Thursday, February 26, 2009
Big Honking Planes
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Squirrel Obstacle Course
Of course, I would add the extra challenge of my pellet gun.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Studies in Eschatology 
For the last year or more I have been reading heavily on the subject of eschatological systems. My primary sources for research have been academic oriented journal articles and hard to find books I wouldn't have access to unless it wasn't for the fact I am blessed to attend a church with a state of the art seminary library which houses high end academic journals and hard to find books on this particular subject.
My research has been mostly for my personal edification because it is a subject I have often felt in the past inadequate to discuss at any meaningful length. Granted, I studied eschatology when I was in seminary, but even though I did read a few of the popular level books that had representatives from each position interact with each other in essay form, eschatology wasn't an engrossing topic for me at the time. I was spending the good part of my seminary years shoring up my historical theology in the area of salvation, which in my opinion was more important.
Yet I did have a general overview to the various eschatological systems, so I wasn't entirely ignorant. However, recently when I set myself to studying eschatology, I believed I needed to go below the surface level ideas I heard people heatedly discussing now and then when the subject came up after a Bible study fellowship, so I set myself to plumb the depths of the theology and hermeneutics which shape those ideas.
Additionally, I wanted to engage many of my young and restless Calvinist friends I had met through Bible conferences and the blogging communities. It seemed as though many of them were like me: Raised in a non-Calvinistic, fundamentalist church whose leadership never really taught anything theological at all, let alone Calvinism. Those were doctrines I had to learn on my own from pastors I heard on the radio or read in books I had to obtain personally. At any rate, many of my restless young Calvinist friends came to embrace Calvinism because they, like myself, saw the doctrines clearly taught in scripture.
But, with this embracing of Calvinism came a total overhaul of their entire theological worldview, including the complete abandonment of a dispensational perspective and premillennialism as an eschatological system. I plan to comment more on this paradigm shift in a later post, but suffice it to say now, even though some of these dear folks say they are biblically convinced of a non-dispensational, non-premillennial point of view, from what I read on their blogs and at times discussed with them in person, I saw their change in eschatology as a final "rebellion" as it were against the non-Calvinistic churches where they were first saved and nurtured. In other words, if these churches were wrong about the doctrines pertaining to salvation, they had to be equally mistaken about eschatology. Thus, it was believed a more Reformed view of eschatology had to be embraced in place of the errant dispensational premillennialism.
But more about this at a later time...
At any rate, I believe I was officially introduced to the subject of eschatology sometime when I was in either the 5th or 6th grade. My father was a self-employed electrician and during my summer break from school, I would often accompany him on his job. This one particular summer a heat wave had hit our small town in Missouri and my dad was called out to a mobile home park to re-wire a fellow's air conditioner that kept overloading his breaker box. My job when I was with my father was to stand around and fetch tools from the truck when he needed them. I tended to do more standing around than fetching of tools, so I had plenty of down time to poke around in people's homes.
We were in the living room of this mobile home, and on the coffee table there was a Bible flipped opened to Matthew 24 and 25. I knew Jesus was suppose to be talking because all the words were in red. I read both chapters and I became extremely spooked by the descriptions of judgment, especially the sheep and goats section at the end of chapter 25.
Compounding the biblical images of apocalyptic judgment were the stack of Chick comics also on the table. Several of them were about the second coming of Jesus and all the terrors which were to come with Him. The cover of one comic showed a nurse running out of nursery ward screaming to a doctor, "ALL THE BABIES ARE MISSING!" In my mind, I am thinking, "why would Jesus want all the babies?" I was actively involved with an United Methodist youth group. I had never seen or read anything that scary in any of the literature in my Sunday school class. I sort of had a "Davey and Goliath" view of Jesus. This baby snatching view of Jesus was unnerving.
I would like to say I was driven to the cross of Christ and the saving gospel message, but such did not happen. I did, however, become interested in knowing the future. Yet, rather than being interested in a biblical view of future things, I was attracted to stuff like the documentary I saw on HBO about the predictions of Nostradamus convincingly narrated by Orson Welles.
Sometime later, maybe a year or two, I recall seeing the terribly made Thief in the Night movie. The film was an abominable depiction of the end-times that sensationalized the events of Revelation like a sci-fi short story. I do remember a Pentecostal gal at my grade school who often appealed to the movie as her source of authority as to why I needed to have Jesus in my heart so as not to be enslaved to the anti-christ.
By the time I was in high school, we had moved to Arkansas and I was now attending a Free-will Baptist Church. Being a bit older I was now a tad more sober-minded about my semi-theological thinking and by this time I genuinely had an interest in what the Bible said about the end-times. My pastor lent me his great big copy of Clarence Larkin's The Greatest Book on Dispensational Truth in the World containing his elaborate, awe inspiring schematics illustrating the events of the end times from a classic dispensational perspective. Also during this time I was exposed to Hal Lindsey's books, who in a similar fashion as the Thief in the Night film, overly sensationalized the prophetic books of the Bible, especially Revelation.
It wasn't until I reached seminary, however, that I became aware of various and sundry opinions which differed from what I learned as to how the events of the end-times were to play out. Up until then, I went blissfully through my Christian existence naively thinking every believer agreed upon the same things I believed about Jesus Christ's second coming. That being, the dispensational views outlined by Clarence Larkin and Hal Lindsey. I was a bit disappointed to learn that R.C. Sproul, one of my favorite Bible teachers, denied the millennium. Of course, over time I came to learn that he didn't actually deny the millennium, he simply understood its dynamics differently than how I did as a premillennialist. In fact, the true heart of the differences between eschatological systems centered around hermeneutics - the principles used to study the Bible. It may sound simple, but how one reads the Old Testament prophetic books in light of the New Testament has a profound impact on how one understands eschatology.
Now, with that brief introduction in mind, I would like to proceed with some studies in the systems of eschatology. Just to provide something of a brief outline, I will begin my next post with a quick review of the hermeneutical issues involved, and then move onto examining the individual principles that shape those hermeneutics. As I explore the hermeneutics, I hope to weave my study interactively with the main eschatological systems, eventually culminating to a defense of premillennialism. My general goal is to lay down a basic, comprehensible laymen's overview of eschatology, and perhaps along the way provide the readers with a few insights I have gleaned from my own personal research.
