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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Meet George Jettson

Wasn't there a guy flying one of these in The Road Warrior?



I know the thought of a flying car sounds cool. It would be a beautiful thing to be driving along the 405 and when I come up to the stalled traffic where the 405 meets the 101, I flip out my wings and happily sail over all those angry motorists crawling at 15 mph over into LA. But let's be honest, do we really want just anyone flying these things? Like surly teenagers? What about those hoarders who pile fast food containers in their back seat? Dropped from 100 feet, an empty Burger King soda cup can probably hurt. The litigation possibilities is staggering. Not to mention the cost of insurance.

The official website is here: The Butterfly LLC

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Readings from Paul Johnson #8

I recently started Paul Johnson's massive work detailing the history of the 20th century entitled, Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties. Extremely well done as always, and of course, educating me about the golden nuggets of historical trivia my high school history teachers ignored.

The First Woman President of the United States

It is not clear how Wilson, the ultra-democrat, came to consider himself the beneficiary of Rousseau's volonte generale, a concept soon to be voraciously exploited by Europe's new generation of dictators. Perhaps it was his physical condition. In April 1919 he suffered his first stroke, in Paris. The fact was concealed. Indeed, failing health seems to have strengthened Wilson's belief in the righteousness of his course and his determination not to compromise with his Republican critics.


In September 1919 he took the issue of the League from Congress to the country, traveling 8,000 miles by rail in three weeks. The effort culminated in a second stroke in the train on 25 September. Again, there was a cover-up. On 10 October came a third, massive, attack, which left his entire left side paralyzed. His physician, Admiral Gary Grayson, admitted some months later, "He is permanently ill physically, is gradually weakening mentally, and can't recover." But Grayson refused to declare the President incompetent. The Vice-President, Thomas Marshall, a hopelessly insecure man known to history chiefly for his remark "What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar," declined to press the point.

The private secretary, Joseph Tumulty, conspired with Wilson himself and his wife Edith to make her the president, which she remained for seventeen months.
During this bizarre episode in American history, while rumors circulated that Wilson was stricken with teritary syphilis, a raving prisoner in a barred room, Mrs. Wilson, who had spent only two years at school, wrote orders to cabinet ministers in her huge, childish hand ('The President says..."), sacked and appointed them, and forged Wilson's signature on Bills. She, as much as Wilson himself, was responsible for the sacking of the Secretary of State, Lansing ('I hate Lansing,' she declared) and the appointment of a totally inexperienced and bewildered lawyer, Bainbridge Colby, in his place.

Wilson could concentrate for five or ten minutes at a time, and even foxily contrived to deceive his chief Congressional critic, Senator Albert Fall, who had complained, "We have petticoat government! Mrs. Wilson is president!" Summoned to the White House, Fall found Wilson with a long, white beard but seemingly alert (Fall was only with him two minutes). When Fall said, "We, Mr. President, we have all been praying for you," Wilson snapped, "Which way, Senator?", interpreted as evidence of his continuing sharp wit.
[Modern Times, 33]

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Cool Video of the Day

A Porpoise Stampede.

(Yes, Yes I know, I know. But a Dolphin is technically a big colorful fish. I can be such a nit-picker).

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Debunking Deconversion Stories

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Safe and Secure

I thought I would give something for people to hand wring over.


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Monday, March 23, 2009

The Wheels on the Chariot...

I'm not sure how many people will even be interested in reading this post. It represents a response to one of my rather obscure Internet antagonists from the KJV-only camp, Will Kinny.

Since about 2003 or so, Will and I have had something of a Salieri-Mozart like relationship. As I have engaged the apologetics of KJV-onlyism on email discussion groups and Internet chat forums, Will has been faithful to post his comments contradicting everything I write. Plus, I can always count on him to publicly savage my personal character with accusations of being a lying Bible denier, or just plain stupid.

Generally, these exchanges center around particular problem passages found in scripture and how the translators of the King James Bible have chosen to translate the questionable passage, as opposed to how modern translators may have chosen to translate the passage. Take for example the number of people reported to have been struck by the Lord at Beth-Shemesh in 1 Samuel 6:19. The KJV states the Lord struck 50,070 people. Other translations, even non-English ones, translate the number a variety of ways. That is not because the translators of those other versions don't believe God won't kill that many people at once, but because the number is difficult to ascertain from the original Hebrew. In an article I wrote, I understand the number to be reflective of the total number of people God struck between the Philistines and the Israelites.

Will equates the English text of the King James with the original biblical autographs; the King James being an English translation of those original autographs. Thus, according to Will, anyone who translates the Bible any way other than how the KJV reads is changing the Word of God. So, if you do not believe God killed 50,070 individual persons in the small village of Beth-Shemesh just like the KJV implies happened, you are denying God's Word according to Will and his KJV-only apologetics. In fact, many of the polemics written by KJV-onlyists are constructed for the sole purpose of creating an absolute, unyielding defense of the English translation of the King James. Rather than seeking to uncover what the Bible is truly saying, these so-called "believing Bible studies" only serve as an excuse to protect the KJV text from any meaningful and much needed revision.

The problem with defending such an extremely irrational view of God's Word is how it leaves one easily exposed to embarrassing criticism. Rather than defending the infallibility of God's Word, we are defending the infallibility of a particular translation. If it then can be clearly demonstrated a serious flaw exists in the translation, then it is tantamount to saying an error exists in God's revelation. However, if we acknowledge the fact translations can be at times poorly done and in need of revision, the flaw is a problem with the fallible translators, not God's authoritative Word.

