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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Books I read (and heard) in 2009

*1/1/10 - See my update under my last entry for Hobart Freeman's work.

Everyone and their mama, baby brothers, and dog do a year's end list. I tend to shy away from top anything lists because I am never creative enough to put one together. However, I do know books, so I thought I would share my favorite books I read and heard in 2009.

Audio books

I started listening to audio books this year. There are a few periods during my day where I am doing repetitious activity with my work, so I tend to stand or sit in one place for a couple of hours. I would load the Ipod and listen to sermons or the podcasts of favorite radio programs. Regrettably, all of my favorite Townhall radio programs moved from free podcast downloads to subscription based podcasts. I was bugged to no end when this happened for a number of reasons, but suffice it to say, it was beyond my control. I could only grouse and seethe to myself.

I had a limited supply of James White's Dividing Line and other similar podcasts and once I exhausted them, I would be stuck doing my repetitive work in silence. So. I thought, "Why not see if there are some books I can listen to" and thus I was introduced to an entirely new world. Like the first time I saw color television (You 80's born people may not relate).

I listened to three big books via audio this past year:

The Looming Tower: AL-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. Lawrence Wright weaves together the biographical and historical background of the whole Al-Qaeda movement. Honestly, if Christians want to gain a genuine insight as to why radical Muslims think the way they do, this book is a must read. The first chapter specifically, because Wright details the life of the Egyptian Islamic intellectual, Sayyid Qutb. He studied in the United States in the late 40s after WW2, and it was his bigoted, anti-west sentiments he took back with him to Egypt where he undertook the development of his views of Islam and became the leading scholar for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Heroes: From Alexander the Great to Julius Caesar to Churchill and De Gaulle. Paul Johnson is one of my favorite historians and this wonderful book is a collection of biographical sketches of historical figures of whom I only had a surface knowledge. He begins by covering biblical folks like David and Samson and moves all the way to the 20th century even covering the lives of otherwise "unheroic" people like Mae West. After I listened to the audio presentation of the book, I checked it out of the library to read some of the more interesting portions. I reproduced his brief section on Emily Dickinson.

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. Stephen Ambrose is more known for his books chronicling the history of the second world war, but he has also engaged in writing about non-war related material. I have this book on my self, and I have always wanted to read his telling of the Lewis and Clark expedition, but other reading interests got in my way. When I came across the audio edition of the unbridged book, I picked it up and downloaded it onto my Ipod. It is a tremendous study of a significant portion of American history. I also gained a greater appreciation of Thomas Jefferson as our 3rd president.

Now for normal books

Faith's Reasons for Believing: An Apologetic Antidote to Mindless Christianity by Robert Reymond. This is a book gathered together from the notes and syllabus of Reymond's class on the theology of apologetics. The book is a bit heady, but is still laymen friendly. He covers how our apologetics must be built upon sound theology and how we are to use good theology in the presentation of the Christian faith. He has a big section interacting with B.B. Warfield's "Common Sense" apologetic that dominated Princeton seminary during his time teaching.

I have been teaching through the book of Daniel. Two of the commentaries most helpful for me:

Daniel in the New American Commentary series by Stephen Miller. Covers all the issues in the book. Interacts with liberal and non-premillennial scholars alike and presents a compelling case for a premillennial reading of the prophecy.

and

Daniel and the Latter-days by Robert Duncan Culver. The book is sadly -- and I mean grievously sad -- out of print, but used copies can be found on-line at various places. It is hands down the absolute best exegetical defenses of premillennialism I have read in print. The link takes you to an on-line edition, though I would recommend trying to get the book.

Toward a Biblical View of Civil Government by Robert Duncan Culver. Another book desperately in need of a re-print and much more difficult to find. I was given Culver's systematic theology last year and I loved it. I became interested in his books and found a copy of his study on civil government on line. In fact, if memory serves, my wife sniped it for me off Ebay.

The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming Under Attack by Tim Lahaye and Thomas Ice. By far one of the worst titled books in print. There should be publishers lined up to be flogged for it. The title doesn't tell you anything as to what the book is about. What it is about, however, is a collection of articles interacting and answering the hermeneutics of preterism. I came across this book while preparing my blog articles on eschatology. The authors are not so much concerned with "hyper preterism" as they are with just the garden variety preterism. Gary Demar and Ken Gentry and their allies are the primary authors cited in the chapters. If a person wants to read sound refutation to preterism, this book provides some of the most withering that can be found any where.

Coming to Grips with Genesis. Here is another book that is a collection of essays by a group of solid scholars. With this book, they address the topic of how we are to read Genesis. Anyone claiming to believe Genesis allows for long, deep time ages will have to interact seriously with the argumentation put forth in this book. The link leads to a longer review I did this past year.


Anne Boleyn: One Short Life that Changed the English Speaking World by Colin Hamer. One of my British friends gave me this short, biographical book on the second wife of Henry VIII. The author argues that Anne had become a Reformation friendly Christian under the tutelage of the French Reformed evangelical, Marguerite d' Angouleme. Her life was tragically cut short when she married Henry and became the object of political intrigue with in his court.


An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets by Hobart Freeman. Then one final book that is also sadly out-of-print. Moody should be ashamed to have let it expire. At any rate, I was reading professor Rosscup's book evaluating commentaries earlier this year and Freeman's book is mentioned multiple times in the section on the OT prophets as a must-get introduction. I happened to find an inexpensive used copy at Amazon and snagged it. I have really enjoyed reading it. The one element of the book that I find outstanding is how Freeman arranges the introduction to the prophets in chronological order of their ministries. It was helpful in framing their ministry to Israel in the proper, historical context.

UPDATE: I had a dear saint email me and tell me that one reason Moody may have let Freeman's book go out of print is the fact he became a health-and-wealth charismatic in the mid-60s and continued so until his death in 1984. Just glancing over the Wikipedia biography of Freeman, he appears to have drifted into all sorts of wackiness. A better article detailing his "conversion" if we wish to call it that, is written by J. J. Davis, a former OT professor at Grace Theological Seminary in Indiana who was a former student of Freeman's. All I can say is that the book has no hint of his charismatic tendencies, and in point of fact, chapter 8 in the book is called "The Cessation of OT Prophesy, and Prophesy in the NT" and merely notes how the prophetic gifts played a role in the foundation of the NT Church. He doesn't say anything about the gifts being practiced in today's congregations. In spite of these disturbing revelations about the man, his book I have found to be well done and informative and a good resource for introducing the OT prophets.

