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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Compare and Contrast

Rival Rallies

There is a lot of Jew hatin' coming from that lefty one in LA. And right wingers are suppose to be racists?

By the way, be warned there is a few dirty words in the photos from LA, too. Another sharp contrast between right wing rallies and left wing rallies.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Ergun Caner Bio.

I am telling you, if any of this stuff this particular blogger dug up on Dr. Caner is true, WOW.

Ergun Caner's Secret Biography

I cannot see how anyone who is a "very" public figure like Ergun Caner can think he can get away with "faking" the background to his life just for emotional testimonial effect in today's internet driven world. This is why I said Dr. Caner is swiftly becoming the Mike Warnke of this generation. There is a reason why the first qualification Paul lists for spiritual leaders is to be "above reproach" (1 Tim. 3:2). That means behave yourself with personal integrity so no one can come along later and blame you for lying.

HT: The Turk

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Every Thing You Wish to Know about OTA-HD

One of the contributors to a local progressive blog here in my neck of world put together a great little DIY report on leaving cable and setting up an OTA-HD (that's Over The Air- High Def. for the uninitiated) antenna rig for his home entertainment needs.

Some of you all may remember the big push last year to inform the general public of the demise of the old-time analog TV broadcasting signal and the birth of the new, HD broadcasting signal. OTA-HD can provide a much sharper, defined picture than cable and satellite, and once the front end hook-up costs pay for themselves, its free. Can't beat free over an 80 dollar a month cable bill.

Some of the information is related to my hometown (which has just been unofficially nicknamed "Awesome Town!, believe it or not), so you'll have to look past that, but overall, there is good information for you tech savoy electronics geeks who may want to look into OTA-HD for your area. My wife and I watch TV on a limited basis, and if I had the extra money at the moment, I would maybe look into setting it up for our TV.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Eschatology in a Nutshell

David Murray provides four, brief animated videos explaining the main eschatological systems.

...And they're production is much better than that "Thief in the Night" movie.

Amillennialism

Postmillennialism

Premillennialism

Dispensational Premillennialism

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

FBT Updates

Up loaded my second message on the Anti-Christ and the end of days from Daniel 11.

Anti-Christ: The Willful King part 2.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

A Tilt-shifted Disney World

I came across this video sometime ago and forgot I had it to share on the blog.

It's a video of a day in Disney World rendered as tilt-shift. The process gives the images the appearance of being miniature models and makes for a cool video to watch.





There is a website that allows you to upload your own pictures to allow you to work with the tilt-shifting process yourself. Tiltshiftmaker.com.

I did one of the Master's Seminary. It's okay for a first time try:


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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Anti-Dispensational Conspiracy Theories

The Manuel Lacunza Connection

As I surf around the web, I occasionally come across a variety of articles written by my Reformed brethren attempting to explain the background to dispensationalism. These "articles" often present dispensationalism as if it is the most diabolical cult to have appeared within the Christian church since the Arian controversy of the 300s. Dispensationalists are said to have been the cause of all sorts of gross theological error, from the rise of Darwinian influence in public schools after the Scopes trial all the way to the problems of the Middle East and Israel. I often blink in awe at some of the grand wickedness dispensationalists are said to have hoisted upon the world.

Recently, I came across a Reformed oriented website on which I found one of these non-dispensational articles explaining how a Jesuit priest by the name of Manuel Lacunza developed the basic doctrines behind dispensational theology. The accusations read almost like the Chick comics chronicling the life of Alberto Rivera, but without the sensational cartoon pictures of fanatical nuns.

The story goes like this:

Lacunza was one of those sneaky Jesuits who pretended to be a converted Jew by the name of Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra who published a book called The Coming of Messiah in Majesty and Glory. His book was written for the purpose of countering the claims by the Reformers that the pope was the Anti-christ of Revelation. Lacunza is said to have built much of his book upon the previous work of another Jesuit, Francisco Ribera, who is said to be the originator of a futurist interpretation to the book of Revelation.

Edward Irving, the so-called father of the modern charismatic movement, was so moved by Lacunza's work, he allegedly learned Spanish just so he could translate his work properly. Coupled with the "new" revelations of Margaret MacDonald who said God told her there would be a secret rapture of the Church before the world would be plunged into tribulation, Irving laid the ground work to future dispensationalism and J.N. Darby then picked up his material, expanded upon it, and made it popular throughout England and the United States with his preaching ministry.

Now, when I first saw the Lacunza connection I was flabbergasted. A Jesuit priest is the originator of dispensational theology? Really? Never heard that one before. I had heard about Ribera being the originator of a futurist interpretation of Revelation, but the Lacunza accusation was new to me. I just had to do a search on his name to see what I came up with, and after 30 minutes or so of reading over articles and glancing at websites, it became painfully clear that the Lacunza connection was just another pathetic, eye rolling ploy by Reformed, covenant theologians to discredit dispensational theology with a genetic fallacy. I mean, if the godfather of your point of view is a Jesuit, there is all sorts of evil seeping out from the cracks, right?

The first major problem I encountered was the repetition among Reformed sites of the same material. With a couple of cases there was word-for-word plagiarism. I "googled" Manuel + Lacunza + dispensationalism and the first sites that appeared were Puritan board forums and anti-dispensational sites maintained by what appears to be preterist groups. All of them repeated the basic claims: Dispensationalism really began with Lacunza, he was the first person to teach a distinction between Israel and the Church in his book, and his book was utilized by Irving to spread dispensational ideas to the churches in England and America.

What really stuck out to me as I looked over these website, however, is that no one seems to provide any original analysis of Lacunza's work. In fact, I wonder if any of the individual authors have actually read his book or if they are just repeating the same claims made on all of the other various sites committed to debunking dispensationalism. It is a similar phenomenon I have witnessed with KJV-only apologetic works regarding the diabolical nature of Westcott and Hort. When a person does a comparison of KJV-only materials, all of them repeat the same "talking points" concerning the two men. No one shows any familiarity with what they really wrote and taught about the NT biblical text. I see the same thing with these Reformed articles citing Lacunza as the originator of dispensational theology.