This view of the KJV is what fuels the current disagreement between Will and myself.

I wrote an article examining 1 Samuel 13:1, 5. I argued that in 13:5 the number of chariots listed in the verse, 30,000, is misunderstood. That is because no standing army during that period of Israel's history fielded an army with 30,000 chariots. I concluded the word for "chariot," translated from the Hebrew, rekeb, can have a wide semantic range including the specific vehicle, the driver of the chariot, or the entire chariot fighting force including men and vehicles. The last definition is what I think is being conveyed by the author at 1 Samuel 13:5.

Enter Will Kinny. Utilizing all his skill as a high school Spanish teacher, he posted an article exacting an autopsy of my argument.

Because I believe the 30,000 chariots here is better to be understood as the total number of individual soldiers and their vehicles rather than just individual vehicles, Will claims I have "lost my mind." I am a "Bible denier" and have changed the definitions of "inerrant and infallible." But notice I haven't denied the Bible at all. Heck, I haven't even denied the KJV. I happen to think the number 30,000 is correct. I don't side with the typical footnote of 1 Samuel 13:5 which says the number "30,000" is a copyist error for "3,000." The only thing I have done is offer my perspective on how we are to understand the number "30,000" as it relates to the word "chariots" and I guess if even my interpretative perspective differs with a KJV-onlyist I am apostate.

Will provides his typical criticism found in all his screeds by citing a dozen other translations that read "30,000" and then he cross references over to 1 Chronicles 19:7 where it says how the Ammonites hired 32,000 chariots to fight against David. He concludes that because a dozen or so other non-KJV translations have 30,000 at 1 Samuel 13:5 and 1 Chronicles 19:7 has "32,000 chariots," then it has to be individual chariots.

With these things in mind, let me consider Will's criticisms.

First, it needs to be understood that I didn't pull my understanding of rekeb out of thin air. The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis states that rekeb "can be used collectively for chariots, as well as charioteers." The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia also affirms this idea. So it isn't some unique and bizarre understanding of the language as Will suggest. In fact, the KJV implies this usage in 1 Chronicles 19:18 where it says David, "slew of the Syrians 7,000 men which fought in chariots." Note the phrase men which fought in is in italics alerting the reader that the phrase is not in the original Hebrew text. The KJV translators made an interpretative translation of the verse to reconcile the number 7,000 with the number 700 in 2 Samuel 10:18. On what exactly did they base that interpretation? Could it be because rekeb can be seen as a collective total?

Secondly, I don't think KJV defenders like Will truly appreciate the enormity of the number 30,000 or even 32,000. Thirty thousand is a huge number of anything let alone chariot vehicles. To put the number in some perspective, Andrew Higgins produced 20,000 landing craft for the 175,000 troops to be used during the Normandy invasion on D-Day, 1944. That is 12,000 short of the number mentioned in the KJV if we are to see individual chariots.

Additionally, the expense with building chariots, along with maintaining the animals needed for pulling them, is staggering. Imagine 32,000 chariots being pulled by 4 horses each. That would be 128,000 horses on a field of battle! If only two horses were pulling each chariot, we still have 64,000. 64,000 people can maybe sit in Dodger Stadium. That's just people. Imagine horses. Then consider the need to maneuver the chariots effectively in battle against an enemy, especially on bushy, hilly terrain. 32,000 chariots being pulled by 128,000 horses, or even 64,000 horses is astronomical.

Again, I am not denying the Bible or correcting anything. I am merely trying to understand the biblical text while attempting to maintain its integrity in light of known military history; and this is not liberal, higher criticism history either.

I am sympathetic to the desire of KJV-only apologists to defend the integrity of the biblical text. I am of the opinion that folks are too quick to label every textual difficulty a "copyist error." Perhaps some exist, but I look for other solutions to the biblical problem rather than automatically concluding its a "copyist error." However, KJV-onlyists are not defending the integrity of the Word of God specifically. They are protecting their favored translation from any meaningful revision. Their zeal is admirable, but in the long run, defending an outdated, 400 years old Bible version from being revised only serves to make them look foolish, and brings reproach upon the gospel.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Political Humor

Maybe this will occupy my eschatological inquisitors for a day or so.

Barack Obama's Teleprompter Blog

There is some excellent satire here.

Of course, I actually dream of a scenario where some hackers access the teleprompter and make Obama say conservative things during a national speech. Even better would be a total shut down of the thing right in the middle of a big speech.

I can only dream...

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Studies in Eschatology [3]

Out with the Old, in with the New

The key factor separating the main eschatological systems is the hermeneutics employed to interpret scripture. Hermeneutics is a fancy way to describe the principles or rules a person uses to study the Bible so as to determine and understand what it says.

Now, one would think every Christian would be in agreement as to the hermeneutics we use when studying the Bible. For the most part Christians are. Yet, when it comes to certain aspects of church polity and eschatology, however, there is an obvious disagreement. What makes understanding these disagreements even more difficult is when the disagreeing groups all acknowledge the authority of God's Word and sincerely seek to utilize similar hermeneutics to defend their conclusions.