Welp, those are the main books that occupied my time this past year. I just started reading Alva McClain's, Greatness of the Kingdom which I am loving, along with a few others I picked up recently at Archives in Pasadena. Hopefully, my brief reviews spur my readers on to reading good stuff this next year.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

That Red Button

You know those little red buttons on the sides of a gas pump that read something like, "In Case of Emergency." If you are wondering what it does,



I figure that if my cell phone triggers a fire, or maybe the static electricity of my finger when I get in and out of my car, I now know how to save my babies.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Bone Storms

I thought this may had been a mere re-write of Bergman's previous material on the subject of fraud among paleoanthropologists - Bone Wars, but he has new stuff to report.

Fraud and Forgery in Paleoanthropology (PDF is HERE)

Here's the summary:

A review of the history of paleoanthropology leads to the conclusion that the discipline is far less objective than that for physics, chemistry, or even biology. The field is rife with controversy and fraud, including outright faking. Classic examples include Piltdown man and Hesperopithecus, but many other less well-known examples exist that are reviewed in this paper. Several well-documented examples are cited in some detail to illustrate the types of problems encountered, and the results of fraud in paleoanthropology.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fundy Flame throwers and Other Delights

Ultra fundamentalist fire breather, Kent Brandenburg, has condemned us folks at Grace Church for being a bunch of hypocrites. He read through my Bob Johnson Report back near the end of November of this year and concludes that ole Bobby may have a point.

It breaks down sort of like this:

Bob Johnson practices what I would call a Conspiracy Driven Life. Practically everything supposedly "wrong" with contemporary evangelical church can be traced back to the United Nations, the CFR, Hegelian Marxists, and Al Mohler according to Bob Johnson's worldview. In response to Bob's kooky accusations against my church allegedly engaging in Hegelian Marxism and Total Quality Management within our singles ministries, I merely pointed out to him what true church growth philosophy of which we are concerned with at Grace really looks like.

I wrote,

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.

Enter then Kent Brandenburg, freshly returned from rescuing the soul's of men from the villainy of Facebook, Molotov cocktails lit and in hand. He and his ready squad of anti-lordship head waggers ready themselves to lob them at those hypocritical neo-Calvinist MacArthurites. He zeroed in on three points in my outline quoted above: 1) the trendy music replacing good worship music, 2) the emphasis on getting people to feel comfortable rather than on sound doctrinal teaching, 3) attempting to be relevant toward current cultural issues.

It is with these three points Kent is convinced we are hypocritical because the single ministry The Guild (one of the key ministries criticized by Bob the wacko) and the college department's yearly Resolved conference, both use contemporary Christian music in their services. Kent then makes all the grand leaps of logic we have come to expect from Fundamentalists over the years and basically concludes:


"If I THINK the music is worldly in sound and style, it's sinful, period. And you're all indulging the sins of the flesh if you like it. Sinners!"

A few things to note with Kent's rant:

First of all, Grace Church has always set a high standard for worship music in both theological content, style, and performance. Sunday evenings is a bit more contemporary in sound than Sunday mornings, but the music is well done, God honoring, and theologically sound in lyrical content in spite of what Kent and his flame throwers may think about it.

Second, Kent criticizes The Guild (and Mainstream, a young marriage fellowship class) for allowing a band called The Narrow Gate to perform their take on classic Christmas hymns for a fellowship get together. But that band linked on his website is not the same band that played at a Christmas party on a Saturday night. They were a group of local attendees to our church who sang. Kent is totally wrong about this, which is typical of the type of flame throwing coming from his brand of Fundamentalism.

Third, the Resolved conference takes place off site of Grace Community Church and it doesn't reflect the general tone of worship set during the main worship services of our church. That means that yes - horrors - the music is probably more edgy, fast paced, rock-and-rolling sounding than for Kent's tastes. It is, of course, geared toward younger folks. I would even say - and this comes from a guy who likes good rock-and-roll - I don't necessarily care for it either. I realize Kent may think we have a Christianized Burning Man festival happening out in the desert above Palm Springs. He even quotes another unbalanced fundamentalist, Peter Masters, who basically says that; but what I personally prefer with music does not mean what I don't like is automatically sinful and ungodly and Christians can't listen to it.

Kent then goes on to ask some heart penetrating questions:

Where in Scripture do we see the church segmented like this? Where does God's Word say that one part of the church will have a different emphasis than others or will accomplish what it does in a different way than the rest of the church? Where in the Bible does this philosophy come from? And what is tone?

Well, Kent, "Where does the Bible say we can't have different emphasis?" The Church is a diversity of gifted individuals unified around the Gospel. Resolved may have music you dislike and think is wicked, but that's you, and what you personally dislike doesn't equate to being sinful. That's the logical disconnect among Fundamentalists of Kent's stripe. In truth, the music is theologically rich in content and played well and is merely the supplement to the hours of solid, Bible believing theologically sound preaching those young people hear during the week.

And then to make sure he heads off any rightful criticism to his muddled thinking he has tried to pass off as "standing for truth," Kent remarks,

I can already hear the defenses. I've read them over at Pyromaniacs among other Grace Community and MacArthur apologists. The defenses are very similar to those offered in revivalist fundamentalism. The one criticizing us "has a small group of supporters." "He's a hyper fundamentalist." He's one of those "King James Only types." In other words, no substantial defense, just name-calling and blatant arrogance.

Talk about irony, especially with that last "blatant arrogance" comment. At any rate, there is a reason you hear those defenses Kent. THAT'S BECAUSE THEY ARE TRUE!

You're a small group of hyper minded individuals who equate their personal preferences with biblical truth that you think should be held by all Christians and anyone who challenges your claim to the facts of the matter are blatantly called arrogant for disagreeing with you.

