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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Kirk Cameron and His Reconstructionist Pals

I was alerted to this article from Huffpo over the weekend,

Kirk Cameron's Growing Circle of Reconstructionist Friends

It's one of those hysterical, hand-wringing articles we see occasionally from liberal progs. The author envisions an Orwellian theocratic police state where women are forced to carry their babies to term and gays are pressed to death by Puritan mobs and we can't buy booze on Sunday. It's the kind of nonsense we get from books like "The Handmaid's Tale" or farcical plays like Keely and Du.

The irony is how these same authors ignore real secular and religious nations where this stuff goes on. Think China and Iran.

At any rate, Kirk's new circle of friends is out of character from what I remember of the guy. I mean, he was the lead in the failed Left Behind movie franchise.

I will say one word of encouragement to the author of that article. Whereas her and her supporters carry on about the influence of Reconstructionists, I can confidently tell them that they are something of a fringe group within the larger body of Christian America. Though it is true some of their leaders are influential in certain areas of theology (I'm thinking of Greg Bahnsen's material on apologetic methodology), overall, no one truly takes them seriously. You'll still be able to buy booze on Sunday.

Those interested, here's a little background to the whole Reconstructionist movement.

Historical Overview of Christian Reconstructionism

And if you want more of an in-depth critique from a personal, firsthand account of a guy on the verge of becoming a reconstructionist back in the early days, get a copy of Tommy Ice and Wayne House's book, Dominion Theology: Blessing or a Curse?

Tommy met regularly with Gary North when he was a young man in Texas, and because of his political views, was on track to join up with the Tyler, Texas Theonomist until he bailed on them. It's a fascinating read.

Oh, BTW, I apologize for not noting this before, but Hank's blogging crew gave something of a gushing review of Kirk Cameron's documentary, Monumental. They also responded to some other hysterical liberal blogging and defended Reconstructionism as being "inside the pale of Christian orthodoxy." Makes me wonder if Hank will now become a Calvinist and abandon his Roman Catholic Thomist apologetics for Van Til.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hank on His Travels to Iran

Pollyannish Christian Apologetics

Hank Hanegraaf provided a statement responding to his critics who were troubled by his trip to Tehran, Iran, where he participated in a conference also attended by an assortment of terrorist-loving anti-Semites and left-leaning anti-Americans wackos.

Concerning My Recent Travels to Iran, because truth matters.

According to Hank's statement his blogging critics are falsely accusing him of colluding with terrorists, supporting OWS, and being an anti-Semite. Among his complaints, he tries to provide his spin on his presence at the conference by saying how he "opposed" some of the views of other participants. He also vehemently insists he is not anti-Semitic.

Yet, after he accuses these charges as being "slanderous," he repeats the equally "slanderous" nonsense he has reiterated in a number of his writings that it is Dispensationalists who are the true anti-Semites, because of what they teach about Israel and the tribulation.

He then concludes his statement by stating,

As a closing thought, may I simply say that while the lack of discernment and civility displayed on the internet is astonishing, it becomes all the more appalling when those who claim Christianity propagate that which is untrue in an unloving fashion.


Now, I don't know who else blogged negatively about Hank's trip. I'm only familiar with Pam Gellar at Atlas Shrugs, and she is kind of an odd-ball in her own right. She is certainly not an "evangelical" blogger, or at least I can't tell if she is.

Speaking for myself, I never said Hank is anti-Jewish or a pro-OWS guy. I did write, however, that I find his associates at this conference highly problematic. Hank's supposed to be an evangelical Christian apologist, and yet he gathered with a bunch of notorious anti-Semites and neo-Marxists in a nation state that has sponsored terrorism, threatened genocide against Jews, and treat their political dissenters with horrific cruelty, including the death penalty for children. All for the purpose of participating in a conference meant to bash pro-Western values. You know, liberty and freedom and that sort of stuff.

Is Hank so naive as to believe those associations were innocuous? Did Hank seriously believe that in our internet age no one would think twice about an alleged, evangelical radio apologist participating in an anti-Western conference in a nation controlled by a murderous regime attended by anti-Semites and neo-Marxists? Did he think the government controlled media would treat him fairly rather than as the "useful idiot" he was made to be in that video report? Surely he is not this Pollyanna who thinks everyone, including the Iranians, would be thinking happy thoughts about his visit.

And what about his tweet from February 21st that reads,

Really? Much of what he's been told in the West about Iran is simply wrong? Does he care to elaborate on that? Would he care to explain his assessment in light of what Amnesty International says on their website about Iran? They are a secular group. In fact, they are much more leftist than most blogging critics of the Iranian government. What about Voice of the Martyrs and their report on Iran? Are they "simply wrong" about Christian persecution? Or is it something we can debate vigorously but not divide over?

Hank can complain all he wants about being slandered by irresponsible bloggers on the internet. The fact of the matter remains, however, that he brought this attention on himself. His explanations of what happened there is extremely unsatisfactory and doesn't look good at all for him and his ministry.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Deconstructing COEXISTING

I need to get tee-shirts made.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Defending Premillennialism [10]

israelThe New Covenant Promise of Israel’s Restoration

Built into the covenant God made with Israel at Sinai were stipulations that would bring either God's blessing or His cursing upon the people.  The history of the OT reveals a pattern of constant disobedience on the part of Israel.  When the people willfully rebelled, forsaking the Lord, God, faithful to His promises, gave the people over to the terms and conditions of the covenant cursings. 

John Jelinek writes how Leviticus 26 tells about the five stages of the curses, each stage increasing in severity in response to disobedience: first sickness and defeat by enemies (26:14-17), then second, drought and famine (26:18-20), third, being overrun by beasts or wild animals (26: 21, 22), fourth is the sword and more pestilence (26:23-26), and then fifth, and most severe, exile from the land (26:27-39).  [Jelinek, 234-235]

Note that exile from the land is the culmination of the cursing if God's people do not pursue holiness, but act wickedly.  God will literally throw them out of the land.  There is theological reason for this action: the Land is God's Land.  As the Lord states in Leviticus 25:23, "The Land is mine," He is the one who brought Israel out of Egypt and into His Land of promise.  Hence, God's character is tied to the Land.  Because God is holy, not only are the people to be holy, but the Land is to be Holy also. 