Labels: Studies in Eschatology
Sunday, February 22, 2009
The devil made me do it
Satanist Inmate Sues County
The mean Christians were putting religious greeting cards under his door, and he wasn't allowed access to his blue-eyed, blond haired virigns for sacrificing, or his sheep leggings for the snake pit dancing, so he was left with no other choice but to file a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
Labels: Biting Social Commentary
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
What to Believe?
Then, a confession last fall that the whole thing was an elaborate hoax created by CG for a viral marketing campaign.
Now I am being told the confession is a hoax.
Man, I don't know what to believe any more in this postmodern world of ours.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Bristol Palin, Sex, and Motherhood
World Magazine online posts a video interview Greta Van Susteren of Fox News managed to snag with Bristol Palin, daughter of Alaska's governor, Sarah Palin. For those individuals who were living in Antarctica from September to November of last year with no access to the outside world, Bristol was the unwed pregnant daughter when Sarah Palin ran as V.P. with John McCain.
The 12 minute interview is making the various blog rounds because toward the end, Bristol makes the comment to Greta that abstinence is "not realistic at all." Her comment is suppose to be taken as scandalous for a couple of reasons:
First, she gives the appearance that she is coming out against her mother's conservative, evangelical convictions as one who would advocate abstaining from sex until one is married. Then second, critics of any evangelical views of sex, especially abstinence education being taught in public schools, seize upon her comment and gleefully exclaim, "you see! Bristol is the product of such foolish ideas because she had sex anyways like every teenager in America is already doing and she got herself an unwanted pregnancy!"
If only Bristol had known the proper way to use birth control, or wasn't enslaved to such backward thinking views against abortion...
A few thoughts struck me as I watched that interview
- Since when does an immature and clueless teenager have a valid opinion about anything, let alone whether or not abstinence education is effective?
- That being stated, rather than taking her comment as slighting abstinence as being unrealistic as a means of educating teens about sex, I took her as clumsily trying to say something along the lines that teens are not being abstinent because they haven't been educated as to why abstinence is to be preferred. Following her comment about abstinence being unrealistic, she seemed to clarify what she meant, even though her words came across as awkward.
- I must confess I was a bit disappointed with her lack of repentance for what had happened. The girl is suppose to be from a solid, evangelical family and attending a good church. However, rather than taking the opportunity to talk about the need for personal self control in such situations as opposed to making sinful choices to engage in fornication, she had more of an "Oh well, life happens" attitude. In this case, life just so happened to her and her boyfriend. Now her and the boyfriend have to grow up quicker than they both anticipated and that sort of stinks because now she has to be self sacrificing and has no ability to do her own thing.
- She mentions how she wished she would have waited 10 years from now to have a baby, because a baby cramps up her ability to go to college and enjoy life as a single young adult and all those other great opportunities our culture says girls should value over motherhood. But fornicating and getting pregnant out of wedlock at 28 would be just as sinful then as it is now with her being 18.
- With these family trials happening at the moment, I am left wondering if Sarah Palin's political ambitions are the wisest course of action for this time.
- In spite of her "It's no big deal, I'm managing" attitude, there is a bit of honesty in her comment because abstinence education is unrealistic in many respects. Sure we can tell teens abstinence is the best choice because a person will avoid unwanted pregnancy, prevent STDs, and be safe from all the emotional scarring which comes after experiencing the ultimate form of intimacy with another person. But in reality, during the heat of passion, down in the basement converted family room, when hormones are raging, the thrill of naked bodies and sex devours all those reasons given for abstinence between a teenage couple.
What many evangelicals miss - and certainly the secular conservatives who advocate such "feel good" programs as abstinence education - is anchoring sex in the Lordship of Christ. I as a hotblooded, all American boy, remained celibate until marriage because I longed after a high view of God and scripture. There is reason why Proverbs ties true wisdom and knowledge to the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7). I controlled myself sexually because Christ is the Lord of my life. I respected women I dated and did all I could to guard their purity because I had Christ Lord of my Life. Believe me: I wanted to have sex with them something fierce, but I restrained my flesh because Christ is the Lord of my life.
Now, that is not to say Christians won't fall into sin. Christians certainly do. It is not like I have this power in and of myself apart from the work of the Spirit. I can also thank God's grace from sparing me many of the anguished trials which could have resulted from bad decisions I would have otherwise acted upon but was prevented by divine providence.
But, when one's convictions are anchored in scripture, and your life is submitted to the Lordship of Christ, and you are being shaped daily by the sanctifying Spirit of God, abstinence is not only realistic, it is certain.
Monday, February 16, 2009
The Evolution and Religion Can Be Friends Farce
For example, over the weekend he cites a blog article put up by a group of atheists who call themselves the misnamed Louisiana Coalition for Science. They recently posted an article complaining against Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, who has signed state educational legislation favorable to intelligent design being taught along side Darwinian evolution in the public school class room.
The article, a post written by atheist crank Barbara Forrest, grimly states how the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology is boycotting the state of Louisiana by not holding their national meeting in New Orleans for 2011. The last meeting in Boston had 1,850 participants, the letter from the SICB explains, and that means their boycott will keep nearly 2,000 brilliant scientists and graduate students from adding to the local economy in New Orleans just because the governor has supported those stealth creationist Discovery Institute dullards.
1,850 is not a significant number of anything. To put it in perspective, Grace Community Church has triple that amount of members attending on just one Sunday morning. About double that number for Sunday evenings. The Together for the Gospel conference from 2008 had nearly 6,000 pastors in attendance in Louisville. To suggest a tiny group of specialized educators and researchers is going to have any measurable economic impact upon the city of New Orleans with their boycott is laughable. They would make a much more significant point if they can get Mardi Gras cancelled for the year.
At any rate, following on the heals of the atheists boycotting Louisiana post is a second one by Charles noting some lawsuit against Berkley concerning their website listing misconceptions about evolution. The web page in question suggests that religion, code word for Christians in this case, and evolution can get along if religious people would just come to their sense about the way things are. Predictably, the page links to another pseudo-scientific group that is really just another clearing house for atheistic propaganda, the National Center for Science Education. That alone tells me the bias of these folks.
The merits of this lawsuit aside, I wanted to comment upon what the website actually says about religious people being "friends" with evolution.