It couldn't be any clearer.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and all that

See updates

















Blogging will be sparse the next few days due to the obvious holiday exuberance. I have a few articles I want to write up and post over the next week, including an introductory one related to my next blogging theme of defending premillennial eschatology.

In the meantime, enjoy yourself by checking out these Christmas fun facts. If anyone can explain to me how they did the math in the first part of #4 I would appreciate it.

Also, let's stroll down memory lane of Christmas blogs past and revisit Pecadillo's yuletide hot tub story.













I found this amusing little video over at Dan's place. Reminded me of a rather terse comment exchange I had with a couple of anti-homeschoolers at a local blog in my town.





How about this modern take on the Island of Misfit Toys? King Moon Raiser is looking better than ever, but I can certainly understand now why nobody wanted the Charlie in the Box.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Known Universe

I had a friend shoot me this link earlier this week. I thought it was pretty awesome in spite of its assumptions of big bang cosmology. It certainly puts into perspective the sheer limits of what men really know about our place in space. In turn, it also puts into perspective the grand inexhaustibility of our Creator. What we know in theology as those "omni" attributes.

I would embed the video, but the link takes you to a much better -- and cooler -- HD presentation.

The Known Universe

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Avatar as a Pantheistic Apologia

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gleanings from Daniel [3]

An Uncompromising Life (Daniel 1:3-21)

Judah had repeatedly sinned against God. Prophet after prophet would call them to repentance, yet the people mistreated them and stopped up their ears to their messages. As a result, judgment began to come upon the southern kingdom in 605 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar led the Babylonians into the land and began to take many captives with them back to Babylon.

Among those individuals taken during that first deportation were Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

As I noted previously, as far as the Babylonians were concerned, their gods had defeated the Jews and their God. The Jewish God had no ability to defend them against the power of the Babylonian gods. In a manner of speaking, God's reputation was on the line. However, what appears to be despairing circumstances are being directed by the true absolute sovereign God of all. He providentially arranges things so that His chosen servants are established in the right place to bring ultimate glory to the one and only God. What appears at first glance to be the stripping of their cultural upbringing and the brainwashing to think like Babylonians is the means God uses to put these four young men, most specifically Daniel, right where He wants them. During the entire re-educational process, these four teenage youth maintain their personal commitment to God and their individual integrity before their captors

Let us consider three broad points as we look at the uncompromising lives of these men of God:

1) Their Training [3-7]

Verse 3 begins with Neb. instructing Ashpenaz, the master of the Eunuchs, to bring some of the children of the captive Jews into the process of being educated as Chaldeans. Ashpenaz was a significant official. He facilitated the education of the men nearest the royal court. In a manner of speaking, he was like the assistant manager for the king.

He is described as an eunuch, and the misconception regarding eunuchs is that they were physically emasculated, but this is probably not the case seeing such a treatment would make the person "blemished" (vs. 4). It was Ashpenaz's primary duty to select individuals for this elite training for high, royal office. From a worldly perspective, such a selection would be an honor, however, for Daniel and his friends, they were captives with no other choice.

One should be drawn to considering the prophecy being fulfilled in this passage. In Isaiah 39:7 God spoke through the prophet who rebuked the foolishness of Hezekiah who showed the then Babylonian officials the treasures of the temple by saying, And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. Daniel and his three friends were more than likely of royal descent and blood relatives.

Their training consisted of a few things:

Qualities

Ashpenaz was to consider some important qualities in the young men he chose:

-- First, they were to be "young men." Perhaps as young as 14-17 years of age. They were basically junior high/high school aged kids.

-- Without blemish. In other words, "good looking" or attractive with no physical handicaps.

-- Intelligent. Those men with "understanding and knowledge." They had the ability to comprehend facts and draw wise decisions quickly. Good students who were fast learners.

-- Respectable manners. Those who had good graces and manners to stand before the king.

Daniel and his three friends met all the qualification the world considers important, even to this day. However, there is nothing to say about their spiritual character.

Education

They captives chosen by Ashpenaz were to be educated-- probably better stated as "re-educated" -- according to the language and literature of the Chaldeans. The Chaldeans were originally a separate class in Babylon, but as the empire grew, the Chaldean religion and philosophy dominated all the Babylonian culture.

The language they were taught was more than likely Akkadian, and the "literature" they had to learn may had included a wide variety of subjects such as the Chaldean religion, mathematics, science, and politics all filtered through the Chaldean worldview. The process was to take three years, just like the amount of time it takes for a young person to attend our modern colleges. Interestingly, just like in today's universities and colleges, the young people are being re-educated along same worldview lines as these four Hebrew youth.

Identity

There was one final element to the training of these young men: A re-identification of their personal identity. They had their Jewish names taken away and were given new Babylonian names. In Jewish life, a person's name identified who they were and that name often incorporated the person and attributes of God almighty giving it specially meaning.

Daniel's name meant God is Judge
But his name was changed to "Belteshazzer" which is derived from the Babylonian god, Bel.
Thus, his new name meant Bel, protect his life

The same happened with his buddies,

Hananiah means YHWH is gracious. His name is changed to "Shadrach," meaning
Command of Aku, possibly the moon-god.

Mishael name meant, Who is What the Lord is?
It was changed to "Meshach" Who is What Aku is?

Lastly, Azariah's name meant The Lord is my helper and was changed to
"Abednego," The servant of Nebo.

All of these young men had every opportunity to compromise their faith in God. They are no longer at home. They are basically by themselves. Who would honestly know if they gave into their new Babylonian culture? Who would even really care? They all knew that God would care.

2) The Challenge [8-14]

There was one area where these young men would not compromise: Eating the king's food.
The rations from the kings table, which would be the best food available in the entire kingdom.

What's the big deal about eating food? There really was nothing in violation of God's law with regards to a "secular" education. Nothing sinful about working for a secular, pagan government; or even accepting a new name. But there is one violation of God's law, and that was with the eating of food that violates the food laws prescribed in Leviticus.

Even though it was the best food available from the very table of the king, it wasn't prepared according to the manner the Lord said to prepare it. The meat would be what had been declared as "unclean" food, such as horse meat, a common dish among Babylonians of that era. Additionally, the food was more than likely sacrificed to idols that reflected the false worship of the Babylonians.

