which he is now being destroyed, then what was the point of him even being born (10:13-19)?

Job's words in chapter ten reveal a heart that is desperate for answers, but is presuming upon God that He, as the one who possesses all of those glorious attributes Job just listed in chapter 9, owes him, a puny man, a clear and direct answer as to why things are happening to him the way they are. As we will witness later, particularly when God finally breaks His silence in chapters 38 and following, Job is overstepping his bounds and is approaching being scornful with his comments. This attitude must be avoided by all of God's children who will at one time or another suffer severe trial.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Spelling for Moreons

I received a kind email from a dear reader who wrote:

For the Arminian one can LOSE salvation...but for the Calvinist the fetters of sin have been LOOSED.

Man. And I wrote loose your salvation throughout the entire article. At least I was consistent.

There could be a couple of reasons for such stunningly inept word usage.

1) School House Rock never had a cartoon for the use of lose vs. loose

2) I was public schooled, not home schooled. If I had only spent countless hours memorizing obscure, antiquated words no one ever uses in normal, daily discourse. Instead I'm watching the Andy Griffith Show and the Brady Bunch on TV in my bedroom.

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