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

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Southern Lights

Here is a haunting video. Its time lapse photos of the Antarctic Aurora Australis.

God is the ultimate artist


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Saturday, June 28, 2008

The OEC Wood Shed

Ken Samples stumbled upon a blog I wrote back in December 2007.
To say he is a tad annoyed with my post is a bit of an understatement.
He stopped by to take me out to the apologetic woodshed and paddle my britches.

I must say I am honored, if a not flattered, that someone with the prominence of Ken Samples would feel the need to leave a comment on my blog. I run a little cafe of a blog on a dirt road way off the internet super highway. I think maybe I get - if I am blessed - 150 visits a day here. And as I always say, a good 75% of those hits are folks looking for joint pain medication. To put me in perspective, Team Pyro gets like 150 comments under just one post.

At any rate, let me see if I was deserving of my theological thrashing.
(Ken's comments are highlighted in bold, my response will follow).

I must respond to some of the statements that you made in your blog article "The Evolution Evangelists."

Just to briefly summarize my statements:

I was writing about an apostate from the Christian faith, Michael Dowd, who believes it is his calling to bring the glorious message of Darwinian evolution to all the unlearned youth in Unitarian and liberal churches so as to provide them apologetic ammunition to defend against the onslaught of all those stealth creationist IDers who are taking over high schools. He and his "wife-partner" had paid a visit the Creation Museum. Ken Ham blogged about the visit. What I noted about Ken's entry was his mention of Dowd's background. He once attended a Bible-believing, evangelical college in Springfield, MO., and according to Dowd's testimony, his dislike of evolutionary theory changed when he met conservative Christians who believed and taught that evolutionary ideology is compatible with biblical Christianity. The reason why he could now see this compatibility: according to Dowd, "all truth is God's truth." I merely pointed out that several popular Christian apologists argue along these lines of "all truth is God's truth," hence the reason why they can utilize a lot of evolutionary talking points pertaining specifically to the age of the Earth.

First, Professor Greg Koukl, Dr. Kim Riddlebarger, Dr. Hugh Ross (my colleagues and friends), and myself affirm "Old Earth Creationism" (OEC) not "Theistic Evolution" (TE). These two positions are distinct theological perspectives and should not be simplistically conflated.

Well, Ken, and this is going to have some snarky smeared on it because I was utterly taken aback at how off target you were with your criticisms, but if you would have read carefully my comments in my post I never conflated old earth creationism with theistic evolution now did I? Though there are similarities between the two systems, I recognize that distinction and even clarified as such in my post. I wrote,

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

Perhaps I could have been more precise for your liking with my words, but I never stated that you guys held to theistic evolution. My point was to note the utilization of evolutionary talking points as it pertains to the idea of billions of years for the universe and Earth, and what I believe to be a compromise of scripture when you guys attempt to synchronize those age talking points with the creation narrative,and then develop an apologetic methodology for evangelism.

One can affirm an ancient earth and cosmos without affirming that man evolved. To see the important differences between OEC and TE, I suggest you consult the fair and balanced book THREE VIEWS ON CREATION AND EVOLUTION edited by Moreland and Reynolds.

Just to make clear once again: I never wrote anything about OEC and TE being one and the same. How Ken got this idea from my post is truly baffling. As for the book he mentions, I have consulted it along time ago and nothing I wrote suggests I am conflating philosophies. The one point of similarity I note is with how both systems accept billions of years for the universe and Earth.

Ken then makes a second point I will leave off here for the sake of time, because he reiterates he and his friends commitment to God directly creating and their rejection of theistic evolution. Since I never accused any of them of holding to theistic evolution, it was redundant to even bring up the Belgic Confession and the special creation of Adam and Eve, even though Ross's apologetic says they were created no less than 10,000 years ago to no more than 60,000 years ago. But I digress...

Third, as Old Earth Creationists Koukl, Riddlebarger, Ross, and I take different positions as to how the creation days of Genesis are to be best understood (day-age view, analogical day view, framework view, etc.). My position on these issues is virtually identical to such Reformed theologians as Vern Poythress (Westminster Seminary) and Jack Collins (Covenant Seminary).

OK, so these guys hold to what I consider to be various errant hermeneutics as to how to understand the Genesis narrative. And, Ken holds to the same position as Poythress and Collins. My position on these issues is virtually identical to Robert Reymond (Knox Theological Seminary), Douglas Kelly (Reformed Theological Seminary). Now that we have our favorite authorities established, how exactly does this help Ken's claim against me charging me of calling him a theistic evolutionist?

To see how these positions on the creation days differ with the "calendar day" view, I suggest that you consult the book THE GENESIS DEBATE edited by David Hagopian.


Thank you for the recommendation. Been there, done that.

Fourth, my three friends and myself hold different eschatological positions. We differ over the nature of the millennium (some premillennial, others amillennial) and we certainly have different ideas about the value and appropriateness of the "allegorical" interpretation of certain passages of Scripture.

My point along these lines is simple: It has been my experience that those who are prone to use hermeneutics which spiritualize, allegorize, and utilize excessive typology in understanding eschatology, tend toward using the same method when dealing with Genesis and what is wrongly perceived as conflicts with modern, secular, scientific paradigms.

Mr. Butler you certainly have the right to criticize the theological positions of people who differ with your own (even designating them as "muddled"). However, as a Christian, you don't have the right to misrepresent the views of others or to make misleading statements about the doctrinal views of your brothers in Christ.

Well Ken, you have yet to demonstrate to me where I have made any misleading statements about your position or doctrinal views. All I have seen is a knee-jerk reaction to another young earther guy who is an easy target to pick on. I never equated your position to theistic evolution, nor did I state anywhere in my post that either the men of RTB, Greg Koukl, and Kim Riddlebarger held to any form of Darwinian evolution.

What I did state, however, is that all of your all's acceptance of evolutionary talking points pertaining to the age of the Earth, like big bang cosmology, are identical. Am I mistaken about that or am I misunderstanding the word "Old" in Old Earth Creationism?

The four of us categorically reject the positions of naturalistic and theistic evolution. Furthermore your opinion that our theological viewpoints provide a "breading ground for theistic evolution" is uninformed, speculative, and totally without merit.

It is hardly "without merit" or I would not have made the comment. I have encountered many folks, particularly through scathing, personal emails, who are quite adament that the rubric "all truth is God's truth " (the main thing I was addressing in my original post by the way), undergirded their established bias against YEC, with many of them going the way of Michael Dowd and embracing Unitarian Universalism or other unorthodox views of the Christian faith., like the Beyond Creation Science boys. These individuals make it clear to me each time I receive an email, or blog comment, that they are embarrassed of such folks like Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International. They alleged that by my adherence to YEC I am hindering evangelism because I want people to believe fantastic ideas about the age of the world and a global flood. So yes, Ken, there is much merit that a belief in "All truth is God's truth" and the blind acceptance of evolutionary interpretations of the world is "true" and "correct" so that those interpretations are understood as "God's truth," leads to compromise, relativism, Emergent church philosophy, and eventual denial of Scripture's infallibility.

If you are going to publicly state that some of your fellow believers are "evolution evangelists" then you had better have done your homework. As president John Adams once stated: "Facts are stubborn things."

Amazing. First I am charged with conflating the systems of theistic evolution and progressive creationsim, now I am being charged with calling Koukl, Ross, Riddlebarger, and Samples evolutionary evangelists? Well, seeing that I am currently watching the HBO version of John Adams on DVD, I am familiar with the phrase. But such a phrase is based upon strong evidence. Ken hasn't shown any that supports his claim against me.