I believe there could be a good reason for this copy cat effect. A lot of the articles I read traced back to a few websites hosting material by Dave MacPherson and some of his supporters. For those who are unfamiliar with MacPherson, he is a cranky gadfly who has made chasing after pre-tribulationalism his white whale. Much of MacPherson's animosity against pre-tribulationalism stems from a bad run in his father had with a fundamentalist church that dismissed him as a pastor because he switched his rapture view from pre-tribulationalism to post-tribulationalism. Dave then went on a journalistic hunt to uncover the true origins of the pre-tribulational rapture doctrine and he believes he identified its source with a teenage Scottish girl named Margaret MacDonald. She supposedly had a series of visions from God revealing to her the secret, pre-tribulational rapture of the Church. Edward Irving was told of her visions and he popularized them, which in turn was used by Darby. Because J.N. Darby is considered to be the first real dispensationalist, MacPherson argues he used Irving's material including MacDonald's visions of a pre-tribulational rapture.

Oddly, as I continued to look over these web articles linking Lacunza to dispensationalism, several of them cite heavily from MacPherson's "research" into the pre-tribulational rapture and Margaret MacDonald. But in addition to his material, the authors attempt to "one up" MacPherson by pushing the origin of the pre-trib. rapture back before even MacDonald and Irving to making Lacunza the originator of pre-tribulationalism. MacPherson has much invested with his MacDonald-pre-trib. rapture theory, so one article I found was by him defending his MacDonald theory and explaining why the pre-trib. rapture could not have originated with Lacunza.

I say all this merely to point out an obvious inconsistency among various writers. Conflicting conclusions of the same supposed source material, like a disagreement between who originated what and at what time, I believe demonstrates something of a bias. These Reformed "apologists" are desperate to debunk dispensationalism, so there is a readiness to stretch anything that will help justify those convictions.

Another troubling element I found on these websites is a tone of conspiracy resonating throughout the articles. For example, Lacunza is accused of "pretending" to be a Jew as if he took on that role to distract and lead his readers away from the true understanding of eschatological themes, which in this case is the Reformers' teachings the pope is the anti-Christ of Revelation. But is that why Lacunza took on a Jewish pen name?

A more balanced examination of his life and work, written up by a Seventh-Day Adventist of all people, notes how Lacunza had a desire to help the Jewish people see their true Messiah. The pen name was a means to get his work into the hands of the Jews who would otherwise ignore it because it was written by a Catholic. I can certainly understand Lacunza's reasoning with using a Jewish pen name knowing the history of persecution the Catholics have made toward Jews.

The Adventist article also has a better summary of Lacunza's book than what I found on the Reformed sites where authors have cherry picked suspicious comments they believe helps their cause against dispensationalism. Rather than being a deceptive work written to create a "new" theology and draw people away from Reformed eschatology, Lacunza seems to have had honest motives in his study. The first section of his book set the foundation for many of his conclusions he drew regarding eschatology, because it is a study of the hermeneutics used to interpret scripture. Lacunza argued in favor of a grammatical-historical literal hermeneutic as opposed to the traditional Catholic allegorism which is the method carried over into Reformed hermeneutics especially in regards to interpreting prophecy. This approach to studying the Bible made Lacunza the target of severe criticism from within his Jesuit order and the Catholic Church at large, and though he had some quirky ideas about some of the passages he studied, over all he didn't make up anything fanciful and unique.

Many of his ideas on prophecy, such things as a premillennial return of Christ, a futurist view of Revelation, and a belief of a restoration of the nation Israel, were positions held by men before Lacunza was even born and we would even call them "Reformed." Such folks as Joseph Mede in the 15-1600s, Cotton and Increase Mather in the 16-1700s, John Gill in the 1700s, and Jonathan Edwards in the 1700s. Additionally, in the introduction of the English version, Edward Irving, who is suppose to be his greatest admirer, wrote that he disagreed with a lot of Lacunza's conclusions, including the futurist view of Revelation. Irving was a historicist, who applied less of a literal hermeneutic to the book of Revelation than what Lacunza did.

So. Rather than being a clandestine protector of Rome who developed a sinister theological system in order to move people away from the true Christian faith, Lacuna appears to have been genuinely interested in studying Scripture. He certainly was not making any allies with the Catholic Church with his literal hermeneutic he employed in his study. If anything, he got himself into trouble with Catholic leadership. Though he landed on some odd positions like the anti-Christ being a "moral body," whatever that means, many of the similarities with future dispensational premillennialism only proves to me that even a Jesuit will come to the right conclusion with a consistent application of grammatical-historical exegesis.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Genesis and Grace to You

We started a new series on our Grace to You blog highlighting the material John preached from the book of Genesis. Our emphasis wants to be upon the origins debate and its ramifications for our culture and the need for Christians to shore up their biblical view of creation in light of materialistic, evolutionary philosophy. The introductory blog can be read HERE. Later posts will cover a range of interesting subjects, including the age of the earth debate and the problems with intelligent design theory.

If you want something of a background, check out John's series on the first two chapters of Genesis: The Battle for the Beginning

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Creation Resources

Reader and frequent commenter, Escovado, sent me a link to a lecture series webcast on biblical creationism. It's maintained by Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa.

Creation Science Fellowship

Yes, THAT Calvary Chapel, and regardless of how seriously muddled they may be on the doctrines of Grace, I will give that bunch due credit, first, for not wearing suits when they preach, but most importantly, maintaining a solid, biblical perspective on Genesis and creation when so many Calvinistic Reformed groups are adopting compromised positions like progressive creationism, the frame-work theory, and even theistic evolution.

