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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Brave New Thuggery















My neighborhood progressives have been getting riled up the past few weeks.

A mayor's prayer breakfast is going to be held in our community and this is a breach of 1st amendment protocol. Hysterical accusations of theocratic thuggery have been leveled against those evangelical TEA party supporters who are attempting to meddle with the fabric of our free society.

One particularly agitated commenter has the Dan Barker handbook on atheist propaganda and is running play by play. He quoted excessively from cherry picked citations of Thomas Jefferson's personal correspondence describing the ills of Christians on society. Another wrote, I am getting tired of the theocratic pressure brought against the citizens who just want to be left alone in a secular nation, as our founders intended!

Indeed.

Anytime a group of soccer moms express how troubled they are with some explicit book being taught as fine literature at the local high school or the city passes an ordinance that prevents the public display of pornographic videos at the area convenient stores, young progressives react as if this is the beginnings of a fundamental Baptist police state. Teenage girls will be forced to wear dull colored coolats and take home economics, gays will be made to march back to their closets, and people will have to burn their Coldplay CDs.

They paint a horrific, futuristic vision of American theocracy that would make Kurt Vonnegut shudder.

In the real world, the reality of things is quite the opposite.

The secular left have managed to pass some of the most intrusive, over-reaching, liberty stifling legislation imaginable. And I am not talking about Obamacare. It's the small, local level, everyday details in life that are easily brought into power by a secular body of governmental officials who readily embrace the bizzaro idea that the world is on the verge of a man-made environmental apocalyptic collapse. Regrettably, the "sheeple" of suburbia have been fooled into thinking compliance is a good thing.

I have blogged about this in the past.

For example, a couple of years ago I noted an attempt by the crackpot left in the state of California to mandate PCTs, little radio controlled thermostats that allowed the state officials to "turn" up your thermostat in the case of an electrical "emergency" like a possible black out situation during a heat wave. It was all in the name of energy efficiency and saving money. They tried to sneak in the law, but a geek blogger, who likes to read boring legislative stuff, wrote a post about it and the smart thinking public became outraged as they should have. Praise the Lord for geeks. Do any of the young progressive understand how intrusive such a mandated device is? Sadly, they welcome such tyranny as being helpful.

Also, consider my asthma medication. Once again, a couple of years ago, the gas in my inhaler was declared to be unsafe for the environment. Did you read that? The gas I would inhale into my mouth and lungs and which would be absorbed by my body is going to be a detriment to the earth's delicate eco-systems. The cost of my medication more than doubled over night.

A more current example, and one that I am sure my progressive antagonists would gleefully like to see happen in our hometown, is the complicated recycling bin system being implemented in the U.K. (see photo above) and that has been implemented in other squishy countries around Europe.

Believe me. It is these sorts of everyday, real life intrusions that mess with people's personal liberty. Not whether or not we are allowed to have 'Playboy' at our local libraries.

Of course, one fun irony in all of this: Sometimes the secular thuggery the intelligentsia forces upon us common folk comes back to bite them hard:


Teddy is spinning in his grave...


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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

FBT Updates

I just added my last two messages on the book of Daniel. They cover chapter 12.
For my eagerly waiting public...

Studies in Daniel

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Let's Keep Some Perspective

NOW WITH VIDEO!

I had a busy day yesterday chasing atheists down in the comboxes at the GTY Blog, so I almost missed this news report:

Noah's Ark Found on Turkish Mountain Top?

Note the question mark.

The Sun from across the Pond has a video of the interior.
(why would a woman wear big, dangly ear rings when crawling around in tight quarters?)


There isn't a whole lot out yet in the English press. Just a picture of a guy bent down in a wooden room in what could really be a wine cellar. The main website, Noah's Ark Ministries International, is in Chinese. There are some more pictures of wooden rooms if you scroll down through. I hope it is real. I mean, that would be really cool. But let's have some perspective. As I noted in a blog post some four years ago about a satellite "image" of Noah's Ark,

...do we need to have a physical, tangible ark to prove the Bible is true? That the global flood describe in the pages of Genesis really happened? Of course not. The fact that the Bible is God's revelation is certainty enough to tell us the historical account of Noah and the flood took place. Besides, who is to say there is an ark up there anyways? The integrity of the Bible doesn't demand it. More than likely, after Noah and his family left the ark, they dismantled a good portion of it to use in construction for their own shelter. What was left has since been covered over or left to deteriorate in the elements.

When it comes down to it, even a physical, tangible ark will do little to convince the most stubborn of skeptical unbelievers. His disbelief is a heart problem, not one that lacks credible evidence. Let us say for the sake of argument this anomaly [or wooden wine cellars, 2010] was confirmed as being the ark of Noah. Would skeptics then fall to their knees and beat their chests with remorseful repentance for all their years of denying God and His Word? No, of course not. They would find some other clever way to conveniently explain away the discovery. In our day and age, it would be viewed as a plot by dastardly Republicans (and Haliburton) to get Bush's faith based school initiatives passed. So goes the sinful heart of men.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Draw Bridge Parable

Back in the first month of 2006, I was blogging in obscurity, pecking out my thoughts for those few faithful readers who had accidentally stumbled across my blog when they were searching for joint pain medication. That January, I had the idea to deconstruct the various horrible preaching stories I had heard growing up in rural fundamentalism. The kind of goofy stuff I heard at youth camps and the like.

Regrettably, I only did one. I got distracted, I guess, and the series died right out of the gate.

