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

Friday, November 27, 2009

Studies in Eschatology [16]

The Duration of the Thousand Years: Literal or Figurative?

I come to my last comments on my study of Revelation 20. My series of posts on this subject has argued that the exegesis of Revelation 20 cannot sustain the Augustinian hermeneutic utilized by amillennialists and postmillennialists who interpret the vision to be describing the state of the Christian Church being presently experienced.

Much to the contrary, the exegesis of Revelation 20 makes this to be a prophecy regarding the future. That after Christ's coming to vanquish the armies of the beast as described in chapter 19, Satan will be literally bound and his influence removed from the earth, and Christ will establish a physical kingdom that will last 1,000 chronological, calendar years.

The question still needing to be explored is whether the duration of these 1,000 years described in chapter 20 are truly literal calendar years or are they meant to be taken symbolically as an expression of a long period of time?

Those who employ Augustine's hermeneutic when interpreting Revelation 20 believe the 1,000 years should be symbolic. The primary reason being is that they start with the presupposition that because Revelation is filled with much symbolic language, then the overall interpretation of the book should be symbolic. Revelation is considered apocalyptic literature and apocalyptic literature must always be interpreted symbolically. In fact, the true, "literal" sense of the book is to interpret the numbers and images symbolically. Moreover, the use of 1,000 years to describe the length of the messianic kingdom is only mentioned here in Revelation 20. That is an important detail, because in both the OT and NT, the kingdom is described as being everlasting, or eternal. A thousand years, though a long time in human history, is still not even close to being "everlasting."

Hence, the only conclusion an interpreter can make is that the 1,000 years are not real, calendar years, but are meant to describe a long, indefinite period representing a complete and ideal time. In this case, the reign of Christ over the Church in the world. Amillennialists and postmillennialists both interpret the 1,000 years in a similar fashion. The one difference between the groups, however, is that amillennialists see the time being the entire period between the first and second coming of Christ, whereas most postmillennialists refer to the years as a period of time beginning sometime way after the first coming, but before the second coming [Waymeyer, 99].

Theologians who have spiritualized the years have developed clever ways of trying to understand their meaning. Some suggest the number "1,000" is the cube of ten, which is the sum of 7 plus 3. The number "10" signifies completeness, and 1,000 is ten to the third power [Hoekema, 227]. Others, like David Chilton, believe the 1,000 years are a hyperbolic expression meant to express a long period of time. Similar to the expression, "I've told you a million times!" Obviously, a person hasn't told the person a literal "million times," but rather means they have told the person many, many times. In like manner, the 1,000 years are meant to convey that there were many, many years between the first and second coming [Chilton, 507].

There is biblical precedence for understanding the years in this fashion. For example, when Psalm 50:10 says of God, He owns the cattle on a 1,000 hills, it is obvious there are more than 1,000 hills in the world, so it cannot be literal. Rather, the idea speaks to God's absolute dominion over all the world. The 1,000 years as recorded in Revelation 20 is to be understood similarly and not as being literal years. Interestingly, though Augustine popularized the understanding of Revelation 20 as describing the church age, he saw the 1,000 years as being real years and expected Christ to return at the first of the 10th century. That didn't happen and his interpretation of Revelation was re-worked to understand the years as being symbolic.

In spite of the myriad of commentaries written attempting to spiritualize the 1,000 years, none of the conclusions are truly satisfying as representing the best way to read Revelation 20. Instead, I believe the best understanding of the texts is that these years as real calendar years describing a future, messianic age with Christ ruling over the earth. Let me add three reasons to my already long list outlined in my previous posts on this subject:

The use of numbers in the book of Revelation. Steve Sullivan notes that the vast majority of the numbers used in the book of Revelation are conventional. In other words, the numbers are meant to convey true measurements, mathematical operations, and other calculations. That clearly implies the bulk of them are not symbolic, but real.

In the book of Revelation there are 24 elders, 42 months, 7 seals, trumpets, and bowls, 3 1/2 years, 5 months, and fractional uses of counting parts of the earth and populations destroyed in specific judgments [Sullivan, 38]. Nothing in those particular contexts suggests a symbolic use of numerical values. John spoke, for example, to one of the 24 elders, indicating there are 24 individual elders. The same can be said about the 42 months or the 7 churches or the 10 kings. If these numbers are real, actual numerical values, why can't we say the same about the 1,000 years?

The specificity of "a thousand years." Revelation 20:3 records how Satan will be bound for 1,000 years, but at the end of the verse John writes, But after these things he must be released for a little while. Some translations read "a short time." John's use of a specific time designation, 1,000 years, is a sharp contrast to the indefinite phrase "a little while." That is an important point to note, because if John had meant to convey the idea of "a long while" when speaking of Satan being bound, he could have very well described Satan's captivity with such indefinite language.

In fact, Charles Feinberg points out that the Greek language knows well how to express the indefinite period of "a long time" or "a long while." In Matthew 25:19, for instance, when Jesus taught the parable of the talents, he uses the phrase polun chronon, which means "a long time" [Waymeyer, 50]. Yet John does not contrast two indefinite periods of time, a "long while" with a "short while." Rather, he states a specific time designation of time, 1,000 years, and contrasts it with an indefinite short period of time. This implies clearly a specified length of real time is in view here.

The characteristics of symbolic language. Contrary to the thinking of most biblical students, symbolic language is meant to clarify divine revelation, not make it mysterious and unknowable. The thousand years in Revelation 20 does not contain two important characteristics of symbolic language: some degree of absurdity when taken literally and some degree of clarity when taken symbolically.

For example of what I mean, consider Isaiah 55:12 where the prophet proclaims how the trees in the fields will clap their hands. Taken literally, there is a degree of absurdity: trees are not like human beings and do not possess arms nor have hands they can clap. We're not talking about Ents here. Taken symbolically, however, there is clarity of interpretation: The image is meant to express how Israel's return from captivity will be a time of great rejoicing [Waymeyer, 51].

If the 1,000 years are meant to convey a symbolic period of time, the use of 1,000 doesn't contain these two characteristics. There is nothing absurd about Christ's reign over the world being 1,000 calender years in length, nor is there any true clarity if we take the 1,000 years as being symbolic for "a long period of time." If anything, interpreting John millennium symbolically adds interpretative confusion to the text.