Let me ask this: Would these guys say big bang cosmology, a model that is full of horrendous holes with various cosmological camps polarized around how to explain away those holes, is an accurate way to understanding the development of our universe? If yes, how exactly is that different from Michael Dowd's position, apart from God causing it? Certainly you guys reject Darwinian evolution by random chance, mutation, and time. I never claimed you accepted such a notion.

With all due respect (and I do consider you a brother in Christ), I think your blog article reflects a theologically limited, imprecise, and even muddled perspective.

Thanks for the assurance, Ken. Your salvation was never an issue with me, nor is Koukl's and the other guys I mentioned. It is your apologetic hermeneutics. However, all you have given me is a lot smoke and rhetoric. You haven't shown me how I was theologically limited, nor imprecise, or even muddled in perspective. You seem to be bothered by the fact that there are stark similarities between the OEC view of how so-called scientific evidence is suppose to be interpreted and how Darwinians interpret it.

If you would like to publicly discuss the theological issues you have written about in a Christian forum (with Dr. Ross and myself), I invite you to appear as a guest on Reasons To Believe's weekly webcast "Creation Update." You can contact RTB by telephone at 626/335-1480. If you would like to publicly dialogue with Greg Koukl and Kim Riddlebarger, then I would encourage you to call the "Stand To Reason" and "White Horse Inn" radio programs respectively.

Let's do one better. I could certainly call your all's program and subject myself to being bullied, though in a respectful, Christian way. Seeing that I am a little peon of a blogger, I would be an easy pinata to hit around and have all the fans of your program gloat as to how those wacky young earthers don't know what they are talking about. What would be much more exciting is to have Hugh debate Jonathan Sarfati, who has actually written a 400 page critique of his apologetic methodology. I am sure we could talk Gary Demar's ministry into hosting it. We'll need at least three hours. We'll have a moderator, have some cross examination, and then some questions from the audience. In order to focus the time, maybe there can be one specific thesis to debate. Perhaps something addressing the authority of scripture in defining our model for creation apologetics. Would Hugh be up to it?

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Summer Missions

Ah summer time...
With the coming of summer are many short-term mission opportunities. My church is already sending out our summer time, short-term missionary teams to around the world. Let us consider many of these mission fields:

China














South Korea




















Thailand




















India
























And don't forget about home missions as well...

Mississippi



















Unreached Red-neck tribes in the Appalachia wilderness.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Biff














Daniel will appreciate this...
As will James White...
My mother will more than likely hand-wring...

I have been riding a bike regularly to work for about 5 years now. I usually ride Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays, depending upon the weather and other conditions. It has been decent exercise for me - something I desperately need.

The trip is 11.4 miles one way. Meaning, if I ride home and do not take the bus (a subject for another blog), I get about 23 miles of riding for a day. The ride takes me about 50-55 minutes going to work, because there is a slight decline in the terrain going to work, and about an hour and 10 minutes coming home because I have to ride at a slight incline.

Our town is pretty good about making it safe for bikers to ride. We have a system of what is called paseo, or what is Spanish for "trail" or "path." Naming stuff where I live Spanish names, like the bike trail paseos, is a trendy thing to do around here. None the less, developing the paseos is one of the few competent things our local city government does. I can ride alsmost all the way to work with out being in traffic, so to speak.

After a week or more of intense heat, I would ride to work in the morning, but catch the bus home. This past Wednesday, the cooler weather finally gave me an opportunity to ride my bike home in the afternoon after work. I was kind of excited about it, because I hadn't done it in such a long while. So donning my bright yellow biker jersey with the three pockets along the back and my loose fitting riding drawers, I headed home.

When I get to about half a mile from my home, the paseo veers off to run along side the wash (big dry river bed), and far enough behind and away from my home that I leave it and detour down the main road for more of a straight shot leading into my neighborhood. This is a bit risky, because I have to ride through a rather large and busy intersection, especially around 3 pm. But I cautiously stay way to the right of traffic. This is where I have to be super alert looking around and keeping an eye on nearly every car and the road in front of me.

As you approach the intersection, there is a slight, bit of hill to ride down. I have to use my brakes so as not to go too fast, because on each corner there are grocery stores, gas stations, and other businesses that have people pulling in and out of parking lots. I have to watch for those drivers as well so as not to plow into the side of a car pulling onto the road.

This Wednesday, as I coasted down toward the intersection, there wasn't a car anywhere to be seen, even on the main street. That was highly unusual during this time of day. As I approached the intersection, I was slowing down to stop and wait for the green light. But, just before I came to the intersection, I noticed up ahead of me a puddle of water pooled up against the curb and a bit onto the edge of the street. My first thought was there was a long crack or hole keeping that water pooled up, which means I could hit the hole and take a tumble. So, as to avoid running through the puddle, I started to turn into the empty street.

Somehow, I must have hit a slick spot where there had previously been water, because the next thing I know, my bike is going one way, and I the other. All I saw were flashes of pavement and asphalt, and then the sensation of searing pain. I actually did a somersault on the street incurring a big red abrasion on my shoulder and a nasty big, deep blue bruise on my inner thigh. That morning, I dumbly left the house without my helmet, and didn't even realize it until mid-way through my ride to work. Thus, when I biffed it, I hit hair and skin on cement. I will never forget my helmet again. Just a bump, though, nothing major.

I was most certainly thankful there were no cars, because I believe if what happened had happened with cars present, I would had been way more injured, rather than just embarrassingly banged up. I jumped up as quick as my sore body would allow and dragged my bike (which was ok) out of the street. I had to sit on the sidewalk in front of Ralph's grocery store for a bit to catch my breath and pull myself together.

In addition to having the wind knocked out of me, as well as the severely hurting tookus, I had to endure that crippling humiliation of having done something entirely uncool and stupid in the full view of the public. I am sure there were folks who saw me go down who winced at the site of me flipping off my bike. I personally would like to see a video of it. When I jumped up, my first response was to look around to see who was watching and to give the appearance of being alright.

"I'm good, I'm good."

I finally limped home on my bike, took a shower, and thankfully I had some of those really good prescription pain pills left over from when I had my operation on my neck. Today, everything seems to be alright, but my gluteus maximus is still hurting, even causing me to have to get up and down slowly. I also have a crick in my neck.

I am told that if you ride a bike or a motorcycle a person will take it down at least once. Let's hope this is my one and only time.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Indescribable















A semi-review.


A precious friend of ours lent us a DVD he told us we "just had to watch." It is entitled Indescribable and is put out by Louie Giglio's ministry. You may recall I wrote about Louie Giglio from a month or so back. He is the fellow who sees crosses in molecules.

This particular DVD is a talk Louie gave on astronomy and the greatness of God. It is chuck full of all sorts of way cool space photos of stars and galaxies and stuff. Louie also presents a bunch of interesting factoids about astronomy and space, like how light can travel around the Earth 7 times in a second! That's like really fast.

The video is well done, I must honestly say. Giglio is a passionate, compelling speaker and it is clear he has a heart to proclaim the good news of the Lord he loves to those who will listen to him.

BUT...
There is always a "But" with these kinds of presentations.

There are two sniggling problems I had with the video.

First, as I noted in my critique of his use of the Laminin molecule as apologetic evidence, Giglio exaggerates the nature of the evidence he presents, thus misappropriating what could otherwise be praise worthy of God's glory on display.

The biggest example: take a look at the picture above.

Toward the end of his presentation, after he has shown many of his way cool pictures, Giglio excitedly draws our attention to Psalm 19 where the Psalmist writes how the heavens declare the glory of God. He then talks about the power of the Hubble Space Telescope to peer deeper into space beyond the distance of our earth bound telescopes. He then tells how the HST took a picture of the center of the Whirlpool galaxy, M51, and then he shows the above picture. I could distinctly hear the gasps of awe from the audience when he gives the big reveal. "Isn't God awesome!" Giglio gushes, and everyone applauds and shouts "Amen!" He goes on to exclaim, "In the middle of the Whirlpool galaxy God has put the cross of Jesus!" He goes on to say thanks to NASA and the HST and says, "Keep the pictures coming" because God's handiwork is on all of them.

