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

Friday, June 29, 2012

On the Dearborn Incident

There was a tweet circulating around a couple of days ago showing a video of Christians being stoned by Muslims.... IN AMERICA! the headline screamed.

That tweet was of a link from FrontPage online (whatever that is). I want to say I saw a Drudge headline, as well as a link at Glenn Beck's site.

The video showed what were a group of street evangelists standing outside the Arab festival in Dearborn, MI, when Muslim's begin pelting them with rocks and debris. The police arrive and tell the Christians to move along, and I think some of them get threatened with arrest or were arrested.

However, the Christ and Pop Culture blog had contentions with what really happened. According to them, it was a group of ultra-fundamentalist KJV-only street preachers led by Reuben Israel. Reuben has had run-ins with James White, btw.

They were being insulting to the Muslims at the Dearborn Arab Festival including waving a pig's head on a stake. (Insults are always worthy of stoning). Additionally, older Muslim men were trying to calm down the younger men to keep them from responding with violence. Though Christ and Pop Culture blogger opines that such behavior never justifies violence, the fact of the matter is the Christians were the aggressors and the Muslims were just minding their own business until they were forced to react, so we really shouldn't blame them for their trash throwing.

Now David Wood has posted his remarks on the Muslim stoning of Christians.

I agree with Wood. I'm certainly not a fan of Reuben Israel and his crowd of street screeching trouble-makers. And I appreciate the Christ and Pop Culture blogger for drawing out the clearer picture of the events. But the reaction the Muslims had to a group of wackos only goes to show you the deficiency of the Islamic faith to deal with those who oppose it. The immediate reaction when they are mocked is to respond in violence?

This is especially true when Mohammad is defamed in some way. It's bizarre.

A couple of points of contrast.

First. Reuben and his boys are notorious for going to Salt Lake City to hassle Mormons at their annual conventions. He stands outside with signs condemning Joseph Smith and waving the Mormon sacred underwear at the crowds. The Mormons are obviously upset at such foolishness, but to my knowledge, none of them have resorted violently to such antics.

Second point. Do you know how cruelly mocked Jesus is by the homosexual community in San Francisco? Every Easter Sunday, a group of sodomites put on a hunky Jesus contest in a public park that involves some of the vilest satanic, sexually perverted acts you can imagine. Do a search on the subject if you think I'm making it up.

Though it would be an amazing spectacle to behold watching Reuben and his band of miscreants "screech" at one of these events, no Christians have ever shown up to throw stones at the sodomites.

What if the sodomites did a hunky Mohammad contest? What would be the response by the Muslim "youth"?

The older Muslims can cry shame on the younger people for responding in such ways, but the response of violence is intrinsic to the core Islamic faith. Islam does not tolerate dissent, so it won't tolerate free speech in a free society even if it is coming from crack pots.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Responding to the Wolf Watchers

wolfI've been mixing it up a bit with survivor blogger Julie Anne Smith and a few of her fans. We've been going back and forth in the comments of two previous posts HERE and HERE, as well as over at Julie Anne's own blog HERE.

I encountered the so-called ex-church survivor movement shortly after I began blogging in 2005. I didn't consider how extensive a movement it was until about a month or so ago.

After surveying the uncountable number of websites on the internet, I am confirmed daily these are folks who have a profoundly unhealthy preoccupation with the alleged wrongs done against them by bad pastors and church leadership. The attitudes I see displayed on these sites are not a good thing.

By creating websites like "X" church survivors or "X" church watch that chronicle with scrutinizing detail every slight done against them, either real or imagined, people can quickly become inwardly- focused, disgruntled navel gazers. The "survivors" come across as angry, vindictive, unforgiving, suspicious, and in some cases, paranoid. Going through life after a bad church experience with dark clouds of bitterness trailing behind you should never be a mark of a Christian. (And I am not say these folks aren’t Christians, btw, lest someone yell at me in the comments).

When I wrote up my first post highlighting Julie Anne's case, I had two thoughts in mind. First, I was using it as a stepping stone to what I see is a much larger problem with survivor blogs. Specifically the bitterness, strife, narcissism, vindictiveness, petty name-calling, anger, antinomianism, and anti-authoritarianism I see splashed across these blogs and website. If you think I am mistaken about my claims, just drop by Julie Anne's comment pages and read the nasty comments left by folks who brand me a fake Christian sexist hater. They blast leaders who allegedly stifle dissent and criticism, but when I raise questions about the motives and claims of survivor bloggers, attempts are made to shut me down and dismiss me. Irony, much.

Secondly, I was also amazed how easily the media, as well as self-described "Christian" commenters under the various reports about Julie Anne's case, would immediately support the victim while demonizing the so-called abuser. Probably 99% of the people didn't know either party. They certainly didn't know all the facts nor were they privy to all the background leading up to the situation. Only those "facts" supplied readily by the abused party were considered. Who's to say she is right and the church is wrong? I agree the pastor and the church is misguided with filing a lawsuit against an ex-member, but am I to believe that misguided move on their part makes them a "cult?" The pastor a mind-controlling wolfish cult leader? Really? That's what I am suppose to automatically conclude? And just because she is being sued by a misguided pastor does that make his claims against her false? Could there be any merit to what he says she has done even though he isn’t handling the situation correctly?

At any rate, in response to my contentions I have with survivor bloggers in general, a number of commenters at Julie Anne's place raised some questions and objections they want me to answer. I'll hit on the key questions I see repeated, as well as respond to one particular slight against me.

There are churches that do not overtly transgress orthodoxy and yet are very cult like in their behavior. Do you agree that such churches exist? If so, how do we spot them?

At the risk of being pilloried by my detractors as mocking, this is a loaded question. I’ll point out that if we agree such churches do in fact exist, then it is only obvious there has to be some marks that allow us to spot them. Thus, we don't have to make up phony "marks" indicating so-called "cult like" behavior. Either they are cult-like or not.

Moreover, if there are genuine "marks" to consider, where the disagreement lies is what we think those marks indicating "cult like" behavior may be. But that could differ from person to person. What you may think is "cult like" behavior may not be what I think is "cult like" behavior. Hence, the term "cult like" is too subjective and ultimately unhelpful. The idea of "cult" has a specific meaning: It primarily defines pseudo-Christian heresy. I personally do not believe the bulk of those churches accused of "spiritually abusing" the sheep by Bible-believing Christians are "a cult" in the common, technical sense of the word.

Now. Moving to the question. The qualifier of "do not transgress orthodoxy" obviously means a distinction exists between Bible oriented churches and say those of the Kingdom Hall variety. So we are not talking about churches that deny essential, historic Christian doctrine.

churchladyProbably what is in mind here would be for example churches where legalistic preference issues have been elevated on the same level with biblical doctrine and are made to control the lives of individuals. Such things, anti-CCM, or men can't wear shorts, women can't wear pants, whether it is worldly to watch movies, etc. Certain strains of independent, Fundamentalists Baptist and Pentecostal groups fall into this category.