For example, all groups pretty much affirm the need to approach scripture with the historic-grammatical method of exegesis. That being, in order to properly understand a biblical text it must first be considered in the historic context in which the original author wrote it. Moreover, the student seeks to accurately handle the grammatical nuances of the original language in which the text was written so as to capture the meaning the author was attempting to convey to his readers. By using these two principles we draw the meaning out from the text, or what we call exegesis.

The disagreements regarding eschatology, then, is really not so much with how accurate or inaccurate one may be with his exegesis, but how he applies the exegetical data to the relevant eschatological passages. In this case, a person's denominational traditions, as well as chosen theological presuppositions, often shape the application of those hermeneutics when applied to eschatological scripture. The late theologian, Carl B. Hoch, notes, "The real culprit is theological systems that come into play and cause the exegesis of individual passages to differ" [Hoch, 267].

For instance, Sam Waldron is a Reformed Baptist who adheres to an amillennial view of eschatology. He complains bitterly against premillennialist John MacArthur's definition of "literal" when applied to the prophetic portions of Scripture. Sam is insistent the word "literal" is "not so easy to define" and that John must "qualify the meaning of 'literal interpretation'" to explain prophetic texts like Revelation [Waldron, 73, 74]. Both Waldron and MacArthur believe we need to understand the Bible "literally," but both have a differing definition of "literal." That difference is formed by theological presuppositions brought to the exegetical data.

I am endeavoring to interact with those disagreeing principles. As I noted in my last post, I believe there are at least three major theological presuppositions fueling the areas of disagreement.

The priority of the NT over the OT

A typological approach to understanding prophecy and fulfillment

No distinction between Israel and the NT Church

Let me begin with the first: The priority of the NT over the OT.

Those who hold to the Reformed view of eschatology believe there is a logical priority of the New Testament over the Old Testament [Wells & Zaspel, 13]. So much so that the OT can be, and in some cases, should be re-read and re-interpreted through the lens of the NT. There is reason for this logical priority: The NT is considered the greatest revelation; the apex or final revelation superseding the OT [Lehrer, 176]. Thus, because the NT is the final revelation of Jesus Christ, and the entire OT anticipates the coming of Christ, the only proper way to understand the OT is with the Christ of the NT directing us.

This interpretive principle attempts to answer the question as to whether the OT should be interpreted literally or spiritually [Feinberg, 110]. That is important to consider because a literal or spiritual interpretation plays heavily upon how we understand the OT promises and prophecies and how they are fulfilled in the NT. For example, will the promises by God to restore Israel to the land be fulfilled literally in a future millennium where Christ reigns in Jerusalem, or are they understood "literally" in a spiritual sense as being fulfilled in Christ establishing His Church in the whole world?

Note how this illustrates the distinction between Waldron's view of "literal" and MacArthur's view of "literal." MacArthur's view of "literal" means those OT promises given to the nation of Israel will be fulfilled "literally" with Israel being established as an ethnic geo-political kingdom in the city of Jerusalem with Christ reigning over all the world. Waldron's view, however, also believes the promises to Israel are "literally" fulfilled, but "literally" fulfilled in the coming of Christ to establish the NT Church. That is because the NT writers seem to take those OT promises given by God to Israel where He tells them they will be established as a physical kingdom which will reign over all the earth, and re-interpret them so as to apply to the gospel work of the Church. As the gospel goes throughout the world by the Church's evangelistic efforts, new converts are brought into the "Kingdom of God." But it is apparent that this "kingdom" isn't a geo-political kingdom, but a spiritual one made up of people from all over the world.

Theologian, Gary Long, represents the Reformed perspective of how Hebrews 11:9-16 is a clear example of the fuller, NT revelation reinterpreting the promises of the OT. He lists 5 NT maxims needful for guiding the interpretation of biblical prophecy [Long, 5]. The second maxim he says is necessary for interpreting prophecy states, "The NT teaches that Abraham looked for a heavenly country, which God promised him, not a future interim earthly country," and then he cites Hebrews 11:9-10 [Long, 8]. I will consider the Reformed perspective of Hebrews 11:9-16 in a later post, but suffice it to say, Long believes this passage is a clear NT reinterpretation of the OT land promises given to Abraham in Genesis. It is so clear, according to Long, that he makes it a key hermeneutical maxim for interpreting prophecy in general.

Those who hold to Reformed eschatology believe this principle of the NT priority over the OT because they are convinced Jesus Christ and the apostles utilized this principle in their teaching and writing. It is called the Christological and apostolic hermeneutic. If Peter, for example, took OT titles once applied to the nation of Israel and transferred those titles so as to describe the new relationship the NT Church has with God on account of Christ's work on the cross (1 Peter 2:9, 10), then it is only reasonable to conclude this principle should be used to interpret all the OT prophecies and promises to Israel. This is particularly true with regards to eschatological passages in the OT and how we understand their fulfillment in the NT.

This hermeneutical approach to understanding the OT does have a compelling appeal to it. However, I believe this Christological/apostolic hermeneutic that gives "logical" priority of the NT to re-interpret the OT is fraught with at least four problems.