Some would ask, What's the big deal for them to eat of the king's food? They would even suggest God would certainly "understand such a compromise" Again, nobody from Israel would know. Moreover, it is politically expedient to do so for their own safety, because their life may depend upon their obedience to their new masters. Yet, in spite of what appears to be merely a trivial compromise in the minds of many, Daniel purposed not to defile himself with the king's food.

Obviously the fortitude of his convictions was certain to get him and his friends into trouble. Additionally, their rejection of the king's food would endanger the life of Ashpenaz as well. He recognized the threat for acting disobediently against his duties. Thankfully, however, God had brought Daniel into his good graces and so rather than giving the appearance of being "rebellious" against the king's orders, Daniel suggested a challenge. He requested that for 10 days they be allowed to eat only vegetables and water. If they looked sickly after the 10 days, they could deal with them in whatever way they saw fit.

3) God's Blessing [15-21]

After the 10 days, the appearance of these four young men appeared better and fatter in flesh. Or as the KJV states it, fairer and fatter. Of course, I have never thought being pale and chubby was a good thing, but I digress...

I have listened to many a food "pharisee" who insists the reason they were all healthy was because they ate exclusively a vegetarian diet. Hence, if we all would leave off eating any and all meat, we too will be healthy like these four young men. But their appearance is not related to their exclusive vegetarian diet. It was the Lord who blessed their commitment to His laws before their masters.

Yet, not only were their convictions honored by their masters, God also gave them knowledge and skill in the subjects they were required to learn. On top of blessing their educational efforts, the Lord blessed their performance before Neb. and the royal court. There was none found in all the kingdom as wise and knowledgeable as Daniel and his friends. Moreover, their reputation went throughout all the empire.

Most importantly, though, Daniel became a mouth piece for divine revelation. What the texts means when it says he "had understanding in all visions and dreams." God was setting Daniel in place to be His divine representative not only for God before the king, but also to provide a means to protect Israel while they were in captivity.

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I'm in the top 20!

Online family Norton released the list of 100 most searched topics by kids.
The 19th most searched topic: "Fred"

How about them apples?

"Fred" is higher up on the list than "Wal-mart" and "Lady Gaga." Heck, "Megan Fox" didn't even make the top fifty.

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FBT Updates

Just uploaded a couple of messages on the 8th chapter of Daniel.

They are from my continuing devotional study on the book of Daniel as a whole.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

The Slaughter of the Innocents

Gordon Franz of the Associates for Biblical Research breaks down the history behind this grim event in the early life of Jesus Christ.

The Slaughter of the Innocents: Historical Fact or Legendary Fiction?

In the December 2008 issue of National Geographic there was a well illustrated article on the recent excavations at the Herodian. This was the final burial place of Herod the Great, located 5 ½ kilometers southeast of Bethlehem as the angels fly. In the article, the author made this bold statement, reflecting current historical and theological understanding: “Herod is best known for slaughtering every male infant in Bethlehem in an attempt to kill Jesus. He is almost certainly innocent of this crime” (Mueller 2008:42). Was Herod the Great really innocent of this crime, or did this criminal act actually happen?


Michael Grant, a popular writer on historical themes says of the Massacre of the Innocents: “The tale is not history but myth or folk-lore” (1971:12). He went on to say, Herod became known as “Herod the Wicked, villain of many a legend, including the Massacre of the Innocents: the story is invented, though it is based, in one respect, on what is likely to be a historical fact, since Jesus Christ was probably born in one of the last years of Herod’s reign” (1971:228-229). Elsewhere he says, “Matthew’s story of the Massacre of the Innocents by Herod the Great, because he was afraid of a child born in Bethlehem ‘to be King of the Jews’, is a myth allegedly fulfilling a prophecy by Jeremiah and mirroring history’s judgment of the great but evil potentate Herod, arising from many savage acts during the last years before his death in 4 BC” (1999:71). Was the slaughter of the innocents a tale, myth, folk-lore, or legend? Or was it a historical event?


Unfortunately archaeologists have yet to excavate the archives of the Jerusalem Post from the year 4 BC! Nor does the first century AD Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus record this event in any of his writings. Even though secular history is silent on this event it does not mean it did not occur. When the life of Herod the Great is examined, this event is very consistent with his character and actions so this is pointing to the fact that it did happen as recorded in Holy Scripture.


The Gospel of Matthew records the event in this manner: “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more’” (2:16-18, NKJV).


Herod’s Paranoia


In 1988 I was attending a lecture at the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies by Dr. Isaiah Gafni, a leading authority on the Second Temple period at the Hebrew University. His topic was the life of Herod the Great. Sitting next to me was Dr. Bruce Narramore, a Christian psychologist from Biola University.


Dr. Gafni recounted a seminar that was held at Hebrew University a few years before. Attending it were historians and archaeologists of the Second Temple period as well as psychiatrists and psychologists. They laid out (figuratively speaking) Herod the Great on the psychiatric couch and preceded to psychoanalyze him. The historians explained a recurring pattern in the life of Herod. He would hear a rumor that somebody was going to bump him off and take over his throne, but Herod would kill that person first. He would then go into depression. After awhile he would come out of his depression and would build, build, build. He would hear another rumor and would kill that person, then go into another depression. After awhile he would come out of this depression and would build, build, build. This cycle repeated itself a number of times in which numerous people were killed, including one of his ten wives as well as three of his sons! The shrinks diagnosed Herod the Great as a paranoid schizophrenic.


After the lecture I turned to Dr. Narramore and asked his analysis of Herod: “Well, do you think he was a paranoid schizophrenic?” Bruce laughed and said, “No, he was a jerk!” [That is a direct quote!]. Recently a historical / psychological analysis was done on Herod the Great and he was diagnosed with Paranoid Personality Disorder (Kasher and Witztum 2007:431).


The Historical Plausibility of the Slaughter of the Innocents


It is true; Josephus does not record the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem. He does, however, record a number of ruthless murders by Herod in order to keep his throne secure.