Preference issues are not a bad thing in and of themselves; it is how those preference issues are applied to the body life of a local church that can be a problem.

My take is that if a pastor insists certain preference issues are determiners of one's salvation and spirituality as a Christian, along with faithful Church membership, this is a red flag in my mind. Let's say someone sees you going to the movies, or reading a Harry Potter novel, or some other preference considered "sinful" and the pastor confronts you and demands an account of your actions or there will be consequences, I would say that is overstepping his bounds as a pastor. But I distinguish this approach from a pastor who may admonish you regarding the same preference issue, yet leaves it up to you as to whether or not you will continue practicing it. Some folks may not like the pastor stepping on their toes, but he is not overstepping his bounds.

As odious as the application of preference issues can be in churches, however, that doesn't necessarily imply the church or pastor are "cult-like." So we have to turn our attention to what the Bible says about the qualifications of a shepherd. Here is where we can address a man's personality and abilities to lead a church.

Paul provides those qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Peter further elaborates on them in 1 Peter 5:1-5. Some of the key qualifications listed in these passages are sober-mindedness, not quarrelsome, nor pugnacious, nor manipulative, nor demagogic. When spiritual abuse victims complain about "controlling" pastors, it is more than likely the opposite of these characteristics the abused person has in mind. In other words, the pastor or leadership are quarrelsome, pugnacious, manipulative and demagogic.

So what recourse do church goers have when they encounter a pastor who is manipulative, controlling, and abusive?

The Bible does not prohibit confronting a pastor. Paul writes that an elder can be confronted in 1 Timothy 5:19, 20, but any accusation brought against him must have two or three witnesses confirming it. That way, there is consistent, affirming testimony as to the charges leveled against him.

If the pastor doesn't teach heresy, yet he behaves abusively according to biblical standards, and there are a number of other members who confirm the same pattern of abuse, well then it is certainly within biblical parameters to confront him. Just as long as the accusation isn't contentious because you didn't like him confronting your sin, or disagreed with his counseling, or didn't like some decision he made.

And what should a church goer do if the pastor won't hear a complaint against him and dismisses his accusers as trouble-makers?

Every situation is different because of the people and surrounding events. However, depending on the circumstances, if a person or persons have respectfully confronted a pastor or church leadership about what they consider are serious personality behaviors and those people are waved off as disruptive trouble-makers, that's when those folks need to leave. It real is that simple.

Respectfully means you don't make a scene by spreading gossip and strife about the pastor(s) and then leave the church. You don't need to be dramatic and send the pastor(s) a certified, FED-EX letter explaining how you are "removing your membership" or any such nonsense. Just tell the leaders the reason why you are unable to fellowship and leave. If people ask "why" tell them the truth about why you are leaving. If they press you as to your claims, be prepared to give examples of what you mean. If they persist that you are mistaken, don't argue, just thank them for their concern and move on. There really is no need to leave negative website reviews or start a "survivor blog" detailing your issues with the church. Let it go.

But someone needs to warn others about that church and the abuse they may receive.

Perhaps, but that may not be you. Certainly leaving negative reviews and starting a survivor blog daily journal isn't the wisest course of action, either. First it makes the person appear to be mean-spirited and divisive when in fact that may not be true. Second, it only serves as a magnet for genuine troublemakers who are utterly ignorant of the situation who will only stir up real strife with their input. Third, falling into a "survivor/victim" mentality only keeps a person focused on that bad experience from a selfish perspective. "Look what they did to ME." "I got hurt by them." etc. This is not a means of being sanctified in the truth.

Your criticism show no compassion for those hurt and come across completely uncaring for anyone genuinely abused

I don't doubt there are people who have genuinely experienced spiritual abuse at the hands of incompetent and manipulative leadership. I am sympathetic to their plight. But rather than enabling their continued wallowing in a state of perpetual victimization and self-pity by applauding their on-line "Wall Watching" efforts, isn't the better course to refocus their thinking away from their own self interests and toward how they can learn from those difficult circumstances so that they can honor Christ? That has been one of my key reasons for being critical of survivor blogs.

warpathFrom my view, Fred's question is clearly sexist. ... It's sexist because he writes it in the context of an argument concerning the credibility of complaints against a pastor. In effect the question says, "Julie Anne, your perspectives and feelings don't really count because you're a woman." Was that Fred's intent?

I noted in my original post addressing survivor blogs that it is my observation a good many of them are maintained by women. I can understand why knowing how women are by nature more emotionally invested in such things as men typically will be. That is not meant to be a sexist remark, but just an acknowledgement of basic human nature between the sexes.

That said, when I have interacted with Julie Anne, I have asked her what her husband thinks about her spiritual abuse blogging. I certainly don't mean to imply anything sinister with that question.

I work from the assumption that Julie Anne is a Bible-believing Christian, which means she has a biblically informed understanding of marriage. Scripture describes a husband and wife as being one flesh (Genesis 2:23, 24; Matthew 19:4-6) and that a wife submits to her husband as the church submits to Christ (Ephesians 5:22-24). What a wife does publicly impacts that relationship. The husband mentioned in Proverbs 31 could safely trust in his wife (vs. 11). The implication being that the virtuous wife brought honor to her husband and family with her public interactions outside the family.

Again, assuming Julie Anne is a committed, Bible-believing Christian, what her husband thinks about all of this is an important question. Does he see the alleged abuse the same way Julie Anne sees it? What is his take as a man and husband with regards to the claims against his and Julie Anne's ex-pastor? Does he have the same opinion of him being "controlling" as Julie Anne does? He left with her, didn’t he? I am not saying her "perspectives and feelings" don't count as the commenter suggests, but a husband may have a complementary perspective that may bring things into focus.

The charge of "sexism" is lame. Not only does it display an attitude that diminishes the fundamental significance of a Christian marriage, it also reflects worldly thinking. This is how liberals argue against conservatives in politics.

Along with that, the charge of "sexism" has a tone of anti-authoritarianism ringing through it. Christian marriages are defined by particular spiritual parameters, namely a husband loving a wife and the wife submitting to her husband's authority. The world thinks of marriage in the opposite fashion. That being, a woman loses her identity as a person if she "submits" to a husband, and so a man is considered "sexist" if he suggest she must. This is not the Christian way to think about marriage relationships, and calling me “sexist” is not only worldly, but it’s a dishonest way to dodge my questions.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Becoming a Convinced Creationist

A few weeks ago, the family and I had an opportunity to visit the original ICR creation museum in Santee, California.  Since ICR moved their school to Texas, the old facilities in Santee have been purchased and taken over by Scantibodies, a bio-tech lab founded and led by Tom Cantor

Tom is a biblical creationist, and since taking over the old creation museum, he has worked to expand the exhibits beyond the earth science emphasis.  A newer exhibit is a large section dedicated to the intricacies of the human body. 