The paragraph states,
Religion and science (evolution) are very different things. In science, only natural causes are used to explain natural phenomena, while religion deals with beliefs that are beyond the natural world.
The misconception that one always has to choose between science and religion is incorrect. Of course, some religious beliefs explicitly contradict science (e.g., the belief that the world and all life on it was created in six literal days); however, most religious groups have no conflict with the theory of evolution or other scientific findings. In fact, many religious people, including theologians, feel that a deeper understanding of nature actually enriches their faith. Moreover, in the scientific community there are thousands of scientists who are devoutly religious and also accept evolution.
First off, the first sentence is truly dishonest. Religion and science with "science" being equated automatically with evolution are said to be two entirely different things. Of course religion is typically understood by these people as blind faith in the non-existent supernatural. Evolution is automatically assumed to be bacteria-to-man, no divine being doing anything at all during the course of its process over billions of years. And again, Darwinian supporters believe this definition of evolution is never to be questioned, has been proven as fact, and is undeniably true. Hence the reason evolution in this case is equated with science.
Note also how the second sentence sets up a false dichotomy: science alone is the only valid means which can use natural causes to explain natural phenomena. Religion in turn, according to this contrast, is merely blind faith in non-existent things that supposedly go beyond the natural world. Creationist critics like Charles Johnson, and many in his lizard army, should understand that creationists have never been opposed to explaining natural phenomena with natural causes. Seeing that creationists clearly believe God created the world to function in a natural way (Because God told us so in His Word), natural phenomena is expected to be caused by natural causes. Thus, such an understanding of "science" is not exclusively an anti-creationist or even an anti-supernatural position. One can have a belief in the supernatural and hold firmly to natural causes causing natural phenomena.
A third observation is the vague comment in the big paragraph which tells the reader that many religious groups and even some theologians have no problem with the theory of evolution. The writer of these words continues to leave what is meant by "evolution" undefined for the reader, and presupposes it is non-life forming life and one celled organisms changing and mutating, and then changing again until we have modern man in his full glory without any "god" or outside supernatural force doing anything at all. The writer also doesn't tell the reader that the majority of those "religious" individuals referenced don't really take the Bible seriously as a revelation from God any ways. Usually these religious people or theologians are from hard core liberal denominations like the United Church of Christ and Unitarians, and they generally deny the supernatural to begin with.
Lastly is the heart of the disagreement. Critics like Johnson are often times ignorant of the core fundamentals which shape the dissent on each side in the debate. Heck, even anti-creationist apologists like Barbara Forrest are ignorant of the fundamentals. They are of the opinion non-evolutionists reject clear evidence that supports the bacteria-to-man evolution and for them to deny this reality places the creationists and IDers in the realm of the delusional.
The disagreement biblical creationists and IDers (who are not creationists, by the way) have with evolutionists has really nothing to do with science per se. Creationists are just as "scientific" as evolutionists. The true disagreement is with the presuppositions brought to the evidence and which is utilized to interpret it.
I as a creationist believe the Bible is God Word and I know it provides a clear revelation of God's creation of the world and all that is contained there in and ultimately man on the sixth day. The creation narrative of Genesis is not another ancient myth with no bearing upon the modern world. It is a reliable historical record of God creating in the span of six normal days as we understand days. The grammar of the text of Genesis cannot allow for any other conclusion. Evolution as this Berkley website defines it, is no where present in the text of Genesis. Thus, I as a religious person, as I take my faith just as seriously in creation as the evolutionist does in his "science," would have to abandon my faith to satisfy the whims of the evolutionist in order to be "friends." A compromise I am sure evolutionists like Barbara Forrest, whose criticisms of creationism is driven more for her hatred of God than defending the integrity of "science," would gleefully welcome.
And the alternative of the evolutionist abandoning his materialistic naturalism as the first principles which shape his understanding of the world, and embracing a God centered view of the origins of life, would be just as odious to them.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Valentine's Day Memories
(From Feb. 2006. Hence the reason we have "3" children)
It was quite romantic.
One topic of discussion occupying our time as we drove to our various destinations is how Valentine's Day has changed over the last decade or more. At least from my vantage point as a grouchy old 30 something.
First off is the sleazy element that has taken over Valentine's Day. You could call it the "Victoria's Secreting" of Valentine's Day. Otherwise decent women who are not prone to displays of partial nudity in public feel free to wear lingerie when they eat out. Even more stunning is how their husbands or boyfriends do not care their wives or girlfriends look like they are in competition to get on the cover of Maxim Magazine. Come on people, let us maintain some dignity. A lot of you people have children for goodness sake.
Even more is the out and out commercialization. Again, with the sleazy, pornofide element attached to it. Any advertisement for Valentine's Day has sexual innuendos woven through out. Even the run of the mill cards you would buy for a friend or loved one are filled with some level of sexuality. I do not recall any of this when I was a kid.
All I remember is how Valentine'’ was a soul-crushing season of the year for me. Our teacher would have us build our own mailboxes out old shoe boxes covered with pink and red construction paper. We cut a slit in the top and taped it to the front of our desk. Then, when Valentine's Day came, at the designated time, all the kids in the class were to put their cards in each others mailboxes.
Except for those few friends I had whose mother's wrote my name on a card, my box remained empty. I always dreamed of getting a card from the 3rd grade super models Angela Burge or Julie Stevens. I guess there were not a whole lot of girls who wanted to make a heavyset asthmatic guy who wheezed audibly their Valentine.
One year, I think in fifth grade, before a P.C. mindset had totally saturated every aspect of society, our teacher made every kid make a card for every other kid so no one would be left out. You know that "Everyone is a special Valentine!" philosophy. The problem, however, is she never stipulated what could or could not be written on the card, so I received a lot of "Have a fatty Valentine's Day" and "Don't be mine Freddy Big Butt-ler" notes. But, never did I get a card with some crude sexual comment, nor did I or any other kid I knew, ever think of writing such a thing on any card we gave to anyone else.