Now.

With this post I wrap up my basic overview of eschatology. But, I am not finished yet. I have receive many friendly, but disagreeing emails this past year while I have been posting these articles. My detractors have offered a lot of good objections. One individual pointedly argued that my position of premillennialism unravels when we consider other eschatological NT texts like in 1 Corinthians 15 and the two books of Thessalonians. Additionally, I have been directed to consider Sam Storms paper against premillennialism located HERE that is touted as being the single most concise "slam" (as one of my detractor described it) against a premillennial position.

So. My attention will now be turned to answering these objections and offering a defense of what I consider to be biblical premillennialism.


*******
Sources:


David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of Revelation. (Dominion Press: Forth Worth, TX, 1987)

Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and The Future. (Eerdmans: Grand Rapid, MI, 1979).

Steve Sullivan,
Premillennialism and an Exegesis of Revelation 20. On-line paper.

Matthew Waymeyer, Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate. (Kress Christian Publications: The Woodlands TX, 2004).

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

MacArthur and the Manhattan project

I was totally unaware of this document until Hugh Hewitt began plugging it regularly on his radio program this week. He gushes over the thing as if it represents some sort of new religious revival preparing to break forth upon the United States.

My pastor captures my sentiments exactly on what is really ECT2. Or maybe we could call it ECT 2000 to be trendy? Or ECT21st Century?


At any rate, the document has been re-named the Manhattan Declaration.

Why I am not signing the Manhattan Declaration

What I always wonder with documents like these is how anyone who signs it can take it seriously at the same time. Is the concept of "unity" just spiritualized or something? How can there be any unity at all seeing that each group defines the gospel with such diversity? If myself, a baptistic Calvinist, and a Roman Catholic, and a Greek Orthodox are asked by an 18 year old guy how he can be saved from his homosexual sin he will receive three entirely different answers. All of them cannot be true at the same time. And I know for certain I will refuse to lay aside my commitment to the biblical gospel grounded in Christ alone to redeem sinners just so I can have some fake unity with the Catholic and the Orthodox on moral issues in society. I would imagine the same is true of my counterparts as well.

And by the way, where do the conservative Jews come into play here? I mean, Michael Medved and Dennis Prager hold to the same convictions regarding abortion, same-sex marriage and religious liberty as Chuck Colson. What would they say, by the way, if a homosexual asked them about how to be saved from his sin?

Additionally, consider a couple of highlights from the declaration itself:
We set forth this declaration in light of the truth that is grounded in Holy Scripture, in natural human reason (which is itself, in our view, the gift of a beneficent God), and in the very nature of the human person. (emphasis mine)
If we are going to make this declaration in light of the truth grounded in Holy Scripture, the Holy Scripture plainly declares man's reason to be fallen and darkened (Ephesians 4:18, Romans 1:20 ff., 8:6,7 to mention a few). Natural human reason thinks according to the flesh and does not want anything to do with the things of God. According to scripture, the only solution to this condition in men is the saving gospel of Christ. The very thing on which there is no unity.
In Scripture, the creation of man and woman, and their one-flesh union as husband and wife, is the crowning achievement of God’s creation. ... Marriage then, is the first institution of human society—indeed it is the institution on which all other human institutions have their foundation. ... In the Bible, God Himself blesses and holds marriage in the highest esteem.
Just as there are diverse opinions as to the sufficiency of the gospel to save among these three groups, so there is diversity of opinion regarding the nature of marriage. Oh certainly all three groups recognize and affirm the divine establishment of marriage, but this establishment is recorded for us in which book? Genesis. The very reason we are to defend marriage as being between only one man and one woman as a one-flesh union is because God created man and woman at the beginning and ordained marriage for the entire realm of humanity.

Yet, all of these groups are divided as to the authenticity of the Genesis record and are divided in opinion concerning the use of Darwinian evolutionary constructs to re-interpret the Genesis record. These philosophical ramifications are astronomical to any sustained argument in favor of traditional, God ordained marriage as defined in this document and yet these signers completely ignore these factors relegating them to mere secondary matters that have no bearing on what they are attempting to affirm.

Then I ask: Will these individuals firmly press these points in public discourse with vehement detractors? In other words, are they prepared to anger their opponents on Larry King Live by telling them their support of gay marriage is morally wrong? It has been my observation of many of the names of those who signed the document that they generally do not. And if they do, they do all they can to leave out any reference to Scripture and speak of God in vague, general terms. Rarely do they argue on behalf of the sovereign creator who has revealed truth which must be obeyed by His creatures. This alone limits the effectiveness of this declaration to being just another pointless conservative Christian comment upon the state of affairs in America.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I need one of these

A little home improvement humor.

I am actually in the need of a new ladder.



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Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Bob Johnson Saga, Continued...

updated: 8/29/10

See Special Update as of August 29th, 2010.

See a previous email response to Bob, HERE.


Some long time readers may remember my interaction with a local anti-Grace Church activist by the name of Bob Johnson. What Darwin Fish was as an antagonist to Grace Church in the 1990s, Bob Johnson has become in the 2000s.

Bob claims that Grace Community Church, the church where John MacArthur pastors, has been infiltrated by diabolical change agents who wish to introduce church growth ideology to the congregation. Originally, Bob believed this was happening without John realizing it, now he seems to think John was completely aware of it at the very start.

He began his notoriety by standing on the sidewalk in front of our church handing out a 10 page paper entitled "A Wake Up Call to the Saints of Grace Community Church" in which he provides the so-called documentation proving his accusations against Grace. Now Bob has moved to the Internet where he has placed an updated version of that paper on a website called John MacArthur Exposed. He also maintains another website called The Watchman Wakes on which he publishes even more screeds against John and pastors of Grace Church.

In November 2009, Bob and his "findings" against Grace became the subject of a few webcasts put out by a former pastor here in LA by the name of John Coleman. John regularly entertains the ideas of another guy from LA by the name of Robert Klenck, an orthopaedic surgeon by profession, who has developed a lot of the so-called anti-church growth apologetics used by Bob. Together, these two men spread deceitful misinformation about my church and pastor to a far and wide audience who really have no ability to check if their accusations are true. Adding a veneer of "credibility" to their distorted nonsense is Bob's supposed "eye witness" testimony of his one visit to a singles group at our church in 2006.