There is a booklet made available to attendees that highlights Tom’s conversion to Christ and his subsequent commitment to biblical creationism.  I was particularly delighted to read his retelling of his interaction with Dr. Stanley Miller, the Nobel Prize winning second half of the famous Miller-Urey experiment, that I thought I would share that selection:

In that same year I entered the newly formed, research-oriented, University of California at San Diego (UCSD). I had attended another University and I immediately noticed the difference at UCSD. At the former University I was taught science by professors who taught from books about what other researchers had found. But at UCSD, I was impressed with how many of my professors taught on research that they had performed or were currently investigating and the excitement over  research was contagious.

While at UCSD, it became very clear to me that my professors did not agree with how God explained origins. My professors said that there was a big bang when nothing exploded. I was perplexed by the statement that nothing exploded. To say that nothing exploded sounded to me like The Emperor’s New Clothes. Though physics was not my main study, I knew that the “nothing exploded” explanation was in conflict with the Bible’s “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” explanation.

Even more perplexing to me was the explanation that was promoted on campus that life came from non-living chemicals. I was being taught that over a long period of time (more than six days) through random, chance processes alone, life originated. I was a student of life sciences and that explanation did not make any sense to me. To say life came from time, chance and random processes also seemed like another version of The Emperor’s New Clothes.

And, the more it was promoted, the more it created internal conflicts. My professors were actively teaching an explanation for origins that squarely conflicted with what the Bible was teaching about Creation. I felt that this conflict had to be resolved. Were my science professors right and the Bible wrong? Or was the Bible right and my professors wrong in their promotion of this other explanation of origins?

During this time I was wondering about prebiotic synthesis of chemicals found in life. How could the proteins found in life have come about before there was life?

There are 20 amino acids found in the proteins of living organisms. When these amino acids are produced in a laboratory, they are produced in an equal proportion of structures starting and ending with the terminus of Amino-Acid and Acid-Amino (which are mirror images of each other) called right handed or D (for dextro=right) isomers and left handed or L (for levro=left) isomers. But in living organisms, only the left handed (L) or levro isomers of the 20 amino acids are found. There are no right handed (D) or dextro isomers of the 20 amino acids found in life.

I attended my first class in physical chemistry and the professor introduced himself as Dr. Stanley Miller, who had received the Nobel Prize for proving that the building blocks for proteins (amino acids) found in life came from non living chemicals. In the 1960’s, Professor Harold Urey, the chair of our physics department, had recruited his former Ph.D. student, Dr. Miller, from the University of Chicago. While in Chicago, Dr. Miller had constructed his famous “sparking chamber” in which under highly controlled conditions (with boiling water, sparking electrodes, a trap and the influx of methane, ammonia and hydrogen) he was able to demonstrate the generation of 11 out of the 20 amino acids found in life.

Now I was a student of Professor Miller. How perfect, I thought, for me to be able to go to the person who received the Nobel Prize for prebiotic synthesis and ask him my questions about the prebiotic synthesis of proteins. So, I made an appointment to meet Professor Miller in his office.

Professor Miller was a very nice person and very approachable. I entered his office and said, “Professor Miller, I have been thinking about prebiotic synthesis and your work that earned you the Nobel Prize. I have three questions:”

“My first question has to do with your Miller-Urey experiment in which you demonstrated the generation of 11 of the 20 amino acids found in life. What is your explanation for the generation of the remaining 9 amino acids?”

“My second question focuses on the fact that your Miller-Urey experiment generated an equal proportion of both the D and L isometric forms of amino acids, as would be the case if they were produced by standard organic synthesis. But in life, only the L isomer is found. What is your explanation for how the amino acids found in life are only L isomers with not one D isomer?

My third question dealt with complex proteins. Hemoglobin is made up of 574 amino acids with a specific sequence. Each of the 574 positions must be made up of exactly the specific amino acid. For example, in position six of normal hemoglobin is the amino acid “glutamic acid.” When there is a person with the illness of sickle cell anemia, position six has the amino acid of valine (instead of glutamic acid), while all other 573 positions in sickle cell anemia hemoglobin have the same amino acids as normal hemoglobin.

Then I looked at Professor Miller for his response to those three questions. Professor Miller began to smoke heavily on a cigarette (at that time it was permissible to smoke in an office in California). As his office began to fill with smoke I thought, “I hope he answers those questions quickly or else I am going to get lung cancer.”

Professor Miller started with several explanations that each ended in him explaining the problems with each explanation.  Finally, he looked at me and just said, “I do not know. Actually, I am still searching for how life began.”

I thanked him for his time and left his office. Outside of his office I thought to myself, “If the man who got the Nobel Prize for supposedly demonstrating prebiotic synthesis admits that he does not know how life began, then I am convinced that there is no scientific basis for life beginning without God.”

Professor Miller has not been alone in his search for how life could have begun without God. Explaining how life began without God has become a dilemma for  any scientists. Professor Francis Crick received the Nobel Prize for the double helix structure and function of DNA and later became President of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla. Professor Crick explained what he called “directed panspermia” stating that life did not begin on earth but came from microorganisms that were planted on earth by an unknown advanced alien civilization in outer space. 
However, I had respect for my instructors and the researchers on campus and I continued to wonder why most of them held to a position that could not be supported scientifically.  One day I was discussing Creation versus life beginning without God with one of my teaching assistants in his office. He was becoming more adamant in favor of life originating without God and our voices were becoming louder. Not wanting anyone to overhear us he got up to shut his office door. When he shut the door of his office I saw that he had a pinup of a naked woman on the back of his door. I paused and thought about that and then I pointed to the pinup and said to him, “I’ve got it! You don’t have a scientific problem; you have a moral problem.” From that point on, the words of Professor Goodman that he could not accept the alternative lined up together with the experience with the teaching assistant, and I understood why so many of those whom I respected academically held to the non-scientific explanation that life began without God. [How a Jew Became a Scientific Creationist]


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Canon Lectures

Michael Kruger recently spoke on the canon of the NT for the Kistemaker Lectures. I've not heard them yet, but knowing how thoughtful and thorough Dr. Kruger is with this subject, I would imagine they will be extremely helpful in shoring up our thinking about the integrity of the NT. His contribution to the book, The Heresy of Orthodoxy, was a look at the development of the NT canon and I thought it was outstanding.

I think these lectures will be especially helpful if you have a know-it-all atheist cousin or uncle you'll see only at Thanksgiving or Christmas who makes it a point to tell you how dumb you are for believing the Bible. When he starts quoting to you from his favorite atheist website, you can offer him a sound refutation.

Lectures are located HERE

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

FBT Updates

For those interested, I added my latest devotional message from Judges to my other website, Fred's Bible Talk on the Downfall and Restoration of Samson

I also added an article by a TMS prof, Gregory Harris on the promises of fulfillment in Joshua 21:43-45. I highlighted it under my last study on the subject of premillennialism, but readers may have missed it buried in the footnotes. Dr. Harris's article goes into much more detail than what I offered and for those wanting more addressing that subject, it is worth the read.