There are many good speakers on this list, some from Master's College like Dr. Joe Francis and Dr. Ross Anderson, who spearheads our Bible-Science Association in San Fernando. Other speakers I have heard talk personally and they present excellent material.

It would be nice to see these videos available in Ipod format. I could be watching something on my bus rides. Maybe they are, so if anyone knows, leave a comment.

Also, in fairness to those Reformed Calvinists who are sound when it comes to Genesis, Southern Presbyterian Seminary made available a series of lectures on the subject of creation and Genesis on the Sermon Audio site.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hermeneutics Quiz

I was sent this quiz via an email discussion group:

The Hermeneutics Quiz

The quiz is apparently designed to help a person gauge how he interprets the Bible. Honestly, it doesn't have so much to do with hermeneutics - those principles and rules a person utilizes in order to interpret the Bible. When considered in the whole, the quiz has much more to do with how authoritative the Bible is in a person's life as a revelation from God. For example, one question asks if whether or not the commands against homosexuality are permanent prohibitions reflecting God's will or if they are defined by culture. This really has nothing to do with the application of hermeneutics as much as it has to do with how serious a person takes God's Word as authoritative in one's life when it addresses this issue. Either God prohibits homosexual sin or He doesn't.

I scored a 41, which was sort of baffling because according to Scot McKnight, the fellow who designed the quiz, anything below 52 means you are conservative and I was surprised to be so close to the 52 threshold. I guess that may have to do with how vague and weird some of the questions were. For instance, a question about adultery gives as possible responses strange things like, "it deserves death," to "death is no longer applicable because Jesus forgave an adulterous woman without killing her," to the odd response, "penalties against adultery were only relevant to the culture of Christ." If you picked the first option you are considered conservative with your hermeneutics; if you picked the other two, you are considered open minded.

Heh?

How that is suppose to work as a practical way to show how a person utilizes hermeneutics is beyond me.

Any ways, see how you do.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Benny Goes Off

Benny Hinn (yes, that Benny Hinn) proves he can pound a pulpit and sling sweat with the greatest of Fundamentalist Baptist preachers. In this jaw dropping clip that is going viral among my sound Christian friends, Hinn chases after Joel Olsteen for teaching a sissified, Christless gospel message, and full on calls his teaching demonic. Each scriptural proclamation punctuated by the crescendo of an organ that drives his point home.

One would be ready to shout "AMEN!" with him if it weren't for those sniggling little problems with Benny, like his soul damning, Health-and-Wealth theology and the lying the man does.

You have to love God right to go to Benny's church, he's hardcore.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Defending Premillennialism [6]

The Telescoping of Prophecy

Having provided a general survey of hermeneutics as they apply to the interpretation of eschatological passages, I would like to begin addressing specific texts and objections to the premillennial system.

Where I would like to start is with a quick overview of time related texts which non-premillennialists claim teach Christ's second coming climaxes in one, final general resurrection of all humanity, the final judgment of the righteous and wicked, and the ushering in of the New Heaven and New Earth.

Now, in contrast, premillennialism teaches that the millennial kingdom exists between Christ's Second Coming and the final judgment and the New Heaven and New Earth. Additionally, the millennium separates the resurrection of the righteous from the wicked. According to Revelation 20:4-6, the righteous experience their resurrection at the beginning of the millennium, where as according to Revelation 20:12, the resurrection of the wicked takes place after the millennium is complete. [Exegesis demonstrating the first resurrection taught in Revelation 20:4-6 is a physical resurrection and not a spiritual, new birth as taught by non-premillennialists, can be located HERE].

Non-premillennialists, however, argue that when a number of other eschatological passages are considered, particularly in didactic portions of the NT, those texts specifically teach there is only one, general resurrection of all humanity, one judgment, and then the coming of the New Heavens and New Earth. They further argue that Revelation 20 is unique, and because it is a unique chapter found in a highly symbolic, apocalyptic book, it is improper to interpret the millennium in a "literal" fashion. Specifically, to suggest the resurrection of the righteous and wicked are separated by a period of a thousand years.

Some of the passages non-premillennialists appeal to include Daniel 12:2 which states,

And as many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. Some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.

John 5:28, 29 states,

Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth -- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10

since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

At first glance and without prior knowledge of Revelation 20, these texts would seem to suggest there is only one, general resurrection of all mankind at the end of the age. But I believe when the entire teaching on eschatology is considered these passages do not preclude the premillennial view in which the resurrection of the righteous is separated by a thousand years from the resurrection of the wicked.

In order to explain these passages it would be helpful to back up and discuss a phenomenon with biblical prophecy called the telescoping of fulfillment. J. Barton Payne provides a technical definition when he writes,

Prophetic Telescoping is when biblical prophecy may leap from one prominent peak in predictive topography to another, without notice of the valley between which may involve no inconsiderable lapse in chronology [Payne, 137]

Basically, the idea of telescoping of fulfillment is when the time relationship of the events are compressed or "telescoped" into what the original context makes to look like a group of closely related events [Wright, 2]. In other words, the prophet will be conveying a divine oracle describing prophetic events in which the fulfillment may in fact be separated by many years. When these events are predicted by the prophet, he presents them all together in rapid succession. As to their fulfillment, however, these events are divided by long periods of time. Generally, later revelation given by other prophets of God may fill in the details.

There are many examples of this phenomenon in scripture, but the most familiar to all Christians is the prophecy related to Christ's coming. When we read the Old Testament, two kinds of prophecies of the "Coming One" are predicted. One is of a suffering servant Messiah like what we find in Isaiah 52-53, where as other prophecy speaks to a coming Messiah who will establish the Kingdom of God, restore the nation of Israel to the land, and all the nations will be brought into submission to the Messiah. This is seen in passages like Daniel 7, Micah 4, and Zechariah 14, and Zechariah 9:9, 10 has both the idea of a lowly servant and a victorious king together in two verses that follow each other.