1) Consistency. First of all, the NT writers are not always consistent with their interpretation of the OT. S. Lewis Johnson's study of the NT use of the OT shows there is not a consistent pattern of OT interpretation in the manner a Reformed eschatology requires. New Testament authors appeal to passages from the OT in a literal sense (the "MacArthur" understanding of "literal"), sometimes in a typological sense, and also in a direct fulfillment sense. Certainly as God progressively revealed His divine purposes from one generation to the next through the ministries of the prophets, His revelation came into sharper focus with the coming of Christ. We see NT writers drawing out unique application from the OT on account of Christ's coming, but they are not totally re-reading the OT with a new hermeneutic so as to strip it of all of what the original author's intended to convey. Hence, the idea there is an over-arching historic redemptive hermeneutic or some Christological/apostolic hermeneutic which re-interprets OT passages really is not found.

2) Perspicuity of Scripture. Perspicuity has the idea of clarity of understanding. If it is true OT passages have a deeper, hidden meaning that isn't correctly understood UNTIL the NT came along to interpret the passages correctly, how could the people of Israel who originally read the passage possibly have understood any significant portion of the OT? How would they have known if they were understanding the prophecy of a prophet clearly as it states, or if the prophecy was really irrelevant to them because they are only a shadow of a greater reality yet to come some 600 years later, or whatever? Old Testament prophecies would be meaningless to them.

But, a lack of perspicuity leads to a couple of other problems,

3) The Integrity of Scripture. The idea that the NT can re-interpret OT passages so as to reveal a correct meaning of a passage can shatter the integrity of scripture. Consider the typical Reformed understanding of the new covenant promised in Jeremiah 31. The entire passage from Jeremiah 31:31-40 makes it clear this new covenant promised by God through the prophet is made with Israel and Judah. The Reformed perspective, however, points to how the book of Hebrews applies this passage to the Church and even though the original prophecy has the people of Israel and Judah as the recipients of the new covenant, the NT tells us the prophet Jeremiah was really speaking to a picture of the People of God. The prophecy was fulfilled with the real people of God, the Church, the Body of Christ [Lehrer, 174]. Swanson observes in response to this view of the new covenant that even though Israel may have thought the promises of Jeremiah applied to their nation, it wasn't true [Swanson, 161]. This places God's promises in the realm of dishonesty.

and then,

4) Authorial Intent. Adding a bit more to the previous point about textual integrity, when we read passages like Jeremiah 31, the true intent of the author is clear in that he is stating God will do such and such a thing with the nation of Israel. Adding a foreign meaning to the passage by re-interpreting it from an outside source, not only jeopardizes the text's integrity, it changes the author's original intent for writing what he did.

Now, does that mean the NT doesn't provide us with any insight on how to understand the OT? Of course not. The NT does offer commentary on the OT, as well as add additional applications that may not have been completely revealed during the OT [Vlach, 18, 19]. We just don't make the NT the starting point for understanding the OT passages. The OT is not dependent upon the NT to re-interpret it according to an apostolic hermeneutic. The foundational starting point for understanding the OT passages are the OT passages themselves. A faithful student of God's Word will seek to determine the meaning of the OT passages in question first, then see how the NT may utilize those passages with fuller revelation. Thus, the progress of revelation from lesser to the greater does not "nullify or transfer the meaning of Old Testament passages in a way that goes against what the Old Testament writers intended" [Vlach, 19].

I'll take up the point of typology in the next post.

*******
Sources

William Barrick, "New Covenant Theology and the Old Testament Covenants,"
The Master's Seminary Journal, Fall 2007. Online here.

Paul Feinberg, "Hermeneutics of Discontinuity," Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments (Crossway Books: Westchester IL, 1988).

Carl B. Hoch, All Things New: The Significance of Newness for Biblical Theology (Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI, 1995).

S. Lewis Johnson,
The Old Testament in the New: An argument for Biblical Inspiration (Zondervan, Grand Rapids MI, 1980).

Steve Lehrer,
New Covenant Theology: Questions Answered (self-published, 2006).

Gary Long,
Context! Evangelical Views of the Millennium Examined (Great Unpublished, Charleston SC, 2001, 2nd ed. 2002)

Dennis Swanson, "Introduction to New Covenant Theology,"
The Master's Seminary Journal, Fall 2007. Online here.

David L. Turner, "The Continuity of Scripture and Eschatology: Key Hermeneutical Issues,"
Grace Theological Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2 (1985).

Samuel E. Waldron, MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response (Reformed Baptist Academic Press: Owensboro KY, 2008). See a fuller review HERE.

Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel,
New Covenant Theology (New Covenant Media, Fredrick MD, 2002).

Michael J. Vlach,
Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths (Theological Studies Press, Los Angeles CA, 2008).

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Profile Not Available

When ever I choose to confront gross, spiritual error head-on, I always take a bit of a risk. Like squirting a water hose up at a big wasp nest hanging on the side of the house. That is just one of the hazards of blogging with any amount of substance and then inviting readers to leave feed back: the conspiracy trolls become agitated.

My most recent troll encounter involves a post from last week where I linked to an article I wrote addressing the spiritual danger Christians face if they embrace a belief in conspiracy theories. Believe me, there are folks out there in many churches whose lives are fully consumed by conspiracy theories. In a way it is a grievous spiritual bondage that only serves to keep the person ensnared to fear or off balance concerning the things of Christ.

Of course, the conspiracy believer thinks he knows truth and is standing up for truth and warning the people of God about the "truth." Sadly, however, his perception of reality is warped and all the time he spends documenting his chosen conspiracy for those who may listen is really of no spiritual value in the long run. It is merely comprised of wood, hay, and stubble, and it will only be burned up in the end (1 Cor. 3:12-15).