Maybe I am more exposed to it because I live in LA, where the culture constantly exports a Playboy-Hustler worldview of life that equates lust and erotica with true love and commitment. I hope it is not like that out in the real world away from Southern California.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Lincoln and Darwin: Parallel Lives; Divergent Legacies
Taken from Doug Kutilek's "As I See It" Vol. 12, No. 2, Feb. 2009
Plutarch’s famous Lives of Illustrious Men, a standard volume from antiquity, pairs and compares the lives of selected individuals from the Greek and the Roman empires. Were he alive today, Plutarch might be tempted to pair the lives of the greatest of American Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, and that of the most famous and influential philosopher of science, Charles Darwin, as both were born on precisely the same day, February 12, 1809. This year marks the bicentennial of that event (as well as the sesquicentennial of the publication of Darwin’s most famous book, The Origin of Species, in 1859).
Though born on precisely the same day, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin in their beginnings and their legacies could not be more in contrast. Darwin was born in comfortable upper class circumstances in England with prospects for a first-rate education--with the luxury of changing his focus from medicine (the profession of both his father and grandfather) to religion (for which he was notably unsuited) to amateur naturalist--and a place in the easy life of English aristocratic society. The other, Lincoln, was the second child of an abjectly poor American pioneer family, the son of an at best semi-literate father and a mother of questionable pedigree. He grew to manhood amidst all the severe disadvantages of the cultural and economic realties of frontier life, and had but small prospects for any kind of education except the most rustic. The panorama of his life held out hope of little beyond an existence of hard and bitter labor in the unforgiving wildness of the frontier. Only a life of unremitting toil seemed to lie ahead; many years of such toil did in fact mark his path from youth to manhood.
The portraits of both men are today enshrined on the currency of their respective nations--Lincoln’s profile is on the penny (and has been for a full century) and a full face portrait is on the five-dollar bill (beginning I know not when--at least as early as the 1930s). Darwin’s likeness is currently on the 10 pound note of the United Kingdom. I had one during my last visit to England two years ago, and was frankly glad to get rid of it as quickly as possible.
Both men are buried in prominent memorials, Lincoln in a massive mausoleum in a cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, Darwin in the scientists’ corner of Westminster Abbey, near the markers of such prominent Bible-believing Christians as Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday and Lord Kelvin. Lincoln’s mind and thought were molded by a limited but excellent corpus of literature read and re-read and mastered as a youth, chiefly the Bible and Shakespeare, but supplemented with such other books as he could find.
Darwin studied medicine for a time at the University of Edinburgh, then Divinity at Cambridge University, but was more interested in riding, hunting, and shooting than academics. He was much drawn to the study of nature--for which Cambridge offered no degree. Young Darwin, still just into his 20s, was signed on as the unpaid naturalist for a planned two-year voyage (that stretched to five) aboard the H. M. S. Beagle, to study the east and west coasts of South America, with its flora, fauna, geology and geography. Out of the raw materials of this journey, Darwin published a journal, took part in writing the official reports, and spun his hypothesis of biological evolution. Lincoln’s one notable journey by water, also undertaken in his 20s, was a barge trip down the Sangamon and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans. Accounts of his pledge there of lifelong hostility to slavery are apocryphal.
Darwin is most noted for his books--the Voyage of the Beagle, On the Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, among others, plus numerous papers and studies on various scientific subjects (an important study of earthworms among them). His The Origin of Species is beyond doubt the single most influential work of the 19th century.
Lincoln wrote no books and kept no diaries, but was best known for his speeches--his debates with Stephen Douglas over the slavery issue in the 1858 Illinois Senate race which brought him national prominence, but particularly his two Inaugural addresses, especially the Second one, and his Gettysburg Address--the most famous speech of the 19th century--besides some written items such as the Emancipation Proclamation and, inter alia, his letter to the Widow Bixby. Lincoln was an absolute master of English prose.
Darwin was not the first to propose a purely naturalistic (i.e., non-supernaturalistic) explanation for the origin and existence of life in general and of human life in particular; the ancient Babylonians and Greeks (with myths of spontaneous generation of the gods out of eternal matter), and more recently Lamarck, and even his own grandfather Erasmus Darwin had done so. But the net effect of each of these was the same: to thereby distance man from God, or rather God from man, making man a product of natural forces and not of God’s direct creative activity. This has as a logical outflow the denial of the direct accountability of man to God, or of the constraint of human behavior by supposedly “Divine” laws and commands, which after all must be just merely human constructs, not Divine revelations.
Darwin’s theory (or strictly speaking scientifically, hypothesis, since its posits have been neither observed nor are testable) was built on at least two faulty presuppositional foundations: 1. the then-recently hypothesized uniformitarian geology (that is, that current slow processes of erosion and deposition or land mass uplift or recession, e.g., can be confidently and endlessly extrapolated into the past, requiring a very great age for the earth and its geologic features, in millions, not thousands of years) instead of the catastrophism that had held sway, and to which the earth’s surface features regularly bear witness; and 2. Thomas Malthus’ theories of population growth, namely, that populations of organisms increase geometrically while food supplies only grow arithmetically, setting the stage for intense competition for survival--“nature red in tooth and claw”--resulting in the “survival of the fittest.” Darwin, in complete ignorance of the genetic transmission of traits, accepted this competition as the driving force behind the improvement of each species, and its eventual transformation by small steps into a new species, or, by branching, into multiple new species. (What this competition for food supplies actually does is not drive the species to higher levels, but acts to preserve it from the degenerative drag of genetic defects, deformities and such. Rather than “the survival of the fittest” at the top, it is more accurately portrayed as “the elimination of the defective / unfit” at the bottom).
Darwin himself admitted that the weakest link in his argument was the absence of transitional forms in the known fossils, but he held out hope that with further discovery, these “gaps” in the record would be filled. Now 150 years and literally millions of examined fossils later, the absence of any transitional forms is as troubling for the theory as ever, indeed, more so, as the hope that theory-supporting transitional forms will be found out there somewhere has faded nearly to despair. Rather, the fossil record testifies repeatedly to stasis rather than transition--both plants (e.g., gingko trees) and animals (e.g., the coelacanth fish) appear in fossils allegedly tens and even hundreds of millions of years old without perceptible change from forms found living today. Occasionally a fossil bird or primate will be found and widely touted in the popular press, or in National Geographic (which has gotten egg on its face more than once in this regard), as “the missing link,” only to be discredited in short order. In truth, there is no one missing link, or ten or a hundred or a thousand, but literally millions of them, since the necessary genetic changes from one species to another would require many thousands of generations and a multitude of transitional forms, and this for every species. But they are simply non-existent. Oops!!