Historian, Emil Schurer, writes how 1 century B.C. messianic expectations among the Jews believed the Messiah's coming was near and would end Jewish tribulation at the hands of other nations and establish the Davidic Kingdom. This was the expectation of even the disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:6 for instance). First century messianic expectations included:

1. A season of extreme tribulation would prevail prior to Messiah's arrival.
2. Elijah would arrive as fore runner and announcer of Messiah.
3. Messiah would come to earth.
4. Nations would rise against Him.
5. Nations would be defeated and destroyed.
6. Jerusalem would be rebuilt and occupied.
7. The Jewish diaspora would return to Jerusalem.
8. Israel would become the capitol of the world.
9. A time of peace and prosperity would be inaugurated.

These basic points highlight the main positions of premillennialism. What was missed by those first century Jews, however, is how the OT prophets spoke of two comings of the Messiah. The first coming was to be as a humble servant who would bring eternal salvation to men, where as His second coming would be one of triumph over Israel's enemies and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth. It was so certain among the Jewish people that their Messiah was coming to set up a victorious Kingdom of God, that some Jews thought two different Messiah's would come: A servant Messiah and a conquering Messiah. It is not until Jesus reveals to us in the NT that the same Messiah would have two different comings separated by a long period of time.

The prophetic oracles regarding the coming of the Messiah were often "telescoped" or compressed and without later revelation explaining how those prophecies are telling of two different comings of the Messiah, there would be confusion as to the timing and purpose of the Messiah's coming.

A similar phenomena happens with those passages highlighted by non-premillennialists as teaching there exists only one, general resurrection of all people at one time with no millennium separating the resurrection of the righteous from wicked. The biblical writers compress the events together without notice of the intervening time period between the two groups of humanity. Revelation 20, however, reveals that there is a period of intervening time; a thousand years of time to be exact.

Of course, as I have already pointed out, non-premillennialists reject that view of the resurrection because only Revelation 20 specifically tells us about the length of that intervening time period, and it is located in a book of the Bible known for its heavy symbolism. In other words, Revelation 20 doesn't really count as adding any true clarity to those resurrection passages.

But is that true? Like I stated above, when considered, none of those passages preclude a millennium taking place between the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked. In other words, nothing with in the grammar of the individual passages eliminates a millennium separating those two groups.

For instance, in John 5:28, 29, Jesus just says a day is coming when those in their graves will hear God's voice and rise from the dead with some going to the resurrection of life while others who have acted wickedly into the resurrection of condemnation. Nothing Christ says precludes the millennium as dividing the two groups. He merely makes a statement about the judgment of all men and women who ever have lived and will live. He provides no details whatsoever as to the timing of those events. One could also attempt to argue that Jesus is teaching a works oriented salvation, because nothing is relayed to us in this passage as to what it is that declares a person righteous or wicked. Revelation from other passages makes such a view an obvious mistake, however.

There is a similar idea of "telescoping" with 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 as Paul describes a final judgment that will come upon those individuals who had been persecuting the Thessalonians. Just like Christ's words in John 5, Paul is making a general comment about the end by compressing the main events of judgment into one brief statement. He does that because he is not meaning to provide a comprehensive overview of Christian eschatology. Paul is writing to offer comfort and hope to a group of believers who had been suffering persecution by reminding them that God will personally judge their enemies. One of the main reasons Paul's words here are not meant to be a comprehensive doctrinal statement about all eschatological events is the fact he doesn't even mention the resurrection. A resurrection is just assumed because of the use by Paul of eschatological language of judgment particularly with the phrase "everlasting destruction." But the absence of even mentioning the resurrection shows that this passage isn't precluding the reality of these events being separated by a millennium.

Daniel 12:2 is probably one of the clearest declarations in the OT of a bodily resurrection from the dead, along with being one of the better examples of the "telescoping" phenomenon of prophetic fulfillment. Contrary to the non-premillennialists' claim that it presents only a general resurrection, when the language of the text is examined, it favors a selective or limited resurrection rather than a general resurrection. The first clause in the verse begins with the Hebrew word, rabbim, meaning "many" as in "many from a larger group of all" [Culver, 174]. This would certainly favor the premillennial view of Revelation 20 where the righteous are resurrected first at the beginning of the millennium (the "many" of Daniel 12:2) and the wicked at the close of the millennium before the coming of eternity.

Robert Duncan Culver [Culver, 175] notes two Jewish commentators, Saadia Haggaon in the 10th century and Aben Ezra in the 12th century, who suggested the translation of Daniel 12:2 as, And as many from among the sleepers of the dust of the earth shall awake; these shall be unto everlasting life; but those the rest of the sleepers, those who do not awake at this time, shall be unto shame and everlasting contempt.

Culver notes a couple of grammatical factors that support this translation. The first being the use of rabbim translated as "many" rather than the Hebrew kal which would mean "All." The word "many" implies a selected resurrection. Second, Culver points out, is the demonstrative 'elleh that is translated in our English Bibles as "some." One possible use of the two demonstratives can be a comparison, "these....those" which would distinguish a first group who will awake at one point in time from a second group who will awake at a later point in time. But, even if one is to argue that such a translation of Daniel 12:2 is strained; again, there is nothing precluding the existence of a millennium of time between the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked.

I will be returning to the subject of the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked and the millennium in a later article, but at this point, nothing found in the proposed non-premillennial texts demands that a millennium of time cannot take place between the righteous and the wicked. The only reason really is that a particular eschatological system insists there can't be.


*******
Sources


Robert Duncan Culver, Daniel and the Latter-days
Richard Mayhue, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians: Triumphs and Trials of a Consecrated Church
R. K. McGregor-Wright, Bible Prophecy and the "Telescoping" of Fulfillment

J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy

Emil Schurer, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, 2:514-47

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Home Schooling Pig Spearers

I always get a chuckle when I read how the mainstream media reports on homeschoolers. As if a National Geographic researcher has uncovered some previously undiscovered tribe of half-naked pig spearers in Borneo.