At any rate, the first and only one I deconstructed was the classic drawbridge story about the father crushing his son to death in the gears of a raised drawbridge in order to save the passengers on a swiftly approaching train. The story was meant to play as an emotional shaming. We were thoughtless and wreckless teenage youth who cared for nothing but our AC/DC records and playing video games, all the while the God of heaven sacrificed his son on our behalf. "HOW CAN YOU CONTINUE IN YOUR SINFUL TV WATCHING WHEN THE GOD OF HEAVEN HAS SACRIFICED HIS ONE AND ONLY SON ON YOUR BEHALF!" the evangelist would weepingly yell.

The story is a theological disaster as I will note below and I would never use it as some soul stirring crescendo to any of my sermons.

I learned yesterday from some Facebook friends that the story has been turned into a movie.

A MOVIE!

It's called Most. Most? Not only is it a terrible theological story, it also has a terrible title. But I digress.

It apparently stands up there along side "The Passion of the Christ" and the "Chronicles of Narnia" gushes one reviewer. Readers can watch the trailer at the link, and if you are so inclined you can purchase multiple copies of the movie with disciple kits for the low cost of just 24.99 plus shipping and handling.

Now evangelical youth camps no longer need a shouting youth evangelist to share the story. All they need is a DVD player and the movie does the rest.

Seeing that it has been a while, and in light of this new movie, I thought I would repost my one and only horrible preaching story.


I heard this story on many occasions growing up, generally at youth revivals or some other Christian camp, where after the service, those kids really, really, really serious about living for Jesus were encouraged to write all their sins on a piece of paper and throw it in a bonfire.

Once I can remember a preacher who retold the story claim the events were true. I have read alternate versions of the story on the Internet. Whatever the case, they all contain the same moralistic conclusion: A loving father sacrifices his son's life to save a passenger train full of people from disaster.

Once there was a man who was an attendant for a railroad drawbridge. His job entailed raising the bridge to allow the river boats to pass and making sure the bridge was in place for the trains. One day the man took his only son with him to work. He was a four year old boy who enjoyed watching his father raise the bridge to allow the boats pass and lowering it to let the trains rumble by.

As the day wore on, the man and his only son went to eat lunch out on the raised bridge. As they watched the boats pass underneath them, they both fell asleep. Sometime later, the man was awakened from his nap by the sound of a distant train whistle. "Oh no," he thought, "the bridge is still up, I need to get back to close it or all those people will be killed!" Making his way back to the control room, he started to lower the bridge when he heard a cry from outside. It was his only son, who had slipped through the catwalk when he started following his father back. He had fallen down onto the massive gears and he was unable to free his foot.

The man didn't know what he should do. He had to find a way to save his only son, but there would be no time to save him and then return to lower the bridge to let the train pass. As the train drew closer, the man remember how God sacrificed Jesus, His only son, to save humanity, so he made the fateful decision to sacrifice his son to save those hundreds of people on the train. The bridge closed, all the while the anguished father knowing it crushed to death his only son. As he wept for the death of his only son, the train rushed by safe and sound with all the passengers waving and laughing as they went by, completely oblivious to the great sacrifice that just occurred to save them.

Now the problems with this story, both practical and theological, are a multitude.

First, what sort of idiot father takes his only son, especially a four year old boy, out on the end of a raised drawbridge? Particularly when there is a great possibility for him to slip off a catwalk and be entangled in the gears of the bridge? This is highly irresponsible of the father. Moreover, what about his jumping up from his nap and running back to the control room without grabbing his kid? Are you telling me that he is so absent minded he would forget his boy laying there next to him?

Second, what sort of safety standards were the engineers of this drawbridge working under so that they could get away with building a bridge with exposed gears which in turn could potentially entangle a four year old who slips through a catwalk? Moreover, wouldn't this catwalk be considered poorly designed? If it is that easy for someone to slip through, I don't know if I want to be walking on it to begin with.

Third, was there a moron driving this train? Are you telling me he wouldn't take notice of a raised drawbridge in the distance? I mean, it's not like a raised drawbridge just sneaks up on you. Surely he would had been made aware of that section of the track where a drawbridge could possibly be raised, so that he could be alert to slow down if he needed to. Are you telling me this guy was so engrossed in his newspaper or book that he wasn't paying attention? This is gross incompetence. Additionally, the train company should be held criminal negligence for not having some warning system in place to alert a train engineer of a raised draw bridge a mile or so up the track. I smell a big pay off in a lawsuit with this one.

But these are sniggling little practical details. What about the mangled theological implications gleaned from this woeful tale? There are two serious ones:

Generally, the main point raised in the conclusion of the story is the great sacrifice of the father for the people on the train being likened to the great sacrifice God offered in Jesus Christ for all humanity. Yet if we allow that comparison, it makes Christ's death into a cosmic accident, something God the Father was not expecting and couldn't avoid.

The Bible is clear God had planned Christ's death before the foundation of the world. It was not an unavoidable accident. Peter affirms this truth in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost when he said, Him [Jesus], being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death (Acts 2:23). The father in the story did not go to work that morning with the intention of crushing to death his only son in the gears of the bridge so as to save a passenger train from doom.

Then second, note the blatant universalism presented in the story. The train supposedly represents the whole of humanity; everyone in the entire world without exception. One point I have heard preachers make when relating this story is how all the folks on the train were smiling, waving, and laughing as it drove over the bridge, all the while completely unaware of the death of a four year old boy to save their lives. This is how the world acts, the preacher will say, they don't realize God the Father sacrificed Jesus to save them and they go about their blissful lives completely unaware of what God did.

This not only makes Christ death purposeless, but also implies everyone in the world is saved, they just don't know it. Am I to guess they all learn about it later, after they die and are in heaven? I imagine this would be similar to the people who were on the train once they reached their various destinations and read about what the father did in the newspaper. The Bible is also quite clear that Christ's death was not designed to be a universal atonement which saves all humanity, whose members are saved, but live their lives without Christ now, only to realize what Jesus did for them once they reach heaven. Such a notion is rank heresy.

