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

Monday, July 30, 2012

Fibonacci Numbers

I realize this video has that Louie Giglio "The Cross of Jesus is in the Lamin Molecule" feel to it. I am not saying this mathematical pattern is evidence for God's "fingerprints in the world," because any evidence has to be interpreted. Moreover, I haven't fact-checked a lot of the info cited within it, so I can say how accurate it is.

However, I do find the repetition of the Fibonacci numbers in natural occurring designs to be interesting, because math transcends human culture, and thus I believe it does reflect the mind of God. Even the secular world recognizes the uniqueness of the Fibonacci pattern found throughout the created world. See, for example, the article at Wackapedia on the Fibonacci Number and the one highlighting its mention in popular culture.


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Friday, July 27, 2012

Reviews

I've compiled all of my various reviews I've posted since my blog began. Most are mine, but there are other contributors as well.

Books

Biblical Apologetics: Advancing and Defending the Gospel of Christ
The Bible, Natural Law, and Natural Theology: Conflict or Compromise?
The World-Tilting Gospel
God's Battalions: A Case for the Crusades
Into the Wild
God's Wisdom in Proverbs
John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock
KJV 1611 400th Anniversary Edition
The Unbound Scriptures
Coming to Grips with Genesis
MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response
ReInventing Jesus
Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography
The Apocalypse Code
Philosophy 101
For Us and Our Salvation: The Doctrine of Christ in the Early Church
Grace Like A River
The Butler Family Favorite Children's Books
Notable Books on Adventism
The New Concise History of the Crusades

Yearly Book Overview

2009
2010
2011

Movies and Videos

Courageous
Cars 2
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
Indescribable
Into the Wild
The Queen
Paper Clips



Geek Stuff

Aeropress Coffee Makers
Text to Speech Software
Safety Razor Shaving
Over The Air HD TV