Without fail, the first thing those intrepid reporters note in their story: Homeschoolers believe in creation.

Well, not quite all homeschoolers:

Top home-school texts dismiss evolution for creation

According to this well crafted USA Today report, there are some sophisticated homeschoolers out there. They have given up their hunter-gathering pig spearing ways, and have moved to a settlement lifestyle of raising crops and live stock and wearing clothes. They are the ones who believe in evolution and many have become angry there are no good homeschooling materials available that teach evolution so they can educate their children with the most cutting edge materialistic naturalism. None are available, because "Christian" based home schooling materials DOMINATE the homeschooling market.

So much do the Christians control the market on text books, that three of the top science textbooks teach a creationist worldview as opposed to an evolutionary one. This of course annoys every atheist propagandist with a science degree to no end. In fact, in an effort to uphold the integrity of his sacred trust as a journalist, the USA Today writer of this particular article even managed to find some evolutionary propagandists science professors to review those top three books so as to record their grim, head shaking reactions and hear them mournfully proclaim how a generation of students are being lied to by those stone aged creationists. They give those books a big fat "F" for teaching bad science to children.

How much are you willing to bet that within the next decade we will see a massive push to shut down homeschooling legislatively, and the catalyst for such a move will be the cry of evolutionary propagandists shouting that homeschooling mentally damages our children. What use to be seen as a quirky idea found only among extreme religious groups like the Amish, homeschooling is continuing to grow in popularity. Amish homeschoolers stayed with in the confines of their religious community and never ventured out into the real world. Homeschooling has now planted itself firmly in the real world and the secular priest class doesn't like it. They no longer have a firm grip upon the thought control of their state education. The only option is to destroy any and all opposition.

Besides, we can't have half-naked pig spearers roaming around in the public.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

FBT Updates

Added the most recent message from Daniel. It's on the Annie Christ from chapter 11.

Studies in Daniel

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gleanings from Daniel [8]

The Fiery Trial [Daniel 3]

Coming again to our story of Daniel.

One of the key themes found in Daniel's prophecy is God Almighty putting Himself on display before the unbelieving, pagan world.

Israel is in exile because God was the one who sent them into exile. He is the one who raised up the Babylonians as the rod of His judgment. But the LORD will not allow His name or character to be mocked. Thus, He raised up Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to be the mouth pieces of God before an ungodly king.

In chapter two we saw how God established Daniel as a prophetic authority before Nebuchadnezzar by granting him the ability to not only interpret Neb.'s personal dream, but also to tell Neb. what his dream meant. By God's grace, Neb. blessed Daniel and His three friends. At the end of Daniel 2, we read about Daniel setting up his three friends as officials in the Babylonian kingdom (2:49).

That verse bridges our discussion into chapter 3.

It is a chapter that presents an unusual contrast with Neb.'s who had recognized the God of Heaven in chapter 2, but now is shown to be an idol making worshiper. Thrown in the middle are three Jewish young men devoted fully to the LORD of Heaven.

I. The Setting (3:1-7)

It is unclear exactly when these events took place. Some commentators suggest 586 B.C.at the final deportation of Israel. Others, however, believe these events took place closer to a few years after Neb.'s accession as the sole ruler of the Babylonian throne. Perhaps even a few years after his encounter with Daniel in chapter 2.

- The Image. Chapter three describes how Neb. had made a gold image - a statue of sorts. Probably not solid gold, but overlaid with gold. It was of immense size, but odd proportions: 60 cubits or 90 feet tall, by 6 cubits, or 9 feet wide. Basically a tall, skinny gold statue. It is interesting that it is gold, seeing that in Neb.'s dream, Daniel relays to him that the gold head represented him and his Babylonian empire.

Some skeptical commentators chide the idea of a giant statue, but it should be noted that enormous statues are not uncommon in the ancient world. Egyptians made pyramids and the Sphinx and the Colossus of Rhodes was at least 105 feet tall. Though the proportions of Neb.'s image are strange - 90 feet tall, 9 feet wide - the 9o feet could also include the pedestal on which the image stood. French archaeologists have found remains of a brick structure about 4 miles south of the historical Babylon in Iraq that is a 45 foot square that is 20 feet high. Some have suggested this was the very pedestal upon which the image stood.

- The Dedication. After construction of this statue was complete, Neb. calls his governmental officials. Seven different officials are named and they could be listed in order of importance. Without going through all of them, these various officials had a specific function within Neb.'s government as advisers, judges, lawyers, military officers, and high ranking law enforcement. Daniel's three friends would have had to be there due to their position granted to them by Neb. in 2:49.

- The Decree. They were summed together at the unveiling of this statue, and at the playing of the royal orchestra, according to a herald, were to bow down before it. Anyone not complying would be burned alive. Executed for treason, essentially.

The word "worship" implies a worship of a deity, not Neb. necessarily.

So. At the appointed time, the music plays and everyone bows down: Except for three individuals.

Now there are some questions we could ask:

Why would Neb. make such an image? Was he attempting to defy God directly?

Not necessarily.

This gathering would have been considered a unifying time. Getting everyone of importance together on the same political page, as it were. Verses 4 and 7 suggest this as the texts states there were people of all nations and languages. Babylon had taken many nations. It is to Neb.'s advantage to create a atmosphere of unity in his kingdom. Such a unifying move would help to eliminate factions and verify the loyalty of his governmental officials.

Why not just "bow?" Isn't this just part of the function as governmental officials?

Honestly, lots of people were there, plus, it was probably considered a honor to be invited to attend Neb.'s festivity. As appointed officials, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego would be expected to willing participate in Neb.'s government and show a bit of respect to his view points. And really? Who is going to know? It's not like anyone from Israel could do anything to them for being "respectful" to their king.