In fact, the land can suffer defilement (Leviticus 18:24-27, Jeremiah 2:7), be polluted (Numbers 35:33, Psalm 106:38, Jeremiah 3:1,2), and caused to sin (Deuteronomy 24:4, Jeremiah 16:18).  In the same way that Israel was to make atonement for themselves during the Day of Atonement, the land was to experience an atonement, also. For instance, in the case of an accidental murder and the cities of refuge, Numbers 35:32-34 states,

32 And you shall take no ransom for him who has fled to his city of refuge, that he may return to dwell in the land before the death of the priest.
33 So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it.
34 Therefore do not defile the land which you inhabit, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the Lord dwell among the children of Israel.

And in Deuteronomy 32:43 there will be a future atonement for both the people and the land,

43 Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people.

One part of the land's "atonement" came with the Sabbatical rest the land was to have every seven years (Leviticus 25).  The Mosaic holiness codes, then, were not only meant to make atonement for, and sanctify the people spiritually, but they were designed to keep the land sanctified as well. The sanctity of the people was tied to the sanctity of the land.  If the people defiled the land, the land became "unholy," and that unholiness incurred God's curses upon the people, and the most extreme curse was exile, the land "vomiting" the people out. 

When God promised Abraham that He would give to him and his descendants the land as an eternal promise, that promise was given with God's foreknowledge of Israel's covenant disobedience and subsequent exile.  In other words, God knew beforehand, in eternity past, that when He made the covenant with Abraham and his yet to be born descendants that when they came into the promise land, Israel would fail with fulfilling their side of that covenant. 

God is omniscient.  He decreed in the eternal counsel of His good will that Israel, as a theocratic nation, would fail with keeping the terms of His covenant. They, the "people of God," are "people," meaning they are sinners who are unable to live righteously.  Yet God is gracious, for though the people did not have the ability to keep God's law due to their sin, He also decreed a means by which His people could keep the terms of His covenant.  That being, a New Covenant in which the law of God is inscribed on the hearts of His people. 

The promise of this New Covenant isn't fully revealed until the prophet Jeremiah, who was the last major prophet to call Israel to repentance and to covenant faithfulness before they experienced the ultimate curse, exile from the land.  That New Covenant, according to Jeremiah 31:31ff., entails the giving to the people a "new heart," removing the "heart of stone" and replacing it with a "heart of flesh" and "writing the law of God on the hearts of the people" so that they will obey the Lord.  Additionally, this New Covenant is solely initiated by God alone.  He alone takes the divine, sovereign initiative to change their hearts, to cause them to walk in His law.  There is nothing the people do of themselves, they merely obey with new hearts. 

Even though this New Covenant isn't fully revealed until Jeremiah, the terminology used to describe the New Covenant is present in earlier portions of Scripture.  Most notably, immediately following two crucial passages, Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28-29, both outlining the cursing against Israel.

Leviticus 26:38, 39 states,

38 You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.
39 And those of you who are left shall waste away in their iniquity in your enemies' lands; also in their fathers' iniquities, which are with them, they shall waste away.

It's a rather harsh description of Israel being thrown out into exile from the land, perishing among the nations into where they are cast by the Lord.  However, 26:40 immediately changes tone.  Verses 40-42 states,

40 `But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me,
41 and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt--
42 then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham I will remember; I will remember the land.

Here, we see New Covenant terminology.  There is confession of sin, God sovereignly bringing His people back into the land, and hearts being circumcised, a biblical description of "new hearts."

Moving to Deuteronomy, chapter 29:27, 28 states,

27 `Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against this land, to bring on it every curse that is written in this book.
28 `And the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.'

Again, God's anger is aroused, not just against the people, but against the land, to the point God exiles the people. 

But notice that chapter 30:1-10 states how God will most certainly bring them out of exile and place them back into the land.  There is New Covenant terminology found here as well in verses 6 and 8 which read,

6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live....
8 And you will again obey the voice of the LORD and do all His commandments which I command you today.

It is the LORD who will circumcise hearts, again, biblical language speaking of "new hearts," which will result in a love for God and a willingness to obey the commands of the LORD.

These cursing passages and the promise of a restored Israel have a prophetic ring to them.  That is because God anticipates Israel's disobedience and the initiation of the New Covenant that will create a new hearted people who will most certainly follow God's laws.  They follow those laws because they have been divinely written on the hearts of the people.  

In addition to these two passages, there are some complimentary passages found in the prophecy of Ezekiel, who also lived during Jeremiah's ministry, yet among many of the exiles who had already be removed from Israel to Babylon. In both passages, Ezekiel speaks of Israel's restoration with the language of the New Covenant.

First, after a blistering remembrance of God's previous judgments in 20:10-26, God pronounces His judgment against the people in 20:27-32 once again.  However, God, with the use of New Covenant terminology, goes on to say in 20:33-49 that Israel will experience special restoration.  They will be gathered from every nation where they were scattered and caused by the Lord to serve Him. Secondly, Ezekiel writes in 36:24-32 how Israel will experience spiritual and physical renewal after being gathered from the Gentile nations where they were in exile, will have clean water sprinkled on them, be given a new heart and a new spirit, will put away their abominations and serve the Lord.

All of these passages speak of "new hearts," "circumcised hearts," "a new spirit."  Moreover, there is an internal appropriation of God's law; Israel willingly obeying God's laws and commands.  All of these special works are done by God alone and they all result in a restoration to the land of Israel. 

But there remains a question of fulfillment.  That being, when Jesus established the New Covenant in His death on the cross, were these prophecies of Israel's restoration fulfilled?  Certainly we can say the establishment of the New Covenant produces the internal heart change within God's people.  Hebrews 8 tells us that much.  We can also acknowledge that "God's people" extends beyond individuals from Jewish Israel to encompass the gentiles of all the nations.  However, when exactly has the restoration of Israel happened as these prophetic passages reveal?  