It has been justifiably stated that Darwin’s theory would have never been proposed had the modern knowledge of genetics and inheritance been current in Darwin’s day; they would have simply made his claims untenable. But Gregor Mendel did not begin his experiments until the 1860s, and his results were not published until decades later still; DNA was not discovered until a century after Darwin wrote.
Darwinism was embraced immediately by numerous philosophers and liberal theologians, chiefly, and opposed by many scientists, such as Louis Agassiz of Harvard, Lord Kelvin and Louis Pasteur, on scientific grounds. Leading conservative theologians such as Charles Hodge of Princeton and Charles Spurgeon of London also voiced strong opposition. So, too, did Robert Fitzroy, captain of the H. M. S. Beagle on which Darwin had sailed.
From Darwin’s limited hypothesis which he applied in the realm of biology alone, this surmise of accidental, undirected yet progressive development from lower states to higher ones over time via unbridled competition was extended by others to sociology, the history of religion, economics (laissez-faire capitalism, with its crushing of all competition in the quest for dominance of an industry), chemistry (alleged building up--in stellar “furnaces”--of simple helium into the whole periodic table of elements), and astronomy. Mindless, soulless, purposeless development over time by nothing but pure chance--this soon became philosophically and presuppositionally the universal “solvent” for explaining everything naturally (as opposed to supernaturally). In short, it served as a very convenient way to dispose of God.
The fruit that has been borne on the tree of Darwinism in the past century and a half is abundant and altogether poisonous. (The late Henry M. Morris in his book The Long War Against God [Baker, 1989] chronicled how from Darwinism and ‘pre-Darwinism’ sprang a broad spectrum of societal and social evils). Biological Darwinism--which has yet to make a real contribution to genuine scientific advancement, or to serve any useful purpose in scientific research--by making God unnecessary, is at foundation, essentially atheistic.
Religious Darwinism, the foundation of radical higher criticism of the Bible, which adopted a purely evolutionary view of Biblical teaching, theology and institutions is diametrically opposed to the teaching of the OT and NT, ascribing its doctrines and institutions to merely human developments, and denying expressly both the fact and even the possibility of Divine revelations, genuine prophecy or bona fide miracles.
From philosophical Darwinism has come Marxist communism (Karl Marx wrote to Darwin asking permission to dedicate his magnum opus, Das Kapital, to Darwin, who wisely refused; Josef Stalin, while in seminary studying for the priesthood, read Darwin and adopted his views). In the 20th century, the death toll from Darwin-inspired Marxism approached if it did not actually exceed 100 million lives. So, too, from applied social Darwinism came laissez faire capitalism with its unbridled competition, and an overriding design and intent to crush and destroy all opposition, regardless of the consequences to people or the planet.
Darwinism was expressly embraced by some military leaders of Germany prior to World War One, who (perhaps along with others) on the basis of the belief that competition for survival drives the human race forward biologically, actually welcomed the war, as an opportunity to prove the superiority of the German people, and to exterminate inferior groups. What human activity is more competitive than war? Therefore, war can serve to advance the superior races of mankind, and is ultimately a good to be embraced, not a horror to be avoided.
Darwinism is inherently racist, though almost no Darwinists will openly admit it (the full title of Darwin’s book is: “The Origin of Species: the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life” (emphasis added); Nazism developed its Arian supremacy doctrine from Darwinism; it was no accident that Hitler’s book is called Mein Kampf--literally, “My Struggle,” an echo of the second line in the title of Darwin’s book.
Likewise, from the inherent racism and Malthusianism of Darwin’s philosophy come infanticide and euthanasia (extermination of the unfit), abortion on demand (extermination of the excess population), anarchy and more. All these readily find full justification for themselves in the adoption of biological Darwinism.
It is no coincidence that the first century in human history where Darwinism dominated the philosophy and worldview of the controlling institutions of human existence (governments, educational institutions and businesses),--that is, the 20th century--was also the most brutal, violent, bellicose and barbaric by far as regards man’s inhumanity toward his fellow man. This is the natural fruit of the philosophy of Darwinism.
It is difficult enough to restrain and control human behavior with the threat of human punishment here and Divine retribution hereafter. But eliminate God, His standards, and His promised day of judgment for humankind, and man is simply beastly in his conduct--not a remnant barbarism from some lower, more animal ancestry, but the appalling corruption of a once perfect but now utterly degraded nature originally created in the image of a holy God.
Whereas Darwin laid the foundation for a world devoid of God consciousness, one cannot read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, his Second Inaugural Address, and much else that he wrote or spoke as President, without seeing that the dominant philosophy in his worldview was that of accountability to a close and personal Creator, and imitation of His compassion and mercy toward us in our treatment of our fellow man, a choice part of His purposeful creation.
Lincoln’s legacy was chiefly in actions. He was elected with the lowest plurality of votes in American Presidential history (39%) in a four-way race. He was immediately faced with the secession of 11 States and very soon a war he did not want or start. He had to endure repeated battlefield failures, setbacks and defeats as he worked through a long series of marginally competent, or outright incompetent general officers (only in the last year of the war did he find two first-rate commanders--Grant and Sherman); Lincoln was a better strategist than any of his generals, though he had no military training or background. He frequently battled both parties in Congress and experienced stern opposition from his own Cabinet (nearly every member of which thought himself Lincoln’s superior). He was lambasted with unbridled even brutal criticism in the press. And along with the crushing burden of daily and often massive casualties, unprecedented expenditures, and difficult foreign relations, he endured unspeakable personal sorrow in the death of a favorite son and the subsequent derangement of his wife. Somehow through all of these, he managed to save the Union (his first aim), free first by fiat and then Constitutional Amendment those enslaved, defeat the Confederate armies, and lay the groundwork for a reunification of the nation--a collective task almost certainly no other man then living could have or would have accomplished. An assassin’s bullet ended his life at 56, less than a week after the victory had been won. By almost universal acclamation, Lincoln is hailed as America’s greatest President.