But,

Idolatry was contrasted with the living God. Idolatry is strictly forbidden (Exodus 20) and bowing down would represent an acknowledgment of these false gods and their false systems of worship. Psalm 115 blasts the false gods of the heathen and then ends with a call for Israel to worship the true God who was every one's sovereign creator.

We do know that someone was watching: Even though no one would "know" God would know. Also, some people did know who these men were and knew of their commitment to the God of Israel and anticipated for them to disobey the command.

Lastly. Where was Daniel?

The text doesn't say, but more than likely he was attending to royal affairs while everyone was gone, but there is the possibility that Neb. intentionally didn't bring him because he knew he wouldn't bow and he was not about to risk having the only true divine oracle killed.

I would also add that this wasn't Daniel's trial. God had a trial for him later in chapter 6.

II. The Inquisition (3:8-18)

The three young men were being watched (specifically watched). Chaldeans, who would be the astrologist priest, came forward to accuse them. The word has the idea of "denounce." Literally it has the meaning of "ate the pieces of." The phrase implies harsh, vicious language. There is a hint of Antisemitism to their accusations.

They accused them of four things before Neb.:

- They reminded the king he had given them positions of authority.
- They did not serve the king's gods.
- They did not bow to the image.
- Hence they refused to obey the king's command.

Neb. summed them and demanded from them an explanation and to repent of their insolence. He even comments to them: What god will be able to rescue you from my hand?

YHWH may be able to reveal and interpret dreams, but how could He deliver from a raging furnace? He then offers them a opportunity to show their allegiance.

But,

- They were firm in their conviction. They would not bow.
- They believed God is more than able to deliver them.
- But, He does not always do so. None the less, they won't bow to his image.

They left their lives in the hands of a sovereign God to determine what He will do. They were the examples of what Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, Don't fear him who can destroy the body, but not the soul.

III. The Judgment (3:19-25)

In a rage, Neb. ordered the kiln (used more than likely to forge the gold to make the statue) to be heated to its maximum intensity. So hot some of the men were killed by the heat.

Watching from the sides, Neb. sees a miraculous sight through the flames: The three men he had thrown in were walking about free in the furnace, with a fourth figure present. The language Neb. uses ascribes deity to the figure. In other words, Neb. witnesses a Christophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.

When the three arrived out of the fire, it had not burned them nor their clothes. In fact, their clothes didn't even have the smell of smoke upon them.

IV. The Result (3:26-30)

Neb. extols the God of Israel for what he had just witnessed. He not only causes the three Hebrew men to prosper in his kingdom, he also decrees no one is to say anything against the God of Israel, or risk having themselves and their families destroyed by the king. In a twist of divine providence, God was preparing the protection of the nation of Israel who would be put fully into exile at the hands of the Babylonians. Even though they are being judged by God, He looks after His people's welfare while they are judged. What a merciful God we serve.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Shepherd's Conference Audio

Pretty much all of the Shepherd Conference seminars and main session messages can be downloaded at the Shepherds Fellowship site. A list of messages is available HERE.

Some notable messages that would be worth your time hearing,

Phil Johnson's biographical sketch of Charles Spurgeon as a theological warrior and controversialist.

Matt Waymeyer's exegetical overview of Revelation 20. A good one for those following my series defending premillennialism.

And Michael Vlach's overview of dispensational distinctives.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Mantis Vs. Hummingbird

Who would have thought praying mantis and hummingbirds were such archenemies? Check out the related videos also. Quite amazing for a feisty little bug.


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Monday, March 08, 2010

Is Counselor Troi a Member?

At first, I thought this was some parody article:

Hologram Preachers Slated to Appear at Churches

I reckon it's the real deal, though it has a sniff of "hoax" news article on it.

Once we get that holodeck technology invented, churches will be totally irrelevant.

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Divine Miracles

I am a big believer in miracles.

No, not the kind where Benny Hinn supposedly heals some guy with a crooked leg or Todd Bentley pile drives a deaf woman.

I mean the kind of divine miracles I see quite frequently at my church when a violent, wretched evil man is transformed into a gentle, humble servant of God. Those are real miracles.

Here's a story of one of these miracles from South Africa. It appeared yesterday in our Sunday bulletin:

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into
one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,
by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law
of commandments contained in ordinances, that in
Himself He might make the two into one new man,
thus establishing peace.
- Ephesians 2:14-15

On November 27, 2009, I saw the meaning of that promise come to life in an unforgettable way. It began with the graduation from Christ Seminary of our academic award winner, Martin Seliane. Martin, a former schoolteacher and headmaster, was also an ANC (African National Congress) activist. In his former life, Martin was unsaved, violent, and a heavy drinker. He was involved in much insurrection and was not only infamous among the national security people, but also among his own people. To Martin, shooting another man with a gun was a walk in the park.

In 2002, through attending a meeting set up by some Campus Crusade workers, Martin saw the Jesus Film and was immediately convicted and made a confession and literal “about face” with his life. Eventually he felt called to the ministry, and during 2005 Bible college was the main thing on Martin’s mind. He needed training, and after looking at some dismal schools he heard about Christ Seminary, so he reluctantly made the long trip up to see a “White Baptist” seminary. Coming from the Assemblies of God Church, Martin was skeptical, but he was willing to do almost anything to be a pastor.

After a spirited interview, Martin was accepted into our program beginning January 2006. During his first week of school he divulged to me that until 2002 he hated whites and was a serious political activist. He also asked if Benny Hinn used expository preaching. I told him, “After four years, you will be able to answer that question for yourself!”

After reading John MacArthur’s book, The Gospel according to Jesus (as well as many other books in the seminary) and learning how to interpret the Bible, Martin became a ball of fire. He wanted to personally challenge and transform “all those ‘other’ churches where he came from that aren’t reading and practicing the Scriptures correctly.” With gentle discipleship, we convinced him to grow in the grace of Christ, and to remember his own humble beginning.