We have been having inquirers from literally all over the world who have come across Bob's website or have heard Coleman's webcasts. In order to provide something of a quick reference, I have formatted one of my personal emails to Bob in which I answered some of his key accusations. I did some re-editing for stylistic purposes and added my personal "editor notes" to provide some context to my response if need be. I provide Bob's claim first bracketed with asterisks, then any notes I feel I need to supply will come next, followed by my original comments.

I hope to have a follow up article in the future addressing John Coleman specifically as well as Bob's use of him as a supporter of his views.

I would imagine most people won't find this post particularly interesting just because it involves a local gadfly. I do not speak with any authority on behalf of Grace Church's leadership. In other words, I haven't been commissioned to present this work. I do it on my own as a member who wishes to silence some seriously malicious and nonfactual criticism. There really is no need to turn on the comments with this post, but I do welcome any emails. My email is located on my profile page.

*The Guild and Foundry were/are Purpose Driven ministries*

[Editor's note: The Guild is a singles ministry for older singles 35+. At one time it was pastored by a friend of mine named Tom Patton who now pastors another fellowship group at Grace. The Guild is the group Bob visited once in 2006 in order to draw his conclusions about Grace becoming church growth. The Foundry was a singles group for ages 21-30. It was once pastored by a fellow named Kurt Gebhards who moved on to pastor a church in North Carolina. Once he left, instead of continuing the Foundry, the leadership at Grace decided to allow the group to become a part of the college ministry].

(Fred) There is a rather big distinction between Grace and a Purpose Driven Life ministry. I can clearly see what a purpose driven ministry looks like: The watered down preaching, trendy music replacing good worship music, the emphasis on getting people to feel comfortable rather than on sound doctrinal teaching, marginalizing older saints as not having an important role to play in the life of the church, attempting to be relevant toward current cultural issues, for example, the interview Rick Warren did with Obama/McCain in the summer of 2008.

Grace is not doing this stuff, Bob. You are crying booger bears when none exist. As I have stated at the outset of this debate, both the Guild and the Foundry are singles groups. By definition, they have a different tone in those fellowship groups because they are singles. Working Disciples, the previous singles ministry, was like that before the Foundry replaced them. The college department has that tone. What you perceive as a pervasive PDL philosophy is just singles ministry activity. It is not bad, evil, or transformational, and it does not spill into the remainder of the church. If, for example, your absurd claim that Tom Patton is a "change agent" were true, you would see such things in the new ministry where he pastors, Cornerstone fellowship group. He took it over when the previous pastor moved on to another ministry.

*Their webpages were deleted because of my original paper.*

[Editor's note: Bob claims Grace Church is intentionally changing websites to hide what he is allegedly exposing. Pastor Coleman and his side-kick, Robert Klenck, who is the source of a lot of the Church Growth philosophy Bob claims is happening at Grace, also accuses the leadership of Grace of intentionally hiding "proof" when it gets exposed].

(Fred) No they didn't remove any websites. I told you in a previous email that I spoke with the webmaster. He happens to be a friend of mine. The guy who maintains the website for the Guild at that time was updating and changing the webpage for normal purposes. He was not changing them because you "exposed" some evil under belly going on there at the Guild. It was just a coincidence that those pages were changed around the same time you published your "paper."

*You had a chance to contact Robert Klenck who verified all this. You could have called Coleman's show and argued, but you didn't. *

[Editor's note: John Coleman is a former inner-city pastor in Los Angeles. He once was part of an apologetic radio program known for taking on controversial issues, especially within the African-American community of LA. He also pastored a church for a while. According to a number of personal contacts of mine, around 1998, Coleman was dismissed from his church due to allegations of inappropriateness with male congregants. He was also known as being somewhat pugnacious with those with whom he disagreed. He eventually started his own "ministry" with a small number of supporters].

(Fred) I happened to have contacted both guys and neither one of them would respond to my emails. I have attempted to email Coleman concerning some other matters unrelated to our debate. He refuses to be corrected or challenged regarding his beliefs. He returns my emails unanswered and ignored, merely condemning me. So much for wanting to listen. Of course, I happen to know folks who are down in the area where Coleman is and have many negative things to say about his shameful conduct as a self-appointed minister.

*There are other experts in the PDC who have written well known books exposing the PDC who have corroborated that the Guild and Foundry were PDC.*

(Fred) And those experts are? You name James Sundquist. It may interest you to know he sent a copy of his book to GTY seeking John's endorsement. At one of the Shepherd's Conferences sometime in the mid-2000s, John mentioned the book, along with some others, as a possible resource on church growth philosophy. His recommendation was based upon a quick over view of the promotional copy he had received. I later had the opportunity to read it more thoroughly, and after doing so, I told Phil Johnson John shouldn't recommend the book because it was conspiratorial in tone, appeared to come from a hyper-fundamentalist, KJV-only perspective, was poorly researched, and terribly argued. I would imagine you had probably encountered the book before you came to the Guild that one and only evening so you were predisposed to see PDL-new age-one world government stuff behind every tree.

*Are they also fools?*

[Editor's note: The reference is to John Coleman, Robert Klenck, and James Sundquist as "experts" in the field of church growth]

(Fred) Let's put it this way: they are a small, almost stand alone group. It makes me wonder if they really have the ability to discern. The question you need to ask is why it is these few individuals, who happen to run in the fringe circles of fundamentalism, are alone the ones seeing all these things and no one else. Believe me, I don't care for Rick Warren. and his pragmatic ministry style. However, I am not going to speak lies against the guy. What I see from you and your friends is the speaking of lies against Warren rather than offering reliable criticism where it is due.

*When you were given Klenck's paper you called it "conspiratorial nonsense." But the paper is basically inerrant. In calling an inerrant paper nonsense, you are denying truth.*

(Fred) That is because it was (an still is) conspiratorial nonsense. He is claiming all this infiltrating is leading to the one world government. Such is conspiracy my friend. Of course you have a specific definition of "inerrant" and any deviation from that definition is denying truth and reality so it is almost worthless to even reason with you. It is the same way I argued when I was a KJV onlyist: Set the 1611 up as the ultimate, inerrant standard for the Bible and any departure from the stated standard is automatically heresy and apostasy.