Along with my link to an article I wrote about Christians and conspiracy theories, I linked to a web article written by one of our more unusual John MacArthur/Grace Church critics from over the years named Bob Johnson. Bob is of the opinion - an opinion he formed after one visit - that Grace has succumb to Purpose Driven Life philosophy, Marxist-Hegelian beliefs, and other nefarious church growth ideas.

If you were to force yourself to stumble your way through his deranged document, you will discover he despises small fellowship groups. The leaders of the small groups "brainwashes" all the participants to think like the larger group - think like the "One World Government." Moreover, he is critical of teams of Christians going out on a Saturday to serve a single mother with two kids by helping her around the house and baby-sitting her children so she can have a free day to go shop. Why this is bad is something of a mystery. At any rate, according to Bob, coming together in one accord so as to have unity in Christ, and groups of believers serving those in need within the Body of Christ, are really satanic "change agents" looking to undermine the Church.

Amazing, I know.

Well, Bob has some sycophants who feel it is their sworn duty to defend Bob's charges. So with in just a matter of hours I receive comments from at least two, possibly three, Bob supporters (I think one of them was the Bob in question), adding supplemental material to Bob's article and accusing me of being a "damage controller."

Most of their comments I deleted because they were naming people at my church as being "change agents" of the devil in this grand conspiracy and I refused to allow them to slander their character. However, to give you a bit a flavor of how these folks think, allow me to interact with a comment left by "Charles."

After naming one of our elders at Grace, he accuses him of, "[sitting] on the board of Leadership Resources International, a church growth org. THIS IS A FACT!" Hmmm...? And what exactly is sinful about church growth exactly? Particularly if it is biblically based church growth? If you check out the website of the group in question, it is pretty clear to me they have a desire to train leaders to be biblical and to impact their communities for the gospel. Why this is a bad thing is never explained. I guess it is because the group may employ some secular ideas of management to help with the practical implications of some of their goals.

Commenters aside, what strikes me as most predictable about a conspiracy troll like "Charles" is the anonymity. As soon as I read a wacky conspiracy comment I know, with almost absolute certainty, that when I click the blogger profile it will be "Not Found" or "Not Available." No personal information on the person exists. If there is a profile, the person has created some user name like 'truthseeker" or "benotdeceived." Never is there any information about who the person really is, what he or she does, perhaps where they attend church.

When pressed for this basic information, the usual excuse is "I don't put personal information on the web." That is a bogus response, because no one is asking for anything personal like a house address. An even lamer excuse is, "It doesn't matter who I am, you need to deal with my arguments." Come on, we just want to know a bit about who you are so as to gain some insight as to why you have chosen to fixate on the conspiracy under discussion. If the person claims to be a Christian, well then certainly he attends a church somewhere. I would like to know what church it is and whether or not the pastor knows one of his congregants adheres to such bizarre views of the world. If he is married, does his wife care that he has wrapped himself in these alternative histories of the world?

Honestly, I personally think the cloak of anonymity is cowardly, if not also lazy. If the troll is genuinely concerned about exposing the transformation of Grace, they will come out and put a face on their profile. At least Bob has the guts to come and protest at our Shepherd's Conference.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Mile Stones

This past Sunday, March 15th, 2009, John MacArthur preached the first sermon from the last book he will go through verse-by-verse. He started the Gospel of Mark, preaching an introductory message from Mark 1:1. It was a biographical sketch of Mark with the working title something like, Mark: A portrait of a restored deserter. He plans to be in the book, the good Lord willing, for the next 2 years. I predict at least 3.

Meanwhile, those interested in getting a deeper glimpse into John's preaching ministry over the last 40 years can check on a new website in his honor,

www.JohnMacArthur.org

The flash animated pictures may be a bit overwhelming for the flash animated impaired, but if you spend the time navigating through the pictures on the time line, there is a lot of encouraging background to John's ministry.

There is also suppose to be a video documentary about John's life and ministry which was shown at the church this past February.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

The New Calvinism














Calvinism has ranked higher than "Survival Stores" and "Ecological Intelligence" as a "World changing idea."

Time magazine on line ranks Calvinism, or what they call the "new Calvinism" (but we Calvinists know better), at #3, just below "Recycling the suburbs" at #2 and "Jobs are the new assets" at #1.

Arminianism didn't even break into the top 25.


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Cool Picture of the Day
















More pictures HERE, along with larger versions.
I just geek out on this stuff.

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Female Driving Compilation

One of my male volunteers sent this to me.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Ultimate Free-will Defense

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

FBT Updates

Some readers may remember a three part series I did almost three years ago now explaining why I think Christians who seriously entertain conspiracy theories are endangering their spiritual health. I called it, Tin-Foil Hat Theology, and the posts caused no small stir among the conspiracy believers who claim to be Christians and insisted on leaving comments.

I have them linked in my side bar if anyone is interested.

I recently had the opportunity to combine them all into one long essay and post it at my other website, Fred's Bible Talk.


Would you believe it? As soon as I was making my final read over, I was alerted to a new website by an old nemesis, Bob, whom I wrote about back in May of 2006. This same fellow now has a long, detailed article exposing how Grace has been transformed by the New World Order by clandestine change agents.


Interesting that all of this "transformating" and "changing" happened while I have been a member, but for some reason, I never saw it happening. I guess I have been blinded.