If anything, this drawbridge story goes beyond the theological foibles of Arminianism to being one embracing the heretical teachings of open theism and universalism.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Defending Premillennialism [7]

Kingdom Citizens

One of the first common objections raised against premillennialism by non-premillennialists has to do with the resurrected righteous living along side of non-resurrected individuals during the millennium. The non-premillennialists see such living conditions as something of a weird thing. "Why would God allow unresurrected people to dwell among His resurrected righteous?" they will ask.

Amillennialist, Kim Riddlebarger, describes the alleged conundrum this way,

According to premillenarians, the millennium is a period in which people who have been raised from the dead and who now live on the earth in resurrected bodies coexist with people who have not been raised from the dead and who remain in the flesh. How can this be? Where does Scripture teach about such a mixture of resurrected and unresurrected individuals? As we have seen, the New Testament writers all anticipated the final consummation to occur at the time of our Lord's second advent. They do not anticipate the halfway step of an earthly millennium before the final consummation, such as that associated with all forms of premillennialism. [Riddlebarger, 232]
He goes on to highlight all the so-called theological problems that are created such as the concept of a second fall of man into sin, because the "nations" existing at the end of the millennium upon the release of Satan revolt against God and Christ (Rev. 20:10). They had to have been judged by Christ at his coming, argues Riddlebarger, because this is what Matthew 24:37-41 outlines.

Sam Storms, another amillennialist, also raises this objection when he writes,

Premillennialists must account for the rebellious and unbelieving nations in Revelation 20:7-10 who launch an assault against Christ and his people at the end of the millennial age. Where did these people come from? They must be the unbelieving progeny born to those believers who entered the millennial age in physical, unglorified bodies. Not only they, but also the believing progeny born to those believers will be subject to physical death (notwithstanding the alleged prolonged life spans experienced by those who live during the millennial reign of Christ).

Theologian, Vern Poythress, goes into more detail in the abstract to an article he wrote on the judgment passage of 2 Thessalonians 1. He writes,

Second, 2 Thessalonians 1 is in tension with posttribulational premillennialism. It knows of only two classes of people, namely Christians and their opponents. At the Second Coming, Christians enjoy eternal glory (verse 10) and their opponents experience eternal destruction in hell (verse 9). Both destinies are final and irreversible. Moreover, we know from other passages that at the Second Coming Christians have resurrection bodies, not subject to death. Their opponents experience eternal death. Hence, immediately after the Second Coming there are no human beings left with bodies in a nonfinal state. There is no one who could populate a supposed millennium, in order that more children might be born and that some human beings would still experience a later physical death. [Poythress, 529]
He then argues that the only possible way premillennialists, particular those who hold to a post-tribulational rapture, can explain this passage in light of their eschatology is to create some third category of person who is neither opposed to Christ or Christianity and such a category contradicts what he says the Bible teaches regarding only two categories of people to be judge, the righteous and the unrighteous.

I will admit the understanding of a millennium, what is the future Kingdom of God populated by the resurrected saints and non-resurrected, mortal people living together, raises some difficult questions for premillennialism. However, I believe there are plenty of satisfactory answers to those difficult questions. More over the alleged theological inconsistencies presented by non-premillennialists like Riddlebarger and Poythress are overly exaggerated. Honestly: the Augustinian hermeneutic utilized by Reformed, non-premillennialists to interpret prophetic literature, especially Revelation 20, creates way more theological problems overall for amillennialists and postmillennialists than this one perceived problem with the premillennial perspective of the millennium.

Is it then unreasonable, and I guess unbiblical as well, to think the resurrected saints can co-mingle and live with unresurrected, mortal men in the kingdom?

To begin, there is nothing really odd with the idea of resurrected saints living along side mortal men for a thousand years. Why is it suppose to be a problem exactly for premillennialism? Why would it be a bad thing to have resurrected saints living along side mortal, unresurrected people? It really amounts to a manufactured fallacy on the part of non-premillennialists, in my mind.

We also have a key example of such a situation in our Lord Jesus. Our Lord appeared after His Resurrection -- in a resurrected body mind you -- on many occasions to His apostles and the disciples and had fellowship with them. Paul even says in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that he appeared to 500 witnesses at once. These weren't ghostly apparitions where Jesus hovered over the heads of the crowd. He talked with them, could be physically touched by the people, and even ate with them (John 21).

Luke 24 records one of the more fascinating post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus when he walked with two disciples on the road to Emmaus, a little town maybe 7 miles outside of Jerusalem. Here, Jesus travels along a road with two mortal individuals probably all day talking with them about the Old Testament prophecies pertaining to the coming Messiah of Israel. The event is described by Luke as if there was nothing out of the ordinary in the experience. The only thing unique was how the two disciples had their eyes "restrained" from recognizing who Jesus was until the end of the encounter.

Matthew 27:52 provides for us an even more interesting description of resurrected individuals along side mortal, unresurrected people. Matthew records that upon the death of Jesus some of the graves were opened and many saints who had died were raised to life and after Christ's resurrection went into Jerusalem and appeared to many. The account is unusual in that Matthew alone records the occurrence, and the circumstances are strange to us as well. Who ever these individuals were, the text clearly suggests they were in resurrected bodies, and unlike Lazarus (John 11) who was raised from the dead and died a second time physically, these individuals were more than likely a part of the first fruits of Jesus' resurrection Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 15:23. Whatever the case, they appeared to many in Jerusalem as a testimony of who Jesus was. The idea of "appearing" is more than a fleeting glance in a window or in a crowd in which the witness is left to wonder if they really saw the person, but is more akin to them actually having fellowship with these resurrected saints.