*The man who facilitated my small group was Alex Fitzgerald. He didn't teach the bible. He's a trained facilitator. *

[Editor's note: Bob, John Coleman, and Robert Klenck, attempt to argue that any small discussion groups within a church are really dialectic sessions designed to re-train (Bob uses the term "brainwash") the participants to reject traditional Church models and embrace the new community model that readily affirms the so-called New World Order. The men who lead these "small groups" are considered to be "facilitators" who direct the brainwashing session, as it were. Alex Fitzgerald led the small group Bob was a part of when he attended his one and only time. When I spoke with Alex about Bob, he remembers him spending most of his visit rambling on about how Al Mohler was a U.N. agent sent to infiltrate the church. Bob was also bothered that Alex read his Bible from his electronic Blackberry rather than from a physical, printed Bible].

(Fred) Seeing that I know Alex rather well and I happen to know what he believes as a Christian. Such accusations border on the fantastic. A trained facilitator? Like he attended a top-secret seminar or something? Good grief.

*Find out how Patton and Gebhards knew to bring this model into GCC. Where did they learn it from?*

(Fred) Uhhh? They went to Master's. I went to Master's. I took the same pastoring and sermon prep classes as they did. I can tell you right now, they don't teach Purpose Driven Life stuff. We read Warren's book so as to be familiar with it and critique it.

*Instead of opposing truth, why don't you help find the truth?*

(Fred) I believe I have the truth seeing I have first hand knowledge and know well the person's being accused by you. Seeing that you only attended once and are making knee jerk reactions in light of a false view of church growth philosophy, I don't believe you do have the truth. But I don't believe that matters to you. I doubt very seriously if you were shown to be wrong with overwhelming evidence you would not do anything to repent of your slander against my friends and church. In fact you would attempt to spin things around in order to save face.

*Fred, Several people know that the Guild and Foundry were PDC.*

[Editor's note: Bob has often stated there are "ex-members" of Grace who left the church because they saw the slide we were taking into church growth/PDL philosophy. The problem, however, is that Bob has never been able to produce these individuals as star witnesses in his defense. I have repeatedly asked him to contact them so they could in turn contact me or any other pastor at Grace. Though I haven't personally met them, I believe there may had been individuals loosely affiliated with Grace who were irregular attendees who justify their departure from our church by referring to Bob's claims. But they do not represent long term, actively involved members who left our church after their repeated attempts to alert the leadership of what was going on were ignored].

(Fred) Again, you need to find members of Grace, Bob. James Sundquist doesn't even live here in LA as far as I know; hasn't even come to Grace. Coleman and Klenck are also examples. None of them have interviewed any of these men you accuse of "transforming" Grace. Just like you, they are basing their judgment on secondary sources and hearsay.

So. The challenge for you Bob is first, tell me where you attend Church, then tell me about these members at Grace who see things like you do. Are they up-standing, actively involved members, or the fringy, hanging around the edge of things folks who maybe come to Grace for a year and then leave over some stupid thing that may happen to them?

*I know one person that told me The Guild and Foundry were PD left those ministries for that reason. He liked Macarthur's preaching though.*

(Fred) And that person is...? Can you tell the person to email me and tell me his or her story? Was that person an active member, or some guy coming around to a singles ministry? Lots of people fit this category of liking John's teaching but they get rubbed the wrong way and leave our church bitter. Generally they come around for about 9 months to a year before they leave. They generally get exposed later as being unsaved and have a whole heck of a lot more spiritual problems than what we were aware of at the time and the reason they leave is because their sin got stepped on.

*Why do you care where I attend church?*

(Fred) Because it reveals something about who you are, what you are about, who stands behind you, who influences you. When I spoke with you out on the street at Grace you told me you didn't have a church. Is that still the case now? Being a rogue, spiritual "lone gunman" is unbiblical. John, Jude, and Peter all testified that we should be leery of those folks who have no church affiliation and claim to speak on the authority of the apostles, i.e. NT theology and doctrine. Such people were to be turned away, for they are wolves seeking to destroy the church. The fact that you are secretive and unwilling to tell me troubles me and causes me alarm for your soul.

*Fred, Well I can see that there is no convincing you that the church growth movement has infiltrated your church. I won't attempt to convince you further about this.*

(Fred) Yes. Your insistence that our church is infiltrated by church growth is utterly unconvincing. I don't think anyone who is an actively involved member of our church, who actually knows the ministries in question along with the people who are involved there, who is sound and stable in the Word of God and is not easily led astray into error, would be convinced of anything you wrote. On the other hand, only those people who are not grounded in spirit and Word would be led astray by our material. So far, the individuals who agree with you are those type of individuals. You have yet to produce one person who was an active member of Grace for any length of time who became alarmed about what you wrote and left.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green

Some retired golfer named Kermit Zarley is the so-called Servetus the evangelical?

Kermit?

Like the frog?

James White has the breakdown

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Useful Idiots

Maybe some of you folks heard about William Phillips, the kid in Arkansas who is being used as a useful idiot by his "progressive" parents (more than likely his mama), as their political extension into his class room to promote their leftist values. Along with talking back to his teacher and mocking authority by refusing to obey instructions, Will claims his protest is against our society's refusal to grant equal rights to gays to marry each other.

Laying aside his misguided understanding of homosexuality and the ramifications of same-sex marriage, I just wish to take a moment to illustrate the inconsistent hypocrisy of the left. Gays are the trendy minority group to defend now-a-days by the so-called progressive liberal. Yet the same progressives are not so quick to run to the defense of other minority groups who want the mainstream of American society to redefine the terms and subjects of marriage to match their convictions.

Here's the original story of Will's plight in Arkansas, reposted by me with a few modifications for illustration purposes.


Arkansas Times 11/18/09

A Boy and His Flag

Why Will won't pledge

Will Phillips isn't like other boys his age.

For one thing, he's smart. Scary smart. A student in the West Fork School District in Washington County, he skipped a grade this year, going directly from the third to the fifth. When his family goes for a drive, discussions are much more apt to be about Teddy Roosevelt and terraforming Mars than they are about Spongebob Squarepants and what's playing on Radio Disney.