I sat there with my nose crinkled and glanced over at my wife and said, "huh?" Giglio sees images of crosses in everything. In a manner of speaking, its like the evangelical equivalent of Mary appearing in tortillas. Being a person who has been around livestock before, I personally see a goat's eye, but hey, that's just me. Seriously, why does one think this helps God? I mean, the Whirlpool galaxy is pretty awesome, eliciting praise from my lips, even without a cross stuck in the middle of it. I think there is a danger of trivializing the hand of God at work when we attempt to draw our own interpretation from such pictures.

And then a second, more important problem: I think he missed a fabulous opportunity to hammer home the gospel. As I reflected upon my own criticism of this part of his presentation, I was personally convicted at the times I have failed in this way, so I am not finger wagging self-righteously here against Giglio. Thinking on how I believed he missed the mark caused me to re-evaluate myself, so I too have much to consider.

Where I think he fell short is as he wrapped up his talk, he flashes a picture of Jesus dying on the cross. Jesus is depicted as severely bloodied and beaten, and was probably a more accurate picture of what the crucifixion looked like. Giglio then talks about how this big God who created the heavens sent His son to die for our sins, take away our shame, guilty, and other aliments which plague our human existence.

"That sounds good to me, Fred, what exactly was wrong with his gospel presentation?"

Quite simply:

There was no fear of judgment or God's wrath to grip the hearts of the hearers so the gospel he presented would be precious.

In other words, Giglio gave us the solution with out telling us about the problem. If there were unbelievers present, they left that talk with out the sense of urgency of being an offender of God. The God who created the Whirlpool galaxy, who created all the stars and calls them by name, who has made light to travel so fast as to go around the earth seven times in a second, is the God Who will be your judge, Who will righteously condemn you to hell for eternity, Who sees you as a rebellious law breaker and deserving only of His wrath. That is where Giglio fell short. He should have told his audience that the God who created these celestial objects seen in these images is the same God you shake your fist at every day when you flagrantly break His laws with your sin, and with a God that powerful, no one should think they can escape Him.

And then, talk about God's grace in making a way of salvation by sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sin.

Instead, I got to see a whole lot of pretty pictures and heard about how Jesus is a good guy to take away our sin. An autonomous minded teenager will go away thinking he is either OK, think the pictures are neat-o, or maybe think about going to church when he has some time. I don't believe anyone would have walked away feeling the crushing weight of God's severe hand of judgment pressing down upon their soul. We should hang our heads in shame when we present such an anemic gospel.

A few days later I returned the DVD back to our friend and we had just a brief time to chat, so I didn't get to share with him all my observations about the presentation. I did tell him truthfully that I liked it (which I do) and appreciated him sharing with us. Before we parted, he told me about a bonus section on the DVD I should watch where Giglio talks about how the Laminin molecule looks like a cross. I couldn't let that pass, so I told him that Giglio's take on Laminin is a tad exaggerated and shared with him some of the things I mentioned in my previous article on the subject. He had a look of disappointment in his eyes and said, "Why would he say that if it weren't true? Why didn't he make some clarifying comment during his talk?" All I could say was, "I don't know."

Now, before I close up, I would recommend folks to see the DVD. Don't avoid it because Giglio stumbles at places. Like I stated above, it is extremely well done and Giglio is, apart from those inadequacies I wrote about, a sound teacher. He keeps himself tethered to the scripture which is good. The DVD would be worth showing a Sunday school class or on a Wednesday night. My one exhortation is to be alert to these problems and take some time afterward to discuss the talk. It is a good opportunity to teach on apologetic methodology and the most accurate, concise way to present the gospel message.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

For those who read my blog only...

...and rarely hit other good blogs like Team Pyro, Dan has an insightful, important eulogy on the passing of George Carlin.

George Carlin, and us.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

How to Disagree without being Disagreeable

By Hayden Norris

I’m a pastor and quite frankly, I like to talk (sometimes to excess). This is a great blessing in the pulpit, because who wants to come to hear someone preach who stumbles and stammers over his words? This can also be detrimental to ministry when interacting outside of the pulpit (Prv. 10:19). I enjoy having discussions with people over the theological and practical issues of the Christian life whether it be on the phone, in person, or even on the internet via blogs and message posts. I think it is very beneficial when it is done respectfully. As Proverbs 27:17 says Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Recently, I have realized that in the blogosphere I have been privy to, some of the discussions have become less than edifying. I have at times angrily typed away responses to ‘set people straight’. But God is faithful and good to me. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, I have been reminded of some verses that Tom Chaffin, the principal of the school where I once taught, used to quote often: 2 Timothy 2:24-26:

The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

This was not the first time, nor the last, that God was going to use these words to cut me.

See, early in my ministry at Mt. Morris Community Church, I attended a horrible "workshop" by a major publishing company with one of the elders and the teacher of our Junior Church program. Let me set the scene for you. I sat at a table with a gentleman who decided to take his church through an 8 week series called "Making it to Victory Lane" and decked the church out in NASCAR "gear" with checkered flags and life size cut-outs of the more famous drivers. The whole seminar was basically filled with these types of ideas. The attendees were eating this up, and I was really sick of sitting there listening to this. I looked over at the elder I came with and also our Jr. Church teacher to see that they too were enjoying this teaching which really didn't help my attitude. Flash forward to a couple of hours later and an hour car ride home. I decided that I was going to "teach these guys some discernment". It turned into a lecture by me, and I can tell you that I was not thinking of 2 Timothy 2:24-25.

Thankfully, the men forgave me and I did not ‘burn my bridges’ with them. Actually, the Lord has grown all of us in the whole area of discernment. How do I know this? Well, we recently went to a ‘Youth Function’ at a neighboring church where the speaker told a great story but didn’t give the Gospel. Inside, I was a bit mad because the point of this ‘function’ was to bring unsaved friends to hear the Gospel. One of these men, the one who advocated that we go to the previous conference, came up to me afterward and said something to the effect of ‘Nice Story, wish he would have preached the Gospel’. God was graciously showing me that he was working in him and teaching him discernment.

You would have thought that thinking back and seeing God work through this situation would have ‘cured’ me of my forked tongue and barbed jabs. Nope! So, in remembrance of this I have come up with seven questions that I want to reflect upon before I enter into theological discussions. These questions are not in any way ‘all inclusive’ but I hope that they will help me to avoid the brash ‘steamroller approach’ that I have previously taken in discussions.

1. Am I willing to listen? I mean this one should be obvious. I am not having a discussion if I am not listening to the other person. I am having a monologue, not a dialogue. Proverbs 18:13 reminds me that He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him. (See also Proverbs 10:8; 12:16)

Now I know that dialogue has become the ‘buzz word’ in our day. Many people today want endless dialogue with no resolution and no one being right or wrong. That is not what I am talking about. What I mean is asking myself, am I really concerned about what the other person is saying or am I just thinking about what I am going to say next? On the internet this means carefully reading what someone has written or listening to the whole context of a spoken sermon not just a sound bite. In a personal conversation this means making eye-contact and not interrupting the other person. This means that I should not wait for the other person to pause just so I can pounce!