Did God Fulfill Every Good Promise? Toward A Biblical Understanding of Joshua 21:43-45


Monday, June 18, 2012

The Birds & the Bees in SLO MO

Not those kind of "birds and the bees." The process of pollination. It makes a person just marvel at the power of time, chance, and random selection Darwinian evolution, right?


Friday, June 15, 2012

Happy Father's Day

Dare to be a Dad this Weekend


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wicked Sheep

wolfsheepSince writing up a post highlighting survivor blogs, I've come to learn the internet is filled with them. I guess that is to be expected it being the world wide web and all.

Typically, the folks who contribute to survivor blogs write up garment-rending laments bitterly complaining about how churches and pastors so utterly abused them. The only true recourse they had once they freed themselves from the shackles of their enslavement was to hit the internet and start a website detailing their spiritual abuse at the hands of wicked pastors.

I came across this scary looking website:

Wicked Shepherds

The moderator even posted a survey:

Spiritual Abuse Survey

The introduction states:

The following is a questionnaire to see just how healthy your church really is. To determine how well it ranks, answer "yes" or "no" to the following questions.

According to the survey writer, it is believed that if you answer yes to a quarter of these questions, then your church is showing real signs of being "unhealthy."

The problem with this survey, however, is that it's too vague. An honest person can't really say yes or no to any of the questions because they are in desperate need of clarification. What is considered "controlling" for one person may not be so for another.

Definitions are also left up to subjective interpretation. For example, the survey writer mentions "public shaming." What exactly does he mean by "public shaming?" Or he notes about having "different opinions." In relation to what, exactly? Doctrine? How about when the writer speaks about being shut down by leadership for "asking questions." Well, what sort of questions? Of course I'd want to know if the leaders did answer his questions yet why the answer the person received from them wasn't satisfactory.

Anyhow, I thought I would take this survey, but with keeping these clarifications in mind as I work through the questions. A few of them are repetitive, and honestly, a bit odd, so I won't be answering all of them. Rather than these questions exposing bad pastors who abuse sheep, these questions can easily expose trouble-making antinomians who don't like pastors, or anyone for that matter, meddling in their personal lives. I'll show this as I move along.

•Does your church tightly control the flow of information within its ranks?

This is the kind of question I would expect to be asked by nosy busy-bodies. It really depends on the information. If it is information necessary to shepherd the congregation, then wise pastors will tactfully share what is important to be known. If it is information withheld to cover over personal sin between disagreeing church members or pastors then there is no need to gossip about what can easily be dealt with by the parties involved and only known among a few people. It really isn't anyone's business. Moreover, the congregation doesn't need to know about pastor so-and-so's bladder control problem unless he is so inclined to share.

•Does the head of your church, along with the other “leaders”, use public shaming as a method to gain the compliance of followers?'

What does "public shaming" mean exactly? If by "public shaming" the person means church discipline in which the person in question has his or her name read from the pulpit, then yes, godly leaders do that on occasion.

•Does the head of your church and his “fellow elders” appear to be intolerant or consider it evil persecution when criticized or questioned?

What are they being criticized about? If it is nit-picky conspiratorial style questions made by a factious accuser, then any wise elder/pastor will definitely be intolerant of such a person after he or she has been rebuked two or three times (Titus 3:10, 11)

•Are you discouraged to associate with former members, being warned that they are "evil" or "defiling"; a “danger to your spiritual welfare”?

If the "former member" falls into the category of the person spoken about in Titus 3:10, 11, then that is exactly what the Bible is telling us. See previous question.

•Is leaving your church to join another church that “is not approved by your elders” equal to leaving God?

I'll put it this way: Any person leaving our church to join a Catholic congregation, or an Unitarian congregation, or a Mormon congregation is leaving God. It makes me wonder if the folks who put together this survey have even read 1 John 2:19, 20.

I grouped these next two questions together because they cover similar ground:

•Do you fear being rebuked, shunned, or ignored for expressing a different opinion?
•Is questioning condemned as "whispering, back- biting, vicious slander, gossip, nit-picking, signs of a proud rebellious spirit, being disaffected and divisive?"

What sort of "different opinion" is being expressed? Denial of Christ's deity certainly qualifies as a "different opinion," but it is one worthy of rebuke.

What sort of questions are being asked? Are they spiteful, accusatory questions that imply the pastor is a crook because he is paid 50,000 a year?

I'm curious. How would the writer of this survey respond if he encountered a "member" constantly accusing the leadership of collusion with the UN, but the evidence the person presented as proof was baseless and bizarre? Would the writer rebuke that person? Shun him? or consider his views as "different opinions"? Would he think this conspiracy nut was genuinely asking questions, or would he see them as "divisive" or "slanderous?" Would he be willing to support the pastor who is attempting to deal with the troublemaker or accuse his pastor of condemning him?

The next three points are repetitive, so I took them out of order and put them together.

•At church, is there a sense of control, rather than support?
•Is there a misplaced loyalty from Jesus and God onto the leadership, which is idolatry?
•Is there a relentless obsession of reminding the sheep of “who’s in authority”?

If by the word "control" the survey writer means that pastors don't applaud the wacko ideas of theological heretics or strife generating trouble-makers who disrupt church business meetings, then yes, a healthy church "controls" such things and would never support them.

I would hope the members of a God-fearing church would want to submit to and support their leaders. Hebrews 13:7, a passage I find absent on many of these "abuse survivor" site (or seriously maligned), clearly states we are to obey and submit to our leaders and I would hope they would support their leaders particularly in matters of factious members crying "spiritual abuse."

•Are you told not to ask questions as to why others have left? Are you told to accept the statements that “your elders” give you?

It has been my experience that the ones who leave are rather vocal as to why they are leaving. I've never had to go ask an "elder" why such and such a person left, especially a person who was all the time questioning everything going on at church and held all the leaders in suspicion. The nature of most narcissistic loudmouths is to be seen and heard and have their agenda known.

•Are books, tapes and CD’s, speakers, music, etc., carefully controlled to keep only the belief structure of your church before your mind?

I hope so. Do the folks who put together this survey have any willingness to discern? Do they not think a doctrinal statement is a worthy thing to be defended? If there was some guy passing out Anthony Buzzard sermons in which he taught his anti-Trinitarian heresy, I want my elders to "control" the dissemination of that information. It makes me wonder if these "wicked shepherd" people think John the apostle was "a control freak" when he wrote to that lady and her family not to receive the one who comes to them with false doctrine (2 John 9, 10).

lamb•Is there is a relentless campaign to keep you around the activities of your church, expecting you to be at all the stated meetings, except if providentially hindered? And if you are absent, is your spirituality and dedication sometimes questioned?

Is "relentless campaign" code words meaning "holding people accountable?"

Lookit, if you joined a church, committed yourself and your family's spiritual health and growth to the pastor and leaders of that church, why would you NOT want to be involved in the activities of your church, including meetings? Do these people treat being a member of a church like a "come-as-you-please-when-it-is-at-your-convenience" affair?