It was during one of those drives that the discussion turned to the pledge of allegiance and what it means. Laura Phillips is Will's mother. “Yes, my son is 10,” she said. “But he's probably more aware of the meaning of the pledge than a lot of adults. He's not just doing it rote recitation. We raised him to be aware of what's right, what's wrong, and what's fair.”

Will's family has a number of Muslim friends. In recent years, Laura Phillips said, they've been trying to be a straight ally to the Muslim community, going to the local Mosque and standing up for the rights of their Muslim neighbors. They've been especially dismayed by the effort to take away the rights of Muslims – the right to polygamy and the right to perform female circumcision. Given that, Will immediately saw a problem with the pledge of allegiance.

“I've always tried to analyze things because I want to be lawyer,” Will said. “I really don't feel that there's currently liberty and justice for all.”

After asking his parents whether it was against the law not to stand for the pledge, Will decided to do something. On Monday, Oct. 5, when the other kids in his class stood up to recite the pledge of allegiance, he remained sitting down. The class had a substitute teacher that week, a retired educator from the district, who knew Will's mother and grandmother. Though the substitute tried to make him stand up, he respectfully refused. He did it again the next day, and the next day. Each day, the substitute got a little more cross with him. On Thursday, it finally came to a head. The teacher, Will said, told him that she knew his mother and grandmother, and they would want him to stand and say the pledge.

“She got a lot more angry and raised her voice and brought my mom and my grandma up,” Will said. “I was fuming and was too furious to really pay attention to what she was saying. After a few minutes, I said, ‘With all due respect, ma'am, you can go jump off a bridge.' ”

Will was sent to the office, where he was given an assignment to look up information about the flag and what it represents. Meanwhile, the principal called his mother.

“She said we have to talk about Will, because he told a sub to jump off a bridge,” Laura Phillips said. “My first response was: Why? He's not just going to say this because he doesn't want to do his math work.”

Eventually, Phillips said, the principal told her that the altercation was over Will's refusal to stand for the pledge of allegiance, and admitted that it was Will's right not to stand. Given that, Laura Phillips asked the principal when they could expect an apology from the teacher. “She said, ‘Well I don't think that's necessary at this point,' ” Phillips said.

After Phillips put a post on the instant-blogging site twitter.com about the incident, several of her friends got angry and alerted the news media. Meanwhile, Will Phillips still refuses to stand during the pledge of allegiance. Though many of his friends at school have told him they support his decision, those who don't have been unkind, and louder.

“They [the kids who don't support him] are much more crazy, and out of control and vocal about it than supporters are.”

Given that his protest is over the polygamous rights of Muslims, the taunts have taken a predictable bent. “In the lunchroom and in the hallway, they've been making comments and doing pranks, and calling me a terrorist,” he said. “It's always the same people, walking up and calling me an Osama.”

Even so, Will said that he can't foresee anything in the near future that will make him stand for the pledge. To help him deal with the peer pressure, his parents have printed off posts in his support on blogs and websites. “We've told him that people here might not support you, but we've shown him there are people all over that support you,” Phillips said. “It's really frustrating to him that people are being so immature.”

At the end of our interview, I ask young Will a question that might be a civics test nightmare for your average 10-year-old. Will's answer, though, is good enough — simple enough, true enough — to give me a little rush of goose pimples. What does being an American mean?

“Freedom of speech,” Will says, without even stopping to think. “The freedom to disagree. That's what I think pretty much being an American represents.”

Somewhere, Thomas Jefferson smiles

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A little levity for the day

Bob Sled

Musing from An Evolutionist

Bob the evolutionary apologist and Jesus hating atheist has challenged us ignoramus Christians in a series of never ending comments from a few weeks ago.

Bob is like a gift that keeps on giving for us bloggers...

The facts I listed are based on something called EVIDENCE. Can you say that word? Why don't you give it a try. Evidence, evidence, evidence. Please practice saying and understanding that important word.
As I mentioned in my very first post to Bob, evidence has to be interpreted. Can Bob say that word? Why doesn't he give it a try: interpreted, interpreted, interpreted. Bob is like all atheists -- really, all non-thinking people in society -- who believes evidence is self-defined and raw. In other words, because chimps have hair, eyes, a mouth, and fingers like people, why the two must be related in some way. Of course it's not that simplistic, but the idea is that the evidence for evolution is so plainly clear that one only denies it if he has been brainwashed by god-fairy non-sense as Bob calls it.

That, and he hasn't read the right books.
ERVs also known as Endogenous RetroViruses...

How does a creationist explain those ERVs found in the exact same place in two different species?...

The Disco retards say ERVs are functional, and therefore they are not evidence for evolution. It does not matter if ERVs are functional or not.

What matters is a ERV, which is inserted into the DNA of an individual animal long after that species first appears, and is inherited and can eventually spread throughout an entire species, and it becomes a DNA marker that identifies that species. What is interesting is many of the ERVs found in human DNA also appear in the exact same location in chimps. How is that possible? Well, since molecular biologists know ERVs are inherited, the only possible explanation is those ERVs were inherited from the same ancestor, the common ancestor of the two ape species, chimpanzee apes and human apes.

Here is a great example of the importance of interpreting evidence. ERVs, for the uninitiated, are considered to by evolutionary dogmatists to be inherited retroviruses that had infected a host and then integrates in the germ cell where it is then passed along in the following generations. As another atheist puts it: left over bits and pieces of retorviruses that have infected sperm and egg cells millions of years ago. They are considered to be part of the so-called "junk DNA" that supposedly comprises a good portion of our DNA. And, contrary to the confident claims of Bob, scientists are still at a place where they are baffled by the effects of ERVs and their purposes in the human genome.

Because, as Bob so aptly points out, some ERVs found in human DNA appear in the exact location in chimps, it is concluded this is proof of common descent. Evolutionists also attribute creative abilities to ERVs, such as our genome stealing from ERVs the ability to make a placenta for birth in mammals.