2. What is my motivation for speaking/writing? Am I just trying to ‘be right’ or ‘win an argument’ or ‘put someone else down’? I think that if I asked myself this question more often I would avoid some of the pitfalls I have needlessly run headlong into. This should change the way I say the things that I say. Ephesians 4:15 reminds me to speak the truth in love. (This can actually be translated ‘speaching truth in love’) Is my motivation to speak the truth (and yes there is such a thing as absolute truth) so that the person I am talking to or corresponding with will grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ?

3. What can I contribute to this discussion? Am I just talking to talk or writing to pass the time? Do I want people to know that I ‘know what I know’ even when there is not a reason for me to be a part of this discussion? Proverbs 15:28 states The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. Sometimes I can get involved in discussions that I think that I know what I am talking about, but I have not really ‘done my homework’. It is easy to get second-hand stories from others and quotes from people that I admire, but is that the best way to further a discussion?

4. Am I addressing areas I am not able to discern (i.e. someone else’s motives)? I hear this a lot on the cable news networks when politics is being discussed. Things like “He doesn’t really mean that…” or “They are just saying that…” are thrown around when people do not even know the person that they are talking about. Sometimes people have a track record of acting a certain way and it may be easy to believe I can discern their motivations, and I may even be right, but can I honestly think I can discern the motives of another man’s heart when I cannot even understand my own? (Prov. 20:5; 28:26; Jer. 17:9)

5. Is Christ exalted in my conversation? This really should be number 1, but I put it here as more of a re-check. I should start out wanting my words to be Christ exalting and continue to check to see if my conversation is going down a path that Christ would be pleased with. Unfortunately, in the blogosphere, and even in the Christian section of the blogosphere, discussions can degenerate into speculation and insinuation. Paul warns us of this repeatedly in his letters to Timothy:

1 Timothy 1:4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.
1 Timothy 1:6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion,
2 Timothy 2:14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.
2 Timothy 2:23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.

6. What is my speech seasoned with? Paul tells us to Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person in Colossians 4:6. I am going to strike from my vocabulary these words: ‘kool-aid drinker’; ‘idiot’; ‘moron’; ‘babbler’ and many others like them because they do not represent gracious speech. I am not advocating a pacifistic, syrupy, and fluffy language but what I am advocating is that Christians should have a much different way of addressing disagreement than non-Christians. (By the way, this would mean that all cussing, no matter how ‘cool’, is out as well.)

7. How is this contributing to my ‘mission’ before God? This one is very important because I find myself spending far too much time thinking about how to respond to a blogger than on how I am going to minister to the person in front of me. Paul exhorts me to press on in the calling that Christ has called me to, and when discussion/blogging takes me away from that I am not growing. Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14 :

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Christ has called me to preach His Word, evangelize, and counsel and if there is anything that is impeding my growth and ability to do these things I must get rid of them!

I really enjoy a good debate. I want to grow in my understanding of Scripture which is why I blog and also sit down and discuss Scripture with others. BUT I must never be the stumbling block to someone else growing in Christ. My personality and sinful speech must not be the reason for offense. The cross of Christ should always be the offense (1 Cor. 1 & 2), but not the ambassador who has been charged to carry the message (2 Cor. 5;20). If they do not like my King or His message they can take it up with Him. If they do not like my attitude or my lack of grace then I must search my heart to see if what they say is true and change if it is. The bottom line is that I must be a person who is able to disagree without becoming disagreeable! May this be an endeavor that we all pursue, for God’s glory and our good.

Hayden Norris is associate pastor at Mt. Morris Community Church in Mt. Morris, Michigan.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

When did Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs become a Dawkins stooge?

Another Rant

Ever since his involvement with exposing Dan Rather's fraudulent Bush National Guard documents back in 2004, I have been an avid reader of Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs blog. I particularly appreciate how he highlights international news items reporting on events in the Muslim world and the Middle East that otherwise go unnoticed by our American media. His photo slide shows about PLO child abuse or the wacky antics of anti-war moonbats are at times valuable photojournalism to consider. I think his blog is such a valuable tool for staying on top of international current events, I even have it asterisked in my side-bar links.

But in recent weeks he has turned into this shrill, militant, snotty Darwinian apologist. In a manner of speaking, a Dawkins stooge. It seems like every 5th post is about some science news item, but it is attended with his snide, mocking comments aimed at the Discovery Institute or anyone adhering to creationism. For example, he'll note some item about the Phoenix lander on Mars and add, "launched by the Discovery Institute... Oh, I mean NASA" as if a belief in biological Darwinian evolution is even remotely relevant to landing a rover on Mars. He certainly would hesitate to make such ignorant, clownish comments if he realized a good many of the people behind developing the Mars lander are non-evolutionists, with a few of them even attending my church.

My only guess is he was annoyed with Ben Stein's recent documentary Expelled, because he once respected Stein as a reputable conservative commentator, and now must do all he can to shun Stein who is perceived as an intellectual apostate. Hell hath no fury than Darwinian atheists spurned.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised with this recent exposure of attitude, because it is reflective of your typical person who has been mis-educated on this issue. Charles has the evolutionary propaganda handbook and is running it play by play:
  • The consensus of scientists in the world are Darwinians and no consensus of any alleged group of "experts" can be wrong about anything, especially the infallibility of their chosen scientific belief.
  • Dissenting "scientists," like those men at the Discovery Institute, are really quacks and psuedo-scientists. Their "doctorates" are probably all made-up, or they received them from George "Goober" Lindsey University or some other degree mill.
  • Moreover, those dissenting "scientist" have nothing substantive to offer as far as criticism is concerned because they are not as highly educated as those scientists who are committed evolutionists. In fact, most of their arguments against scientific evolution were probably dreamed up during their weekly Thursday night Bible club meetings down at Jo Jo's Catfish along side the White River outside Mountain View, Arkansas.
  • Moreover, the IDers are only clandestine fundamentalist snake-handlers in disguise anyways. If they got in charge of all the universities, they would make everyone go to church and close all the liquor stores on Sunday.
  • Evolution is the only logical conclusion of true, unbiased science. A real scientist doesn't have any biases and when he examines all the evidence the only rational decision he can make is that Darwinian evolution is true, and thus to question any aspect of the facts is denying the truth. To deny evolution is to deny the Holocaust took place, or gravity exists.
  • IDers and creationists are biased, hence they can't do any real science, and because unbiased scientists will be evolutionists by default, seeing they have had the courage to break away from religious traditions and follow the scientific evidence where it leads, which is evolution, only their conclusions about science are valid.
  • Any slight change in a species or adaptation to the environment by an animal group is proof positive of Darwinian evolution that led from molecules-to-man. So the recent, over hyped experiment of Richard Lenski in which E. coli bacteria gained the advantage of digesting citrate after almost 40,000 generations is proof of molecules-to-man evolution even though they are still bacteria, and given a zillion more generations, they will apparently sprout wings and fly.
The ironic thing about Johnson's slurs against ID and creationism is that he argues just like the leftist environmentalist do against critics of man-made climate change: The scientists who reject it have a hidden agenda, or they are sub-par experts, or not educated enough, or are a tiny minority nowhere representative of the consensus, and they most certainly are denying the obvious, like denying gravity exists.

The so-called evolutionary experts always complain about the lack of evolutionary education. But I don't see the failure of education as I do a failure to argue convincingly and in a manner that doesn't involve the hurling of elephants and absurd ad hominem.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

I bet he gets, like, lots of money

In case you are looking for entertainment for your kid's birthday party.



More information here

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What's Happened with Starbucks?

A Rant

I am a lover of good coffee. I have always rolled my eyes at those unsophisticated rubes who tell me there is no difference between coffee and they all taste the same.

"I wouldn't pay no 1.75 for a cup of coffee! What idiot pays 1.75 for coffee? It ain't no different than Maxwell house and I can get an entire can of it for like 4 bucks."