Herod was crowned “King of the Jews” by the Roman Senate in 40 BC in Rome. He was, however, a king without a kingdom. Upon his return to the Land of Israel, he was given a Roman army and was eventually able to capture Jerusalem. The first order of business was to eliminate his Hasmonean predecessors. Mattathias Antigonus was executed with the help of Mark Antony and Herod killed 45 leading men of Antigonus’ party in 37 BC (Antiquities 15:5-10; LCL 8:5-7). He had the elderly John Hyrcanus II strangled over an alleged plot to overthrow Herod in 30 BC (Antiquities 15:173-178; LCL 8:83-85).


Herod continued to purge the Hasmonean family. He eliminated his brother-in-law, Aristobulus, who was at the time an 18 year old High Priest. He was drowned in 35 BC by Herod’s men in the swimming pool of the winter palace in Jericho because Herod thought the Romans would favor Aristobulus as ruler of Judea instead of him (Antiquities 15:50-56; LCL 8:25-29; Netzer 2001:21-25). He also had his Hasmonean mother-in-law, Alexandra (the mother of Mariamme) executed in 28 BC (Antiquities 15:247-251; LCL 8:117-119). He even killed his second wife Miriamme in 29 BC. She was his beloved Hasmonean bride whom he loved to death [literally, no pun intended] (Antiquities 15:222-236; LCL 8:107-113).


Around 20 BC, Herod remitted one third of the people’s taxes in order to curry favor with them, however, he did set up an internal spy network and eliminated people suspected of revolt, most being taken to Hyrcania, a fortress in the Judean Desert (Antiquities 15:365-372; LCL 8:177-181).


Herod also had three of his sons killed. The first two, Alexander and Aristobulus, the sons of Mariamme, were strangled in Sebaste (Samaria) in 7 BC and buried at the Alexandrium (Antiquities 16:392-394; LCL 8:365-367; Netzer 2001:68-70). The last, only five days before Herod’s own death, was Antipater who was buried without ceremony at Hyrcania (Antiquities 17:182-187; LCL 8:457-459; Netzer 2001:75; Gutfeld 2006:46-61).


Herod the Great became extremely paranoid during the last four years of his life (8-4 BC). On one occasion, in 7 BC, he had 300 military leaders executed (Antiquities 16:393-394; LCL 8:365). On another, he had a number of Pharisees executed in the same year after it was revealed that they predicted to Pheroras’ wife [Pheroras was Herod’s youngest brother and tetrarch of Perea] “that by God’s decree Herod’s throne would be taken from him, both from himself and his descendents, and the royal power would fall to her and Pheroras and to any children they might have” (Antiquities 17:42-45; LCL 8:393). With prophecies like these circulating within his kingdom, is it any wonder Herod wanted to eliminate Jesus when the wise men revealed the new “king of the Jews” had been born (Matt. 2:1-2)?! (For a full discussion of these historical events, see France 1979 and Maier 1998).


Macrobius (ca. AD 400), one of the last pagan writers in Rome, in his book Saturnalia, wrote: “When it was heard that, as part of the slaughter of boys up to two years old, Herod, king of the Jews, had ordered his own son to be killed, he [the Emperor Augustus] remarked, ‘It is better to be Herod’s pig [Gr. hys] than his son’ [Gr. huios]” (2.4.11; cited in Brown 1993:226). Macrobius may have gotten some of his historical facts garbled, but he could have given us a chronological key as well. If he was referring to the death of Antipater in 4 BC, the slaughter of the Innocents would have been one of the last, if not the last, brutal killings of Herod before he died. What is also interesting is the word-play in the quote attributed to Augustus- “pig” and “son” are similar sounding words in Greek. Herod would not kill a pig because he kept kosher, at least among the Jews; yet he had no qualms killing his own sons!


Why did Josephus not record this event?


There are several possible explanations as to why Josephus did not record this event. First, Josephus, writing at the end of the first century AD may not have been aware of the slaughter in Bethlehem at the end of the first century BC. There were some pivotal events in the first century AD that Josephus does not record. For example, the episode of the golden Roman shields in Jerusalem which was the cause of the bad blood between Herod Antipas and Pontus Pilate (cf. Luke 23:12). It was the Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria that recorded this event (Embassy to Gaius 38:299-305; Maier 1969:109-121). It should also be pointed out that Josephus got some of his information from Nicolas of Damascus who was Herod the Greats friend and personal historian. Nicolas may not have recorded such a terrible deed so as not to blacken the reputation of his friend any more than he had too (Brown 1993:226, footnote 34).


Second, the massacre might not have been as large as later church history records. The Martyrdom of Matthew states that 3,000 baby were slaughtered. The Byzantine liturgy places the number at 14,000 and the Syrian tradition says 64,000 innocent children were killed (Brown 1993:205). Yet Professor William F. Albright, the dean of American archaeology in the Holy Land, estimates that the population of Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth to be about 300 people (Albright and Mann 1971:19). The number of male children, two years old or younger, would be about six or seven (Maier 1998:178, footnote 25). This would hardly be a newsworthy event in light of what else was going on at the time. Please do not get me wrong, one innocent child being killed is a horrific tragedy.

Based on the date of Jesus’ birth provided by Clement of Alexandria (ca. 200 AD), Jesus would have been born on May 14, 6 BC (Faulstich 1998:109-112). The wise men from the east do not arrive in Jerusalem to visit Herod and then go on to Bethlehem until at least 50 days after the birth of the Lord Jesus, but more than likely a year to a year and a half later. When Mary performed the ritual of purification for her firstborn in the Temple she offered two turtledoves, the offering of the poor (Luke 2:22-24; cf. Lev. 12:8). If the wise men had already arrived with their gold, frankincense and myrrh, Mary would have been obligated to offer a lamb and would have had the means to do so (Lev. 12:6). Herod inquired of the wise men when the star first appeared and instructed them to go and find the “King of the Jews” and return and tell him so he could go and worship the young Child as well (Matt. 2:7-9). Herod realized he was tricked when the wise men returned home another way after they were warned in a dream of Herod’s evil intentions (2:12). Herod calculated the age of the young Child based on the testimony of the wise men as to when the star first appeared. He ordered the killing of all male children in Bethlehem and its immediate vicinity who were two years old and younger (2:16). Herod dies in March of 4 BC, just under two years from the birth of Jesus.