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Canis Lupus Pastoral

wolfpastorIdentifying the Wolf Pastor
I've been interacting a little bit with the survivor blogger phenomenon. 
These are individuals who claim they have experienced severe emotional and spiritual anguish under the rigid domination of abusive, overbearing church leadership.  Now that these folks have "escaped" from the tyranny of these demagogic pastors, they believe they have a duty to warn everyone with a personal blog that details the spiritual abuse they suffered.
I can understand to a degree the passionate motivation of a person who believes he has been spiritually ill-treated at a church over a long period of time.  A church is supposed to be a safe haven.  It's a place where a family can hear the Word taught and grow in the love of the Lord together with like-minded folks.  Pastors who "lead" with a heavy, controlling hand, who for example implement unreasonable "holiness" codes among the membership and demand absolute conformity by everyone, can quickly sour souls against attending church.  In some cases, such narrow legalism will forever turn away people from church altogether.
Despite the passionate motivation, as I have written in a previous post, I believe survivor bloggers go over-the-top with their expose' of their previous experiences.  They will attribute to their former pastors a spiritual darkness that falls near the realm of demonic, and in some cases borders on paranoia if not the outright absurd.  For example, commenters on one survivor blog I read suggested that recent internet connectability problems the blog was experiencing could possibly be due to abusive leadership hacking the account. 
Typically, though, the accusations survivor bloggers level against pastors are so imbalanced they paint an unfair picture of their true character.  The main pastor is often called a "wolf" who wants to only harm the flock, not protect and feed it like a faithful shepherd should.  He will be accused of being a controlling bully, even to the point of claiming he employs a network of spies who secretly inform upon non-conformists in the church.  Anyone, it is claimed, who asks pointed questions of him or the leadership are stifled, told they are rebellious, and threatened with dismissal.  The pastor is said to have no accountability to any one and other leadership are merely "yes men" enabling his continued reign of power.
I've argue that survivor bloggers are unhelpful with these sorts of criticisms.  There are a couple of reasons I draw this conclusion:
First, survivor bloggers only generate more strife and perpetuate divisiveness among church members by pitting them against the leadership.  Pastors are a group to be looked upon with suspicion, to be nit-picked to death regarding every little sniggling decision they may make on behalf of the congregation.
Second, the claims of the bloggers are ultimately one-sided, and in some respects even dishonest.  That is because they provide the readers with only one perspective of the story: the victims point of view.  Hence, there really is never a concise way in which a person can ascertain the truth of the charges leveled against the former pastor.  We can only take the victim's "word for it."  The leadership is often accused of lying anyways, so why bother asking them their side of the situation.
However, a real major problem I see with survivor bloggers and their supporters is the imprecision with their use of terminology.  For example, I noted in my previous article the inaccurate use of cult
Another illustration of what I mean is the use of the word wolf to describe a bad pastor.  A bad pastor who is automatically defined as a "wolf"  immediately poisons the conversation because the charge ignites a specific image in the minds of the hearers. The idea of a "wolf" presents a man who is only seeking to prey upon and destroy people's lives.  This is a problematic charge when a pastor may only just be unqualified as to leadership and yet is identified as a "wolf."  His overall character as a Christian person is then tarnished, slandered, and ruined because of foolish descriptions thrown about on a survivor blog.
One of the key reasons I see for this  imprecision is that these bloggers erroneously conflate the qualifications of an elder as outlined in 1 Timothy 3 with what truly defines a spiritual "wolf." A man who is occasionally impatient and unyielding with congregants, who has a rebellious teen, and who may struggle with personal pride, may not be qualified as a pastor, but that hardly identifies him as a "wolf" bent on destroying men's souls.  It is these type of men I believe survivor bloggers are wrongly identifying with true spiritual wolves.
So how exactly do we distinguish between the two? I believe Scripture lends us some insights.
Let me consider a couple of passages.  One from the OT and a second from the NT.
First in Ezekiel 34 the prophet gives a word of judgment against false shepherds.  Though God's judgment is proclaimed specifically against religio-political leaders in Israel immediately before the Babylonian exile, there are some applicable points we can draw relating to pastors. 
If one looks at Ezekiel 34:1-10, there are at least four observations to be seen.
1) The false shepherds feed themselves from the flock (1-2).  In other words, these were leaders who only saw their role as designated leaders as a means to pursue their self-interests at the expense of those they were appointed to serve.  Honestly, this is the attitude of true spiritual abuse because even though these leaders may not have direct, personal contact with the congregation, they were abusing their God given authority.
2) They do not feed the flock (3). Simply put, they do not strengthen the people by the proclamation of the Word.  In the context of the OT, the leaders were to remind the people of their covenant obligations before God.  This can only be accomplished by drawing the people to the written Scripture that reveals how they were to love the Lord and walk before Him in godliness.
3) They did not shepherd the weak (4).  The picture is of an unhealthy, sick lamb that the shepherd essentially ignores and allows it to die from its illness.  In like manner, those people who are spiritually sick are ignored by the leaders and left to themselves.  There is no personal involvement or concern for their spiritual well-being.
4) By ignoring the weak sheep, they are allowed to wander off into spiritual error.  They are led astray by every whim of doctrine away from spiritual truth and eventually spiritual doom.
Here we have at least four marks of a "spiritual wolf."  Leaders who are self-centered and uses the people for self-interests, who do not teach them the word of God, who ignore the spiritually weak, and allow them to wander off into soul-damning error.
Turning to the New Testament, there are a number of passages I could consider, but let me zero in on Acts 20 where Paul presents his final words to the Ephesian elders and the church.  I should point out that with these final words, Paul, who will never again see these people, warns with much earnestness the need to be on the guard against what he calls "savage wolves."
1) They come in among the body (29).  This implies the "wolves" mingle among the regular members in the church.  They are not necessarily limited to only being pastors, but could be lay level individuals.  By application, this can mean that self-proclaimed survivor bloggers are capable of being a wolf just as much as the pastors they say "abused" them.
2) Wolves also come from among leaders or elders (30).  These particular individuals, however, are primarily marked by what they teach. They teach "perverse" things; twisted, heretical doctrine that draws people away from the truth.
Notice, though, it is what they teach that marks them
There is no discussion about whether they are "controlling" or overly "authoritarian" or shut down questions being asked of them. It is not the pastor's inability to diplomatically manage disagreement among the members or him being short-tempered with dissenters that is in view here.  What marks out a leader as being a "wolf" is the false doctrine he spreads. 
Hence, a pastor may be sweet, loving, accepting and accommodating to everyone in the church, but if he teaches that homosexuality is not a sin and God approves of gay marriage, the man is a wolf.  The people at Biologos, though they are not technically pastoring a church, are in essence wolves who destroy men's souls.
In both of these passages, false shepherds who are spiritually abusive wolves are indicated by at least three truths:
- they seek their own self-interests with their appointed position,
- they do not guard the flock against heresy and
- they in fact will teach heresy leading disciples to ultimate destruction. 
These are people we can confidently conclude are outside true salvation.
On the other hand, much of the leadership declared by survivor bloggers as being spiritually wolfish are not genuinely wolfish.  They are Christians who may lack the biblical qualifications to lead the people because of personal areas where they are yet to be sanctified.  They should be admonished and exhorted, not slandered publicly on a survivor blog.   
to be continued…