None the less, I do find it interesting Bob's article is published by a website soaked in tin-foil hat theology, and the main moderators are women. I am sure that is a conspiracy with in itself.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

On Beating Up Girls

Dan offers some insights in response to Piper:

Piper and Wrestling with Girls

Seeing that I am the father of a daughter, who at the age of 1 year, can hold her own against 3 older brothers, I can clearly see his point.

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Phil Answers His Critics

Last Friday I had a good day of fellowship attending our annual Shepherd's Conference. I had the opportunity to catch up with some friends I see only once a year or so. Plus, I truly enjoy browsing the book publishing tables.

But, I did purpose to hear Phil Johnson speak at Friday's main session. We had known for sometime he was going to address the need for holiness with a pastor's speech in the pulpit. Specifically we knew he was going to address Mark Driscoll and other ministers around the country who have been brazen enough to speak on sexual matters with explicit language and inappropriate illustrations from their pulpits.

Phil used Titus 2:6-8 as his text and spoke with passionate conviction on the need for pastors to speak with words fitting their calling as God's ministers. Rarely have I seen Phil animated when he teaches, but it was clear with the few hand motions he gave this was a subject heavy on his heart which the Spirit had stirred in his soul. And rightly so. Yet, in spite of his convicting sermon, however, critics immediately went to work to discredit what he had stated complaining he misrepresented Driscoll and anyone who employs his type of antics in the pulpit.

The message can be downloaded at the Shepherd's Fellowship website, along with all the audio of the main sessions. If you are not inclined to fill out one of those annoying forms in order to obtain a login password, Phil's message can be downloaded here as well.

Grace to You has also posted a transcript of Phil's message to be accessed HERE.

Phil has also answered the main questions asked by his critics at his blog which are worth reading: Preachin' Dirty

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Monday, March 09, 2009

We Can Only Hope

Minister David Wilkerson received an urgent message direct from the Holy Spirit.

I know it was from the Holy Spirit because it was given in all caps.

AN EARTH-SHATTERING CALAMITY IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN. IT IS GOING TO BE SO FRIGHTENING, WE ARE ALL GOING TO TREMBLE - EVEN THE GODLIEST AMONG US.

I am all up for a frightening, earth-shattering calamity of cataclysmic proportions. We need to shake things up around here.

Plus, it would do a good job exposing the utter incompetence of Barry Obama to lead as a president. Liberals tend to either fall apart when frightening earth-shattering calamity happens, or they instantly convert to conservatism...

Don't worry about going hungry during the time of upheaval. Just go to the link where I originally saw this announcement and click the ad in the upper left hand corner of the page. You can learn to grow yourself an acre's worth of crisis garden.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Children Books I Would Like to See

























A Little Golden Book about the invasion of the pod children

The Cuddly Menace

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Leap Frog Test

Maybe it is because I'm an idiot savant, but I did it after about 3 tries. Usually I stink at these kind of games.

Click Here

By the way, your goal is to get the green frogs to trade places with the brown frogs. The email this was attached to stated something about this being a 2nd grade Chinese computer test or something.

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Studies in Eschatology [2]

Herman Gnuteks

I imagine my testimony as a restless, young Calvinist is probably similar to the testimonies of all the other restless, young Calvinists who were spiritually reared in the typical red-state evangelical Church.

We attended a church where the preaching from the pulpit was not overly spectacular, perhaps a bit too simplistic, and certainly not theologically deep. Depending upon the personality of the youth directors, the high school/ college ministries were filled with sanctified fun and games. They preached lots of messages about finding God's will for your life and gave exhortations to remain a virgin until marriage. Many of the churches had visitation programs on Tuesday or Thursday evenings, and at least twice a year the congregation was united around the performance of a passion play or a Christmas concert. In that church matrix I was saved, and there I began my walk with the Lord.

Then something marvelous happened. Some have even likened the experience to being "born again, again." I became a Calvinist in my views of salvation.

The process began when I discovered the writings of A.W. Pink and one of the first serious Christian books I read was the Baker edition of his The Sovereignty of God. I absolutely loved it. Then my college pastor loaned me his copies of Loraine Boettner's, The Reformed Doctrines of Predestination and Thomas and Steele's classic work, The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Documented, and Defended. Those three books, coupled with the expository preaching of John MacArthur, along with other similar preachers, were the items God used to bring me to fully embracing the doctrines of grace, or what is otherwise called Calvinism.

I experienced a personal revival in the way I viewed scripture, and most importantly, how I worshiped and served my Lord.

Embracing Calvinism, however, was not without its drawbacks. I wanted to learn more about the history and development of the Reformation. I was particularly interested in reading Puritan authors whose sermons were rich in theological content. The problem for me was such books were near impossible to find. My local Christian bookstore certainly didn't carry them. They carried fluffy books on enriching marriages and an endless supply of the latest Christian rock music. But nothing by Thomas Watson or Stephen Charnock.

I found out about some mail house Christian book companies like Scripture Truth, who would send out a monthly list of discounted Reformed books, but if I wasn't financially prepared to order what I wanted the moment I received the list, they would be sold out in just a few days.