•Is there present, the breaking of even the closest family ties, to “guard” the flock?

What do these people think Jesus meant in Matthew 10:34-37? Our Lord says that closest families may be broken apart over who he was. If telling a lecherous teenager of a faithful church family that he is no longer welcome at the youth group activities because of his crude, ungodly behavior will "guard the flock," then regrettably, family ties will be challenged.

I am not going to respond to ALL of the remainder of these survey questions. I just wanted to highlight a few pertaining to leadership in general. Take note of the words "control," "fear," and "paranoia."

•Is there the constant using of guilt and shame as tools of control?
•Is there present at your church the encouragement of the members to spy and report on each other, lest sin be found in the midst?
•Is there present at your church the dominant climate of fear in the group – fear of failing to keep one of the rules, and fear of being held up to public humiliation and rejection?
•Is paranoia the “very air you breathe”? Paranoia of falling from grace; thinking for yourselves; breaking the many unspoken rules as well as the clearly spelled out expectations of the leader?
•Does a code of silence reign at your church? Is no one to divulge the business of the church, or the faults of the leadership?
•Are you becoming paranoid – carefully watching your every word and even gesture, lest someone report your faults?

As I read these questions, I am reminded of Proverbs 28:1, The wicked flee when no man pursues... I start to wonder about a person's spiritual state and overall motivation if he describes opposition to his issues with leadership in terms of their paranoia.

Generally, its the one crying "paranoia" who is in fact paranoid. "The leaders don't want to address such-and-such or the pastors refuse to answer my questions pertaining to thus-and-so because they are paranoid of loosing power, or afraid they will loose money, or whatever."

Because the person's pet issues are so strange, pastors genuinely don't want to answer them, or perhaps they give a simple response hoping to placate the person. The person, however, interpret the answers as "evading" or as a "code of silence." If a pastor confronts and firmly rebukes the person for his odd-ball ideas, such a response is twisted to be "controlling" or stifling dissent which is hardly the case.

As a person considers these questions, it is clear to see they can cut both ways.

Certainly there are churches that are spiritually unhealthy and the atmosphere is smothering. There are pastors who are controlling and lord it over the flock they are to shepherd. However, there are also individuals and groups who bristle against any authority whatsoever, especially pastors who may come along and step on their toes. If that pastor begins to shake up the congregation a little bit with the authority of Scripture, or he puts his finger on a sore spot in an person's life, the first response is to yell anti-authoritarian buzzwords like "controlling!"

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Monday, June 11, 2012

From Russia, With Love

I would love to see one of these go up over at Six Flags Magic Mountain, but something tells me our American, nanny-state regulations wouldn't allow it to be built.

Starts a bit slow, but stay with me now...


Thursday, June 07, 2012

Book Review

naturaltheologyThe Bible, Natural Theology, and Natural Law: Conflict or Compromise?

Dr. Robert Morey

Robert Morey's book, The Bible, Natural Theology, and Natural Law: Conflict or Compromise, ought to be an important work on the subject of apologetic methodology. In fact, I had some high expectations about this book when I began reading it. Regrettably, editorial and stylistic errors, as well as Dr. Morey's personality, prevent it from obtaining that goal.

The major problem with this book is that it seriously needed an editor. It looks like a rough draft manuscript that was hastily shipped to the printers without proof-reading. In fact, this may be the case, as I understand Robert Morey had some financial issues with the publishing company that usually prints his books a year or so before he left his church in Orange County, CA.

Whatever the case, the editorial errors are so embarrassing that Dr. Morey would have been served better by waiting with taking this book to print.

Let me highlight some examples to explain what I mean.

- In the author's introduction, on page xxii, Morey writes that he will cover three broad areas. Part 1 = Exposition, Part 2 = Application, Part 3 = Refutation. However, on the very next page where the table of contents appear, you have Part 1 = Exposition, Part 2 = Exposition, Part 3 = Refutation. What happened to "Application?"

- Footnote 324 tells the reader to see "appendix 1 for further documentation," however, no "appendix 1" exists in my edition of the book.

- Dr. Morey also interacts occasionally with Catholic apologist J. Budziszewski. I understand how the guy has one of those difficult Eastern European last names, but I found it miss-spelled as "Budzisedwshi," and "Budzszewski."

- On page 21, Morey cites from Steve Lawson's Holman OT commentary on Job, but attributes the citation to the editor of the series, Max Anders.

Stylistically, the book is odd. First it is printed as a clumsy, 8 1/2 by 11 book. As if a college grad took his thesis manuscript to Kinkos to have it copied and bound. Also, nearly every paragraph is off-set by a title summarizing the paragraph. Why? That was not only strange, but made reading choppy. The entire book needs to be reformatted in my opinion so it can read more smoothly.

Additionally, the end-notes are one, long continuous string from 1 all the way to 544. They should be foot-notes rather than end-notes, but if Morey insists upon end-notes, tie them to their individual chapters for better reference. An index does not exist in this work.

Compounding those problems are the ones Dr. Morey has with various disgruntled individuals. Of course any well-known apologist will gather groups of haters blasting everything he does, so there is nothing really out of the ordinary here. However, accusations of fraud by former members of Dr. Morey's church, Faith Community, created enough attention and had enough "truth" in them that local media picked up on the brewing scandal. Dr. Morey's quick and quiet departure from California only fueled the accusations and thus a black cloud now hangs over anything he prints, including this book.

But having said all of that, there are some profitable discussions in this book regarding the compromise of natural theology and natural law.

The first part is a study of Job, and Dr. Morey makes a compelling argument that the book is a debunking of all the major philosophical worldviews men have created, empiricism, rationalism, mysticism, and fideism, all contrasted against God and His revelation. Elihu, who is often treated with sympathy by commentators (including myself when I did a study of Job) as telling Job and his three other friends "how things really are," is shown to be just as wrong and misguided as the first three friends. I appreciated Dr. Morey's insights in this area.

Secondly, pages 145-209 is a study of God's knowledge and really is a word-for-word reprint of Dr. Morey's little book, The Nature and Extent of God's Knowledge. He does a fabulous job outlining what the Bible teaches on God's knowledge and exposing the errors of open theism and other similar heretical notions of God.

Dr. Morey also interacts with classical apologetic methodology, the apologetics most Christians are familiar with, and traces their origins back to Greek philosophy and Thomas Aquinas's use of Islamic translations of Aristotle and Plato when formulating his theology.

This was probably one of the better studies Dr. Morey provides in the book that I wish he would have done more. His treatment is not nearly as full as I would like it, though he does provide bibliographical sources for further study. I also found it telling that a number of the popular Christian apologists these days trained in Catholic seminaries for their post-graduate work. Dr. Morey relegates his discussion of this fact to an extended end-note, but I would like to have seen it fleshed out a bit as a section in the main body.