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Monday, July 23, 2012

How Americans See Cricket

It's pretty much self-explanatory.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

FBT Updates

I had opportunity to up load my latest two messages to my devotional study in Judges. A message on Judges 17 and 18:

Micah and His Idols

And a message on Judges 19:

The Horror at Gibeah

That message on Judges 19 was a difficult one due to the subject matter, but I believe it has some important things to tell us in our day and age.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Monkey See, Monkey Do

This story made me chuckle:
Can you imagine that? Atheist women complaining they're being sexually harassed at atheist conventions. I thought atheists were now considered the "brights." That sort of primitive behavior only takes place among sexually repressive patriarchal religious groups.
A few things here:
First, and at the great risk of receiving a severe wedgie from the readers in the combox, most of the atheist women I've encountered throughout my life ought to be flattered that any guy would want to "harass" them in the first place. They're not known for their womanly femininity, if you know what I mean. As my aunt's brother Kermit use to say, "Someone’s done fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every branch coming down."
ewwwwYes. I realize that could be taken as a mean-spirited, generalized stereotype. Just as I'm sure there are plenty of Asian women race car drivers, I'm sure there are plenty of gorgeous free-thinking babes out there who've read all of Isaac Asimov's collected works. I'm just merely pointing out that atheism, as a philosophy, gravitates towards the anti-traditional in American society. For the atheist women, they ain't too keen on fashion and beauty tips. They lean more toward the stringy haired, unshaven, pants wearing view of life.
Second. When it comes to the atheist men, we're not necessarily dealing with suave, debonair gentleman dressed for success. Its mostly a room full of scruffy, ponytail guys with borderline Asperger's. Think Ted Kaczynski wearing a fanny pack and a "Three wolf/moon" tee shirt.
robotThese are guys notorious for their conversational ineptitude, so they're not smooth with the ladies to begin with. Get them going about Larry Niven and they'll provide you with an eloquent discourse on why he's the greatest sci-fi writer to ever live. But have them talk with a woman and they flail about like the robot from Lost in Space when danger was near.
Third. Of course, this makes me wonder if what we have happening at these conventions is a bunch of goofy guys trying their socially awkward best to pick up women. The women don't necessarily want to be picked up because … well … They’re socially awkward atheist guys who are going to bore you to death about Larry Niven. It's the classic, if the guy is a weirdo it's sexual harassment; if he's attractive, he's flirting. A guy like Sam Harris probably falls in the second category.
Fourth. As for the atheist women, I am at a loss as to why they are all bothered about being "sexually harassed." Atheists, by default, believe in Darwinian evolution as the explanatory mechanism for life existing and thriving on the planet. The main tenet of evolutionary theory is a species getting its genetic information into the next generation.
I recall watching some documentary on NOVA, or maybe it was a BBC thing, that told about this large group of monkeys that live in an old abandoned Thai Buddhist temple. All the male monkeys would gather around themselves female monkeys that were like his "harem." The male monkey with the biggest "harem" was like the alpha male and was able to spread his seed far and wide on to the next generation.
So, wouldn't these men be fulfilling their evolutionary function with the women folk attending the conference? Seems logical and natural; at least as far as atheism is concerned. They're just trying to get their genetics into the next generation, right? Why all the outrage? They're just like those male monkeys trying to see who can get the most seed into the next generation. It's just a clear case of monkey see, monkey do.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Book Review

apologeticsBiblical Apologetics: Advancing and Defending the Gospel of Christ.