Well, Nugene, there certainly is a difference and if you are content to drink swill with your fried apple pie in the morning it certainly is a free country. I, however, find 1.75 for a brilliantly brewed cup of coffee to be a worthy investment.

Philistines...

So at any rate,

Starbucks has always been one of my favorite coffee shops where I spend my 1.75. Yes, I realize they are pretentious in an annoying, ultra-liberal elitist way. Attempting to make horrible music appear important by selling the CD's at the register, the whole "Fair Trade" nonsense, the eco-friendly approach with buckets of left over coffee grounds for your garden, and the brainless quotations from such luminaries as Robin Williams and Steve Jobs printed on the side of their cups. I also engage in my own personal, self imposed boycott of any coffee grown in Indonesia because of that country's severe persecution of Christians, and Starbucks has a lot of coffee from that region of the world.

Yet, for being hippy-doofus leftists, the folks at Starbucks brew an outstanding cup of Joe in my opinion. Coffee is probably one of the few things hippy doofuses do competently. If only we could keep them corralled in their coffee shops so they wouldn't spill over into politics the world would be a more peaceful place.

But what has happened to Starbucks these last few months? I understand they are in a financial slump, but the measures they have taken to dig themselves out appear to be potentially disastrous. It use to be every week a different roasted blend of coffee would be available. Every week would be a coffee from Brazil or maybe Costa Rica, or perhaps Papua New Guinea from where one of my all time favorite peaberry blends is grown. I would buy an entire bag of beans based on how just good the coffee tasted that week on that morning simply because they were offering that particular blend.

But the last few months Starbucks is only brewing Pike's Place, a blend of coffee that is suppose to return us to the roots of their original shop located at the Pike's Place Market in Seattle. Pike's Place is an okay coffee. I certainly like the fact the beans are ground fresh every morning rather than stored in a vacuum packed bag. Fresh ground beans definitely improves the taste of the coffee. But why are they serving it exclusively as the only coffee I can buy? Have the CEOs of Starbucks smoked too much weed? Did the head of marketing get hit too hard with a baton at the latest anti-war riots? I am not a guy who likes change, so I want to take that into consideration as I level my criticisms, but it just seems like to me this exclusive brewing of one blend of coffee is not a move in the right direction to increase consumer satisfaction.

Without fail for the last 8 years on Thursday mornings, after I buy my volunteers' donuts, I stop in to the Starbucks next door for a cup of coffee. Once it dawned on me a couple of months ago that I will be drinking Pike's Place for now until eternity, my Starbucks purchases have diminished. I have skipped several Thursdays going to Starbucks. If Peet's was opened at 5 AM, I would be headed there instead. And folks tell me those hippies make a better coffee.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gleanings from Job #14
















continuing in my devotional series on Job...

Closing Arguments (Job 29-30)


It has been a while, but I wanted to return to considering the book of Job. It tells the story of the main character, Job, and the suffering he endured by the hand of the devil, yet all the while orchestrated by the sovereignty of God. His suffering, as horrendous as it was, demonstrated the integrity of Job, but most importantly, God's faithfulness to preserve the saving faith of His people.

From a human perspective, even though his trials were severe, this is where God wanted Job to be, and in an eternal sense, his trial is the best place for him to be.

His three closest friends attribute his sufferings to being judged by God. They have been accusing him of committing heinous sins, and it is those sins Job refuses to acknowledge which has placed him under God's judgment. Each of his friends consecutively lay out their arguments as to why Job has sinned and why he needs to repent. Job on the other hand maintains his innocence, refusing to confess to wickedness he has never committed.

Chapters 26-31 is his longest response to his friend's charges. They have given up trying to convince him of his errors, so beginning in chapter 26, Job launches into a long speech summarizing his innocence in light of their claims of guilt.

Job began by explaining, a) God is majestic compared to men, that b) in light of His majesty, Job has maintained his integrity, and c) In spite of his trials, Job will always seek for the true wisdom only found in God.

From chapters 29-31, Job becomes like a defense attorney who is summarizing his case before God's law court. Job outlines three thoughts covering these three chapters:

His pre-afflicted glory in Ch. 29
His present gloom in Ch. 30, and
His oath of innocence in Ch. 31.

I. His Pre-Afflicted Glory

Job starts chapter 29 by describing how his life was for him before his trial:

- He believed God was blessing him, drawing him to Himself, and watching over him on a regular basis (1-5)

- He had the love and company of his family and his livelihood was like having his "steps bathed in cream" (5-6).

- He had a prominent position among the people and was respected by all the young men who looked up to him as a leader (7-9).

- Contrary to what his friends accused him of doing, Job most certainly helped the needy and the destitute (12-17). That included the orphans, the helpless, and widows.

- Rather than be lectured by his friends as to his personal sins, many folks at one time received his counsel and valued his wisdom (21-25).

II. His Present Gloom

Job laments his current condition. Whereas before he lived under great blessing, now things are different.

- He is disrespected socially among his peers (1-15). They mock him, even making up songs taunting him about his plight (9).

- He is physically sick and miserable (16-19). He describes his condition as having his bones pierced and gnawing pains that never give him rest.

- He felt as though he was being ignored by God (20-23). Instead of watching over him and blessing his faithfulness, Job now felt - as wrong as he was - that God was not answering him and intentionally being cruel.

- Then lastly, Job's comforters did not genuinely comfort him (24-31). Music could not soothe him (31), nor any human advice encourage him (29).

III. His Oath of Innocence

Throughout chapter 31, Job swears to his innocence of being guilty of any sin which deserved God's direct judgment upon him. He uses the word "if" many times in order to deny any wrong doing on his part, and basically place himself under oath, as it were.

- Job is not guilty of lustful thoughts or sexual impropriety (1-4). He has never looked upon a woman in lust, let alone touch one inappropriately.

- Job never dealt dishonestly with anyone (5-8). He never lied or engaged in dishonest business dealings.

- Job never committed adultery (9-12). Just like he never lusted after a woman not his wife, he never committed physical adultery with a woman not his wife.

- Job treated his servants and hired help with respect (13-15). Because Job had a fear of God, he looked upon any mistreatment he would give to a servant as a motivation to treat them just as God treated him.

- Job never oppressed the poor and needy or orphans (16-23). He has always been more than generous toward those in need.

- Job never had a heart for materialism, nor had a greed for money and riches (24-28). Though God blessed him materially, Job never put his hope in gold, or say that wealth was his confidence.

- Job never rejoiced over his neighbor's trouble (29-34). In other words, he never gloried over the ruin or destruction of a personal enemy.

- Then finally, Job firmly states that he will make his appeal to the Lord and trust He will vindicate him before his accusers (35-37).

"If" any of these things he mentions are true of him, Job is incurring real judgment upon his head. Job can make such an oath, because he is confident he is right.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What sort of Neighbors?

You hear about these people every once in a while being found in an apartment or house who have been dead for like three years or whatever. They are usually loners or a forgotten shut-in no one paid attention to whose mummified corpse is found seated in front of the TV.

A mummified corpse of a person who has been sitting in a chair for a couple of years is bad enough, but what about 42 YEARS!

Woman Sat Dead in Front of TV for 42 Years!

This article has May 16th on it, so I am shocked I missed it for a month, but come on... You mean to tell me no one bothered to check on this person for 42 years!? No family who inquired as to her whereabouts? Friends? Even neighbors? No one smelled her? A person can just drop out of society that easily?

What does it say of our society as neighbors when a person can just disappear for 42 years and there are no questions as to where he or she was? And what does it say about our slavish devotion as a society to the "idiot box" that every time one of these corpses is found, it is always propped up sitting in front of a TV?

I wonder if the TV still worked?