It is at this point in understanding the establishment of the New Covenant that Covenant Reformed believers appeal to a typological fulfillment of these prophecies.  This is the position O. Palmer Robertson takes in his classic work, The Christ of the the Covenant.  Without giving much attention to the exegesis of Leviticus 26:40 ff., Deuteronomy 30:1-10, and even Ezekiel 36:24ff., he declares the promises of geographic restoration to a physical land to be a "typological" fulfillment.  It is not meant to be understood "literally." [Robertson, 300].

But why? Why can't we understand these prophecies as yet to be fulfilled literally in the sense that ethnic Jews will certainly be restored to a real, geographically, geo-political kingdom? If I understand the first portion of the New Covenant prophecy of spiritual renewal and restoration with an inner heart change as being fulfilled literally by the work of Christ, should I not expect the second portion that predicts the renewal of the physical land and a Jewish people being gathered from the nations and returned to the land?  

The argument I often receive from Covenant Reformed believers is to say the land promises are expanded beyond the borders of Israel's physical territory in the same way the imparting of new hearts goes beyond being for the Jews alone.  But I am trying to be faithful to the language of the relevant texts.  Ezekiel 36:28, for example, specifically says: Then you [the Jews] shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be my people and I shall be your God. 

The prophet later develops his prophecy in chapter 37:25 by saying, Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children's children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.  God then says how He will make a "covenant of peace" that shall be an "everlasting covenant" (again, New Covenant terminology).

How else am I to understand "they shall dwell there..forever" and "everlasting covenant"?  The words land, dwelling, forever, and everlasting covenant must have specific meaning in this prophecy as well as the others I've considered.  The only possible meaning I can see is that of a fulfillment of these ordained promises in which Israel, regenerated by a sovereign God, is restored to, and lives in, a geo-political land that was given to them by God. 


O. Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Covenants
H. Wayne House, ed., Israel: The Land and Its People


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Where's Hank?

From the "You Gotta Be Kidding Me" files.

I would have been a bit dubious of this item until I truly saw it, but Hank Hanegraaff, you know, the Christian Research Institute president and daily Bible Answer Man host, was recently participating with a conference promoting Occupy Wall Street in all places, Tehran, Iran.

Details HERE and HERE

It's not entirely clear if he actually traveled to Iran for this conference or if he participated with a stateside panel discussion group in either DC or New York. When interviewed by a reporter he was quoted as saying,

“The reason that Occupy Wall Street is continuing to go on is because people are protesting the policies of the American government.” He added, “Spontaneous activism which is organized by social media will always have a huge opportunity to make large economic and societal changes. Just like it did in Egypt with Tahrir Square, so it will, in various permutations or forms, continue to give the public that doesn’t necessarily have economic and social standing an opportunity to make a difference, because in the land of the Internet, there are no kings or queens.”

Let this all soak in a second.

Participating with a conference about Occupy Wall Street that was in Tehran, Iran.

Let's see. Iran. You know, the homicidal government that whips women for showing their arms in public and executes them for being raped; Oh, and they like killing Christians.

And Occupy Wall Street. The anti-Semitic, Neo-Marxists whose core army is made up of potheads, bums, and hippies who smell of urine.

Along with Hank, there were a large assortment of crazy people who believe America is the 1% and is to be blamed for pretty much all the ills in the world because - wait for it -

Americans support Zionism. Spell it out with me. IT'S THE J-E-W-S. Da Jooooos.

I stand with my mouth open in stunned disbelief. Has Hank's anti-Dispensationalism brought him to becoming a leftist crackpot? Seriously. What do all of the other so-called Evangelical apologists who contribute to his journal and website, like Holly Ordway, Jay Richards, Mary Jo Sharp, along with a host of others think about Hank's extra-curricular activities as a pro-Marxist, anti-Semitic useful idiot for the government of Iran? Does it matter to them? Or is it just Hank being Hank? It's one of those matters we can debate vigorously like Hank's says.

It's just grievous to see what was once an outstanding Christian ministry having it's reputation ruined and driven off the tracks by such narcissistic incompetence.


Monday, April 23, 2012

No Compromise

Phil was telling us about this little get together last week here at work. He was chuckling a lot as he told us. Which means to say this is gonna be fun. It's intended to be what the Elephant Room was "advertized" to be. Not sure who is playing James MacDonald's character.

Filming the trailer in B/W with cut-aways of the participants loudly shouting doctrinal points with dramatic music playing may add a nice touch. Just a thought.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Blowing Stuff Up in Slow Motion

The title pretty much speaks for itself. Sorry about the longish commercials at the front end. Stick with it. If you ever wondered what it was like to see a waterbed open up in a house in super slow motion, you're in for a real treat.

Haven't been feeling well the last couple of days, but normal blogging should resume next week.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Joe and the Magic Bean

Monday, April 16, 2012

Standing for Scripture

Yesterday, our church bulletin highlighted Ross Anderson, a professor in the science department at Master’s College. I know Dr. Anderson primarily from our area Bible Science Association, where he serves as the director of the group.

The article was a brief testimony of his “conversion” from being a theistic evolutionist to a Bible-believing creationist. Seeing that outfits like Biologos retell garment rending stories of so-called, former YEC who supposedly couldn’t deny the crushing weight of evidence against their views, I thought I would share a more positive experience.


In 1997, Dr. Ross Anderson, who is now a professor in the Biological and Physical Sciences Department at The Master’s College, did the unthinkable in realm of secular higher education.

He took a stand for the Genesis account of creation.
That stand cost him his job.

At the time, Anderson was a faculty member at Lamar University near Houston, Texas. He didn’t begin his time at Lamar as a young Earth creationist, but with God’s help, that’s where he ended. “I was a theistic evolutionist,” Anderson says. “That’s the only way I could combine my formal education with my church education. Obviously, my church education wasn’t much, particularly in that area.”

When students asked how he fit evolution into his Christian beliefs, he gave the answer he had been trained to give—that evolution is what God used in creation. The answer was good enough for his students, but it never really sat well with Anderson.