There are some other profitable studies within the pages of this book; however, The Bible, Natural Theology, and Natural Law is tarnished by those fundamental editorial errors I noted as well as the personal controversies swirling around Dr. Morey himself. (A person can do a Google search to discover what I mean).

I have mixed feelings recommending this book because of those items. At this point, the book is not worth the 26 dollars it is priced at on Dr. Morey's website. I guess I could say that if you really, really want to read it, try to find a copy in a library, or perhaps a used copy on Amazon or in a Goodwill store somewhere. There may even be an electronic version for your Kindle. But at this point, you may want to hold off until a second or third edition comes around.

BTW, a lot of Dr. Morey’s material on the subject of natural theology can be read in three editions of his now out-of-print apologetics journal as PDF files. You can locate them HERE if you are interested and download volumes 1, 9, and 10.


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Defending Premillennialism [11]

Joshua 21:43-45 and the Land Promises made to Israel

joshualeadingCovenant Reformed brethren claim that Joshua 21:43-45 is the definitive proof-text that confirms the land promises made by God to Abraham and his descendants were completely fulfilled. The passage reads,

43 So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it.
44 The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.
45 Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

According to New Covenant proponent, Steve Lehrer,

The book of Joshua tells us that when the Israelites had finally taken most of the land, all of the promises given to Abraham had been fulfilled (Joshua 21:43-45). Nothing else needed to happen for God to make good on His word to Abraham. [Lehrer, 32]

Gary DeMar writes,

In addition, the text [Daniel 9:26] says nothing about the restoration of Israel to her land as a fulfillment of some covenant obligation. All the land promises that God made to Israel were fulfilled (Joshua 21:43-45). [DeMar, 332]

A Reformed blogger who did a series of articles on the land promises writes,

I am claiming that Joshua 21:43-45 declares that God fulfilled his promise to give the land to Israel. Nehemiah and Solomon also declare God did not drop the ball on any of his promises ... The inspired author of 1 Kings [1 Kings 4:20, 21] certainly means to grab our attention here. He is proclaiming the promises concerning Abraham’s seed being as numerous as the sand of the sea, have been fulfilled. [Understanding the Land Promises]

Finally, Crenshaw and Gunn, citing Patrick Fairbairn, argue that Israel's occupation of the land (they deceitfully call it "Palestine") was ultimately just a type, and their temporary possession of the land was merely a foreshadowing of the things belonging to the Church which is concluded as being the entire earth [Crenshaw and Gunn, 241].

This passage in Joshua, it is argued, clearly states that God fulfilled all the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to Moses, of bringing the people of Israel into the Promised Land. Other passages in Scripture, like 1 Kings 4:21, 8:56, and Nehemiah 9:7-8, are also cited as affirming what is recorded in Joshua 21.

How then is a future premillennialist to understand this passage in Joshua? Does Joshua 21:43-45 prove that all the land promises have been fulfilled? That there is no future restoration of Israel in a geo-political kingdom within the physical boundaries outlined by God to Abraham (Genesis 12, 13, 15, 17)? And are the land promises merely typological anyways? Meaning there really is a greater fulfillment with God's redeemed people, both Jews and gentiles, inheriting the entire earth?

First, in response, let me remind the reader of two key passages I noted in my previous study: Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 30.

Both Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 30 were written before Israel was led into the land by Joshua. Both passages make important redemptive, prophetic predictions concerning Israel's position in the land. To summarize:

1) Israel will already be in the land and the disobedience of the people will bring God's judgment upon them.

2) God's judgment will ultimately bring Israel's exile from the land (Lev. 26:32-34, Deut. 30:1 [29:28]).

3) God will regather Israel back to the land (Lev. 26:44, Deut. 30:3).

4) Israel's restoration to the land is due in part to their spiritual salvation by means of God's regenerating spirit as promised in the New Covenant.

Regarding the last point, Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 30 use New Covenant terminology when describing Israel's salvation and their subsequent restoration in the land. The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel also use the same terminology when joining the spiritual salvation of the people with their restoration. Jeremiah specifically identifies the spiritual renewal of the people as a "New Covenant" God makes with them. Ezekiel doesn't speak directly to a "New Covenant," though he does mention an "everlasting covenant" in 16:60 and 37:26. Yet, just as Jeremiah does, Ezekiel describes Israel's spiritual renewal as receiving "new hearts," having "clean water sprinkled" on them, and the heart-led spiritual obedience of the people that results from the Spirit's work.

Two factors can be observed with Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 30 and their relation to Joshua 21:43-45:

Israel's predicted exile and restoration is fore-told BEFORE the people were even in the land and is to take place AFTER they have lived in the land for an unstated amount of time. This conflicts with the Covenant Reformed claim that Joshua 21:43-45 is a total fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham in Genesis, and the promise describing the land as an "everlasting possession."

Moreover, Israel's restoration to the Promised Land is in conjunction with the New Covenant that was confirmed and inaugurated by Jesus Christ. The spiritual renewal of the Jewish exiles and their restoration to the land follow after the New Covenant is ratified. Seeing that it is Christ who initiated the New Covenant, the events of restoration follow sometime future after the making of this New Covenant. Hence, there is still a future aspect of this New Covenant awaiting fulfillment, i.e., the Jews returning from exile, being spiritually regenerated, receiving their Messiah, and being restored to the Land.

Thus, the promise God makes in Leviticus, Deuteronomy and the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel to restore Israel forever in the land has to be different from what is being highlighted in Joshua 21:43-45. That means we need to understand this passage differently than the typical Covenant Reformed perspective.

It is important to know that Joshua 21 ends a specific section in the book of Joshua that begins with chapter 13. There, Joshua calls Israel to go and conquer the Canaanites that still dwelt in the land where Israel was yet to possess. In fact, Joshua states in 13:1 that "there remained very much land that needed to be possessed." The chapters in between 13 and the end of 21 tell of the allotments each of the tribes received.

Joshua 21:41-43 is something of an editorial comment explaining how each of the tribes received from the LORD what He had promised Israel up unto that time. They were made a great nation, free from the Egyptian bondage, brought into the Promised Land, and under the leadership of Joshua, broke the military threat of the various Canaanite groups. Now that each individual tribe has received its allotment of the land, and there was still "very much land" yet to posses, the impression is that those tribes will go and drive those Canaanites out of the land and take possession of them.

The reality, however, as seen in the book of Judges, is that the tribes failed in accomplishing that possession. Instead, we see them not only failing to drive out the occupants (Judges 1:27-36), but also compromising their position of strength by making treaties with the Canaanites and putting them "under tribute." This only led to the people involving themselves in the fertility religions of the Canaanites, marrying their sons and daughters, and eventually coming into bondage to the very Canaanites they were told to drive out of the land. The tribe of Dan, for example, was forced by the Amorites to leave their allotted territory so they moved to the most northern location of the Promised Land (Judges 1:34; 17-18).