In all of these instances, Jesus and his disciples and these resurrected saints at Christ's death, nothing in the text suggests their presence among unresurrected, mortal people was necessarily out of the ordinary or reflected a relationship that could never be maintained because of existing in two separate categories, the resurrected saints contrasted with unresurrected men.

Non-premillennialists also seem to object to the idea of what Poythress says is a "third category" or person neither opposed to Christ or Christianity. It is believed the Bible only relates two categories of people, the righteous, which would include everyone saved and eventually glorified in the resurrection, and the wicked, who will be judged eternally. Additionally, they insist the Bible knows of only one general resurrection during which both the righteous and wicked will be judged at one time. No intermediate kingdom of one thousand years separates the resurrection of these two groups. Yet, as I noted in a previous article, nothing in those so-called general resurrection passages cited precludes the notion the two groups are separated by a millennium just as Revelation 20 states. I believe non-premillennialists insist upon their general resurrection position because it is necessary to preserve the typographical interpretation of Revelation 20 as being a recapitulation of church history.

That stated, one specific passage often overlooked in this discussion of the resurrected righteous living with mortal men is Zechariah's prophecy in chapter 14. After what is the prophet's description of the battle of Armageddon and those people who fought against Jerusalem are judged by the coming of the Messiah (14:3ff.), Zechariah writes, And it shall come to pass that every one who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles [Zech. 14:16ff.].

The question is ask, who are these "everyone who is left of all the nations"? Zechariah clearly describes a time after the judgment of Jerusalem's enemies when people of nations come to worship the Lord. Who are these people then? Where do they come from? What is the point of God warning of withholding rain from their nations if they do not come up to Jerusalem to worship? It seems to me the prophet is describing people who were not among those enemies of Jerusalem who are left to dwell on the earth during the millennium. If these people have children, and they have children, and so on, it is quite plain to see from where the multitude will come who are stirred up after Satan's release from the abyss who will then oppose Christ.

One final verse cited against the premillennialist to argue against a millennium where the resurrected and non-resurrected coexist is 1 Corinthians 15:50, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Sam Storms provides his argument by stating,

The “kingdom” in view, according to the PM, is the millennial kingdom, that very “reign” of Christ we noted above in 1 Corinthians 15:24. But how can that be? The PM argues that many believers will enter and inherit and enjoy the blessings of the millennial kingdom in their natural, unglorified, untransformed, “flesh and blood” bodies. But that is precisely what Paul denies could ever happen. Most PM also contend that these believers will bear children, many of whom likewise may come to faith and “claim” their inheritance while yet in “flesh and blood” bodies. The problem for PM is acute: either deny these believers that inheritance of the kingdom which Christ has promised, and into the experience of which he gives them entrance (Mt. 25), or recognize that 1 Corinthians 15:50 precludes the millennial age traditionally defined and defended by the PM.
Now, at first glance, that seems to be a rather clear word against the notion of an earthly millennial kingdom where unglorifed individuals will dwell along side the resurrected saints. Yet the key understanding of the kingdom of God for the non-premillennialists is that it is a present reality now as the Church. Kim Riddlebarger devotes an entire chapter to the KoG and he defends the typical, Augustinian view of the KoG existing now presently [Riddlebarger, 100-113]. How exactly do non-premillennialists understand 1 Cor. 15:50 in light of their view of the KoG? Certainly they don't think we live currently in our glorified bodies do they? They have just as much of a problem explaining this passage as the premillennialist does.

There are two possible ways to understand this passage as a premillennialist. First, the Kingdom of God is the concept of a restored Jerusalem with a millennial temple at it's center as described in detail in Ezekiel 40-48. Only the resurrected saints will be granted access because of their state. Mortal humanity must go through the prescribed purity rituals mentioned in Ezekiel's prophecy. However, the clearest understanding of this text is Paul is describing the Kingdom of God in its eternal state, what would be the eventual New Heavens and New Earth. No mortal man can go into eternity with an unglorified body; even the wicked. The righteous must have a glorified body to stand in the holy presence of God, where as the wicked must have a glorified body to withstand the eternal wrath of a holy God.

I haven't obviously dealt in exacting detail with every possible objection to the idea of resurrected saints dwelling along side of unresurrected, mortal men, but as to the main objections often raised, the idea is not theologically problematic as non-premillennialists suggest.


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Sources:

Vern Poythress, 2 Thessalonians 1 Supports Amilllennialism. (on-line paper)
Kim Riddlebarger, The Case for Amillennialism.
Samuel Storms, Problems with Premillennialism. (on-line paper) accessed April, 2010.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stupid Irony

Just in time for Earth Day...

Another Polar Rescue

This is actually now the fourth year running that warming alarmists have had to be rescued from expeditions to prove the Arctic is warmer than it actually is. It's a metaphor.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tea Parties and Evangelism

The tax man hath cometh...

Last Thursday, April 15th, Tea Parties took place across the United States. We had a big Tea Party rally in my hometown. I personally did not attend because family related chores were occupying my time that afternoon. I did drive by the location where it took place at least four times during the course of my chores.

The first time I drove by, there were maybe 10 folks, all senior citizen aged, which looked like the affirmation of the current liberal myth that the majority of Tea Party people are white, retired, and represent a by-gone, dinosaurish, political perspective that doesn't like black people. But, 30 minutes later, I drove by the same spot and there were at least a hundred -- all young, tax paying middle class people. The third time I drove past, the crowd had certainly tripled in size and I saw lots of families, men in ties like they had just gotten off from work, and many college aged kids. The last time I drove by, at the peak of the rally, the crowd had swollen to at least 1,500, give or take.