“I was unsatisfied with my answer,” he says. “I started thinking, ‘I am the teacher now.’ All those verses about being accountable applied to me. I didn’t want to be a stumbling block. So I asked God to reveal the truth to me on this issue.”

Anderson sought that truth on the pages of Scripture. He also began to scrutinize the “science” behind evolution. That study revealed what Anderson calls his “lack of solid knowledge of the Bible” and his “lack of knowledge about what evolution was.”

His doubts and suspicions about evolution were confirmed. He realized that you couldn’t reconcile evolution and creation, that only one could be true.
It wasn’t a difficult choice.

“I couldn’t teach evolution because it was a lie,” Anderson says. “I started telling my students what was true in the privacy of my office. Then I’d leave them with questions in class like, ‘Do you really think all of this happened by accident?’”

Anderson’s unabashed commitment to Scripture found no welcome in the supposed bastion of “free thought.” Faculty members would listen to his lectures from outside his classroom door and then report him to the department chair, who then went to the academic dean.

“I was naïve about freedom in education,” Anderson says. “I thought they were going to let me teach. I got a letter from the dean saying they weren’t going to invite me back. It said I was undermining the faculty and generating confusion in the minds of the students. That was right. I was confusing them—by telling them the truth. Truth is always confusing to those who have never heard it.”

Because of the timing of the letter, and because the school needed teachers, Anderson was able to continue at Lamar for another year, which he used to challenge his students and influence members of the faculty. At the end of that year, God brought him to The Master’s College.

“It was a breath of fresh air,” Anderson says, “When I talked Standing for Scripture about Christ and the Bible in class, I started to stop myself, and then I remembered, ‘Wait, this is a Christian institution; they hired me to do this.”

Sadly, most Christian institutions don’t affirm the biblical account of a young Earth and a six‐day creation. At the Bible’s very foundation, they equivocate. And if you question the Bible’s veracity at that point, how can you affirm its truth anywhere else?

In his book, The Battle for the Beginning, our pastor rightly states that “If the biblical creation account is in any way unreliable, the rest of Scripture stands on a shaky foundation. But the foundation is not shaky” (pg. 27).

This is a critical issue when it comes to higher education. “People who send their kids to ’Christian’ colleges need to look at this particular issue because it sheds a lot of light regarding if their children are going to get a real Christian education,” Anderson says. “If one department says this and another department says that, students come out more confused than when they came in.”

At The Master’s College, students are taught that evolution is a worldview, not a science. It is a theory that began as a philosophy. This approach applies to other areas of science as well.

“My experience has been invaluable in developing my biblical worldview of the sciences,” says TMC pre‐med student Christian Dove. “While creation is an important topic in our worldview, many don’t realize that our faculty address many other critical issues—things like abortion, stem‐cell research, and the definition of life, among others. All of these topics have severe implications in our world today. The science department upholds a commitment to prepare us as scientists and independent thinkers who may critically evaluate issues such as these through the lens of Scripture.”

According to Anderson, Dove’s experience isn’t unique—and it isn’t accidental. “Whether it’s in the field of genetics or chemistry, we see what the textbook says. Then we dissect the science,” Anderson says. “What is the claim? What is the basis? The Master’s College is unique in that.”

It is unique because it affirms the Bible. It stands for Scripture. In the realm of “Christian” institutions, it is indeed Christian.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

John Harper

A favorite sermon of mine from John MacArthur is one he gave in 1989 called Jesus' Passion for the Lost. It is a convicting plea for Christians to cultivate an evangelistic mind-set.

The concluding story John gives tells of Rev. John Harper, a pastor who was headed to Moody Church in Chicago on board the Titanic. According to his official entry at the Encyclopedia Titanica, he was traveling with his daughter Nina and a Miss Jessie Leitch to preach a series of revival services. (John's source says it was to be pastor of Moody Church, but I couldn't find a confirmation on that claim). Even in the midst of human disaster, he was thinking of eternity.

John Harper was called to pastor the Moody Church in the early 1900s. He went down with the Titanic. And W.B. Riley related the death of Harper. The story went like this, and I'm quoting from W.B. Riley:

"We have the history of John Harper's end, for survivors brought to harbor in safety told it to us. When the Titanic was struck by the iceberg that drove in her sides and sent the ship to the bottom, John Harper was leaning against the railing, pleading with a young man to come to Christ.

Four years after the Titanic went down, a young Scotsman rose in a meeting in Hamilton, Canada, and said, 'I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a piece of wood that awful night, the tide brought Mr. John Harper of Glasgow on a piece of wreckage near me. He said to me, 'Man, are you saved?' 'No,' I said, 'I'm not.' He replied, 'Believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and you'll be saved.' And the waves bore him away, but strange to say, brought him back a little later, and again he said, 'Are you saved now?' 'No,' I said, 'I can't honestly say that I am.' He said again, 'Believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.' And shortly after, he went down beneath the water. And there alone in the night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed, and I am John Harper's last convert.'"

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Femme Fatale

During the Christmas of 1997, James Cameron's epic movie, Titanic, was released. It would go on to gross nearly a billion dollars in sales. It also introduced us to one of the greatest movie villains in all of Hollywood history: Rose DeWitt Bukater:

From Salon

Probably the most honest (and thoroughly amusing) summary of James Cameron's 1997 epic, Titanic, I have read

Kate Winslet's character, Rose, was one of the vilest and most disgusting characters ever to grace the silver screen. From beginning to end, she displayed nothing but character flaws and a lack of concern for everyone else around her.

As the movie starts, she is a rich brat who is depressed that she has to marry an incredibly rich and handsome man because he treats her badly. Perhaps she should have taken into account his personality rather than his bank account when she accepted his proposal.

Rather than take responsibility for her own actions, stand up to her mother, and tell him to his face that she is not in love with him, she instead decides to take the easy way out and kill herself. Now, the whole world would be better had she just jumped off the back of that boat. Instead, our boy Leonardo DiCaprio talks her down from the ledge, and she sees him and thinks, "Ooh, cute poor boy." So then she decides to slum it for the weekend and hook up with the cute poor kid. Then, to prove her total lack of morals, she decides that she will ask Jack to "draw her" -- naked, of course.