Right before he dies, Herod realizes nobody will mourn for him at his death. He hatched a diabolical scheme to make sure everybody will morn at his death, even if it was not for him. He ordered all the notable Jews from all parts of his kingdom to come to him in Jericho under penalty of death. He placed them in the hippodrome of Jericho and left instructions for the soldiers to kill all the notables upon his death (Antiquities 17:174-181; LCL 8:451-455; Netzer 2001:64-67). Fortunately, after the death of Herod, his sister Salome countermanded the order and released the Jewish leaders. Ironically, Herod died on the Feast of Purim and there was much rejoicing at the death of Herod the Wicked (cf. Esther 8:15-17; Faulstich 1998:110)!


Five days before he died, Herod executed his oldest son Antipater (Antiquities 17:187; LCL 8:457-459). During that time period he also executed, by burning alive, two leading rabbis and then executed their students for participating in the “eagle affair” in the Temple (Antiquities 17:149-167; LCL 8:439-449; Wars 1:655; LCL 2:311).


Paul L. Maier has pointed out, “Josephus wrote for a Greco-Roman audience, which would have little concern for infant deaths. Greeks regularly practiced infanticide as a kind of birth control, particularly in Sparta, while the Roman father had the right not to lift his baby off the floor after birth, letting it die” (1998:179).


Josephus, even if he knew of the slaughter of the innocents, would have deemed this episode unimportant in light of all the other monumental events going on at the time of the death of Herod the Great, thus not including it in his writings.


Conclusions


The slaughter of the innocents is unattested in secular records, but the historical plausibility of this event happening is consistent with the character and actions of Herod the Great. Besides killing his enemies, he had no qualms in killing family members and friends as well. Herod would not have given a second thought about killing a handful of babies in a small, obscure village south of Jerusalem in order to keep his throne secure for himself, or his sons, even if it was one of the last dastardly deeds he committed before he died. As Herod lay dying, raked in pain and agony, the men of God and those with special wisdom opined that Herod was suffering these things because it was “the penalty that God was exacting of the king for his great impiety” (Antiquities 17:170; LCL 8:449-451).


Bibliography


Albright, William; and C. S. Mann
1971 The Anchor Bible. Matthew. New York: Doubleday.


Brown, Raymond
1993 The Birth of the Messiah. A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. New York: Doubleday.


Faulstich, Eugene
1998 Studies in O.T. and N.T. Chronology. Pp. 97-117 in Chronos, Kairos, Christos II. Edited by E. J. Vardaman. Macon, GA: Mercer University.


France, Richard
1979 Herod and the Children of Bethlehem. Novum Testamentum 31/2:98-120.


Grant, Michael
1971 Herod the Great. New York: American Heritage.

1999 Jesus. London: Phoenix.


Gutfeld, Oren
2006 Hyrcania’s Mysterious Tunnels. Searching for the Treasures of the Copper Scrolls. Biblical Archaeology Review 32/5:46-61.


Josephus
1976 Jewish Wars, Books 1-3. Vol. 2. Trans. by H. Thackeray. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 203.

1980 Antiquities of the Jews 15-17. Vol. 8. Trans. by R. Marcus and A. Wikgren. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 410.


Kasher, Aryeh; with Witztum, Eliezer
2007 King Herod: A Persecuted Persecutor. Trans. by K. Gold. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter.


Maier, Paul
1969 The Episode of the Golden Roman Shields in Jerusalem. Harvard Theological Review 62:109-121.

1998 Herod and the Infants of Bethlehem. Pp. 169-189 in Chronos, Kairos, Christos II. Edited by E. J. Vardaman. Macon, GA: Mercer University.


Mueller, Tom
2008 Herod. The Holy Land’s Visionary Builder. National Geographic 214/6:34-59.


Netzer, Ehud
2001 The Palaces of the Hasmoneans and Herod the Great. Jerusalem: Yad Ben-Zvi Institute and Israel Exploration Society.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Dark Side of Environmentalism


So-called Energy-efficient Traffic Lights Can't Melt Snow

The only solution, says traffic experts, is to treat any obstructed light as a stop sign.

How about getting lights that will melt the snow!

These snow covered lights have caused many traffic accidents, including a couple of deaths.

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More Oral

I always thought "Oral" was a strange name; certainly relevant to who the man was...

Obits are coming in for Oral Roberts -

Jack Hayford (who pastors down the street from my church) -

Dr. Jack Hayford, president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, said of Roberts, “If God had not, in His sovereign will, raised up the ministry of Oral Roberts, the entire charismatic movement might not have occurred. Oral shook the landscape with the inescapable reality and practicality of Jesus’ whole ministry. His teaching and concepts were foundational to the renewal that swept through the whole church. He taught concepts that spread throughout the world and simplified and focused a spiritual lifestyle that is embraced by huge sectors of today’s church.”

So, is he saying that if a future terminator were to be sent back in time to Bebee, Oklahoma, and rubbed out a baby Oral, we would had been spared the 50 years of this miserable charismatic lunacy that has wrecked the lives of countless millions worldwide?

It certainly was God's sovereign will to raise up Oral, but for judgment, not for blessing. Oral preached a self-centered, "me" oriented gospel message that turned Jesus into a personal magic geni who was to answer a person's requests no matter how absurd they might have been. Of course, the power of Jesus was dependent upon one's own faith, so if Jesus failed to deliver the goods, it was your fault, not Jesus'.

The "Jesus" Oral preached, however, was a liar and a failure. In 1977, "Jesus" allegedly gave Oral a vision of a gigantic healing center in which millions would come and be healed of all sorts of diseases. A cure for cancer was promised. In 1979, the City of Faith began construction and Oral went to the TV airwaves telling of his visions of a 900 foot Jesus who continued to promise all sorts of success for the future medical center. By 1987, the entire project was losing 10 million a year and Oral again went to his supporters claiming Jesus would kill him if he didn't raise the money. A dog track owner helped pay off the debt, but by 1989 this monument to a false prophet's folly was closed. Eventually, the structure was renamed Cityplex Towers and is largely office space for telemarketers.