I recently linked to a photo essay contrasting two separate protest rallies: One in Searchlight, NV, where Sarah Palin was a keynote speaker, and another in L.A. that featured gangs of left-wing fascist thug anarchists spewing venom at Jews. The rally in Searchlight was painted by conservative critics as a large gathering of an out-of-touch political minority desperately clinging to backward thinking ways who refuse to face the facts of their increasing irrelevance. Furthermore, because they are opposed to Obama's administration, they reflect an intrinsic racism present within pretty much all conservative ideology. They should be called "Tea Klanners" not "Tea Partiers."

The L.A. rally, on the other hand, was all but ignored by the media local or national, and scarcely, if at all, analyzed by watchdog pundits. The only reason it was even pointed out was due to a group of intrepid, anonymous photographers who posted the pictures on the internet.

The difference between the two is staggering. Where as the Tea Party folks are vilified as racists, never has any real example of a racist comment or sign been exposed. Most that are have been made-up hoaxes. These lefty protests, however, will display some of the most wicked, anti-Semitic comments on signs the likes of which haven't been seen since pre-WW2 Germany. During the Bush years, these protest mobs regularly had images of Bush being hanged, assassinated, or dressed like Hitler. And of course the ever present anti-Jew sentiments. To call Tea Party people racist and dangerous to our society while virtually ignoring these leftist protests and the bile they spew forth with their signs, shows how myopically liberal the media truly is.

Under my post, a commenter asked an astute question: If I had the opportunity to evangelize these groups, which one would I choose and why? That's a good question. The immediate response is obvious for most evangelists: the left wing crowd. Here we have a group of individuals motivated by hatred of Jews and conservatives. They are in desperate need of hearing the gospel. If they were genuinely in power, they would not hesitate to turn their peace loving ways to the eradication of any and all individuals who stand opposed to them. That would be normal, conservative folks. Think the Cuban revolution and Mao.

Yet, it is easy to discount the conservatives. I have discovered that red state conservatives can be some of the most deceived individuals when it comes to salvation. They tend to come from church backgrounds, but a lot are from churches that may be "conservative" but not Bible believing. If they were like me when I was growing up, the Gospel they hear is shallow and presents a Jesus who is there to merely give them a wonderful plan for their life, not save them from the just wrath of a holy God.

I would add how this presentation of Jesus has produced generations of so-called Christians who are bankrupt ethically in their personal lives. Though if they were in power they wouldn't gun down their ideological enemies like the left have historically done, they can behave cruelly against those with whom they disagree with gossip, slander, favoritism and the like. If anything, these attitudes reflect individuals who are not being sanctified through the Word of God by the work of the Spirit. At worse, they are false converts.

Moreover, Tea Party people will at times place too much confidence upon politics to change things. In a way, it is a mirror to how the liberals have an over dependence on government competence take care of people. Now granted, Tea Party activists are arguing for a limited government and personal liberty and responsibility, and those are values I for one can stand behind and support, yet it is assumed, often naively, that voting in the right set of people will some how satiate their longings for a conservative society. Believe me, I had glowing expectations of the wonderful change "Ah nold" would bring to California which never once materialized.

So if I had an opportunity to evangelize which group would I pick? That's hard to say. Each group has their own set of issues, but both groups are equally sinners in need of a savior. Each would certainly be approached differently as to how I would start, but I personally think I would get a more irritated reaction from the Tea Party folks because the bulk of them come from "churchianity" backgrounds, and many of these patriot and liberty lovers do not believe they need to be saved. Only being told they are lost in spite of their "all American" values and they need Christ can stir up a stink.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Volcano Pictures

A series of photos from the volcano in Iceland with the unpronounceable name.

Eyjafjallajokull

This one picture is how I sort of envision God descending onto Mt. Sinai in Exodus.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

On the OKC bombing and McVeigh - 15 Years Later

For my conspiracy theory loving friends out there:

McVeigh Mania

By the way, one faithful supporter mentioned to me via email that the masthead of the website has a gold statue of an unattractive nekkid woman which I confess I didn't notice at all when I read the article. So scroll down real fast.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

The Death of a Deist

I saw in the paper yesterday that Anthony Flew had died. Back in his younger days, he was a notorious atheist. He, along with Bertrand Russell were like the Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens of our generation.

A few years ago, it was reported that he had abandoned his atheism as it were and had embraced the tenets of intelligent design. The Christian community that promotes the typical, popular apologetics of evidentialism, like Gary Habermas, who was Flew's personal friend, Greg Koukl, and Hank Hanegraaf, held Flew's intellectual turn about aloft as a trophy that demonstrated just how powerful the argumentation presented by ID advocates can be when considered by a person with the willingness to have an open mind and to evaluate the evidence upon its own merits.
According to Flew, he was compelled by the DNA evidence and could not reconcile what we were learning about DNA with the Darwinian notion of descent with modification over millions of years.

Now many would say such a turn about is a good thing. Right? Here was a man hostile to God and when he saw how the evidence so demolished his beliefs of atheism, there was nothing a truly intellectual man can do but abandon these faulty convictions for ones which comport to reality. At least that is how his change of mind was painted by the Christian apologists. The problem, however, is that Flew merely moved from atheism to deism, and as much as Greg Koukl considered such a move in the right direction a "good thing," according to scripture, it's a bad thing. Flew remained in rebellion against his creator until the very end as far as I know in spite of his positive acknowledgment of ID principles.

Going back all the way to the first week I started my blog, my second post as it were was on this exact subject of Flew's alleged "conversion." Or should I say "deconversion" from atheism. I present that post again, all five short paragraphs, and I believe it is just as relevant now as it was then five years ago.



I am sure many folks remember the stunning announcement toward the end of 2004 made by legendary atheist philosopher, Anthony Flew, of his abandonment of materialistic atheism as a credible means of explaining life on earth. He now professes to be a deist of some sorts who recognizes a higher cause, but still firmly rejects Christianity, because in his mind, the religion cannot adequately account for evil in the world. (As if any other world view can? I digress).