So, while engaged to someone else (because she never had the decency to call it off), she decides to get naked for a guy she has known for all of about 24 hours. Immediately afterward it's time to consummate the hours-old relationship in the back of a car that is not theirs. Wow, that's a real "moral" Victorian woman for you! Of course, that is not enough.

The ship hits the iceberg (we didn't see that one coming). By the way, she was on deck when that happened. I wonder if our lookout was too busy snooping on her and Jack to notice the iceberg. Maybe it's actually her fault the ship sinks in the first place. Anyway, our hero Jack puts Rose on a lifeboat. Of course, being safe is not enough, so she jumps back onto the sinking ship -- a prime example of great decision-making.

After it goes down, Jack is safe on a door of some sort, but he has to give up his spot to save Rose. Now Rose is on the door, and Jack is stuck in the freezing waters. So in a sense she kills Jack in a slow, frigid, painful way -- sort of like the experience I felt while watching this movie. She holds on to Jack's shivering hand, telling him, "I'll never let go, Jack, I'll never let go." Of course, after a few minutes in Arctic waters, Jack's hand is no longer shivering. Winslet, in tears, continues, "I'll never let go, Jack, I'll never let go." Around then, the lifeboat arrives, and Winslet immediately lets go, "Hey, I'm over here!" Jack sinks to the bottom of the ocean, and Ms. Winslet grabs a spot on the lifeboat. Real nice, Kate, real nice: Whatever happened to never letting go?

We then hear the rest of Winslet's life. Her fiancé loses his mind and ends up killing himself (you're two for two, Kate). However, she finds a nice man, marries him, and lives a great life. Eventually, he dies (I wonder what she did to make that happen), and we see Winslet's Rose again at age -- I don't know, let's say 126 -- with her granddaughter or whoever is on the ship trying to find the Titanic's wreckage. At the end of the film, Rose walks to the back of the ship and takes the priceless diamond necklace that she could give to her grandchildren, which would set her family up for generations, but instead she throws the freaking necklace into the ocean! Queue overplayed, overhyped and over-sung Celine Dion song (I mean, seriously, by the end she is practically screaming the lyrics -- like Celine, we get it, you have a great voice, stop assaulting us with it already).

Back to throwing the fancy necklace: She might as well have thrown three generations of her family over the side of the ship. Could she possibly be more selfish? Well, yes, she could, because then, apparently Rose dies, and we see her in heaven. For some reason, heaven is the Titanic (not exactly what I picture paradise to be). She opens up a stateroom door, and there is Leonardo's Jack waiting for her in bed. Not her actual husband, mind you, but Jack. So she is even cheating on her husband in heaven.

I rest my case. The vilest, most horrifying character in cinematic history. An Academy Award for playing the she-devil would be one of the greatest travesties in mankind's history since ... the actual Titanic.

Every Rose has its Horns
Steve Derion
Manahawkin, N.J.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Titanic at 100 Years

This being the 100th year of the Titanic disaster, I thought I would plan to share some Titanic related posts. I'll begin today with this wonderful photo essay from the Big Picture.

Titanic at 100 Years

It includes a shot of the alleged iceberg believed to have collided with the ship. If I were an unsavory grifter type, I'd bottle a bunch of water in little vials, write up some phony certificates of authentication, and try to pawn it off on the internet as ice melt from the Titanic iceberg.

You laugh, but I bet I would make a mint.


A Brief Plea for Excellence in Christian Film

Under my review of Courageous, I had a commenter take umbrage to my opening remarks concerning the lameness that permeates the typical Christian film.

He writes,

It's a church. It's not Hollywood. They don't drop tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars glorifying sex and materialism.
The preamble to this post sounds like one of those people who goes to a worship service and then critiques the sound quality and the talent of the musicians.

Allow me to expand upon my response I made to him:

The fact that it is made by a Church causes me to have even greater expectations for the quality of the film.  They should WANT to make their movie outstanding.  I reject the idea that because a local church, or low-budget "Christian" production company, makes a mediocre film that was cheaply produced at least "they’re not like Hollywood and their million dollar materialistic sex movies."  Are we to expect that only Hollywood should make good films? 

I noted two examples for comparison: Inception and Hugo.  I suggested them because both films are engaging and interesting to watch.  They are well crafted.  I understand that both, particularly Inception, are laden with special effects which would be extremely cost prohibitive for a low-budget Christian film.  But I am not saying that if a Christian film isn't like Avatar (God forbid) that it isn't worth watching.  I am just pleading for some excellence in film making. 

But what sort of Christian films are there?  I am subjected to eye-raking movies like The Encounter, In the Blink of an Eye and similar direct-to-DVD slop that isn't worthy of the Hallmark Channel or in the case of Six: The Mark Unleashed, the SyFy Channel. 

I did note in my review of Courageous that I liked the film overall.  But still, it lacked in certain areas, which included the acting.  Sherwood Baptist in Georgia is a large church and they have gained millions of dollars not only from movie ticket sales of their films, but also in DVD purchases and other merchandise. They have the money to invest into making a film with greater production value.  I want them to have a greater production value not because they can get their films in theaters or have more wordily recognition, but because Christians should strive for excellence. 

Now my commenter responded to this thought by suggesting they spend their money on missions or other spiritual areas.  That may be, and good for them, but how does that excuse them from pursuing excellent in film making?  Another commenter responded to our exchange by stating that a Christian production company may run into trouble with available talent.  In other words, the level of talent typically on display in Hollywood produced film is unavailable and cost prohibitive for Christian oriented production companies. 

I don't agree with that.  I live in the LA area.  I know good actors who are Christians and they would thrill at working on such a project.  They wouldn't ask for a multi-million dollar fee like Tom Hanks would get, but they certainly don't want to work "for free" just because it's perceived as Gospel "ministry." It’s their craft and they should be consider worthy of their labor.