Such then are these parallels lives--beginning the same day, but following highly divergent paths, and attaining sharply contrasting results. Darwin’s legacy is one of progressively intensifying darkness and horror and all that is worst in man, Lincoln’s that of a conscious dependence on our Creator, Who has revealed Himself to man, and who will hold man accountable for his conduct, particularly his treatment of his fellow man. Darwin’s hypothesis and subsequent worldview is truly a major driving force behind man’s descent--into the abyss. Lincoln’s worldview sets man in his proper relationship to the Creator, and to his fellow man, “with malice toward none, with charity for all.”
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Undercover at Wal-mart
On the other hand...
let me say that the "associates," Wal-mart "new speak" for "employee," are not the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree. At least at our Wal-mart where I live. Now, that doesn't mean smart people don't work there. I just know when I need something, if I can even find an "associate" to ask, the person either speaks broken English, if at all, or its a surly teenager named Kari or Devon who doesn't give a rip about helping me and hurriedly gives me a lame response so as to be excused from being compelled to meet my inquiry.
I written about my adventures with Wal-mart in the past.
In spite of these foibles, we are willing to suffer even longer with the mega store because of the crackpot lefty union activists who have been slandering Wal-mart for nearly a decade now as an exploiter of the working poor. Wal-mart doesn't pay their "associates" those 27-dollars an hour wage for scanning bananas and pushing carts in from the parking lot, nor do they guarantee a 100 percent return on a risk free 401(k) plan that the state pays out regardless of the fluctuations in the economy. You know, the type of union jobs that are bankrupting California. These activist are so gallingly shrill, I want to shop at Wal-mart to shut them up.
Recently a retired journalist went undercover as an "associate" at Wal-mart to investigate if the super retailer really lived up to all the bad press and exploited their workers along the same lines as a Hong Kong bowling pin factory. His findings were quite the opposite,
I had the soul sucking, dignity shredding experience of working for Wal-mart back during the early 90s in between graduating college and preparing to come to California to pursue seminary. A friend I knew from church who was attempting to make a career out of working at Wal-mart recommended I go apply at the new Supercenter opening up. The store was hiring lots of folks for heavy labor to help set everything up. I was hired immediately. I didn't have to run any of the gauntlets this uncover journalist did in order to be hired.
I was assigned to the garden center, where I was required to assemble lawn mowers, racks to hang plants, and other garden related furniture. My supervisor was a big hoss of a guy with a ruddy complexion and a round, cherubic face who had just graduated from college somewhere. He had a loud, boisterous personality that reminded me of those frat guys who paint their bodies with their school's colors and stand shirtless in 37 degree weather cheering on their football team.
He insisted on having individual personnel reviews every week with the garden center "team." I was probably the least motivated of all the others in our department, because I saw this job as a temporary paycheck until I moved away to seminary in 5 months. I recall the first review he gave me: an intense, impassioned rebuke against what he perceived as an under achieving slacker who sort of just showed up for work but had no "get-up-and-go" attitude that characterized the mythical Wal-mart attitude.
I remember how he sternly looked at me eye-to-eye, waving his outstretched hand behind him at a store full of busy workers constructing shelving and stocking the shelves, and said, "Look at all these people out here. Let me tell you son, if you want to go anywhere in Wal-mart, you are going to have to pick up the pace in attitude." Him calling me "son" was probably the most condescending aspect of his speech, because he was probably 2 years older than I was at the time. Anyhow, I was delighted to extinguish the blaze of glory in his eyes when I told him I wasn't planning on a career at Wal-mart and would be moving to L.A. by the end of the summer. His muffled response of, "Oh. Well. Okay." was precious.
One other amusing part of my Wal-mart working experience was the group indoctrination sessions we had to endure every morning when we arrived at work. Once all the "associates" were clocked in, we were to gather together at the front of the store near the check out lanes. During the first half hour or so of our work day, we were subjugated to a series of crudely made and poorly acted training videos which had a better purpose of curing insomnia than training associates. Most of them were documentary style explaining the founding and growth of Wal-mart, while others were re-enactments of how to be, and not to be, an obedient associate.
My favorites were the videos of real security footage of would be shop lifters and thieving associates being taken down. They were like watching an episode of COPS. Generally, these videos were preceded by an ominous, but matter-of-fact discussion of how the in-store Wal-mart security system is as high tech as those systems found in the Las Vegas casinos and no one can escape the gaze of the cameras. Then we were shown footage of a shop lifter being followed around the store or an associate faking an accident to get workman's comp.
Our indoctrination time ended with everyone doing group calisthenics. It was believed that because the major Japanese companies encouraged morale by doing fun things like jumping jacks and lunges, and that in turn created bigger profits because the workers were having fun, well then Wal-mart should do the same for their associates in order for them to think Wal-mart was a lot of fun and not a mean place to work. Little did the management realize that the Japanese did group activities NOT to encourage morale by doing fun things, but it was for the purpose of squashing individualism and creating a unified dynamic.
Then again, maybe they did realize what they were doing.
Labels: Fred's Life
24th Anniversary of the Bahnsen-Stein Debate
Today marks the 24th anniversary of that debate at UC Irvine in California and Answers in Genesis is offering an apologetic web series by the late Greg Bahnsen in honor of it.
New Apologetics Web Series with Greg Bahnsen
The introductory article provides a bit more background to why the debate is still so important for Christian apologetics. His theonomic preterism aside, Bahnsen did much in introducing a generation of Christians to the proper way I believe biblical apologetics should be done.
Labels: Apologetics and Evangelism
Monday, February 09, 2009
Everyone else will find it oddly amusing in a cross-cultural discomforting manner.
If you are planning on foreign mission overseas, you may want to take note.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Things to Come...
Mac Vs. PC
John MacArthur Week
The "landmark" sermons are ones John has preached over the last four decades and ones we could say define his lifetime of ministry. Each chapter is an edited transcript of those sermons spanning from 1969 all the way to 2008. Phil Johnson writes an introduction to each one providing the historical context of current events happening in the world the day John happened to have preached the message.
How to Play Church (Feb. 9, 1969) This is John official first sermon his first Sunday at Grace Church.