On top of the famine of good theological books, I quickly discovered that the regular church goer didn't care for the doctrines of Calvinism. It wasn't as if they just had no interest, as if Calvinism was some old boring doctrinal stuff. When pressed, they had a full out disdain toward the notion God alone was the one who chose men to salvation, and they became especially hostile when I suggested man's will was dominated by sin and a person would never choose to believe upon Christ unless the Spirit of God regenerated a man's heart to believe the gospel.

In spite of the bumps, I did manage to navigate around those obstacles. Yet, where I wasn't necessarily prepared was with the engagement of Reformed eschatology.

Historically, the Reformers who articulated a Calvinistic understanding of salvation also held to amillennialism and postmillennialism. As I already noted in my first post on this topic, I had been reared on dispensational premillennialism. The theological heroes of mine like A.W. Pink, R.C. Sproul, Lorraine Boettner, and others I read who shaped my thinking about Calvinism, were ardent non-dispensational, non-premillennialists.

When I first encountered their eschatology, I wasn't sure what to make of it. Surely they had read Revelation 20? The text clearly says Satan would be bound for a 1,000 years and the saints would come alive and reign with Christ 1,000 years. I read the counter-point book called Four Views of the Millennium so as to figure out why different groups believed what they did about eschatology. It gave me some insight but not enough. I learned a bit more about various eschatological positions when I came to seminary, but by then, the subject was on the back-burners of my mind and I wasn't particularly interested in it.

But then I became more involved with internet discussion groups where I encountered various proponents of amillennial and postmillennial thought. They would challenge my default dispensational premillennialism position on a regular basis. Additionally, I met new friends through these groups who had similar backgrounds to me. They came to love Calvinism like I had, but rather than maintaining their dispensational distinctive they did a complete overhaul of their entire theological views, including abandoning premillennialism.

When I inquired with them as to the reason for the change, I received a variety of responses. Some saw their former premillennial eschatology as something of an embarrassment. It represented a time when they were attending a wacky fundamentalist church, or maybe a shallow Calvary Chapel style, non-denominational church. They already had parted ways with them regarding Calvinism, now their change to Reformed eschatology was a final break. Others had academic reasons. The really good theology was to be found in the books of Reformed Presbyterians like Warfield, Berkhof, Hodge and Reymond. Those guys are all non-dispensational, non-premillennialists, and if they make persuasive, biblical arguments for other areas of theology, they must be correct with their views of eschatology.

As I interacted with these folks, I began to get the impression I was no longer in the right camp. In order to be a really good Calvinist I had to dump the premillennial dispensationalism. Granted, I had a few internet acquaintances patronizingly tell me how there were godly men who attended their churches who were premillennial, even some who were elders. But I got the feeling, however, that under their breath they were whispering, "bless their idiot hearts."

Seeing how I was often at the end of the cutting remarks in these debates, I determined to do some serious study. Not just popular level books, but heavier stuff that got down into the machinery of why an eschatological position was what it was. With that bit of background in mind, I would like to present what I have learned over the course of my studies with a series of articles. I can say right now, I have no idea how long it will take me to complete.

To begin, I believe the foremost overarching issue defining the differences between systems of eschatology is hermeneutics - those principles which direct and facilitate a person's understanding of scripture. Most certainly, adherents from each group would affirm this assertion. Allow me to sketch out three broad areas of hermeneutical disagreement and then I will return to address each one in subsequent posts.

The Priority of the NT Over the OT: This principle suggest - rightly to some degree (and I will explain that comment later) - that the Old Testament is suppose to be reinterpreted through the lens of the New Testament. This is also called the apostolic or christological hermeneutic by Reformed minded students, because it is argued that reading the OT with the greater revelation of the NT was practiced by Christ during His ministry and the Apostles in the epistles they wrote. Others call this principle the historic redemptive hermeneutic because the focus of the entire Bible is the redemption Christ accomplished on the cross. The most complete revelation of God's redemptive purposes is the NT, and that revelation sheds greater light on the OT with regards to prophecy and eschatology. Christ even affirms this principle in Luke 24:27 where it says, And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Here we have Jesus Himself interpreting Moses and all the prophets with regards to His historic person and redemptive work.

Typological Approach to Understanding Prophecy and Fulfillment: Following after the principle of the OT being re-read by the NT, the typological approach views the OT and the NT in a series of types and anti-types. In other words, what would be a picture/symbol = fulfillment. For example, the OT passover lamb was a picture, or a type of Jesus who is the fulfillment, or anti-type in the NT. The book of Hebrews speaks to how Jesus was a greater fulfillment of the original type He was fulfilling such as the high priest.

One sub-category in need of being mentioned is the idea that prophetic genre is to be interpreted and applied differently than other genre in scripture like historical narrative. The reason being is because prophetic genre, like Revelation, Daniel, and Ezekiel, are filled with much symbolism that they are books not intended to be read literally. To read them literally would be absurd. No one believes a literal, seven-headed monster will come out of the sea and attempt to destroy the world like in Cloverfield (Revelation 13:1ff.).

This typological approach, coupled with the idea of prophetic genre being interpreted differently than other portions of scripture, allows for a greater spiritualization of the text as it pertains to eschatology. More about that later.