The same can be said about the production talent.  There are many fine individuals who operate cameras, lighting, sound, and editing, and they know how to make a movie.  Hollywood doesn't have a corner on the market in either acting or production, they just pay well.  Though Christian production companies may have low-budgets, in these two areas, it is where they need to be willing to count the cost in my opinion. 

But for some reason Christians are content to compromise. They either compromise on production value, which makes the vehicle that carries the Gospel they wish to proclaim a joke because it is laughable and unwatchable. Or they compromise the message of the Gospel because they believe it hinders the watchability of their film.

Now, I have high hopes for Sherwood pictures and wish them all blessing as they go with God, but the fact that they are a "church" should actually mean something with what they produce.  Believe me, if I attended a church whose sound system was terrible and the choir was off key all the time and the people didn't really care to fix the problem to make the worship better, because in their mind what truly matters is good intentions, I would truly wonder about the leadership of that church.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

300 Steps

The Purdue Rube Goldberg club put together a device that takes 300 steps to pop a balloon.

An truly apt comparison for Obamacare.

HT Steve Hays


Monday, April 09, 2012

Gleanings in 1 Samuel [8]

bethshemeshThe Ark Returned to Israel (1 Samuel 6)

The last couple of studies have taken a look at a significant section of 1st Samuel in which God brings judgment upon Israel and dethrones the house of Eli. 

God used the Philistines to accomplish this judgment, and placed Himself in a self-imposed exile by allowing them to capture the Ark when it was foolishly brought into battle by Israel.

Though the Philistines “think” they have captured Israel’s God, they were sorely mistaken as the LORD brings havoc upon them by destroying their religious system and causing an outbreak of severe plagues to come upon all the people.

This time, we see how the Philistines attempt to return the Ark.

What is striking in this section of Scripture is how the Philistines attempt to explain away the hand of God in humbling their nation.

I) The Inquiry (6:1,2)

After 7 months of plagues and judgment, the Philistines inquired of their diviners to find out how they should go about returning the Ark back to its place.

These “diviners” were like religious brokers, individuals who were suppose to know how to appease specific deities.  Balaam was something of a “diviner.”  Their job was based upon superstitious ideas, because they didn’t want to provoke Israel’s God inappropriately. 

II) The Scheme (6:3-12)

These verses comprise the longest recorded speech in Scripture by the Philistines.  In order to devise a proper way to deal with the Ark, they cooked up a scheme, based upon superstition, in order to deal with it.

First, they were not going to return it empty.  The diviners claimed it must contain a trespass offering. 

Two items were included as a “trespass offering:”

- Five gold tumors, which is sort of unknown what that was.  Some suggest it may had been phallic images representing the diseased anatomy. 

- Five gold mice (rats), quite possibly understood by the Philistines as the source of the plagues, or one of the many plagues they experienced. 

The “five” of each item was meant to represent the total number of the Philistine lords who ruled the main cities.

It is interesting to note that the Philistines had knowledge of the Egyptian plagues and Israel’s plundering of that nation that happened a few hundred years previously.  Oddly, they recognized the sovereign power of God; they just refused to submit.

Second, the diviners directed the Philistines to build a new cart and to load the Ark and the “trespass offerings” on to it.

Then they were directed to find two unique animals to pull it:

- Two milk cows, not cart oxen.  Cows usually don’t pull carts.

- Two new mother cows.  They would want to be with their calves.

- Cows that had never been yoked.  The didn’t know how to pull a cart, but they also didn’t know how to pull together as a team. 

It is as if the Philistines are setting this all up so as to fail.  If the cows wander all over the place and the Ark doesn’t go back to Israel, then it was a chance occurrence that Dagon’s statue fell over and thousands of people were plagued.

III) The Return (6:13-19)

In spite of their best efforts to rig the return of the Ark, it was led back to a Levitical town called Beth Shemesh.  Not only was it a Levitical town, it was also designated as a Kohathite town (1 Chronicles 6:54-59).  The Kohathites were the family selected to maintain the holy furniture, which would include the Ark.

But even though there was great rejoicing at the return of the Ark, the people of Beth Shemesh were setting themselves up for judgment.

- Offered female cattle up as a sacrifice (they were only suppose to offer males (Leviticus 1:3).

- Celebrated with Festivities

- Looked into the Ark.  No one was to look at the exterior of the Ark, let alone the interior. 

The text says the Lord struck down 50,070 people, an unusually high number for this part of Israel.  Commentators dispute the number to the point that many historic translations render the number in a variety of different ways.

The unusual figure of 50,070 could be explained as possibly two numbers.  50,000 people who died by the Ark during it’s sojourn for 7 months among the Philistines, and the 70 could be the number of people who died at Beth Shemesh for looking into the Ark.  Also, the idea of the “LORD struck” may mean the people were hurt or plagued by God, not that they physically died. 

IV) The Proclamation (6:20, 21)

Verse 20 sums up the dealing of God from Chapters 4-6, “Who is able to stand before this Holy God?” The obvious answer is that no one can.  


Friday, April 06, 2012

A Good Ole' Fashion Passion Play

I like to occasionally repost this old article I wrote back during the early days of my blogging career. I've added a fun video at the bottom that demonstrates the perils of passion plays. It will probably raise the ire of my strict, 2nd commandment friends and incite Puritan lynch mobs against me.


Easter season is upon us once again, and each year it arrives I am reminded of all the various churches putting on passion plays in many little towns across the mid-west.

I have a fondness in my heart for respectfully produced and tastefully performed passion plays. My fondness for them sets me apart from the vast majority of my Reformed minded acquaintances who either see passion plays (and movies, also) as blasphemous displays of idolatry in direct violation of the second commandment, or a cheap theatrical stunt disguised as "ministry" which trivializes the redemptive work of Christ and is designed only to bolster denominational attendance records. I am sympathetic with the complaint about how passion plays can be a self-serving stunt, but neither am I convinced they violate the second commandment.