Yet, instead of being rejected as a spectacular fraud, tarred and feathered, and then drawn and quartered, greedy, selfish people continued to support this charlatan all with the hopes that they too would get rich by the promise of Jesus blessing them because they gave to him.

Yes, I know people want to cast many of these people in the role of being innocent victims: hopeless people who were taken advantage of by a wolf in sheep's clothing, but the scriptures have stern exhortations to being spiritually discerning and dire warnings against simple mindedness. Rather than seeing innocent people being tricked out of their money, and certainly those folks exist for sure, I see greedy materialists who only lust for more who wish to live comfortable lives free of any pain and trial, and they all believe the phony "Jesus" Oral offered would give such a life to them.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oral Roberts Dead

Word is breaking that Oral Roberts, one of the first big TV evangelist hucksters, has gone to meet the 900 foot tall Jesus in the sky. One can only hope the man, who is responsible for so much terrific theological error and the leading astray of many, was saved, yet so as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:15). I'm sure more opinion will be forth coming throughout the rest of this week as his obituaries are published.


Updated: I have a little more to say about Oral HERE

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Civics Lessons, 101

Here's a ten minute history lesson on the nature and function of governmental philosophy.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Christian Horror

I've never heard of Perry Noble. He appears to be an up-and-coming emergent style preacher. Apparently he pastors a gigantic megachurch some where in the Carolinas. I have heard he doesn't like Bible studies and expositional preaching.

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to investigate a particularly nasty story involving how members of Noble's New Spring church staff terrorized a fellow who has been critical of Noble's antics. Who would had thought emergent types could be as downright nasty as some of those old time Fundamentalists?

Here's the written report: Holy Rage at the Spring

The audio interview is much more intriguing, Download and Listen Here

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Gleanings from Daniel [2]

Israel in Babylon - (Daniel 1:1, 2)

Daniel is a book that testifies to God's absolute sovereignty; specifically God's absolute sovereignty over all the kingdoms of men.

The biblical concept of a kingdom, states Alva McClain, "envisages a total situation containing at least three essential elements: first, a ruler with adequate authority and power; second, a realm of subjects to be ruled; and third, the actual exercise of the function of rulership." God is alone the sole and proper sovereign and ruler of the universe. He alone obtains the power and authority to rule all of men's kingdoms here on earth. Kings are allowed to be kings because God has allowed them to be kings.

The scriptures reveal how mankind has consistently rebelled against God's sovereignty. They do so by creating -- or perhaps more accurately stated -- attempting to create, their own kingdoms in place of God's. The history of scripture reveals a battle waged against God's sovereign kingdom. One that was began by Satan who attempted to usurp God's rule by leading our first parents astray into rebellion. Men continue the same battle against God on an individual, personal level and ultimately on a national level.

In vain men fight against God, so they turn their attention to God's servants, the subjects of God's sovereign realm. And though they may wield some of the most ferocious, horrific persecutions against these subjects, they are in fact fighting against the Sovereign King of this realm. He will rise against them to defend His people.

Daniel presents the struggle of the gentile kingdoms against God's people, Israel. The prophet reveals God's sovereignty, not only over the gentile kingdoms, but also His people by giving them over to those kingdoms for judgment.

In the opening two verses of Daniel chapter 1, the prophet establishes the setting of his prophecy.

The Timing: God had clearly revealed that He would put Israel into bondage to other nations if they persisted in unrepentant idolatry and disobedience to the covenant they made with God at Sinai. Deuteronomy 28:64 and following state,

64 " Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known -- wood and stone. 65 "And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul. 66 "Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life. 67 "In the morning you shall say, 'Oh, that it were evening!' And at evening you shall say, 'Oh, that it were morning!' because of the fear which terrifies your heart, and because of the sight which your eyes see. 68 "And the LORD will take you back to Egypt in ships, by the way of which I said to you, 'You shall never see it again.' And there you shall be offered for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you."

Israel had split into two kingdoms shortly after Solomon's death (1 Kings 12). Ten tribes made up the northern kingdom of Israel and two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, made up the southern kingdom of Judah. The northern kingdom always did wickedly before God and in 722 B.C. the Assyrians took that kingdom into captivity and utterly destroyed it. Judah, on the other hand, had a mixture of ungodly kings and godly kings, but in spite of the godly kings who often brought revival under their reign, around 100 years later, due to persistent disobedience (2 Kings 23:27), God gave Judah over to the Babylonians starting in 605 B.C.

Daniel was born sometime around 620 B.C. when king Josiah would have been on the throne. Pharaoh Neco killed Josiah at Meggido when Egpyt went to battle againt the Assyrians with whom Josiah was aligned (2 Kings 23:28-30). His son, Jehoahaz, ruled in his place for 3 months (2 Kings 23:31-33) until Neco deposed him and placed him into prison. Neco put Jehoiakim, the eldest son of Josiah, upon the throne (2 Kings 23:34-24:6) and he ruled from 609-597 B.C. In 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians defeated Neco and Egypt at the battle of Carchemish (May-June of 605 B.C.) and then went to Jerusalem and besieged it (Daniel 1:1). It was during this first invasion that Daniel and his three friends were taken to Babylon, along with some of the articles from the temple. Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah two more times: in 597 B.C. when Ezekiel, the king Jehoiachin, and 10,000 Judean citizens were taken captive (2 Kings 24:12-16), and then a third and final time in 586 B.C. when the entire nation was taken into captivity.

The Judgment: There are a few thoughts to consider in these 2 opening verses.

- First, one will note that it is The Lord, not LORD. Daniel doesn't use God's covenant name YHWH, but instead refers to Him as Adonai, which is to say, the supreme sovereign. Daniel wants his readers to know it was God doing this captivity. The Babylonians were merely instruments to fulfill God's purposes.

- Next, the text says that the Lord delivered or gave the king and the people into the hands of the Babylonians. This means that God was not asleep, nor was He neglecting His people. He was in complete control over the situation. It wasn't the Babylonian's might nor Nebuchadnezzar's military genius that brought Jerusalem's downfall. No. It was God's sovereign will.