No Distinction Between Israel and the Church: This hermenutical principle sees no genuine distinction between the OT Israel and the NT Church. God, it is argued, had one, redeemed people who believed God by faith. Though Israel was an ethnic, theocratic nation the "true Israel" were those Jews who trusted God's promises of salvation by faith. In the NT, those who trust God's promises by faith as revealed in the work of Jesus Christ, can also be considered a "true Israel." Physical, ethnic considerations were really never a part of true salvation to begin with. Hence, even if one were circumcised as a Jew so as to be identified with Abraham's covenant such an act did not guarantee salvation. Jesus confronted the pharisees about this very point in John 8:31ff., and Paul wrote of the importance of being "circumcised in heart" in Romans 2:25-29 in order to be a true Jew.

It is understood that because of Christ there is no longer any distinctions between Jews and gentiles. Both are now one redeemed people of God. Whereas in the OT, the redeemed were limited to believing Jews and a few converted gentiles, the New Covenant Jesus initiated with His death and resurrection grafts in the gentiles, expanding God's redeemed people from being a small people in the land of Israel to now including people from the entire world. The OT title of these truly redeemed people was "Israel," but now they are called the "Church" or the "Body of Christ." Any attempt to create a distinction between Israel and the Church is artificial and unbiblical. That distinction divides the people of God into two groups risking the danger of suggesting two ways of salvation for each of the separate groups.

Now, with these points in mind, I will return with future posts addressing each on in turn.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

How Postmodernism Ruins Sci-Fi

Monday, March 02, 2009

When Atheists Sort of Get It

This past year, the one post bringing the most traffic to my blog has been the critique I wrote about evangelist Louie Giglio and his use of the Laminin molecule as Christian evidence. Sometimes there can be up to at least 5 to 6 views a day of the posts, and folks stay around on average 2 minutes reading it.

The post was my expressed concerns about what I believe is a misappropriation of so-called evidence and its use in apologetics and evangelism. Louie had given a talk in which he read Colossians 1:15 - 17 and explains how Christ's power upholds all things even down to the tiny details of the microscopic world. He then shifts his talk to a discussion about the Laminin molecule, one of the basic building blocks of the human cell. Flashing an illustration of the molecule on a screen, he points out the cross pattern of the molecule and concludes how it shows Christ's signature imprinted on every cell of our body like a divine UPC symbol.

Granted, we can certainly marvel at the vast complexity of DNA and Laminin molecules as evidence of God's handiwork. Atheists struggle to provide a sensible explanation of such complexity, especially the informational aspect of DNA and Laminin, given their naturalistic world view. Still, I believe Christians are engaged in unnecessary exaggeration to read into this evidence much more than what is meant to be conveyed. In his eagerness to present the skeptical world with proof of God's existence and to solidify the faith of young Christians in his audience, Louie's misuse of Laminin as a natural picture of Christ's cross is problematic in the long run. For example, I noted how the illustration was only just a man-made medical diagram representing the essential components of Laminin, and rarely if ever does the real molecule look like a cross.

With that brief review in mind, I received a "Google alert" informing me someone had linked to this article. I followed the backlink to the source and found a blog post written by an atheist who claims to be a former Christian. (A commenter left the blogger a link to my initial article critical of Louie seeing cross shapes in molecules). The post independently conveys the same criticism as mine: Louie is reading way too much into the shape of a Laminin molecule, and his "proof of God" is another avenue for scoffers to mock.

Along those same lines...

One of the more amusing scenes I love to watch is when individuals hostile to the Christian faith who believe they have no biases are shown how they do indeed have biases when they interpret their world.

Recently, Skeptic magazine editor, Michael Shermer (whose cousins attend my church, by the way), paid a visit to the Creation Museum with a group of atheists who pretend to be neutral, unbiased defenders of science. They video taped an impromptu mini-inquisition with Answers in Genesis staffer, Dr. Georgia Purdom, during which Shermer peppered her with questions pertaining to philosophy and theology. The video was put on the web and presented as an illustration of how dumb creationists are. Another atheist website pretending to be unbiased defenders of science, The Panda's Thumb, wrote up a brief critique of Shermer's questions of Purdom and expressed great umbrage that Purdom would even suggest there is no neutral evidence telling us how the world is, but instead individual presuppositions interpret evidence according to a particular philosophical worldview to tell us how the world is.

The author of the post mockingly states how he wants creationists on his jury if he ever goes to court, because the "presupposition" of the U.S. justice system is a person is innocent until proven guilty. Thus, a creationist will do anything to defend the presupposition of the justice system in spite of any evidence to the contrary.

The main flaw with his objection is that prosecution and defense lawyers most certainly bring their interpretation to any evidence presented in the case in an attempt to demonstrate how the evidence supports their position. Hence, Dr. Purdom is vindicated when she suggested evidence is not neutral and those handling the evidence are biased toward particular presuppositions.

The point Purdom was making exposes the errant thinking of atheist evolutionists. The blog writer assumes (presupposes) all "scientific" evidence is neutral; basically self-defining and independently sufficient within itself to describe our world. Most importantly, he believes all evidence undoubtedly supports his anti-creationist, evolutionary beliefs and anyone who denies those beliefs is delusional and not clued into reality. In a manner of speaking, he is an evidentialist in his apologetic approach. This is exactly how popular Christian apologist Greg Koukl argues, as well as Frank Turek.

But in honesty, no "neutral" un-interpreted facts exist anywhere. All evidence must be interpreted. The existence of the Panda's Thumb website demonstrates this truth, because its sole purpose as a website is to counter any so-called evidence presented against Darwinian evolution and explained by their ID-creationist enemies, and re-interpret it through Darwinian evolutionary filters.

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