I was once in an email debate with a Presbyterian gentleman insistent that any so-called portrayal of Jesus in any play or movie was a violation of the second commandment forbidding the construction of any image to represent God. But, if you recall, the prohibition is against the making of any carved image (man-made idol) for the purpose of bowing down to or serving in any capacity. In other words, worshiping the idol instead of the true and living God.

My argument to my email challenger was that passion plays and any movies depicting the life of Christ is simply the recreation of a real, historical event: the final week of Christ's life, His death, burial and Resurrection. In my mind, as long as the production strives for historical and biblical accuracy with the retelling of Jesus, no one is violating the second commandment.

My first experience with a passion play was as a kid at my grandmother's church in Arkansas. Her church would always have what is called a sunrise service. Basically, in keeping with the biblical record of the women arriving before sunrise to the tomb of Jesus, my grandma's church thought it would be extra special to perform their play at 5:00 AM Easter morning, and then afterward eat scrambled eggs, sausage, and biscuits. That means we had to get up at the ungodly hour of 4:00 AM. At the time in my life, I had no idea there was a 4 o'clock in the morning.

I don't remember too much about the actual plays, but I do recall how every performance was tape recorded by the actors the previous afternoon. I am not entirely sure why the folks believed they needed to record their performance, but it did provide for an amusing 20 minute audio presentation.

Pretty much all the actors read their lines in a monotone with as much emotion as a person reading a telephone book. Additionally, the recording would be punctuated with the ruffling of script pages, the occasional cough and throat clearing by other performers waiting to read their lines, and the constant drone of the fellowship hall refrigerator.

But that wasn't the best part. Because they recorded the play in the fellowship hall, the linoleum and cinder block walls produced a slight echo with each line read. Coupled with the monotone performance, the final recording made the actors sound as if they were flying saucer people from some Twilight Zone episode.

Behold ... behold ... behold,
... He ... He ...
has ... has ... has ...
Risen ... Risen .... Risen.

Thankfully, the fine folks at my grandma's church have greatly improved their passion play performances by acting their lines live and in person. They have also added the presence of livestock, including a donkey for the Jesus character to ride down the center aisle of the sanctuary during the triumphal entrance scene. Of course, that assumes the donkey will cooperate and not relieve itself on stage, or take "Jesus" on a wild ride through the auditorium. Nothing can stir panic in a crowd of people faster than an out of control ass galloping among the pews.

With any passion play, casting Jesus is vitally important. Depending upon the size of the congregation, there is generally a slender built guy with the ability to grow a decent beard who does the Jesus part. If the pickings are slim, then sometimes the Jesus may be slightly husky. A smart thinking actor who is going to play Jesus is wise to go on a diet months before the passion play is going to happen, even starting right after the Christmas season. A slight tummy can detract from the crucifixion scene and it is even worse when the guy playing Jesus is sucking-in the whole time like Charlton Heston in Ben Hur.

One thing I have noticed in recent years since Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ was released is how some passion plays have become increasingly graphic in the portrayal of Christ on the cross. It use to be that the actor would have some fake Halloween vampire blood dribbled on his back, but now the guy will be drenched in fake stage blood as if they are recreating the prom scene out of Carrie.

I believe Christ's crucifixion and death should be a sobering reminder of what our Lord suffered as a penalty for our sin, but some church productions have taken the graphic aspect of Christ's passion up too many notches. I can only hope that trend will reverse in the years to come, because if the production is well done, the story of Christ's passion for His people speaks for itself.

And, if you are planning an Ascension scene at the end, you may wish to take some pointers on how NOT to do it from these folks.


Thursday, April 05, 2012

The King James Only Easter Bunny Trail

An apropos repost for this week.

This being Easter weekend, I thought it would be fun to revisit one of my previous posts that examines one of the more obvious translational errors in the King James Bible: Acts 12:4

It reads:

And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

This verse is taken from Luke's account of Peter's arrest. If you remember the context, Luke describes how Herod begins to persecute the Christians, particularly some of the prominent leaders in the Jerusalem Church. He starts with killing James, the brother of John, and when Herod sees that his actions pleased the political Jewish leaders, he has Peter arrested and imprisoned. If we take verse 4 as it is translated in the King James Bible, or to borrow from certain KJV advocates, the AV, the verse seems to indicate that Herod intended to bring Peter out after the Christian Easter celebration to have him publicly executed.

If we do take the KJV as meaning that Herod was waiting until after the Christians' Easter Sunday passed, then a serious problem is raised:

Why would Herod have Christian leaders killed, then turn around and show honor to Easter, the religious holiday celebrated by the very Christians he is persecuting?

It doesn't make sense.

Any good study Bible, however, will point out in a footnote that this is an unfortunate translation, because the Greek word used to translate Easter is pascha and should be translated as Passover, referencing the Jewish holy day. In fact, pascha is translated as Passover in the KJV every other place it is used by the biblical writers, and rightly so, because it is so clear from the context that it is the Jewish Passover.

The translation of Passover, then, would make Acts 12:4 read with a whole lot more sense. Herod, in order to show his friendly political side to the Jews, would wait until after they celebrated their holy day in order to deal with this Christian schismatic.

Now, how does the King James Only advocates deal with this obvious mistake? I can remember when I was first learning about KJV onlyism and Bible translations that I was troubled by what I thought was a mistake. Surely God's divine providence working in the lives of the KJV translators would not direct them to make a horrible mistake like this? Here I had my informed reason conflicting with my imaginative KJV onlyism. I was so disturbed by the verse, and what my study Bible footnote told me, that I wrote to the one person I thought could help me with an answer: G.A. Riplinger.

Keep in mind that at the time I wrote her, I believed she was a man. She initialized her name so as to hide from her readers the fact she was a woman. My letter began with "Dear Sir." You can imagine my dismay when I found out much later that the G.A. was the name of a woman.

At any rate, Gail did in fact write me back and sent two articles along with her letter. One was written by Sam Gipp, the other did not have a name on it. So what exactly does the person do who believes God's Word is only preserved and fixed in one English translation so that if anyone "revises" or attempts to "correct" it, that person will be guilty of changing the very Word of God?