God had wired Martin for boldness. Just two years ago (during his third year at Christ Seminary), he read an article about a prominent South African political figure named Adriaan Vlok. This article stirred Martin up so much that he invited Vlok to attend his church (a shack in a township squatter’s camp) and speak at a conference there. Vlok accepted, and there was a great testimony to Christ. A new relationship blossomed—so much so that Adriaan attended Martin’s graduation last November.

From a human perspective, no friendship was more unlikely. These two men should have been enemies, and at one time, they were.

From 1986 to 1991, Vlok served as South Africa’s Minister of Law and Order. He presided over the final years of the apartheid era. Facing increasingly intense opposition and political unrest in this period, the South African government—through the State Security Council of which Vlok was a member—planned and implemented drastic repressive measures, including the use of hit squads, bombings, and assassinations of anti-apartheid activists. No one was more assiduous in implementing the harsh policies of the Botha administration than Vlok.

Vlok, a longtime member of the Dutch Reformed Church, would never be accused of being an altar boy. It was he who ordered the 1987 bombings of theaters screening the anti-apartheid film, Cry Freedom. Vlok presided over national security strategy, and commanded South Africa’s secret police, which rounded up more than 30,000 “enemies of the state.”

Vlok’s reign was especially violent. It was the era during which skills were perfected in chemical and biological warfare. It was also the period during which Vlok was in direct control of a feared murder squad. Under Vlok, black activists were murdered in numerous ways, and prominent opponents of apartheid had reason to fear.

In 1995, Vlok’s wife committed suicide, and this heartache drew him to the Lord and to reading Scripture. Despite being raised “in the church,” Vlok had no relationship with Christ. Yet the Lord intervened in a great way. In 1997 Vlok willingly appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and confessed to much wrongdoing, even to the false accusation and detention of Shirley Gunn [a well-known anti-apartheid activist]. Many political enemies said “not good enough,” or “not enough…what else did you do?” Adriaan, however, was undeterred, and confronted many of his cohorts and counterparts at the senior levels to follow his lead. Few accepted.

Adriaan felt he had to do more. This is when he took a step that shook the nation. In late August, he arrived at the Union Building in Pretoria, the seat of government, and asked to see Frank Chikane, the director general at the Office of the President. Clutching a towel, a bar of soap, a Bible, and a plastic bowl, Vlok apologized to him for apartheid, and gave the minister a Bible.

He then asked to wash Chikane’s feet, saying, “I have sinned against the Lord and against you, please forgive.” Chikane reluctantly obliged, and Vlok was able to visibly demonstrate repentance. Since then, Vlok has washed the feet of 10 women in Mamelodi, a black township near Pretoria—mothers whose sons were brutally murdered by the police under his authority.

How is it that the former Minister of Law and Order of South Africa, who thought nothing of killing, torture, and deception to prop up a false kingdom, is now united with, in fellowship with, and endeared to a man who was a political thug who thought nothing of killing his enemies, abusing others, ignoring his family, and was actually in the crosshairs of the “secret list” for termination of his fellow brother? There is only one answer—Jesus Christ.

It is only through Jesus Christ that any of us can see ourselves as we truly are, and that we can see God truly as He is. It is through His death and resurrection that we are made new—completely new. We are given a heart that beats for others, because it is a heart that beats for God.

When Martin preached alongside Adriaan at a recent conference, he said (I paraphrase), “The Bible speaks of forgiveness and reconciliation, but the words describe a situation in a historical context long ago and far away. Today, right before your eyes, you are all witnessing what these words really mean.” This is a picture of the true power of God on display.

Through this relationship, we see one of the largest walls of separation in the twentieth century shattered to pieces, and two very different men who can now finish each others’ sentences.

Because, most importantly, both preach Christ.

David Beakle

Grace Church Missionary

Adapted from an article at The Master's Academy International website.



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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Sissy-fied figure skating preachers

Phil Johnson gave a tremendous message on what it means to man up in the pulpit.

Here's a brief portion,



Audio can be downloaded HERE

You may have to do that annoying registering an account thing, but it is worth it in this case.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Link Roundup

I had found a bunch of interesting articles and links over the last week or so that I had hoped to turn into individual blog articles, but the busy-ness of work, being sick, having a sick wife, and Shepherd's Conference, have occupied my time.

So at the risk of being accused of copying Dan's concept, let me share my links in this post:

= > I actually like stories of stupid irony. When I checked the stats, this particular county in Maryland was a "red state" county, but how much you want to bet many of those cliff dwellers living in their fancy mansions favor the tyrannical legislation of the environmental wackos? They certainly do here in Cali-ah-forn-yah, as your governor says.

=> I guess they are thinking all the sharks will flop around on the floor chasing people and snapping up children.

=> Egyptologist, Chuck Aling, puts the life of Joseph in chronological perspective. Adds to my interchange with Turretinfan last fall on the length of Israel's sojourn in Egypt.

=> Folks are right to question Ergun Caner's claims of debate, but now, some are questioning the legitimacy of a stunt he did in which he was allegedly "tazed."

=> A reporter wonders if the 1997 Arizona lights that disrupted air traffic over Sky Harbor in Phoenix was really a military test in psychological warfare.

=> Those little weather gathering stations may be much more archaic and antiquated than previously thought.

=> John Byl does a study on Genesis and ancient cosmology and takes to task those fallacious illustrations suggesting Moses and the other OT writers believe the cosmos was a solid dome with the sun and moon rolling around on the ceiling. He follows up with a post interacting with a staunch objector who disagrees with his assessment.

=> And, speaking of Genesis and compromise, here is a prime example how allegorical hermeneutics messes with your theology: Adam is Israel. I guess it was only the people of Israel who inherited sin, not the entire human race? I may have more later next week on this one.