I gave a devotional on the subject that has been posted at my main website Fred's Bible Talk.
Those with MP3 capabilities can click the file and listen on line here.

Dr. Flew's "conversion" to deism, or theism with a little "t," only reveals the inability for the alleged evidence for God and creation to genuinely convince a person of his or her need for Jesus Christ. Dr. Flew has said in various interviews, the most candid being a dialog between himself and long time Christian friend, Dr. Gary Habermas, that he was challenged by the arguments Intelligent Design proponents are making in explaining the many complexities of our world, both biological and physical. Atheism fails to give a rational justification for such overwhelming evidence and according to Dr. Flew, he had to go "where the evidence takes him."

Yet, the so-called evidence does not take him far enough, because he still rejects God's sovereign authority. Dr. Flew states he cannot believe in the God of the Bible because all this God does is produce lots of evil. When I read such blasphemy, Paul's words from Romans 9:20 ring in my mind: "But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'why have you made me like this?'"

God's Word is clear that Dr. Flew's problem is not a matter of evidence. To be quite honest, the evidence for God screams in the faces of all men everywhere. No, Dr. Flew's problem is a spiritual/moral problem. He needs a new heart and a new mind to evaluate the clear evidence correctly, and according to scripture (Romans 1:20ff.), men and women like Dr. Flew will only continue to dismiss any and all evidence until he submits to his creator as being the only true God, and our savior, Jesus Christ, as the only means to be made right with his creator. Until that happens, all the arguments made by ID proponents Dr. Flew believes is compelling will only be suppressed by his rebellious heart and will only serve to condemn him before the very God he rejects.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The TMC Players Present...

At the risk of stirring up a controversy and causing the secondary separationists to gnaw on their tongues and rake out their eyes...

The JMAC Rap

Relevant portion begins around 4:25.

Most normal Christians will appreciate the love these kids have for their pastor. You'll also see some fine shots of my 'hood.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Expelled

The beard stroking, academic hypocrites around the internet are worked up into a lather. They are enraged that Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando had the gall to let go ("forced out" is the buzz word being thrown around) Bruce Waltke because of his views regarding theistic evolution.

The commenters at the Inside Higher Ed site despair over how Christians refuse to come out of the bronze age, and until these "literalists" awaken to the reality of how things are in the scientific world, more and more tragic situations like Dr. Waltke will only continue to litter the evangelical waste land, embarrassing Jesus and making Christians look stupid.

USA Today online cites Darrel Falk, professor of biology at a liberal Nazarene college and president of the even more theologically devoid BioLogos website, who likens Waltke to a modern day Amos or some other prophet who had the courage to stand up and tell us young earth creationists dullards how it is:

"Decades from now, when the Evangelical Church has come to terms with the reality of evolution, we hope she will look back at those who were the pioneers on its journey toward a fuller understanding of the manner by which God has created. I could list other pioneers, a number of whom are good friends and colleagues.

"Right there alongside them will be Dr. Bruce Waltke who, in the latter phase of an extremely distinguished career, had the courage to tell the Church what it needed to hear. The fact that he did so with a remarkably gentle spirit of love will be a reminder to all that the real battles are won when we simply live the reality of the Gospel. To do this — in the face of adversity — is the ultimate in courage."

As much as Falk and his sycophants in the blog comments wish to decry the enslavement of "academic freedom," they are bald faced dishonest (say liars) with two obvious areas:

First, they don't care a lick about academic freedom. If one of their fellow "academics" endorsed ID over evolution, they would be the first ones running to get their tar buckets and cutting open pillows. To theological liberals like the folks at BioLogos, academic freedom is only truly free if the person in question comes to the exact conclusions they already believe. But, if you question those conclusions, you're denying scientific reality. There is no other choice but to censor such a person and force him out of his position.

Second, many of these supporters of theistic evolution claim to be strong believers in the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. They will often drop that announcement down right in the middle of these discussions with their creationist dissenters in order to confirm to them their orthodoxy. They aren't rabid atheists just because they are theistic evolutionists, or so they say. They merely recognize the overwhelming evidence for evolution and Christians would be foolish to ignore it.

However, at what point does the so-called "overwhelming evidence" give way to the theistic evolutionary affirmation of inspiration and inerrancy? Bart Ehrman certainly claims to be examining the evidence of textual criticism. In fact, every wack-a-doodle heretical group that denies the orthodox views of Christianity claim they are "examining the evidence." Would the Nazarene college where Darrel Falk teaches biology allow John Dominic Crossan the "academic freedom" to spew his anti-Christ views of Jesus? Well.... Now that I think about it, more than likely they would, but you get my point.

Last week I had a theistic evolutionist leave some comments under a post I wrote on the topic of theistic evolution and personal salvation. During my exchange with him the commenter made one comment that I thought was spot on as he outlined the basic disagreement between myself, a biblical creationist, and himself, a theistic evolutionist. He wrote,

But I can see that one fundamental difference we have -- and please correct me if I'm wrong -- is that I see the scientific data, or more specifically the interpretation of it, as theologically or teleologically neutral, whereas most of you feel that the interpretation of that same data comes loaded with antisupernatural presuppositions and atheistic/antitheistic baggage. And I really think that's going to be a big point of disagreement right there.

I don't think I could have stated that any better.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Mega Sea Lion Vs. Giant Octopus

There isn't any awesome scenes of a giant shark taking down a jet liner, but it's a pretty cool video none the less.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Peter Hitchens

Most people are slightly aware that atheist blowhard, Christopher Hitchens, has a brother who is a Christian. Peter Hitchens shares his testimony from being a rebellious troublemaker who raged against God, to becoming a religious believer.