Clifford B. McManis

This past spring I was sent a promotional e-newsletter from TMS announcing the publication of Biblical Apologetics: Advancing and Defending the Gospel of Christ by alumnus, Clifford McManis.  The newsletter stated the book will explore biblical apologetics from a fresh perspective that was faithful to the text of Scripture.  My interest was immediately stirred. I've been studying apologetic methodology off and on the last few years, so I am always on the look out for a "fresh perspective" on that subject, especially from a presuppositional point of view and from a fellow TMS alumnus.  I made a mental note to check out the book.

A little bit later, I was alerted to a review of Cliff's book from a fellow of the Reformed, Van Tillian tradition.  He, however, was not pleased with McManis's work. For example he wrote,

Even in these fascinating primary pages, however, McManis’ argument is marred by an off-putting personal apologetic exclusivity, as when he claims that Van Til, Bahnsen, Frame, and everyone but McManis (and MacArthur) are greatly mistaken in essential facets of their apologetic approach. Only his “healthy fideistic” apologetic is correct (the term fideist is not my designation–he with great ardor designates himself a fideist; pp. 426-456). As he begins to impugn isolated ideas from Van Tilians, McManis’ venture falls off the rails. His descriptions of what these apologists were trying to accomplish biblically or intuitively, become increasingly unfair.

Wow. His book "falls off the rails?"

He goes on to complain,

The good professor frames his exegesis around the unexceptionable idea, ultimately derived from biblical narratives, that a rational apologetic methodology is inadequate without the unfounded fideistic and spiritual methods derived from his understanding of Scripture (Van Til & Bahnsen contend that there is “certain proof for the existence of God” and offer versions of TAG and other biblically based arguments). Many Van Tilian advocates would dispute McManis’ interpretation and application of the scriptural accounts.

"Unfounded fideistic and spiritual methods"?  And to think he had the gall to "frame his exegesis" as "derived from biblical narrative."  Heaven forbid we get too biblical.

The review went on to be an amusing read. A Covenant Reformed guy worked up into a lather over someone who offered honest criticisms of Van Til and Bahnsen, and didn't talk enough on TAG.  Even more amusing was how after the reviewer implies he couldn't really recommend the book, he puts in a plug for his own e-books on apologetics! Oh the irony!  I knew right then I had to secure McManis's book immediately. 

I will say, after reading the book and re-reading selected portions: Biblical Apologetics: Advancing and Defending the Gospel of Christ is the best book I've read on the subject of apologetics period.

I understand that is a bold statement and I risk coming across as a gushing sycophant. However, I think if a person reads through this book he will clearly see what I mean and will not be disappointed.

Just so that I am not misunderstood.  I am not saying that other apologetic books are unworthy of our study.  I certainly believe there are many fine contributions to the subject of apologetics. In fact, I've read all of Van Til's and Greg Bahnsen's key works on apologetics, as well as John Frame's and a number of other writers from both the presuppositional and classic camps. 

As good as some of those other works are, I have found none of them comparing to Cliff's.  He writes with clarity, conciseness, depth of knowledge in the field of study, and most importantly, with a heart to make what has often been turned into a difficult subject by even Van Tillian/Bahnsenian presuppositionalists understandable for normal, church-going lay folks. It's the readability for normal people that causes me to really like this work. It has always been my contention that if your apologetic methodology cannot be easily explained to Mrs. Myrtle so she in turn can use it when talking with her rebel grandson, it's not worth much.

Biblical Apologetics is more than just a study comparing and contrasting methodological systems. It most certainly does that.