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Dr. D. and the KJV

I didn't know the federal penitentiary system allowed Kent to decorate his jail cell with his dinosaur bone collection...

I believe Kent Hovind was never competent to teach the Bible, let alone run an "apologetic" para-church ministry defending creation against evolutionary theory. In recent years, as his tax fraud has been exposed and he is now a federal inmate, he was not only incompetent, but also morally unqualified to speak on behalf of Christ's church. His antics, both past and present, have ruined reputable apologetics, in my mind. Just read his wikipedia entry and you can see how the author's just take cruel delight with documenting in scrutinizing detail his personal woes. Anyone who was genuinely converted under his teaching only testifies to the power of God's grace to reach past the messenger.

Before he was carted off to the slammer, Dr. D. did a short little video explaining why he believed the KJV was the best translation a Christian could use. James White has provided three, short video responses that not only dismantle every agonizing error Hovind utilizes in his presentation, but also gives a fine summary of the history behind the transmission of our biblical text. Believe me, how Hovind argues on this video is how I use to argue when I was an up-and-coming KJV-onlyist.

Part 1



Part 2




Part 3


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Friday, June 13, 2008

Darwinian Friday

I thought I would round off the week by highlighting a handful of links which could help us to engage the prevailing zeitgeist of our western culture. It is always good to be informed.

First, Smithsonian Magazine on-line has a brief article talking about the development of the evolutionary theory before it bore the name of Charles Darwin.

On the Origin of a Theory

The average person is unaware of the fact that Darwin's ideas of natural selection had developed years before he wrote. Upon hearing that a rival, Alfred Wallace, would be going to print with a book outlining the same theory he had developed, Darwin cobbled together his notes from his famous Beagle tour to get published before him.

The article also explains how Darwin's grandfather, Erasmus, had a hand in forming his grandson's idea about the origin of life. That is important to note, because Erasmus was more than just a scientist, but an atheistic philosopher who sought to undermine the influence of Christianity in English society.

Then a couple of good posts from Triabloguer Peter Pike on the subject of DNA and information.

Why DNA is Information

and

Can Random, Non-Directed Processes Create DNA Information?

Both posts do a good job of pointing out the inability of Darwinian evolution to account for the presence of DNA information at the core of biological life. This is an important talking point, for while evolution does a fairly OK job of explaining evolutionary development with already present species, the system can't explain the development of lesser species into greater ones. For example, how dinosaurs supposedly became birds.

Then lastly, here's a fun blog entry from Ken Ham over at the Creation Museum recounting how a scientific activist attempted to hand out evolutionary propaganda at the Museum.

What was the Professor Thinking?

In an act of hubris, a secular prof in the field of astrophysics, felt it his duty to warn people of the intellectual danger of the museum by handing out anti-creationist literature. What is stunningly annoying, as noted by Ham, is how he would never allow dissent to evolutionary theory to be even raised in his class, let alone taught as an alternative class at the school where he teaches. Evolutionists are always grousing about how if only people were educated properly concerning evolution, then it would be accepted. However, part of education is allowing for criticism, particularly severe criticism where it is warranted. Just to inform the Darwinian elitists: Whereas I will most certainly teach all my children the full tenets of Darwinian evolution, even using their recommended materials, it will not be taught with unquestioned dogmatism, but will be heavily scrutinized and ultimately debunked.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Komodo Dragons Bad




















Coming on the heals of my story of blood thirsty, woodchuck murdering gardeners, here's another testimony of city people experiencing the nasty side of nature for the first time.

The Terrifying Truth about Komodo Dragons

Not for the faint of heart, by the way...

How did these people expect these animals to behave? Talk to them in a British accent like the Geico lizard?

Like the character, John Kenner, in Michael Crichton's anti-environmental wacko novel, State of Fear, tells the moon-bat, environmentalist actor shortly before he is cut to ribbons and eaten alive by cannibals, the most important purpose of civilization is to protect us from the nature.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

An Army of McGregors.

Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!!!

- Elmer Fudd

My grandmother hated snakes. It didn't matter if the snake was a garter snake, copperhead, king snake; if it were non-poisonous or poisonous, if it was a snake, it did not deserve to live. With out any pain of conscience, if a snake dared to slither near her, my grandmother would grab the nearest object which she could wield as a weapon, generally a garden hoe, and either pound or chop the snake into unrecognizable pieces. As a boy enthralled with reptiles and who dreamed of being a herpetologist after watching Bill Haast milk cobras at his serpentarium outside of Miami when I was in second grade, my grandmother's hatred of snakes was horrifying.

I am not sure if her pathological aversion to snakes was due in part to her rural, religious upbringing that equated all snakes with the devil, or some other unknown bad personal experience. Whatever the case, I never really discovered its source. More than likely it was because she was raised in the country outdoors and she understood animals had their lower place in the scheme of things, whereas she a human being, occupied a higher place, and thus had the God-given right to kill any animal indiscriminately if it so happened to venture outside its place into hers. She was part of a culture that witnessed animal death without the least bit of squeamishness on a regular, daily basis like beef cattle, chickens, pigs, quail, gophers, armadillos, deer, and sometimes possums.

City people usually don't have the intestinal fortitude to deal with animal death like my grandmother and her kinfolk. Compounding their dislike of, say, a chicken being slung around by its head until it pops off and the body flops around on the ground, is the emotional attachment most city people have toward little, cutesy animals. This emotional aspect is due it part to reading way too many talking animal books like Winnie the Pooh and Peter Rabbit, and watching way too many talking animal movies like Disney's stuff and maybe Babe. If you think pigs have sweet voices and can herd sheep, then the thought of them being gutted makes bacon lose its appeal. Adding to the city people's inordinate affection for animals is an environmental philosophy that teaches all animals and people are the same. So after years of being indoctrinated with animal rights ideology, the thought of shooting Moppsy and her brother Peter is murder. Who could possible shoot a precious little rabbit dressed nicely in his blue jacket?

Welp, there is a new emotional conflict to add to the already existing turmoil city people suffer when thinking of killing little animals. More and more city folks, in order to be "environmentally friendly" and reduce carbon emissions, and basically return to nature, are moving to the rural parts of our country and taking up maintaining their own personal gardens. I must say I have fond memories of gardening when I was a boy. When my grandma wasn't thwacking snakes, it was a delight to shuck corn and snap beans. There is something to be said with eating fresh vegetables out of a backyard garden.

As city folks learn to garden, however, they have had to learn the hard way that they are not the only beings who enjoy fresh vegetables. And those little beings aren't wearing blue jackets with brass buttons and trousers.

The NY Times has a fun article telling of how these gardening, animal loving environmentalist are becoming sadistic, cruel, animal genocidists. I just love reading about city people experiencing nature for the first time.

Garden Vigilantes

The opening story about the NY artist is great:

a city-boy artist and illustrator who had moved to rural Pennsylvania, never wanted to kill the woodchucks. Sure, they were ruining the garden and digging up the foundations of outbuildings, but it was a moral issue: the artist, who is still so uncomfortable about what transpired — and so concerned about how his New York clients would feel about it that he is not willing to be identified — did not want to take a life.

He bought a "Havahart" live animal trap but did not catch a thing. And he worried that releasing woodchucks down the road would only be dumping the problem on a neighbor. So he moved on to that tried-and-true landlord’s tactic: harassment. He attached a hose to the exhaust pipe of his old pickup truck and stuffed it into a burrow — not to kill the woodchucks, just to encourage them to move on. That didn’t work, either.

Finally, the artist decided he would have to shoot the animals. First, though, he went to each hole and made an announcement.