However, what seems to be conveniently ignored by Bob, as well as many evolutionists who hold up ERVs and other similar pieces of junk DNA as proof of common descent is the very thing Bob mocks the Discovery Institute articles of noting: That being, the more and more molecular biologists dig into the genome and our DNA, the more they are discovering these ERVs have a function. That means they aren't junk DNA left over from our past. Additionally, that would mean they aren't inherited, because functionality would invalidate the random insertion claim made by evolutionists. How could something be said to be "inherited" if it needed to play functional part of a complex biological system in order for it to even survive?

As a small minded, god fairy believing creationist, I would expect animals who share similar biological structures to have similar DNA patterns, if you will. Rather than demonstrating a common ancestor, I believe it demonstrates a common creator who has built into His creation the ability to survive and adapt in a large, diverse, and shared biosphere. And don't get me started on asking Bob where the genetic information for a ERV to function in a germ cell originated. Another sniggling "science of the gaps" detail Bob refuses to explain.

Bob, of course, rejects my interpretation out of hand, because he hates his Creator to begin with. Yet the more his glorious priest class of scientists unlock the mysteries of life, the more their secular fundamentalism runs afoul of reality, and the more those "Discotards," as Bob calls them, are vindicated.

Maybe Bob can see if he can invoke the first amendment to enforce the separation of church and technology?

*A little more about ERVs HERE

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Why am I not surprised?

Atheist Morals

Phil Johnson preached at big church yesterday on the first commandment.

Very well done.

As illustration of atheism, he talked a bit about the wretched demise of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the infamous crack-pot atheist woman who got prayer removed from school and founded American Atheists.

I would love to see a bio mini-series made on this woman's life that illustrates the folly of atheism.

The Murder of Madalyn Murray O'Hair: America's Most Hated Woman

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dembski's Theodicy

It has been my observation that when individuals must resort to strained definitions of biblical words in order to defend strange interpretations of scripture, they have an agenda in mind. Hence, if your theology is not derived exegetically from the text, more than likely you are out alone in left field drawing circles in the dirt.

Such is the case with well known ID champion William Dembski and the means by which he defends his particular theodicy, or "answer to the problem of evil." Originally his theodicy was presented in an on-line article that has since been turned into a book, The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World. A book that is regrettably endorsed with gushing remarks from other such apologetic luminaries like Hank Hanegraaff and J. P. Moreland. Steve Hays offers his overview of the book HERE.

Dr. Terry Mortenson also responds with a critique of Dembski's original article that not only interacts with his main arguments, but demonstrates why they fail to answer the question and how only a young earth creationist perspective can adequately explain the problem of suffering in the world.

Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science: A Young-Earth Creationist Response to William Dembski

The PDF is available HERE.

A few highlights:

I submit that this focus on “Christian theology” or “Christian theism” is an inadequate target to begin with. The goal ought to be to develop a theodicy that is consistent with properly interpreted biblical revelation. ...

In reality, the debate about the age of the universe is a conflict of worldviews—a conflict between the evolutionary, naturalistic, uniformitarian interpretations of some of the scientific data, on the one hand, and on the other hand the exegetically strong and historically orthodox young-earth creationist understanding of Scripture and the interpretations of the same data and more data based on biblical assumptions. These evolutionary interpretations are based on anti-biblical philosophical assumptions that dominate the modern scientific enterprise. But the scientific methods do not require these secular assumptions nor was modern science developed on the basis of these assumptions. Rather, it developed in the womb of the biblical worldview (Hooykaas 1972)....

It is a troubling mystery that in his acceptance of old-earth geology and astronomy Dembski, as a philosopher, seems to ignore this critically important philosophical point that young-earth creationists have been making for years in both scholarly and popular literature and in DVDs.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Living on a Prayer...

And too many beers...



HT: Dan the Man

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Darwin's Children

Commenter Escovado links to a rather profound article exploring the moral wasteland of the philosophy derived from natural selection.

Charles Darwin and the Children of the Evolution

Knowing how Bob loves to cite the certainty of evolutionary evidence, note these selection from the article and keep an eye out for the use of "scientific":

For many years after his death, Darwin’s racial theories remained the consensus position of the international scientific community. In 1906, the director of the Bronx Zoo decided to give New Yorkers an object lesson in human evolution by putting a 23-year-old Congolese pygmy on public display in his monkey house. The pygmy, Ota Benga, shared his cage with an orang-utan. The spectacle drew enormous crowds. Before long, they were asking the questions the exhibitors hoped they would: was Ota Benga an ape or a man? Or, as the zoo-keeper himself speculated, was this perhaps a transitional form between the two, the elusive missing link?
And

Darwinian ideas, eugenics and its ugly sister, eugenic euthanasia, were accepted by the mainstream of the German scientific and medical professions. Indeed, so convinced were the staff of the clinic at Kaufbeuren-Irsee in Bavaria that they were acting rationally that, even after Germany’s surrender in 1945, they carried on killing handicapped people under the American occupation, until a US officer led a squad of GIs to the hospital and ordered them to desist.

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Bob and Weave

Musings from An Evolutionist

Bob the evolutionist stopped by here a couple of weeks ago to regale us with his genius. We are truly blessed to have such a compassionate person of towering intellect to lower himself to unshackle us dimwitted creationists from the stupidity that has ensnared our minds.

The fact is chimpanzee apes, who developed from the same ancient ape ancestors we developed from, have many similarities to the modern human ape species, including both our good and bad qualities. That's just plain fact. You should read about Jane Goodall for more information.

Bob makes grand, sweeping claims regarding the explanatory power of evolution. He does this without providing any genuine evidence. He merely cites favored authorities, pronounces them correct, and declares me an idiot because I have never performed open heart surgery.

Bob, like many atheists I have encountered, is a master of the non-sequitur.

Yet, like most atheists I have encountered, Bob also suffers miserably from a self-inflicted myopia to the consequences of his own philosophical perspective. I had specifically pointed out the problem of why evolutionary atheists are grieved when a loved one, say a young wife and mother of four children, dies of cancer. Here we have a prime example of natural selection taking its cruel course -- of evolution in action -- weeding out the weaker members of a species. So why do humans, even atheists, grieve this loss? More to the point, why do atheists get angry with God when such things happen?