The Simple Gospel (Dec. 26, 1976)
Which Way to Heaven? (May 18, 1980)
A Jet Tour Through Revelation (Dec. 5, 1982)
How to Obtain Eternal Life (May 29, 1983)
The Purpose of Trials (June 8, 1986)
Making the Hard Decisions Easy (July 20, 1986)
Jesus' Death Shows Us How to Live: A Look at The Seven Sayings on The Cross (Mar. 26, 1989)
15 Words of Hope (April 23, 1995)
A Biblical Perspective on Death, Terrorism, and the Middle East (Sept. 16, 2001)
A Starting Principle of Discipleship (Nov. 3, 2002)
The Childlikeness of Believers: Confronting Sin (Jan. 6, 2008)
The real highlight of the book is the 64 page biographical essay written by historian, Iain Murray, called John MacArthur: A Sketch of an Evangelical Leader.
My main job at Grace to You is to coordinate the volunteers who come in twice a week to help mail our resources to our monthly donors. This week we began the process of mailing thousands of books to the various supporters on our mailing list who responded to our offer for the book. We had to build thousands of boxes.
And, we will have to build thousands of more.
The book has a distressed, old timey look to it with a faux alligator skin cover. It looks pretty sweet.
Labels: John MacArthur
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
John MacArthur Week
As much as this guy wishes to think he is unique as a critic of John's ministry, he really isn't. Over the years, as he has faithfully preached God's Word, John has attracted a fair number of bitter, petty-minded, mean-spirited detractors who believe it is their holy duty before God Almighty to warn every one in the world of the "errors" in John's teaching. Granted, a good portion of these people are cranks and weirdos, but a few are not; and I have always been amazed at how John's preaching and writing can stir up such animosity and strife among these folks. In fact, it was the affect these controversies caused with people, that not only drew me to John's preaching, but also helped to shape my thinking concerning scripture and theology in general. There were two particular controversies that helped shape me personally.
The Lordship controversy: After having been introduced to John's ministry in college and listening to preaching tapes for about 6 months, the first controversy I can recall was the Lordship issue. Probably the first John MacArthur book I ever read, and the one that introduced scores of Christians to his ministry, was The Gospel According to Jesus. That book was instrumental in my theological development with understanding the doctrines of salvation. Like the scores of other Christians who read it, I came from a Bible-belt, church going culture that believed praying a prayer after walking an aisle at the pleadings of a revivalist made one an instant heaven bound Christian.
Now, that is not to say there are people saved in those situations. The reality is that many are not, and those many returned to a lifestyle of worldliness while at the same time they believed they were saved and heaven bound because of that brief moment at the front of the church at the end of a service. The Gospel According to Jesus helped frame for me the biblical teaching of what Christ meant when He calls people to follow Him. I was around lots of Baptist college kids who saw attending church as a social club and lived some of the most scandalous lives imaginable. All the while they thought they were living for Jesus.
In my simplistic thinking as a new believer, I thought John was right. My heart was delighted to read someone so refreshing who articulated biblically what I was thinking in my mind about the state of affairs among many of the young "evangelical" youth I knew.
It didn't take long, however, to discover John's views were despised. I bumped up against people who claimed he was teaching works salvation, that he was too legalistic, and that he was corrupting the gospel. Books began to be written against his position, most of them from men in the independent, fundamentalist Baptist section of the American church who dared to label John a heretic.
But as annoyed as they were with John's so-called heresy, I began to make friends with folks who saw the similar problems in the church concerning salvation as I did, and who were as equally blessed with John addressing the issue. Additionally, the few people I witnessed to during my college years in which I challenged them to follow Christ as Lord, believed the message, followed Christ, and are still following Him to this day as committed believers.
So the "controversy" of the Lordship salvation issue helped me to not only have a firmer grasp on articulating a biblical view of salvation, it also brought me closer to the pursuit of God's holiness in my personal life.
The blood of Christ heresy: The next "controversy" I remember surrounding John was - and still is - one of the most asinine: the blood of Christ heresy. Phil Johnson provides a brief historical background to this ridiculously contrived controversy.
In short, it concerned the biblical phrase "the blood of Christ." The NT phrase speaks to the bloody death Jesus died as a substitute for sinners. John makes that clear in all of his writings. His accusers claimed he denied the efficacy of Christ's death and in some strange, quasi-Roman Catholic way, attributed magical qualities to the physical fluid of Christ's blood.
Such a notion is not only weird, but it is unbiblical. It seemed as though these individuals just wanted to pin some "heresy" on John for the sake of sullying his character. Yet in spite of his attempts at clarity, people still falsely accused him of denying the efficacy of Christ's death in place of sinners.
I remember being down in the kitchen of our college cafeteria baking rolls with a guy who attended another church in town. We started talking about the Bible and theology and other related matters, and sometime during the conversation I mentioned John MacArthur and he reacted with passionate emotion, "That man denies the blood of Christ! He's a heretic!" This was the first I had ever heard of this "heresy." I did my best to convince the fellow, who by the way had never heard John preach once in his life, of John's non-heretic status, but to no avail.
None the less, I was intrigued, and our conversation stirred me to find out all I could about this so-called heresy of John. I picked up an official statement put out by Grace to You on the controversy, and I even read a screeching booklet filled with lots of sentences highlighted in bold and written out in all caps published by KJV-onlyist D.A. Waite who bitterly complained John's heresy on this matter corrupted the gospel. But Waite's booklet, and other materials put out by similar critics, lacked in serious argumentation that John needed to be ran out of town on a rail over this "heresy." If anything, their insistence John was heretical on the "blood of Christ" only made these critics appear small minded and stupid in light of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary of their claims.
John's response to this particular controversy did show me the importance of using theological precise terminology derived from the proper handling of God's Word. Accurate Bible study results in an accurate view of God and a godly personal life. Also, how John responded to this absurd controversy helped me deal with my own personal controversies at the time with some folks I knew who had come under the influence of Bill Gothard's errant teaching, and still others who were imbibing charismatic error.
I imagine there are some other noteworthy "controversies" John has be embroiled with, but these two had a meaningful impact on my doctrinal development. The fact John doesn't run from controversy, either from a difficult question presented to him at a Q&A session before a large congregation, or having to defend the gospel from genuine distortion by individuals whose damage to the church is very real, has always been an encouragement to me. I can only hope I will exhibit such courage as he has over the years when I am faced with my own controversy.