Why of course... make up some fanciful "interpretation" that exonerates the KJV's clumsy translation, and that is exactly what these two articles did.

The KJV only defensive response can be boiled down to two key arguments:

1) King Herod was a pagan, not a Jewish believer, so he would be the last person celebrating the Passover. Herod the pagan would be involved with the worship of Isthar or Astarte, the Chaldean name for the "Queen of Heaven." Our English word "Easter" is derived from it, argues the KJVO apologist.

2) More importantly is Acts 12:3, a key verse in understanding why God had the KJV translators use Easter instead of Passover when they translated pascha. The last sentence reads Then were the Days of Unleaven bread. The solution hinges on the word Days. The Passover began the 14th day of the first month of the Jewish calendar. The Days of Unleavened bread started after Passover. Peter was put into prison during the Days of Unleavened bread, which means the Passover had already come and gone. There would be a contradiction created if we change the KJV from Easter to Passover at Acts 12:4. So this is an instance of God maintaining the integrity of His revelation.

Let's examine these clever solutions one at a time.

First, there is no historical evidence any where suggesting that Herod was a religiously practicing pagan. It would had been political suicide if he were. If anything, Herod was a secular pagan who recognized his need to retain a good working relationship with the Jewish leadership. He wanted to keep his post and the last thing he needed was problems with the Romans because the Jews were complaining about his paganism.

But more telling is the claim Easter is a word that comes from a Chaldean goddess. This is entirely false. Again, no historical proof exists suggesting that anyone, especially a public political figure like Herod, practiced any form of Chaldean goddess worship in Israel at that time. More significantly, however, is that Easter derives from Eostre, a Saxon goddess of the dawn (hence the word "east," from where the sun rises), not from a Middle Eastern Chaldean goddess. Herod could not know about a goddess from a culture he never knew existed and that was thousands of miles away from where he lived.

Then lastly, the Days of Unleavened bread are never separated from the actual Passover day in the Bible. The two descriptions are one and the same and are used interchangeably to describe the same holiday. Even the KJV itself affirms this in Exodus 12:15-18 and 13:6-7, Leviticus 23:5-6, and Numbers 28:16-25. Luke 22:1 could not be clearer (c.f. Exodus 23:15) where it states, the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.

On the surface, the KJV solution does sound credible. I can see how a person who is clueless about ancient pagan worship practices and the reign of Herod during the time of the Apostles could possibly believe the KJV claim about Herod's paganism. But the clincher is the distinction KJV onlyists make between the Passover and the Days of Unleavened bread. Regardless of what a person my know about ancient paganism, once he or she does any meaningful believing Bible study (something KJV advocates are always calling for), it becomes painfully obvious the "Days of Unleavened bread-Easter instead of Passover" defense doesn't hold any water and is designed solely to protect the text of the KJV. It falls apart under any amount of serious scrutiny. It is time to kick this fat Easter rabbit and move on.

I wrote a more extensive article on the subject at FBT that you could read here, and just for fun, check out Sam Gipp's original article I referenced up above.


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Preaching the Declining Narrative

The evangelical atheist society, AKA, Biologos, met recently in New York to heap scorn and derision upon biblical creationism.

Tim Keller, being number among them, is quoted as saying,

"Few Christian colleges or seminaries teach young earth creationism (YEC), participants noted during discussion groups. But less formal, grassroots educational initiatives, often centered on homeschooling, have won over the majority of evangelicals. "We have arguments, but they have a narrative," noted Tim Keller. Both young earth creationists and atheistic evolutionists tell a story tapping into an existing cultural narrative of decline. To develop a Biologos narrative is "the job of pastors," Keller said."

Indeed. With this attitude, what else would be the job of the pastor?

"Few Christian colleges or seminaries teach a literal, historical Jesus, participants noted during discussion groups. But less formal, grassroots educational initiatives, often centered on homeschooling, have won over the majority of evangelicals. "We have arguments, but they have a narrative," noted Tim Keller. Both literal believers and Jesus Seminar participants tell a story tapping into an existing cultural narrative of decline. To develop a Biologos narrative is "the job of pastors," Keller said."

"Few Christian colleges or seminaries teach the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture, participants noted during discussion groups. But less formal, grassroots educational initiatives, often centered on homeschooling, have won over the majority of evangelicals. "We have arguments, but they have a narrative," noted Tim Keller. Both inerrantists and errantists tell a story tapping into an existing cultural narrative of decline. To develop a Biologos narrative is "the job of pastors," Keller said."

"Few Christian colleges or seminaries teach the Resurrection of Jesus, participants noted during discussion groups. But less formal, grassroots educational initiatives, often centered on homeschooling, have won over the majority of evangelicals. "We have arguments, but they have a narrative," noted Tim Keller. Both Fundamentalists and atheistic materialists tell a story tapping into an existing cultural narrative of decline. To develop a Biologos narrative is "the job of pastors," Keller said."

"Few Christian colleges or seminaries teach that miracles were real, participants noted during discussion groups. But less formal, grassroots educational initiatives, often centered on homeschooling, have won over the majority of evangelicals. "We have arguments, but they have a narrative," noted Tim Keller. Both Pentecostals and atheists tell a story tapping into an existing cultural narrative of decline. To develop a Biologos narrative is "the job of pastors," Keller said."

"Few Christian colleges or seminaries teach that homosexuality is sin, participants noted during discussion groups. But less formal, grassroots educational initiatives, often centered on homeschooling, have won over the majority of evangelicals. "We have arguments, but they have a narrative," noted Tim Keller. Both Exodus International and GLAAD tell a story tapping into an existing cultural narrative of decline. To develop a Biologos narrative is "the job of pastors," Keller said."

"Few Christian colleges or seminaries teach that abortion is murder, participants noted during discussion groups. But less formal, grassroots educational initiatives, often centered on homeschooling, have won over the majority of evangelicals. "We have arguments, but they have a narrative," noted Tim Keller. Both Pro-Life groups and Planned Parenthood tell a story tapping into an existing cultural narrative of decline. To develop a Biologos narrative is "the job of pastors," Keller said."

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