- The text also states that God gave to the Babylonians some temple artifacts. It is not specific as to what those things were, but there are some thoughts to considered:

This was God's temple - "The House of God." God allowed these gentiles to violate His temple. The instruments taken were necessary for worship. By this act of the Babylonians, God is removing those items needful for proper worship. If none desired to worship Him, then He closes the means of worship.

It is also important to note that the article is affixed to the word "God" in the Hebrew. YHWH was not just one god among many, but He is the only true God. All others are illusions.

However, notice what Nebuchadnezzar does. He takes the articles back to Babylon and puts them in the temple of his false god. In a manner of speaking, Neb. was treating these articles as trophies of thanks. His act was a way of showing that Israel's God could not defend the people, nor Himself - at least in Neb's. mind. He was under the mistaken notion that his god, Marduk, was greater. But God will straighten him out about this in due time.

- And then one final point. See how the land of Babylon is described as Shinar. The word "Shinar" has some theological baggage. In Genesis 10:8-10 describes how the beginning of Nimrod's kingdom Babylon was in the land of Shinar. Nimrod was a violent dictator, but it was in Babylon -- in the land of Shinar -- where his kingdom began. Moreover, note Genesis 11:2 and following. After the flood, men gathered in the land of Shinar and it was there that the tower of Babel was built. Daniel is identifying Israel's enemy with the very place where treason against God started. It is also the place where God judged the nations with the confusion of languages. Israel has been given over to a foreign power who speaks a foreign language. Israel was given over to a foreign nation who spoke in a foreign tongue in the exact location where God's judgment against the nations was the confusion of their own languages.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cool Picture of the Day

I wish we could see awesome spiral shaped lights in the skies over Valencia where I live. We never get to see cool stuff like that. Links HERE (some of the best pictures, but beware of the risque side bar photos) and HERE

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

European Gun Laws

This is the one European country I wouldn't mind being like. Especially when it comes to gun laws.

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Sproul and the Manhattan Project

R.C. has finally weighed in as to why he didn't sign the Manhattan Declaration.

When this document first became public, I remember people asking if whether or not he would sign it as if the guy's signature sealed the legitimacy of the thing. He notes other non-signers as well like John MacArthur and pretty much agrees with their sentiments of why they didn't sign it.

Now I await all the finger wagging bad mouthers to write up their disdainful blog articles against him.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Ted Haggard Starts New Cult

Or so says this LA Times write up on his new church.

A few comments from this article disturbed me:

Upon describing his removal from his old church,

... he spoke of his ouster from New Life, describing his self-loathing and doubts. "Am I full of the devil? Am I everything that the paper says I am?" he said. "I was scared to death I'd gone off the deep end."

Charismatics - particularly the preachers - tend to describe all personal sin as "being under the influence of the devil." Thus, if one falls into some gross immorality, or habitually acts in any dishonest, ungodly fashion, the real culprit is a diabolical spirit who has temporarily come upon the person. The "sinner" is never truly responsible for his actions, but is a victim, much like the people he hurt. In order to "fix" the problem, the devil needs to be cast out, or the person set free from the demonic bondage.

Sadly, I have known many Christians over the years who believe these false notions about their personal sin. Rather than pursuing the biblical means of personal sanctification by the daily renewal of one's mind in the Word of God and putting off old sinful conduct and thinking about, and putting on new righteous conduct, they spend money to read "how-to" books on casting out demons of this sin or that sin or attend bondage breaking seminars or the like.

This mindset of placing the blame for personal sin onto some outside evil influence dismisses the seriousness of what God thinks of sin and the need of personal repentance, as well the significance of Christ's lordship in one's life by creating a dangerous, misinformed perspective of God's holiness.

That leads me to a second disturbing element in this story. I don't see any genuine repentance in Ted's life. Note this comment [if reported accurately by the article] he makes during the service,

As the service began, he was jovial, even joking about his indiscretion. "If you're not getting enough snuggling [from your spouse], don't do it the way I did it," he said.

If you are seriously grieved over your sin and the damage it did to you, your spouse and family, and most importantly, the dishonor it brought to Christ and His church, YOU DON'T JOKE AROUND LIKE THIS FROM THE PULPIT! A long, sexual affair with a homosexual prostitute is not a laughing matter! In fact, a truly repentant person wouldn't joke around like this in normal, conversational discourse. This inappropriate remark does a lot to reveal the true nature of the man's heart.

Haggard committed adultery with another man against his wife while as a pastor of a church. He broke his wife's trust, his children's trust, and the trust of all the people he supposedly shepherd. He turned God's people into a cause for mockery. Then three years later he has the gall to start up a new church in the same area where his old church is and opens the service by making a wise crack about the very sin that brought him to his downfall? Where is his brokenness over what happened? All I see is bitter complaining against his old church for removing him from preaching and insisting he attend counseling.

And that leads me to one final disturbing element to this article. His loose attitude toward sin reflects itself off the folks who have come after him and are now attending his church. The only thing the "members" are concerned with is how he was treated by the old church, or ill-treated in this case, and whether or not everyone is being forgiving enough toward him. One guy is thankful he is not as arrogant as he once was (which I take as code word meaning "he doesn't talk about sin as much anymore") and he is like the regular guy who falls down everyday. No one is concerned whether or not Ted is biblically qualified to pastor a church or whether or not he is truly repentant of what had happened. This flippancy will only grow worse in respect to how they all view personal sin and holiness.

So far, from what I see, he's a guy who is sorry he got caught and he is mad at how the church handled his discipline process. In his mind, he should had been restored to his previous position once the demon got cast out. Instead, they held him accountable to his deplorable actions. And to think the church gets painted as the anti-gay bigot bad guys in this whole mess where as he's the sympathetic martyr.

So why do I say he is starting a cult? Here we have a man with an epic scandal in his background, who can draw a crowd solely upon his ability to speak publicly and captivate people's emotions with his histrionic story telling, drawing to himself disgruntled ex-church members. These are all the ingredients necessary to cook up a big batch of cult stew.

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