But rather, it is a formulation of an apologetic theology that leads to methodology.  In order to do apologetics correctly and effectively, we must have a sound theological foundation built upon the whole of the Bible. Cliff anchors his work in what Scripture teaches us about Christ's Lordship, God's revelation as it is contained in Scripture, man's sinful nature, and the  regenerating work of the Spirit.  He then shapes those truths to provide us a systematic understanding of how we are to defend and advance the Gospel in a practical fashion. 

The author builds his case in 11 chapters interacting with a host of authors and Bible teachers who have written on apologetics.  In fact, if you consider his bibliography, it's mighty impressive. 

But Cliff hasn't just cited sources he has loosely consulted in order to fill up the pages of a bibliography to look good.  It is clear from how he quotes strategically from these sources and interacts with the authors throughout his book that he is thoroughly familiar with these individuals and the importance of how they argue. 

His primary source to which he regularly returns when discussing key components of apologetics is the popular, Five Views book on apologetics.  The reason, as Cliff states, "the Five Views book is highly popular, has a wide reading audience and is perennially referred to as the modern-day standard summarizing all acceptable evangelical positions" [24].

He begins in the first chapter with an overview comparing and contrasting the two primary apologetic methodologies, traditional, classic evidentialism and presuppositionalism.  He covers 10 major categories of distinction between the two camps, expounding on the significance of those key differences. 

He then moves into the next chapter and provides an exegesis of 1 Peter 3:15 that I had not read in any of the literature on apologetics.  This passage in Peter is the default passage pretty much every apologist starts with when talking about apologetics.  However, many writers fail to tie this verse to its OT context in  Isaiah 8:12,13.  This insight provided me with a sharpened understanding of what Peter was exhorting his readers to do when they "set apart Christ as Lord."

Chapter three is also a valuable study to my own personal views of apologetic methodology.  Cliff explores how genuine apologetics is not exclusively "external," meaning Christians defending Christianity against hostile skeptics and heathen.  A lot of apologetic books are written around answering that dichotomy, assuming all apologetic encounters that involve defending the faith is between a Christian and a hostile, non-Christian opponent.

Instead, Cliff argues that true "apologetics" takes place "internally" within the Christian church with pastors defending orthodox, biblical Christianity from error and heresy. In Cliff's opinion (and this is why that reviewer I quoted above doesn't like his "exclusivity"), John MacArthur is one of the leading "apologists" in the Christian church because he has consistently taken on false teaching of other so-called Christians nearly his entire ministry career.  I had never considered apologetics from that perspective before.

Other chapters include a study on general and special revelation, the doctrine of sin and its impact on apologetics, the historical influence of philosophy on apologetic methodology, and the myth of natural theology.  However, chapters 8, 9, and 10 on the biblical doctrine of "saving faith, "fideism" and evidences, and the problem of evil, are so well done and insightful with what they address, they alone are worth the price of the book.  His presentation on these subjects was just outstanding. 

Take for example the subject of "fideism."  To be called a "fideist" as a Christian apologist is equivalent to being called a "racist" as a politician. It's a really bad name, yet it is a slur designed simply to automatically discredit one's position.  A "fideist" is believing something according to blind faith without any proof. 

Cliff argues that we typically encounter what he terms "strawman fideism" leveled by classic apologists against presuppositionalists.  Van Til was routinely denounced as a "fideist" by his detractors.  Classic apologists think it is anathema to tell someone you can believe in the Resurrection because “the Bible tells me so.”  They mock such thinking.  They instead insist you must have some other non-biblical, out-side "authority" that "proves" the possibility of the Resurrection happening before the biblical record can be brought into the discussion. Usually those "authorities," as Cliff points out, are select quasi-liberal NT scholars who say it is okay to believe the Resurrection [434]. 