“I said: ‘I intend to kill you. You have 24 hours to get out,’ ” he recalls. “I wanted to give them fair warning. I said, ‘If I were you, I would find another place to live.’ I also promised them I would not take a shot unless I knew it would be fatal.”

He is making this into a funny story, he says, but when he killed his first woodchuck he “literally felt sick.”

“I went outside and knelt down to it and said a little prayer to whatever the powers that be that when my turn comes, I will do it as gracefully and uncomplainingly.”

Eventually, though, he embraced his mission, and grew so obsessed with it that an aunt began to call him Woodchuck Johnny. How many did he kill that summer?

It reads like the beginnings of a serial killer. I bet Jeffrey Dahmer felt sick after he killed his first woodchuck, too. At least the anonymous artist did the kind thing and warned the woodchucks first before he orphaned their woodchuck babies.

City people,

geesh.

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The Segway Faceplant

Monday, June 09, 2008

Trinitarian Debate

Those who may have an interest in developing strategic ways to present the doctrine of the Trinity to those who have objections or questions, or perhaps defend it against heretical individuals, may appreciate a recent debate that took place.

The debate can be downloaded in parts here, and the Trinitarian defender, Brant Bosserman, was interviewed by Gene Cook which can be heard here. If you don't have time to listen to a two hour debate, at least try to catch the interview which covers the basics and listen to Brant interact with a couple of Unitarians that called.

I appreciate both Brant's passion and his ability to utilize a presuppositional apologetic to present the Trinity. It's good stuff.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Debunking Gay Christian Apologetics [pt. 3]




















Were David and Jonathan Gay?


I started interacting with an email I had received from gay "Christian" apologist, Rick Brentlinger, who had written to me challenging many of my conclusions regarding specific scriptures that condemn homosexuality.

The basics of his complaint against me can be read in my previous two posts on this subject:

Part 1 and Part 2

In a nutshell, Rick is of the opinion that the Bible no where condemns consensual and committed same-sex erotic relationships expressed between two adults. The normative interpretations of such passages like Genesis 19, Leviticus 18 and 20, and Romans 1, where homosexuality is clearly condemned and judged by God, are really false interpretations that have been read onto those texts by anti-gay evangelicals. I happen to be one of those "anti-gay" evangelicals, I reckon, who has fallen under the misinformation of the anti-gay evangelicals associated with Focus on the Family and other so-called pro-family ministries.

Rick has compiled a rather extensive website called Gay Christian 101 that contains many articles exposing why the typical anti-gay evangelical reading of the Bible is wrong. His email to me lays out some misconceptions and inaccuracies I apparently have against evangelical gay "Christians" and my anti-gay hermeneutic I bring to the text of scripture.

I am attempting to slowly answer his charges in his email, and debunk them for the benefit of all Christians who often encounter this gay revisionist apologetics offered by Rick and others of his ilk which I believe re-interprets the Bible according to their perspective of human, sexual relationships.

Now, I had intended to move on to Leviticus, but I wanted to make a brief aside on a specific claim raised by gay "Christians." The reason being is because I have had at least 3 individuals, each independent of the others, ask me about this particular story in the Bible with in the last couple of weeks, so it is fresh on my heart. Rick doesn't raise this subject in his email to me, but he has many articles available at his website that does address it. The question being,

Were David and Jonathan gay lovers?

Undoubtedly, the relationship between David and Jonathan as described in 1 Samuel is probably one of the first examples gay "Christians" throw up as proof of homosexual relations in the Bible. In fact, the story of David and Jonathan is perhaps ubiquitous throughout the gay community as an ancient Brokeback Mountain love story; and because it is recorded in the Bible, the very book that is suppose to condemn homosexual behavior, the story is even more compelling.

To illustrate how homosexuals capitalize on the story, when I was searching for images to post with this blog, just searching "David and Jonathan" brought up a good number of pro-gay websites appealing to the story as a God ordained homosexual relationship. There are books written about David and Jonathan, as well as a modern day gay film with the main characters named "David and Jonathan." The Metropolitan Church, for instance, which is a liberal oriented, pro-gay denomination, has a billboard campaign entitled "Would Jesus Discriminate?" and one of the popular billboards placed along the highways promoting their pro-gay agenda says "David loved Jonathan more than women" with the reference of 2 Samuel 1:26.

This use of the story by homosexuals, especially gay "Christians," needs to be refuted, and that is what I hope to do with this post.

As with many of the passages in the Bible condemning homosexuality as a lifestyle, gay apologists misuse the story of David and Jonathan by revising certain aspects of the story and reading back into the record of 1 Samuel modern-day views of human relationships. It is presupposed that when the text says in 1 Samuel 18:1-5 how Jonathan loved David, and later in 2 Samuel 1:26 where David says in a psalm lamenting the death of his friend that "Jonathan's love for David surpassed the love of women" this somehow implies there was a sexual love affair component between the two men. Nothing in the text suggests this at all. In point of fact, both David and Jonathan were married to women, David having multiple wives. Gay apologists generally claim they were married for convenience sake, or for the purpose of maintaining the family line, but their real, true love was not with their wives, but with each other. However, in order for both David and Jonathan to engage in a sexual love affair implies they both sinned in adultery, a strict violation of the 7th commandment. The question is then begged, "how could David, a man described by the Lord as having a heart after God, involve himself in such a grievous sin." Gay apologists tend to over look this detail in their view of the story.

In order to begin answering the gay "Christian" apologist's interpretation of David and Jonathan's relationship, it may be good to give a biblical survey of the events and situations leading to their relationship as described in 1 Samuel 18. Once the book of 1 Samuel is placed into context, pretty much the entire gay argument that David and Jonathan were homosexual lovers melts away.

The books of First and Second Samuel are transitional books that form a bridge between the book of Judges when Israel was 12 tribes ruled by theocratically appointed judges and the Nation of Israel united under a monarchy. The man Samuel was the last official judge who was used of the Lord to establish the monarchy.

When the book opens, Israel is in a deep depression. Eli, the high priest, was a pathetic, ineffective judge who did nothing to rebuke and control his wicked sons who ran the tabernacle, but corrupted it by offering ungodly sacrifices to the Lord (1 Sam 2). Their sinful behavior rubbed off on the people and they in turn were caused to sin against the Lord. God eventually brings judgment against Eli and his house (1 Sam. 4) and Samuel is elevated by God to be the national leader of the people as both a prophet and priest.

However, after a period of revival under Samuel's ministry (1 Samuel 7), the leaders of Israel ask him to appoint a king over them "like all the other nations" (1 Samuel 8). In spite of their rebellious request, God grants it and has Samuel anoint Saul to be the first king of Israel (1 Sam. 9, 10). Saul's reign started off slow, but through the act of a national emergency with Nahash and the Ammonites (1 Sam. 11), Saul is affirmed to be the official king of Israel. But, he was a man as it were "like all the other nations," because he began to rebel against God's commands, as well as make bad choices personally. His reign begins to unravel in 1 Samuel 13 when before meeting the Philistines in battle, he worries about not hearing from Samuel, takes matters into his own hands, and offers up a sacrifice that only Samuel was to offer.

Samuel rebukes his disobedience, and as a result of his rash decision, the situation with the Philistines grows more severe (1 Sam. 13:16-23) as they are able to take control of a large portion of central Israel. However, Jonathan, Saul's son, has a different perspective on the situation. He and his armor bearer seize upon the promises God had made to Israel centuries before that those Jews who are faithful to engage the enemy in the name of the Lord will have God drive them from the land. Jonathan and his armor bearer act upon this promise and defeat a garrison of Philistine soldiers by themselves (1 Sam. 14).