Labels: John MacArthur
John MacArthur Week
Monday, February 02, 2009
John MacArthur Week
This month of February, 2009, John MacArthur commemorates his 40th year of ministry pastoring Grace Community Church in the San Fernando Valley. He has been preaching in the same pulpit at this one church as long as I have been alive. That is a staggering accomplishment. Rarely is a man of God privileged to pastor one church for such a length of time. John Gill, the 18th century Baptist pastored 51 years in the same church. John Rippon followed Gill and pastored the same church for 63 years, and Charles Spurgeon pastored the Metropolitan Tabernacle for 38 years. In the perspective of Church History, the celebration we enjoyed on the first Sunday in February 2009 honoring John's ministry is truly historic.
My family and I are blessed to be active members at Grace, and I am doubly blessed to have had the opportunity serving with John's radio ministry, Grace To You, these last 15 years or so. The things I have witnessed and experienced being close to the work of this beloved man has been glorious, and I thank the Lord for it.
The first time I heard John preach it was by audio cassette. An older friend I knew at my church in college had spent a year or two as a young man in L.A. pursuing a movie making career with his brother. During that time he and his brother were saved at Grace. When my friend moved to Arkansas, he brought with him boxes full of preaching tapes by John. My friend purchased a tape duplicator and he started making tapes and passing them out to anyone who would take them.
I was a brand new 21 year old believer and God in His providence had me meet this fellow and he put in my hand John's sermon from Matthew 7:21-23 entitled Empty Words. It was a powerful message calling people to examine their faith, and John's sermon was a convicting supplement to the book by A.W. Pink I was reading at the time called Profiting from the Word. I rarely heard such convicting preaching and I was deeply refreshed by it.
As a result, I immediately put a post card in the mail to order a catalog from Grace to You. When it arrived, I was overwhelmed by the list of recorded materials I could order. Where as most people are exposed to John through the radio broadcast of Grace to You, I knew him more through his tape ministry. In fact, most of my friends don't know this: even though I have worked a considerable time at his radio ministry, I have never really heard a radio program. I think - maybe - I have heard 4 or 5 broadcasts of Grace to You on the radio in the last 20 years of my Christian walk.
At any rate, I was thrilled to learn that GTY had a lending library program that allowed me to check out 6 tapes at a time. I promptly joined and began checking out messages on a variety of subjects. John's material on the spiritual gifts, God, Satan, and angels, the lives of the apostles, and the fulfilled family. I did listen to book studies, particularly the epistles of John, Jude, and big portions of Romans. I even have note books (somewhere) that are my hand written notes taken from these messages. I was really drawn to his controversial material like his messages against the charismatics (because I was bumping into so many of them in college), and his defense of the Lordship issue. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Q&A times John did with his congregation and I thought those were some of the best tapes a Christian could get. At the time, John was the only pastor I knew of any where who would do Q&A's with his people and I definitely admired him for it.
The first time I heard John live and in person was at a big Baptist church in Memphis. A group of friends and I made an hour drive on a Thursday night to hear him speak. I remember we got a late start for one reason or another, and I was aggravated with my poky friends who didn't seem as enthusiastic to see John as I was. Once we arrived, it took us forever to find a parking space. We then came in after the service had started. John was already talking, which only exacerbated my annoyance with my friends, because I figured we had missed half his message. Thankfully he was just talking about GTY and inviting people to be apart of the mailing list.
The church was overflowing in seating capacity to the point I am sure the fire department could have leveled fines if they wanted to, so it was near impossible to find a seat. Our group had to split up and I managed to squeeze a cheek onto the very end of a pew on the far left of the auditorium near the back. A post limited my view of John, but I could hear well. The message was on spiritual AIDS infecting the church, and even though my rear end was numb from sitting awkwardly on the end of a pew for an hour or more, I was giddy to have been there.
Along with the tapes I received from GTY, I also bought up many of the little study guides that are no longer available in print. I would read through one in a week. What I appreciated about the study guides was how they were an almost word-for-word transcript of John's spoken sermon on what ever subject. They were all outlined logically and coherently and they were excellent for showing the flow of thought of an exposition of scripture. As a freshman my first year in college, I struggled to write essays in a few of my college English classes. The format of those study guides revolutionized my understanding of writing and improved it a hundred fold.
Probably around my junior year of college I began to feel a desire to teach and preach in the ministry. If anything, I wanted to improve my theological training. I knew John was the president of The Master's Seminary, and though the thought of attending was a dream, L.A. seemed like another country on the far side of the world. (I have been here 15 years and still feel that way at times). The price was way out of my league, so I was pretty much resigned to attend a Southern Baptist seminary in Memphis.
One evening, I called John's personal assistant at the time, Lance Quinn. I got his number from my friend who gave me my first MacArthur tape. He just happened to have given Lance his first MacArthur tape, too. I called Lance simply to ask him about good commentaries to buy - the ones John would study for his sermon prep. He rattled off a few titles and authors and I jotted them down. I was about to say thank you and good-bye when Lance asked me, "Are you wanting to go to seminary?" I replied yes to which he asked, "Where?" I told him about the one in Memphis and he bluntly replied, "Do you want to learn to teach the Bible or just be Baptist?" I of course said I wanted to learn to teach the Bible, but then he told me how he had attended that seminary for a while and they won't train you to teach the Bible. He then made his pitch to me about coming to Master's. I told him my hesitations, and he said, "Well, at least call the 800# and get an application and see what God will do." After I hung up the phone, I went for a long walk that night to think and pray and a year or so later I was taking my first ever plane ride to Burbank, CA.
Unknown to me, my mother thought I was being taken in by a cult. She wrote a motherly, yet embarrassing, letter to John informing him of how impressionable I was and I could easily be eaten alive by the city there. John graciously wrote back, assuring her I would be well taken care of.
And I can testify that I have.
Labels: John MacArthur
Sunday, February 01, 2009
In honor of his 40th anniversary, the elders commissioned the painting of his pulpit. It is painted from the angle of where John sits during the service,
Last week, Rick Holland who pastor's our college ministry, did an interview with John for the evening service. There is a lot of great personal testimony John gave of his own life. If you are someone who appreciate John, and your life has been impacted by his preaching and his written material, I would recommend listening to it,
A Retrospective of 40 Years
Labels: John MacArthur