Our Reformed book reviewer noted above takes great exception to Cliff's argument by invoking the "fideism" charge.  Yet, it's a dishonest one.  He is in essence arguing like a classic apologist because he doesn't interact with Cliff's study of the subject (an entire 30 page chapter) or explain why his "biblical fideism" is problematic.  Cliff writes,

"I am a biblical fideist and the reason I believe in God's existence, the truthfulness of the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ is because of "the evidence." If there were no logical, reasonable, objective, verifiable evidence for Christianity then I would reject it. ... Traditional apologists say the needed evidence to believe comes from natural theology; biblical apologetics says the prerequisite evidence for salvation is defined and determined by special revelation." [424] 

I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone who seriously wishes to ground their understanding in apologetics.  The only negative thing with this book is that it is self-published by Xlibris.  Hopefully that won't deter people from getting it, but it may prevent it from having a wider audience than just word of mouth via internet reviews like this one.  It makes me curious why McManis’s previous book was published by Kress Publishers, but not this one.  Oh well.

Be that as it may, the author writes with clarity for the uninitiated in theological-techno-philosophizing jargon.  He also writes with humor.  His retelling of his adventures as a new Christian taking William Lane Craig's classes at Westmont College in Santa Barbara in the late 1980s was a fun read. 

Included with this book is a glossary of Big Words and their definitions given by the author, especially all the "fancy Latin words," as he calls them.  Oh. And lest I forget to tell you, he uses footnotes.  As soon as I saw I would be reading a book with footnotes rather than end notes, my heart sang for joy.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Let's Build an Engine

My shop class didn't teach us cool stuff like this. We just learned to build lamps.

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Monday, July 09, 2012

Gleanings in 1 Samuel [10]

1Sam8The Nation Demands a King (1 Samuel 8)

1 Samuel chapter 8 brings us to the second major portion of this book: the beginning of Israel's monarchy.

The transfer of influence is moved from the hands of the Judges and Levites to being in the hands of the kings.

The Torah did see a day when the people would desire a king like all the other nations in Deuteronomy 17:14. This was the day. A king would not be elected by the people. He was sovereignly appointed and next to God, he was to have absolute authority.

The text in chapter 8 conveniently divides into three sections.

I) The Elder's Request (8:1-9)

For about 20 plus years or more Samuel has been judging Israel. He is their national leader. He was the third Levitical judge in the Bible behind Moses and Eli. By appointing his two sons, there was an attempt being made to bring the nation back to the intended pattern of rule as outlined in Deuteronomy 16:18-20. The problem, however, is that Samuel's sons did not walk in the ways of Samuel. They took bribes and dishonest gain, and Samuel’s age was a concern for the various leaders of Israel.

The elders, being alarmed that they may return to the former days of judgment, asked for a king "like all the other nations."

The issue for the elders was threefold in their minds:

- Samuel had failed with establishing qualified judges (his sons took bribes)
- The perceived military threat from other nations (8:20)
- The desire to have a national form of government. At this point, Israel was a loose confederation.

Though God was not against the idea of monarchs, however, the way the elders went about demanding a king from Samuel rather than asking him to inquire from the Lord what they should do, was not a good thing. It could be that the people attributed previous failures to a dysfunctional political organization, rather than their own spiritual disobedience. Looking for outward causes, not inward ones.

Samuel was distressed by the request and took it to the Lord. But the Lord tells Samuel that their request manifested a spiritual problem. Ultimately they had rejected God as their king. The people were thinking autonomously, outside their required obedience to God. They had an interest in being successful and secure, but they wanted it on their terms without the moral and spiritual responsibility.

God, however, grants their request.

II) Samuel's Rebuke (8:10-18)

Samuel tells the people they can have a king, but the consequences would be severe.

He notes five things God will require of the people:

1) A military draft would be established.
2) Civilians will be put into servitude.
3) National, wide spread land confiscation for use by the government officials.
4) Taxes with be enacted and increased to fund the new government.
5) An over all loss of personal liberty.

And, when the people cry out, God will not heed them.

III) The People's Refusal (8:19-22)

In spite of Samuel's warning and the impending severe burden the people will face, they reject Samuel's words and rush headlong into turmoil that will begin to unfold in the following chapters. God's words to Samuel have a hint of prophetic doom ringing through them: "Heed their voice and make them a king."

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Friday, July 06, 2012

Lil’ Abner Meets the Big City Cultists

lilabnerWith the recent break-up of Scientology poster boy Tom Cruise from Katie Holmes, and Rupert Murdoch’s “Scientologists are creepy” tweets, I was reminded of an encounter I had here in LA some twenty years ago now.