Fast forward to chapter 16 of 1 Samuel. After disobeying God's command to utterly destroy the Amalekites in chapter 15, Samuel pronounces final judgment upon Saul and his monarchy. Instead of the house of Saul being established as the royal line, God will chose for Himself a man after His own heart. Chapter 16 introduces us to that man, a teenager by the name of David. Samuel anoints him king, but it is a kingship that will have to wait another 12 years or more before being realized.

By the time we come to chapter 17, Saul had become a more ineffective king. The Philistines had once again entered the land and threatened to enslave Israel. As the Philistines and Israel faced-off for battle, a stalemate of sorts had developed as the Philistines sent out the giant Goliath to challenge any champion of the Jews who would be willing to face him in hand-to-hand combat. No one dared to fight him until David heard Goliath's challenge as he was visiting his older brothers on the battlefield. David, acting upon similar promises Jonathan had in chapter 14, agreed to fight Goliath. As all Sunday school children know, David prevailed over Goliath and cut his head off with his own sword. This act not only impressed Saul, but also the men of Israel who were looking for a leader they could rally behind.

When we come to 1 Samuel 18:1-5, we are introduced to David and Jonathan's relationship. One thing I believe needs to be kept in mind is that Jonathan was more than likely any where between 10-15 years older than David. The reason I say that is because he had been fighting in the army with his father for several years and the earliest a man was to serve was 2o. David had returned home to be with his father when his older brothers went out to fight with Saul, and if he had been older at the time, David would certainly have been fighting along side of them, yet he was at home tending sheep. So, more than likely, Jonathan's friendship with David was more along the lines of being a mentor.

After the defeat of Goliath, and with the content of David's words in defense of the God of Israel on his mind, Jonathan saw in him a person who was uniquely anointed by the Lord. Whether or not Jonathan recognized the theocratic anointing of the Spirit of David's life, or knew of Samuel's choosing of him to be the future king is uncertain (1 Sam. 16), but he certainly knew God's hand was upon David's life. Rather than seeing Jonathan's giving of his royal robe, armor, and sword to David as tokens of his homosexual love for him, what is at stake is Jonathan's act of treason against his father. Here we have the prince of Israel, the man who was the heir to the throne of Israel, hand to David those royal items that identifies his right to claim the throne for himself. Jonathan in a symbolic way was abrogating his claim to the throne and giving it to David and affirming his allegiance to him as the rightful king. Even Saul comes to realize the threat David was to him and his lineage on the throne when in 1 Samuel 20, after questioning Jonathan as to David's whereabouts, he angrily curses Jonathan and proclaims to him "For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom" (1 Sam. 20:31).

Now, with this background in mind, gay "Christian" apologists like Rick re-read these passages with all sorts unnecessary homo-erotic imagery. A collection of articles at Rick's site explaining how David and Jonathan were engaged in a romantically involved, sexual partnership, demonstrates how extreme the gay agenda is in twisting this story to fit their homosexual worldview. One odd side note to this revisionist ideology displayed at Rick's website is how the painting, David och Saul, by Swedish painter Julius Kronberg, which depicts an effeminate looking David playing a harp for an effeminate looking king Saul, is deceptively described as David and Jonathan sharing a private moment. As "gayish" as Kronberg's painting looks, he meant it to depict David and Saul, not David and Jonathan engaging in foreplay as Rick's description suggests.

First, gay apologists utterly ignore the vast body of commentary on the David and Jonathan story that clearly explains the relationship between the two men as merely a strong, non-sexual friendship. Even Rick admits the gay view is an extreme minority position historically, and even writes that his take on the passage is "fresh" and "new." The words "fresh" and "new" in my mind are really code words for stretching the meaning of the story and re-interpreting words beyond the breaking point of their definition.

A good example of re-defining words is how gay apologists attempt to zero in on the word love and pour into the definition a form of homosexual eroticism. They specifically exaggerate the expression describing Jonathan loving David as "his own soul" thus turning it into homo-erotic imagery. However, Jonathan loving David as his own soul is not his gay oriented feelings, but one of identifying with David as God's truly anointed king. A sexual relationship is no more implied between David and Jonathan with the use of the word love, as it is with the people of Israel and Judah having the same love for David when they too saw God's hand upon him (1 Sam. 18:16). If we accept the gay revisionist understanding of the word love as implying sexual desire and sex in the instance of David and Jonathan's friendship, are we to conclude the people of the nation also had sexual desires for David as well?

But what about David's words in 2 Samuel 1:26 where he describes Jonathan's love for him surpassing the love of women? The first observation is how the eulogy speaks of Jonathan's devotion to David. David doesn't speak directly of his love to Jonathan. That is not to say David wasn't as devoted to Jonathan as he was to David, but his expression is one of gratitude for the loyalty Jonathan had shown toward him. Again, nothing in the wider context of David and Jonathan's relationship even remotely suggests they were engaged in a gay, sexual relationship, so a poetic lament that elevates the purity of these two men's friendship with each other should not be reinterpreted according to a specific agenda to normalize homosexual sin. One possible source for David's soliloquy on behalf of his friend Jonathan may be an allusion back to the little song the women made up about David as recorded in 1 Sam. 18:7 when they would greet David's return from battle by singing how he has slain his ten thousands. David is describing how Jonathan respected him and loved him much more than just a national hero, but as a loyal friend and mentor.

Then one sort of weird argument gay apologists put forth to claim David and Jonathan were homosexual lovers is found in the King James rendering of 1 Sam. 20:41 where the two friends are forced to go their separate ways because of Saul's hatred of David. When they met for the last time the KJV says, ...and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. I recently had an individual email me who linked me to a convoluted article claiming that the phrase until David exceeded means the two men engaged in one final homosexual sex act in which David climaxed at the end.

The author of the article gives the appearance he has done his "scholarly homework" as it were by citing the LXX and the Latin Vulgate and all these supposed commentaries on 1 Samuel. The crux of his conclusion for the sex act is that the word translated in the KJV as exceeded is used in other OT contexts to speak of growing up, or being enlarged, and in one instance - at least according to this "researcher" - getting an erection and ejaculating. (I apologize for the frank discussion, by the way). At any rate, my emailer was troubled by the alleged "scholarly" argumentation in the article and said he has never seen a good refutation of it. I find that to be an amazing claim. If anyone were to check any other English translation of the passage, they will see that the text has been more clearly rendered than what is found in clumsy, old English translation of the KJV. The NKJV, for instance, translates the phrase, and they wept together, but David more so. The ESV has David weeping the most. And the NASB translates, and they kissed each other and wept together, but David the more. The reason there is no refutation to be found is because this gay apologist is hunting windmills. His arguments are utterly contrived, representing a person desperately grasping at any lexical "straw" to justify homosexual perversion. The context drives the understanding of the phrase. They both wept over the separation of their friendship, but David wept even more than Jonathan. This simply speaks to his emotionally sensitive heart, which revealed itself in other times, particularly when he wept for his son Absolam after he was slain during his civil war against his father (2 Sam. 18:33).

Our modern, secular society erroneously equate any affection expressed between two men as being sexually oriented. Much of that wrong thinking about healthy, non-sexual, but intimate friendships between men, is caused by the work of sin and the devil perverting human relationships. Because of such muddled ideas concerning any genuine closeness between men, there is a hesitancy in our day on the part of grown men to forge strong, inter-personal friendships with each other. They don't want to be scoffed at as being "gay." I have been blessed with experiencing a handful of strong, affectionate friendship with other men during my life. Though our relationship was close, never was there any homosexual feelings on the part of myself or my friend. That was something that never crossed our minds once. Yet gay apologists would suggest such a close friendship implies a homosexual eroticism. It doesn't, and it shouldn't, and it most certainly doesn't in the biblical record of David and Jonathan.

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