If Joshua 21:43-45 is an absolute fulfillment of what God promised Abraham in Genesis 17:7, 8 as the Covenant Reformed claim, then there are some serious conflicts with what the original land promises promised and what happened in Israel's history. A number of commentators on Joshua recognize this.

L. Daniel Hawk writes,

the sense of completion, however, stands in stark contrast to the sense of failure and incompleteness which characterizes the preceding material. How can the possession of Canaan be affirmed when the occupation of the land remains incomplete? And in what sense does Israel enjoy rest, given the presence of "determined" peoples with iron chariots? ... The description of tribal lands puts Israel in the foreground and demonstrates repeatedly the nations halting and incomplete response to YHWH's promises and commands. [Hawk, 224, 225]

George Bush (not the former president) notes,

The Canaanites, it is true, were yet in possession of some parts of the country, but they were so far subdued, that they gave them no serious molestation, and they were enabled to sit down in their possessions in the enjoyment of comparative rest and quiet. [Bush, 189]

Even Reformer, John Calvin, recognized the dilemma and the need to reconcile 21:43-45 with the rest of Scripture.

A second point, however, raises some doubt, namely, how the children of Israel can be said to have been settled in the possession of the land promised to them, and to have become masters of it, in such a sense that in regard to the enjoyment of it, not one syllable of the promise of God had failed. ...
In order to remove this appearance of contradiction, it is necessary to distinguish between the certain, clear, and steadfast faithfulness of God in keeping his promises, and between the effeminacy and sluggishness of the people, in consequence of which the benefit of the divine goodness in a manner slipped through their hands. [Calvin, 247, 248]

Joshua 21:43-45, rather than being a declaration of absolute fulfillment of all the land promises God made to Abraham and his descendants, is more of an historical marker showing God's faithfulness to His people up until that point. He was fulfilling His promises made to Abraham, not completing them entirely.

It should also been understood that this passage cannot be taken out the context of the whole of predictive prophecy concerning Israel and the land (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 30, Jeremiah 30-31, Ezekiel 36-37, Acts 1:6,7, Romans 11). God had promised everlasting possession of the land to Israel; however, their occupancy of the land depended upon their covenant faithfulness. They failed to be faithful and lost the land. Yet, God is still good in that the better covenant He has made through Jesus Christ will create hearts of covenant faithfulness in the people of Israel and then they will truly enjoy the land as God has always intended.


George Bush, Joshua
John Calvin,
Curtis Crenshaw and Grover Gunn, Dispensationalism: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.
Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness
Gregory Harris,
Did God Fulfill Every Good Promise?
L. Daniel Hawk,
Steve Lehrer, New Covenant Theology: Questions Answered.


Monday, June 04, 2012

Exploding 6ft Water Balloon in SLO MO

What more could you ask for on a Monday?

Starts a bit slow with the various attempts at popping it, but the ultimate pay-off is worth the wait.

(Sorry about the commercial)


Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Pursuit of Excellence with Faking Bigfoot Photos

This is my second most read post I have ever written.  It’s on the subject of excellent Bigfoot photo hoaxing.  I’ve edited it a bit, but changed the title from “Skunk Ape” to “Bigfoot.”  I mention “Skunk Ape” just a couple of times, so it only made sense.
OK, two admission here:
I will confess to my readers that my blog is a bit eclectic. I bounce all over the place from subject to subject. One day I discussing heavy theology, then the next day I am hunting down celebrity figures who resemble images of Jesus found in plant matter.
I tend to find new things all the time that amuse me, both theological and mundane, and I feel compelled to offer my comments via my blog. I guess in a manner of speaking, it is the power of the new media cross bred with a form of intellectual ADD.
Next confession: I am a secret Bigfoot fan. No, not the monster truck that goes by that name. You know, the so called giant primate-like, man-creature with big feet who leaves big footprints. Hence the nickname "Bigfoot."
I prefer "Sasquatch" or what is translated from the tongue of the Canadian Indian tribe whose name escapes me at the moment: "Wild man." My other favorite is "Skunk Ape" referring to the horrendous smell that supposedly accompanies a Bigfoot sighting. Apparently, witnesses say you smell the skunk ape before you see him.
The 1970s saw heightened interest in Bigfoot. I remember watching an "In Search Of..." episode on Bigfoot and sitting transfixed as Leonard "Mr. Spock" Nimoy earnestly narrated the program. His calm, logical voice convinced this 2nd grader that Bigfoot existed. And the passion of those eye witnesses only confirmed his existence the more:
Log Truck driver: Well, I wus goen down this dirt road here when I looked up ahead and saw what I thought was a bare sort of crouched down in the road and I thought to my self, 'why is that bare sitting there like that' and I thought I was going to hit the bare becuz I was coming pretty fast down the dirt road and then all of the sudden, it stood up and it was a man, but then I thought 'that is the huggest man I'd ever saw' but he wudn't like a regular man, he was all huge and he had hare all over em, and he just sort of turnd and looket at me, just starren at me, but he didnt have eyes like an anmal it was like the eyes of a man, and then he walked off into the woods just like that right over there.
I determined then to learn all I could about Bigfoot.
When Buster Brown's shoes jumped on board the Bigfoot band wagon, they came out with a pair of shoes with footprints etched on to the bottom of them. I begged my mother to buy them for me.  Sometime later, my family attended a party at a local country club and I left footprints all over the greens.
I remember the Six Million Dollar Man met Bigfoot once. He was from outerspace or another dimension. At first, they fought an epic bionic battle and then I think in a later episode, the Bigfoot and Steve Austin worked together to stop some bad aliens. They even made an action figure out of the Bigfoot character. I tried in vain to get it for Christmas, but to no avail.
Then ABC put together one of the lamest Saturday morning live-action TV shows imaginable: Bigfoot and Wildboy. The Bigfoot looked more like a Wookie than a Bigfoot (or maybe like Rob Zombie).
The "Wildboy" was named Lucan, and I had a friend in Arkansas whose parents thought the name was really neat, so when his little brother was born, they named him Lucan.
When I went to my grandma's house in Batesville, Arkansas, she had a big, hundred acre woods behind where she lived. I thought I would attempt to get a good, clear picture of Bigfoot, not one of those grainy, taken from a distance of a football field pictures you see in all the books. I searched all over those woods, but I never found a Bigfoot. I did get a lot of tick and chigger bites on me, though.
Obviously, by now, my expectations about finding Bigfoot have changed. I want to have a biblical perspective about Bigfoot that would make Francis Schaffer proud.  My take - speaking honest here - is that all of those eye witnesses cannot be easily dismissed. There is something out there in the woods of the Pacific Northwest people are seeing. What it is is yet to be determined.
I personally think it could be a near extinct primate that has not been properly catalogued and researched. Not a missing link or inter-dimensional beings as is often discussed on Art Bell's program, but a large, undiscovered animal. You may think this is funny for me to say, but giant, lowland gorillas have only been discovered since the early 20th century. Before that, they were the product of local eye-witnesses and myth. The same can be said about panda bears.
At any rate, because of my early childhood fascination with Bigfoot (and lake monsters - may I not forget Nessie and Champ), any time I read about a Bigfoot sighting and the story is accompanied with photos, I drop everything I am doing and go immediately to the internet. I am always on the outlook for Bigfoot photos, even the most blatantly hoaxed.
However, if you are going to fake some Bigfoot photos, I believe it is reasonable to have some expectation of excellence. Give me something worth spending my time looking at. The Patterson footage has set the standard of Bigfoot photos (That is because I believe it is the real deal - see analysis here), so everyone else should aim for that mark of excellence.
So, yesterday, I am alerted via the Cryptomundo blog about some Bigfoot sightings in, of all places, Oklahoma.
Now, these photos are so clearly fakes - woefully inept fakes - that I had to shake my head in disgust.
Take a look at this first one,