=> The Freakanomics guys are asking if anyone pretends to be Christians so as not to curse themselves socially. Many commenters claim they do, especially in the Bible belt red state south. I left a comment wondering what sort of churches such individuals attend in order to maintain their facade. I mean, are they more comfortable posing at a United Methodist church where services last maybe 40 minutes, maybe 30 if the children's puppet sermon is excluded, and a Bible is rarely opened? OR one of those mega-seeker sensitive evangelical churches where one of the three services lasts maybe 45 minutes, maybe 35 minutes if they don't play a music video that morning, and Bibles are rarely opened? Of course, the post demonstrates a total lack of cultural awareness with biblical Christianity, because the Bible tells us poser Christians will always be present in the church for the very reasons these individuals attest to. It takes the consistently sound preaching of God's Word in order to expose and root them out, something those faker "Christians" have probably never encountered. I do wonder if they would have the courage to ask Muslims if they "fake" being Muslims to avoid negative social consequences.

=> I was wondering around in the seminary library a few Wednesday nights ago waiting for the Awana game time to start and noticed with bug-eyed incredulity that CRI, Hank "BAM" Hanegraaf, and the CRI Journal had a positive, glowing review of the Local Church cult, along with a groveling apology begging their forgiveness for previously labeling them as a cult.

The Local Church was founded by Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, two men who synchronized Chinese mysticism with Christianity. They have aberrant ideas about the nature of God, including anti-Trinitarian teaching, and rather than clarifying their comments and being teachable when offered constructive, theological criticism by godly instructors, they attempt to sue the pants off their critics. This is not the behavior of Christians.

Norman Geisler (yes, that Norman Geisler) and Ron Rhodes offer a written response to Hank and CRI for their foolish move to embrace error. This counterfeit came over the horizon and bopped Hank right on the head.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Matthew 24 Discussions

For those who may interested, a bunch of us are having a good time over at Dan's Place, discussing preterism and futurism in regards to Matthew 24 in the comments under this post:

Forum on Matthew 24 - Not Such a Big Deal After All?

It started yesterday when I opened up by lighting a fire bomb in the comments under this post.

Just in case you want the context.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

O Canada!

My Canadian foil, Neil Shay, who's lovely wife Kim blogs much more frequently and pithily than he, sends me an important video explaining to us Americans the background to the deep American-Canadian friendship. I was surprised it goes way beyond syrup, Rush, and pictures of old ladies on their money.

Explaining Canada to Americans

Neil later emailed me and explained the importance of Canada's win over the U.S. in hockey:

Winning the hockey gold medal is a visceral necessity for us. It’s a mega-fail when we lose it. The stock market would have declined. Clinical depression would have spiked. So this is for the best.

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Caner New Speak

Ergun Caner writes,

One gentleman believes it is misleading to call my interaction with people from other faiths and world religions “debates.” Since his definition of debate is limited to moderated, formal debates, that is his prerogative. He can call them whatever he wishes.

....

The truth is, several evangelical apologists employ the “formal” debate template and are very effective in their presentations. Norman Geisler, Gary Habermas and William Lane Craig come to mind. Nevertheless, I will continue to do exactly as I have done. In fact, in order to attempt a measure of peace, I am more than happy to call my engagements “interviews,” or even “dialogues.”

....

However, I would caution all evangelicals that no single method meets consensus. Nor is there only one exclusively biblical model. Certainly there is much good to be found in formal debates, and I also believe that there is enough room for all types of interaction. In fact I believe there is great value to be found in all forms, including conversational and informal methods. [Ergun Caner Statement 2/25/10]


It never ceases to amaze me how the zeitgeist of postmodern relativism has soaked to the bones of our society, even with those who supposedly loathe postmodern relativism. This is most noticeable in the use of language. The meaning and context for words begin to lose their precision. Such is plainly evident in these comments by Ergun Caner as he attempts to defend his chosen definition for the word "debate."

Dr. Caner has made the claim on numerous occasions that he has "debated" individuals from many different religious groups: Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. He further boasts that he isn't afraid to debate any one, any where. Dr. Caner has recently been challenged as to the legitimacy of that claim. In other words, if he has debated these individuals from various religious groups, we would like to hear the audio or watch the video of those encounters. None is available, however, because Dr. Caner seems to define "debate" with the widest possible definition so as to mean any dialogue or discussion with an opponent of a differing point of view. Plus, those "debates" can take place in any location, like an airport lounge, on an email discussion group, in the university cafeteria.

Granted, the word "debate" can mean any exchange between individuals of opposing view points. But the context also adds clarity and precision to a word. In the case of Dr. Caner, he is the President of Liberty Theological Seminary. Moreover, he is the professor of theology, church history, and apologetics. His role as a seminary president and theological professor help narrow down the definition of the word "debate" when he employs it to describe the extent of his ministry in the secular world.

Let me illustrate what I mean: I have had a presence on the internet since I had a personal email account and access to the web at my current work place. It's been around 10-12 years or so. During the decade or more, I have participated on theological internet forums, on email discussion groups, and in the comments of many blogs. I can confidently say I have "debated" many different kinds of heretics, non-Christians, and secularists. I have "debated" JWs, Mormons, Church of Christ, Oneness Pentecostals, Socinians, Universialists, Muslims, and atheists, on such countless subjects as baptism, the Deity of Christ, KJV-onlyism, evolution, the nature of spiritual gifts, election, the existence of God and the list could go on.

Now, suppose out of God's providence, I was invited to join the faculty of a theological seminary. When I submitted my resume for review, how honest would I be in listing a few memorable email exchanges I had with some progressive creationist, an Arminian guy, a KJV-onlyist gadfly, and a couple of post threads on some internet forums with a charismatic and an atheist and describe them all as having participated in "debates"? In that academic context, how would my reviewers define the concept of "debate"?

Hopefully you can see my point as to why there is a deeper matter of integrity and commitment with Dr. Caner's precision of language and his claims of debating.

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