Bob suggested it was because we are biologically related to chimpanzees. Chimps show emotion when one within their group dies. Just like chimps, we humans are merely expressing a shared, biological response when one of our group dies. But, as I noted, and as a commenter confirmed, chimps eat their young, cannibalize their dead rivals, and gang rape females. However, we humans are repulsed viscerally by those behaviors among humans and critically judge any one who engages in such behaviors to the point of inflicting the death penalty. Why with chimps does such behavior make for a gruesome BBC documentary, yet with humanity we have law courts, build prisons, and put a man in the electric chair for such behavior?

This is the disconnect Bob keeps bobbing and weaving around. As much as he confidently argues the "evidence" shows chimps and humans to be related, there is a rather large bat smacking such a notion in the head: That hard why question. Bob, the secular bigot, has yet to give a meaningful account for this problem.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

STS-129

An interesting thing is going to happen in the next week, the Lord willing, on Monday, November 16th.

The space shuttle Atlantis will be going into orbit to meet up with the International Space Station. STS-129.

That is not necessarily interesting in and of itself. The cool thing is that there will be two Grace To You listeners on board at the exact same time. We know about Jeff Williams from Phil Johnson's posts. However, astronaut Barry Wilmore, who will be piloting the space shuttle, will also be on board with Jeff.

Both guys are committed Christians who love the ministry of my pastor and they will be together for a brief period of time on the ISS.

There is a "behind-the-scenes" video about the upcoming STS-129 mission. After the brief introduction, Barry Wilmore gives a run down as to what will be going on.

I am sure Phil will have more later at his place.

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FBT Updates

I just updated my lecture series on the Book of Daniel at my other website.

For those who have been following my series on eschatology, the messages make for a good supplement. Especially my material on Daniel 7.

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Happy Places

Four out of the six folks in our family have birthdays in November.

Thus, it provides for a perfect storm for parties and well wishes and the collection of blessing from our friends. For instances, we all go to Baskin-Robbins for a free ice cream and Islands for our free dessert.

Tomorrow we go to Disney Land for free admission into the park. Well, at least one kid gets in free.

There will probably be no serious blogging until Wednesday. Stay tuned.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Miss California, Again

Last May I had some harsh things to say about the then "Miss California" Carrie Prejean overnight skyrocketing to being a national spokesperson for family values and the ooggling she received from adoring traditional family evangelicals. To this day I am still mystified how a 21-year old beauty pagent winner (21-years old!!!) who would have otherwise been ignored by James Dobson, but was given two full days on "Focus on the Family" radio (and similar broadcast forums) just because her views on same-sex marriage was bad mouthed by a sleazy gay activist.

Now I wonder if there is any regret on behalf of these folks now that there has been a revelation of her being involved with a "sex" tape...

Carrie Prejean 'sex tape' spurred pagent settlement

I wonder if the scholarship offer from Liberty University still stands? Surely they have something in their student handbooks against making sex tapes.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Lights, Camera, Abortion!

A Rant

A hometown "progressive" blogger I frequent links to a news story about a controversial play being put on by our local community college. The play is entitled Keely and Du and it is suppose to thoughtfully raise important conversations surrounding abortion with even fair mindedness.

How exactly do these folks from the alternate dimension of absurdity we call "the performing arts" do this? What's the play all about? Well, imagine a story about a group of radical pro-lifers who kidnap an up-and-coming working gal who got pregnant when she was raped and they put her in a locked room and force her to carry her unwanted baby to birth.

Seriously...

Not even seeing the play, I'll bet a Costco ice cream bar dipped in chocolate the pro-life kidnappers speak with a hick, southern drawl when they quote Bible verses and use lots of "thees" and "thous."

And this moronic play is suppose to be a "controversial" drama on the subject of abortion? Really? Crazy pro-life kidnappers? Oh yes. Crazy pro-lifers are all the time kidnapping young, pregnant career women. What amazes me is how people sincerely think this farcical fairy tale represents genuine discussion on the subject of abortion.

What is it about leftist playwrights and film makers painting their ideological opponents in cartoonish motifs that don't exist? That have never existed. Its radical fundamentalist baptists blowing up schools, or killing astronomers (I am thinking of Sagan's Contact), or burning witches, or creating futuristic societies where abortions are outlawed and blue laws are everyday instead of just Sunday. It's not only ridiculous, but it's becoming an embarrassment.

Even more sad is when they present this hokum to the public, folks will stroke their chins, stare off into the distance, and attempt to ponder the depth of what they just witnessed. I'm surprised the story hasn't been adapted to an "After School Special" complete with teaching guides to lead group discussion.

Will any in their pro-abortion group ever stand up and say this kind of stuff is stupid?

Imagine, however, a play set in the near future, in which federal bureaucrats have succumbed to the propaganda of radical environmentalists who say the world cannot sustain a bulging population and they enact a one child only policy to save the earth. Planned Parenthood supporters are recruited to be neighborhood snitches and kidnappers who take pregnant, stay-at-home wives and force them to have abortions so that they will comply with the policy. One brave woman resists, and with the help of her family, brings forth a second child at the risk of great harm. I be that drama would be controversial.

The frightening thing: That really is a scenario that has come to pass in some countries and could possible come to pass here.

By the way, LaShawn Barber notes a story about a Planned Parenthood eugenicist abortion director who saw an ultra sound of an abortion and has quit the business out of human decency. I guess when you see the horror of child murder up close and personal it stirs up the image of God in man.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Studies in Eschatology [15]

A Physical or Spiritual Resurrection?

I have taken up a brief exegetical study of Revelation 20:1-10. The first two posts considered the concept of recapitulation and the second one, the binding of Satan. With this post I want to consider the subject of the First Resurrection.

Is the resurrection written about by John a physical resurrection of the saints from the dead, or does the Apostle mean to convey the idea of spiritual resurrection, as in being born again at salvation?

Those who read Revelation 20 according to Augustine's hermeneutic generally interpret the "first resurrection" of 20:4, 5 as meaning a spiritual resurrection. What is also termed in the NT as regeneration or the new birth. There are a handful of NT passages that liken spiritual new life with resurrection. For example, in Romans 6:4-6, Paul uses the imagery of Christ's death, burial, and Resurrection to illustrate the spiritual new birth Christians experience at salvation. Paul also uses similar imagery in Colossians 2:12, 13 where he describes the believer's new life as having been buried with Christ in baptism and raised with Him through faith. In Ephesians 2:4-6, Paul speaks of our spiritual birth as having been made alive and raised up to sit in the heavenlies with Christ.