In fact, after searching my blog archives, I’m surprised I haven’t recounted this tale.

I was a hayseed bumpkin that had just bounced off the pulp wood truck smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles to attend seminary. I’d never been to a place like this before. There were cars everywhere. Gazillions of people all over the place. In fact, more people attended my church on Sunday mornings at the time than lived in my hometown back in AR.

My second semester missions-evangelism class gave us a list of assignments to complete which included going out to street evangelize. We were living in LA, a modern, metropolitan Corinth so what better place to “evangelize.”

A buddy of mine, and fellow seminary student from Alabama (we won’t hold that against him), suggested we go to the Hollywood area because we had a friend who lived in the apartments across the street from the gigantic old hospital the Scientologists had purchased and turned into their headquarters and dormitory.

So one, late Saturday afternoon, my friend drives us down to Hollywood for our visit with the Scientologists.

Now. You have to picture us: Two rural Southern boys in our blue jeans and farmer’s flannel shirts. My buddy is carrying a large print Bible (It might’ve been a NASB) and we are in Hollywood, CA, movie capitol of the world.

We are able to find a parking spot right across the street from the main entrance of the Scientology building. As soon as we step out of the car, we’re greeted by a security guy driving a little car with yellow lights on the roof. He rolls down the window and says, “Hey fellas, how are you doing today? You live around here?” We say, “No sir, were just visiting a friend.” “Okay,” he responds, “You two have a splendid evening” or something along those lines.

Our friend told us later that one of the perks with living across from Scientology central was the fact they maintained an active, 24-hour security patrol that had reduced crime on the block down to nil. You could leave your Macbook sitting in an unlocked car with all the windows rolled down and nobody would take it.

Anyways, we visit with our friend a bit and then my buddy and I walk across the street to begin our mission. As I recall, the first thing we see is a boulder-sized bust of L. Ron Hubbard’s head as big as a John Deer tractor sitting on the front lawn. I hunted around the internet to find a picture I could upload with this post, but I couldn’t find any. (Unless I was mistaken). Now there is a boulder-sized statue of a lion the size of a John Deer tractor. I remember the big head and thinking it was a tad pretentious.

There was a sign advertising a book store and it told us the store was open, so we ascended the cyclopean steps leading up to the entrance.

trekkersThe next thing we noticed was how all the Scientology practitioners, nearly all of them young men, were dressed in classic, Star Trek like uniforms. I kid you not. Blue, yellow, and red tops with black trousers. They were darting in and around corners and down long corridors. My friend and I shot each other glances that said “that’s weird.” Of course, we stand there in our jeans and flannels with a big Bible, so I guess the “that’s weird” comment could just as easily apply to us.

The bookstore was to our left in a large area set up in the lobby. We started perusing the shelves. Most of the books were odd and I had absolutely no clue what they were about. What did catch our eye, however, was the price. There was a whole shelf full of kid books that I guess teach Scientology. The indecipherable content was bad enough, but the prices for these things was staggering. One book was like 75 bucks! What!?

We started looking at other books that would be for adults and we saw prices ranging upward from 250 to even 500 dollars for some of the books. Individual books, mind you; not sets. And there wasn’t anything particular “special” about the quality of these books, as if they are printed on gold sheets. It’s the kind you’d find at Barnes and Noble. My copy of Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology was just around 25 dollars. I started to think we had come across a bunch of grifters.

So as were standing there, a nice, clean cut fellow wearing a blue Star Trek shirt comes up and introduces himself to us. I forget his name, so I’ll call him “Kirk.”

He asks us our names and where were from and all and then the conversation is steered toward Scientology matters. We ask “Kirk” to explain the basics to us. He tells us how Scientology is about self-improvement and overcoming the trauma of our difficult pasts and whatnot.

I then ask him to explain how exactly can we overcome our difficult pasts. “Kirk” replies by telling us everyone begins by being “audited by an E-meter” administered by a trained Scientologist. I ask, “E-meter? What’s that?” He directs us over to a table in the bookstore area and he points to this little box with knobs and wires and explains how this is an “E-meter.” I respond with the innocence of a Gomer Pyle rube, “It sort of looks like a battery charger.”