How I Found God and Peace with My Brother

HT: Gregg

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Friday, April 09, 2010

MY EYE!

As seen at Dan's place...

I bet this guy could make like a lot of money.

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TE in the Combox

There is a friendly exchange taking place with a theistic evolutionist in the combox under my post from Monday of this week. Additional comments from other readers are welcome. Just play nice with each other.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Rev. Barbie


From Phil.

Full article HERE.

I guess if math class is too hard and a beautiful young girl can't become the lead engineer on a major high rise, she can believe in herself becoming a priest.

My immediate reaction is that she's a bit too gussied up. Of the women priests I have seen, she needs less make-up, more of a mannish hair cut (I'm thinking Anita Dunn or vintage Janet Reno), and thicker calves.

And what's with the giant print Bible? I mean, do any of the members of a church where they have a woman preacher even bother carrying a giant print Bible? What would be the point?

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Street Preaching

I am not a big fan of street preaching as I delineated in a post from a number of years ago in a series on evangelistic methodology. The primary reason I have an aversion to street preaching evangelism is how hordes of crack pots, ruffians, and spiritual bullies have hijacked the practice and turned it into a freakish, side show atmosphere of crude signage and insulting remarks that only leads to mockery of my precious Lord.

However, a group of individuals are wanting to reclaim street preaching from the buffoonery it has become and return it to a biblical means of the public proclamation of the gospel. Here's a brief introductory video to their efforts:




I hope they do well. I have always been thankful of those men who attempt to street evangelize in a biblical fashion. I know I would like to see them put together a how-to presentation on the most effective means to convey the gospel.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

Views of Genesis and Personal Salvation

Grace to You has been running a series of blog articles addressing Genesis, evolution, and more specifically, compromised views of Genesis taught by evangelicals who believe we must conform our understanding of Genesis with accepted paradigms within evolutionary "science." That would be deep time, early man and Adam and Eve, Genesis is historical narrative as opposed to a creation myth.

There are a number of men who would affirm an infallible and inerrant Bible who would also hold to a compromised view of Genesis. Their views of Genesis fall any where between theistic evolution to progressive creationism. We noted three such men in a recent blog, though I would imagine only Bruce Waltke would be more in line with the idea of an infallible and inerrant Bible.

A handful of commenters believe Waltke's views are reflective of an unregenerate nature. That all three of these men, and I would imagine everyone else who adhere to similar views on Genesis, are unsaved and not even Christians.

I think such language is way over the top and I wrote a response to such speech I thought I would share here:

Let me preface my comments by affirming the fact I believe how we understand Genesis has significant ramifications on how we understand the rest of the Bible, how we do gospel apologetics and evangelism, and how we engage our culture at large. I would be the first one to confront any synchronistic compromise on behalf of believers who want to weave our understanding of the creation week as outlined in Genesis 1 and 2 with evolutionary deep time ideas. The Christian's handling of Genesis is majorly important, hence the reason why Grace to You has chosen to do a series of blog articles on the topic.

Now, with that stated, to begin our criticisms of our opponents who have an alternative view of Genesis by calling them unregenerate, is way over the top and treading in areas of judgment where we do not have the full knowledge to tread. I hope you all understand the seriousness of accusing someone of being "unregenerate." To call someone unregenerate cannot be a flippant accusation made so lightly. When we say a person is "unregenerate" we are in essence saying a person is unsaved and guilty of hell fire, and that is a rather heart sobering accusation to make against another person who says he names Christ as his Lord. It is an accusation that should never be made in haste but after much reflection and confrontation with the person.

In all honesty, there is an ungracious spirit with your all's words. In fact, many of the comments smack of the sort of bigoted fundamentalism that regrettably turns people away from hearing the truth or even desiring to discuss the issues. This kind of rhetoric should not be. One of the first objectives we must pursue when we offer a defense of the faith (and this would include defending the proper understanding of Genesis), is to offer our response with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15). Immediately labeling a person an unregenerate hell bound sinner is not responding with meekness and fear.

We have no knowledge as to why a man like Bruce Waltke takes the view that he does on Genesis. There could be any number of reasons why people gravitate toward compromised views of Genesis and embrace theistic evolution and progressive creationism. Perhaps they don't understand the implications of their position, or maybe they are ignorant of the evidence against evolutionary Darwinianism. My experience with engaging theistic evolutionists and progressive creationists is that they believe the so called evidence for long ages and evolution is undeniable; that it is self-defining in its scope. In other words, that all so-called scientific evidence is what it is and if we don't believe what science tells us about the evidence, we are denying truth. Thus, these men don't want to challenge the "evidence" because they believe they are unqualified to do so, plus, it is denying reality. In their thinking, to be a Christian faithful to truth, they must re-consider how we understand Genesis in light of these "facts."

Whatever, the case, as much as I would be the first to say such ideas are gross error and these people need to review their positions, saying a man is in error is a far distance from saying his beliefs are a product of an unregenerate heart. Believe me, Bruce Waltke is just one notable evangelical who holds to this position on Genesis. Other men did as well, sadly. Fine men like the late James Montgomery Boice, E.J. Young, and Francis Schaeffer, to name a few. Are these individuals as equally unregenerate in your all's book?

I truly hope you all reconsider the rhetoric you utilize when engaging this discussion with others who may disagree with you sharply. Certainly their views may stem from an unregenerate heart, but that is not everyone for sure, and it shouldn't be the first thing we conclude about them.

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Happy Easter!

Here Comes Peter Cottontail...















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Gleanings from Daniel [9]

The Humbling of Nebuchadnezzar [Daniel 4]


The secular world of politics and governments with their kings, presidents, and prime ministers, go about conducting their business as if there were no God. Similar to Psalm 14:1. Even if they claim some religious affections toward God, they certainly direct and orchestrate both their personal and public affairs with a strict mindset of radical autonomy.