The difficulty with using these passages as proof-texts for interpreting the first resurrection in Revelation 20 as being spiritual, however, is that Paul merely contrasts the spiritual birth of a believer with the physical Resurrection of Christ. He does not call the spiritual regenerating experience a "resurrection." Certainly there is a picture of new spiritual life as opposed to an old spiritual life dead in sin. On account of Christ's physical Resurrection, the believer can be certain of the efficacy of spiritual regeneration and fix his hope in a future physical resurrection. However, the actual word "resurrection" is reserved to describe a real, physical event: A dead body brought back to physical life.

Yet, when we come to Revelation 20:4-6, can the concept of the "first resurrection" genuinely means a spiritual new birth? Would this be the one place where the terminology of "resurrection," a word meant to describe a physical event, be used to describe a spiritual reality? I don't believe so, and in point of fact, one strains the exegetical-grammatical boundaries of the text of scripture in order to make the first resurrection in Revelation 20:5 be a spiritual one rather than a physical one. Let me examine three key, exegetical points from John's discussion of the first resurrection that demonstrates this resurrection is physical and not spiritual.

The exclusive use of the word resurrection. The English word "resurrection" is translated from the Greek word anastasis and it basically has the idea of "raising up." Anastasis is used 42 times throughout the NT, and it is used almost exclusively to describe a raising up of the physical dead. A person dies, but then at a later point in time is fully brought back to life. Lazarus in John 11 serves as a perfect picture of the use of the word anastasis. If anastasis is meant to convey a spiritual new birth here in Revelation 20, it is the only place in the entire NT where this usage is to be found.

The near exclusive use of anastasis in the NT to describe physical resurrection ruins the Augustine view of this "first resurrection" in Revelation 20:5 as being spiritual. It is such a major grammatical point that those who utilize Augustine's hermeneutics to interpret chapter 20 have a difficult time explaining how it fits into their system. Probably the most popular explanation is the one set forth by Meredith Kline which is repeated by Kim Riddlebarger in his book on Amillennialism [Riddlebarger, 218-223].

It centers on the word protos, which is translated as "first" in the phrase, "the first resurrection." Kline argues that rather than understanding protos to mean first in a chronological, sequential manner, first, second, etc., protos should be understood as referring to "a different kind," that being something new replacing something old. In this case, the second resurrection, which is understood as the physical resurrection of the saints is different in kind to the first resurrection that was a spiritual new birth. Kline (and Riddlebarger following him) appeal to Revelation 21:1 where John states how the new heaven and new earth replace the first heaven and the first earth, which is understood as being obviously different in kind. He also appeals to the use first-second/old-new in Hebrews 8-10 and 1 Corinthians 15 and then applies them all to interpreting 20:5. However, as Steve Sullivan points out, "the chronological usage of protos is overwhelmingly used in the NT and especially in the book of Revelation (Rev. 1:17; 2:4, 5; 2:8; 4:1,7; 8:7; 13:12; 16:2)" [Sullivan, 35]. Additionally Sullivan writes,

"It is also important to stress that the subject is resurrection (20:5) and "came to life" (vv. 4, 5) in combination of with protos. ... the concept of first (first fruits) is found with "has been raised" (having the thought of resurrection) in 1 Corinthians 15:20 and 23. We find no antithetical aspect to Paul's order of resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:20 and 23. Christ's first fruits of resurrection is followed by the same concept of resurrection for "those who are Christ's at His coming" (v. 23). " [ibid]

So rather than this being a different kind of "resurrection" in that it's another way of saying spiritual "regeneration," the clearer meaning of the text, especially when all the exegetical data is considered, tells us this is a physical resurrection that precedes another physical resurrection that is separated by a period of time, i.e., a geo-political kingdom that lasts 1,000 years.

The use of the word ezesan - "to live." The word ezesan is translated as "they lived." In other NT contexts the word can mean coming to life spiritually as in the new birth. But in the context of Revelation 20:4, 5, the subject is physically dead people who are brought back to life. There is one important detail to consider between these two verses. Ezesan is used to describe those coming to life at the first resurrection, as well as those coming to life at the second resurrection. If the first is meant to be taken as speaking of spiritual resurrection, then why are we to understand the exact same word used in the same context in an entirely different way? That being, to describe those who came to life physically during the second resurrection? If a spiritual resurrection is meant with the first (vs. 4), but a physical resurrection with the second (vs. 5), such suggests an arbitrary change in meaning that is not indicated by the text.

The presence of martyrs. One of the more glaring problems with the spiritual resurrection position is the fact of martyrs being described as those who lived again and partook in the first resurrection. These are individuals who had been beheaded for their witness of Christ and because they would not worship the beast. As Seiss notes, "Spiritual resurrection is out of the question, for they were spiritually resurrected before they became martyrs, and could not be holy martyrs without it" [Seiss, 460]. In other words, for them to actually be martyrs -- to be beheaded for their witness for Christ -- they had to have been spiritually resurrected before then. Martyrs are martyred for their faith, a faith that comes at spiritual birth.


*******
Sources:


Kim Riddlebarger, The Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End-times. (Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, MI, 2008).

J.A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation. (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 1973).

Steve Sullivan, Premillennialism and an Exegesis of Revelation 20. On-line paper.

Matthew Waymeyer, Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate. (Kress Christian Publications: The Woodlands TX, 2004).

The New International Dictionary of NT Theology (Vol. 3), ed. Colin Brown. (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 2003).

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Monday, November 02, 2009

In Case You Forgot

Bro. Marc Grizzard and his 20 member congregation had their good ole fashion book burning this past Saturday.

No pictures, but he does supply a report:

Longsuffering with idiots...

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LEGO Reproductions

Start things off light this week as I write up my next entry on eschatology.

This one's for Dan.

Historical photographic reproductions done in LEGOs.

Mildly entertaining for those of you who like me played with them.

Beware. Some of the reproductions are based upon some risque photography.

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