“Kirk” chuckles and says, “I don’t ever think I heard anyone call IT that before.” “Well sir,” I respond, “I can show you one of these in the automotive department at Wal-Mart.”

Blank stare.

My friend then interjects by asking, “So, what do Scientologist think of Christianity?” “Kirk” perks up and says, “A person can be a Christian and be a Scientologist. I know lots of people who are Christians and practice Scientology.”

We both look at each other and respond, “Really?” My friend then asks, “Well, what ‘god’ do Scientologists worship?” “Kirk” says, “Oh. That’s what’s great about Scientology, we don’t promote any specific ‘god’ but we’re all about helping people improve their personal lives.”

It was at that point that three other guys standing in the lobby call “Kirk’s” name and ask him to join them. He holds up his hand and says “Just a minute guys.”

I think I then asked him about if he had attended any church in his life, and “Kirk” said he had been a Catholic. Either my friend or I asked him to explain how he now understands “sinning against God.” “Kirk” replies with the previous line he gave us that all guilt and shame are results of us not dealing with our past difficulties and that Scientology was helping him get over his past.

Once again “Kirk’s” friends call him over to them and he again tells them to wait a minute that he was talking with us.

xenuI had heard about the Scientology concept of “body Thetans” and “Xenu” and so I asked “Kirk” if he knew what “body Thetans” were. He said he did and gave the standard Scientology answer about them being suppressed memories of past trauma. I then asked him if they were spiritual beings, and he said they could be. I then asked, “Could they be what the Bible describes as demonic spirits?”

Right about the time I asked him that question, the three guys who had been calling “Kirk” to join them walked swiftly to where we were standing, one fellow grab one arm and another fellow grab the other, and they physically escorted him down the corridor.

My buddy and I looked at each other and we both got the “willies.” We knew we needed to high-tail it out of there before some goons chloroformed us and took us down into the labyrinths underneath the building and were never seen again.

And thus, that was my one and only encounter I’ve had with the big city cultists of Scientology.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

God Bless America!



Check out the extended extra camera angle video.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

An Update on Dearborn

I linked on Friday to a series of posts discussing the so-called Christian evangelists who were allegedly "stoned" by Muslims. David Wood had the most precise and balanced view of the events.

David has an additional update on the situation that is NOT being discussed in the media.

Dearborn Muslim Charged with Nine Counts of Attempted Murder for Trying to Kill Street Preachers.

Quite disturbing.

Also, see his "timeline" on the changes happening in Dearborn, the encroaching Sharia, and the dhimmitude of the city officials.

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Monday, July 02, 2012

Starting Points with Evidence

A brief comparison of the ultimate presuppositions we bring to the apologetic enterprise. Taken from Clifford McManis's wonderful book, Biblical Apologetics: Defending and Advancing the Gospel of Christ. [Review forthcoming].

The discussion on evidences exposes the inescapable reality that we need to always get back to ultimate presuppositions. What is the ultimate basis by which any person bases reality? What is the person's ultimate standard of authority? Is it God's Word or human reason? Is Scripture probably true because we can "prove" it to be so? Or is Scripture provable because it is true? Two different questions - two different presuppositions - two different approaches to apologetics.

Consider more examples of the clash between the presuppositions of Traditional Apologetics (TA) verses Biblical Apologetics (BA):

TA = The Bible is God's Word because it can be proven by evidences.
BA = There are evidences because the Bible is God's Word.

TA = The Bible is God's Word because it is logical
BA = The Bible is logical because it is God's Word.

TA = The Bible is God's Word because of the impossibility to the contrary.
BA =All contrarian views are impossible because the Bible is God's Word.

TA = The cosmological argument makes sense, therefore God probably exists.
BA = God absolutely exists, therefore the cosmological argument makes sense.

TA = There is universal morality, therefore God exists.
BA = The God of the Bible certainly exists, therefore there is universal morality.

Biblical Apologetics: Advancing and Defending the Gospel of Christ (452-453)

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