Perhaps these officials obtained their high positions because they were born into the right family, or possessed the appropriate amount of money, or had the most winsome personality. Maybe it was the media who favored them over other candidates for the job. What ever the case, the success of a politician is seen as his own doing; God may be acknowledged, but He certainly didn't have any thing to do with a person's rise to power.

When we come to Daniel chapter 4, this is definitely the mindset of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the Babylonian empire. But God reveals to him in quite a clear way that He alone is the sovereign controller of all the dealing of men upon the earth. God is the one who brings a king to favor, nations to glory, or to ultimate ruin.

This chapter is not only our reminder of God's sovereignty, but also our exhortation to trust God when the governments do not favor God's people or perhaps stand against God and His ways. The reason why they even function is due in part to God sovereignly establishing them and granting them the temporary authority to rule.

In an interesting twist, God instructs us through the pen of the very king who was humbled before God. Practically the entire chapter is written in first person, except the portion when the narrator is unable to function. It is the only portion in the Bible written by a pagan king.

I. The Decree (4:1-3)

Neb. begins his narrative with a decree. He makes this decree near the end of his life before he dies. His decree is to call all the nations and languages to consider the true and living God. It is a declaration by a pagan king calling upon his subjects to recognize the true and living God.

This decree is first directed toward everyone in the known Babylonian empire.

Next, the decree must be heeded because this living God is a God of signs and wonders. He performs miraculous events that call forth wonder. Such things as having knowledge of a person's intimate dreams (Dan. 2) and who moves to protect His people from destruction (Dan. 3).

Neb. can make this decree because he is a personal eye-witness to these things of which he speaks. This calls into question the credibility as the king, so he is going out on a bit of a limb at this point.

II. The Dream (4:4-18)

Neb. recalls a specific dream he had and the events that transpired after the dream.

He was flourishing in his palace. The Aramaic phrase means "growing green like a tree." This is an interesting expression considering the dream he is about to tell. His dream entails a giant tree in which all the birds of the heavens and beasts of the field found a home underneath it's shade. But then the tree is told to be cut down and it is stripped of its leaves and branches, and the animals all fled from it. The tree stump is then personified as a "him" and "he" is told that his heart will be changed like a beasts for 7 times.

The dream disturbed Neb. to the point of being afraid. He called his magicians, but none were able to tell him the dream. So, as he did at the beginning of his reign, he calls Daniel. Now the question is asked, Why did the king wait to call Daniel? Many critics of Daniel's prophecy believe this is a great difficulty. Daniel was the chief of the magicians. Did Neb. forget Dan. 2? It could be that Neb. knew Daniel would speak the truth to him and he didn't want a bad answer.
But Neb. knew the God of holiness indwelt him with a unique knowledge. Daniel is called and Neb tells him the dream.

The "tree" is a typical symbol for those in power. For instance, Ezekiel 31:33ff called the Assyrian king a great cedar. Knowing the extent of the Babylonian's empire and the nations they controlled, the picture of a massive tree is appropriate in describing them.

This tree, as great as it is, however, is declared from heaven to be chopped down. The text states a watcher/a holy one made this declaration. This unique term describes a heavenly being or divine entity. An angelic being, perhaps the Angel of the LORD, speaking judgment against the Babylonian kingdom. The declaration turns from a general pronouncement against Babylon to a specific individual. A he is to have his heart changed like a beast. Because Neb. is the center around which the Babylonian empire turns, the he can only mean Neb.

When Daniel is called and Neb. describes the dream for him, he becomes troubled. Daniel knows the ramifications of the dream. He interprets the dream for Neb. and states how this dream is meant for him to specifically inform him of God's sovereignty (4:25). Neb. is to be humbled till you know that the Most High rule in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses. God is gracious as well, because even though Neb. will experience a humiliation like no other, the stump of the tree is left and this means God will restore Neb.'s kingdom to him.

III. The Disgrace (4:28-33)

Approximately a year or so later, the text of Daniel says Neb. was walking about his palace, musing to himself of how he had built this great empire of Babylon (Neb. was known as a great builder), when he heard a voice from heaven reminding him of the dream from the past year. At that very hour, Neb. was struck down and he became like a beast of the field.

There exists a rare mental illness called clinical lycanthropy in which a person exists in a delusional state thinking he is an animal. Though these cases have been documented, Daniel's revelation tells us in Neb.'s case, it was supernaturally wrought.

This change takes place 7 times, which if the word times is taken as it means throughout the revelation of Daniel, times means years. For 7 years, Neb. has his heart changed like a beast. Neb. reigned 43 years, 605-562 BC. Taking the 7 times as 7 years, this happened no later than 572-571 BC. Two historians, Berosus in the 3rd century BC and Abydenus in the 2nd century BC, record these events happened to Neb. late in his life.

IV. The Deliverance (4:34-36)

At the end of the appointed time, Neb. is delivered from his insanity and placed back upon his throne of his kingdom just as God said would happen.

But, not only was Neb. delivered from his insanity, he is delivered from his false religion. People ask, "Did Neb. get saved?" I believe he did based upon the following facts of his testimony:

- He recognizes the eternal sovereignty of the true God of heaven. No one, no matter how powerful, can restrain his hand.

- He gave praise unto the Lord as his rightful sovereign.

- He calls upon his subjects to honor the true God of heaven.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

More Eschatology Audio

Michael Vlach of the Master's Seminary spoke recently at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary on replacement theology.

The 2010 Rice Lectures

The Rice Lectures archives can be located HERE. There appears to be a lot of good speakers from past years that may be worth checking out.

Thanks to Dr. Bob McCabe for the link.

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