There are only two conclusions we can draw from this picture: Either this particular Bigfoot suffers severely with the mange, in which case this poor beast should be hunted down and put to sleep in order to relieve it of its misery, OR, it is a guy wearing a bear skin rug.
My money is on the second scenario.
In fact, if you go to Cryptomundo link there are more photos of this particular Bigfoot. It is amazing that in one of the photos, the head and face of the "Bigfoot" is conveniently blocked with foliage. Those trees are all the time getting in the way of a clear shot.
I image the staging of this Bigfoot picture went something like this:
Cletus: Hey, Doyle, I wuz thinkin. You know what would be funny?
Doyle: Whut?
Cletus: Lets git that bear rug from your daddys and you can put it over your head and I'll take picktures of you pretenden to be Bigfoot.
Doyle: That sounds like a plan. I'll git the beer.
Now this second photo is also a clear fake.

In fact, to put it mildly, it sort of looks like a giant teddy bear going potty in the woods.
My first impressions is that it is the gremlin from the original black and white Twilight Zone episode when a nervous William Shatner sees a "man" on the wing of the airplane. Basically a big, dumpy looking flying teddy bear.
Look how large his legs and feet are in proportion to the rest of his body. As if he is wearing bell bottom pants. What on earth? Did these people really believe this was a convincing Bigfoot suit? Please.
Both of these pictures are terrible. I mean, if you are going to fake a Bigfoot picture, at least get a decent costume. I have to say I am sorely disappointed with both of these attempts. Did the hoaxters not even try? This is laziness at its worse.
So I beg all you potential Bigfoot fake picture makers: From a person who has carried a soft spot in his heart for Bigfoot since the 2nd grade: please do your best to pursue your hoaxing with excellence. Do some research and keep in mind, you may have to spend a little money for the material.


Friday, June 01, 2012

The Laminin Molecule and the Inadequacies of Evidentialism

This is my most read post of all my years blogging. Over 11,000 hits to date. I think it is primarily from individuals who have attended Giglio's youth lectures. My main focus with this post was to argue that evidence by itself does not "prove" the existence of God. Especially so-called bogus evidence made-up purely in order to exploit the manipulative emotions of evangelical youth.

[see my semi-review of Louie Giglio's, Indescribable]

Snopes is one of the few websites I hit regularly since I have had access to the internet beginning in the mid-90s.

They catalog, and in many cases, debunk, popular urban legends floating around the culture, especially the internet. Snopes has been helpful for putting in perspective those impassioned email chain letters pleading with me to sign a petition to defend our free speech against atheist activists or outlawing Democrats. At least twice a week or so I check their "What's New" page for any new legends that may come on my radar.

One of the recent entries under the "What's New" page pertains to a sermon illustration utilized by pastor-evangelist Louie Giglio. It has to do with the cross shape of the laminin molecule, one of the basic biological building blocks in the cell.

Giglio, in his talk (which is available in a clip located at the link), references Colossians 1:15-17 where Paul speaks of how Christ is the creator of all things and in Him and through Him all things consist. He then illustrates this passage by pointing out how the shape of the laminin molecule resembles a cross and then draws the conclusion that in the basic building blocks that holds all life together - the laminin molecule - God has revealed His hand of design by making the molecule appear in the form of a cross.

The husband and wife team who maintain the "watchdog" site (they're atheists, btw) are obviously dubious of the illustration and offer their response to Giglio's use of the laminin molecule as evidence for God's work in our lives.

For instance, they chide the idea of purposeful design by saying the molecule antedates Christ's dying on the cross by thousands of years, implying Giglio is reading his beliefs into nature. That very well could be true, but their response just reveals their ignorance of Christian theology and its teaching about God's predetermined purpose of redemption in the cross work of Christ before He even created.

Nonetheless, coming from the position of unbelief, I thought the article had some important apologetic insight when appealing to such illustrations as "proof" for God. particularly, the fact that any evidence offered for proof of anything must be interpreted, and a person will interpret such evidence according to a particular worldview. A couple of other examples cited in the entry would be how a person may see in the molecule the shape of a sword or a caduceus, the symbol for medicine with the two snakes intertwined around a staff.

However, more relevant to the issue of Christian evidence and their use in apologetics is how the entry points out the fact that the actual molecule doesn't always look like a cross.

The diagram (pictured above) is a man-made diagram meant to convey the basic components of the molecule, not necessarily represent its physical appearance. Even in the picture above, the two real molecules on the right don't exactly look like a cross. It is these sorts of sniggling little details that causes me to cringe when eager Christians thoughtlessly employ those kinds of "proofs" for God's existence, when in reality they may undermine the very thing they wish to prove.

I am utterly unaware of who Louie Giglio is or what his ministry is all about. From the brief biographical information I saw on one of his websites, he is a typical, mega-church Southern Baptist who is a popular youth conference speaker. And though I would imagine his ministry has been a blessing to many folks over the years, he is one of those type of speakers who will tend to sensationalize Christian "evidences," like the laminin molecule, in order to make God appear to be really cool and neat-o.

But this misappropriation of Christian evidence has some hidden dangers that will undo your credibility as a messenger for God.

First, it capitulates to the culture, particularly the teen culture who already think being a Christian is "squaresville." Though there is good intentions with the attempt to show that believing in Jesus doesn't make a person a "L7," what happens when surly Devon goes home after one of these Giglio conferences where he opines on the shape of the laminin molecule, does an internet search only to discover that Giglio exaggerated his proof? All that shows is Christians can lie.

Secondly, the illustration merely trivializes the Gospel. Honestly, does the laminin molecule have to look like a cross in order for God to be a perfect creator? How does a cross shaped molecule help God out exactly? How does it make God more real? Isn't the fact that there is a complex, self-replicating molecule to begin with proof enough for God's hand in all of life? This illustration runs along the same lines as Ray Comfort's banana evidence for the existence of God that I wrote about when he was going to do a national debate with some atheists on ABC's Nightline.

Honestly, when I see evidences like this being put forward as "proof" for the Christian faith, I see someone ashamed of the power of the Gospel and lacking trust in the sufficiency of God's written Word.

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