Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lord's Table

I have been wrestling a bit with the issue of the Lord's table, as a Presbyterian going to a Lutheran university. It has been good and I am more covinced of Calvin's position as I explore the issue, here's my quiz results:

Eucharistic theology
created with
You scored as Calvin

You are John Calvin. You seek to be faithful to Scripture, and to harmonize difficult sayings. You believe that in the Lord's Supper those who have faith are united to Christ, who is present spiritually, yet in a real way.













Saturday, November 17, 2007

From the Pilgrim's Progress, an Encouragement to faithfulness in Vanity Fair.

The Following comes from John Bunyan's "Pilgrims Progress" when Faithful and Christian are put in the stocks at Vanity fair. This is before Faithful is put to death:

Then were they remanded to the cage again, until further order should be taken with them. So they put them in, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

Here, therefore, they called again to mind what they had heard from their faithful friend Evangelist, and were the more confirmed in their way and sufferings by what he told them would happen to them. They also now comforted each other, that whose lot it was to suffer, even he should have the best of it; therefore each man secretly wished that he might have that preferment: but committing themselves to the all-wise disposal of Him that ruleth all things, with much content, they abode in the condition in which they were, until they should be otherwise disposed of.

Then a convenient time being appointed, they brought them forth to their trial, in order to their condemnation. When the time was come, they were brought before their enemies and arraigned. The judge's name was Lord Hate-good. Their indictment was one and the same in substance, though somewhat varying in form, the contents whereof were this: --

"That they were enemies to and disturbers of their trade; that they had made commotions and divisions in the town, and had won a party to their own most dangerous opinions, in contempt of the law of their prince."

Now, FAITHFUL, play the man, speak for thy God: Fear not the wicked's malice; nor their rod: Speak boldly, man, the truth is on thy side: Die for it, and to life in triumph ride.

Faithful's answer for himself

Then Faithful began to answer, that he had only set himself against that which hath set itself against Him that is higher than the highest. And, said he, as for disturbance, I make none, being myself a man of peace; the parties that were won to us, were won by beholding our truth and innocence, and they are only turned from the worse to the better. And as to the king you talk of, since he is Beelzebub, the enemy of our Lord, I defy him and all his angels.

Then proclamation was made, that they that had aught to say for their lord the king against the prisoner at the bar, should forthwith appear and give in their evidence. So there came in three witnesses, to wit, Envy, Superstition, and Pickthank. They were then asked if they knew the prisoner at the bar; and what they had to say for their lord the king against him.

Then stood forth Envy, and said to this effect: My Lord, I have known this man a long time, and will attest upon my oath before this honourable bench, that he is --

JUDGE. Hold! Give him his oath. (So they sware him.) Then he said --

ENVY. My Lord, this man, notwithstanding his plausible name, is one of the vilest men in our country. He neither regardeth prince nor people, law nor custom; but doth all that he can to possess all men with certain of his disloyal notions, which he in the general calls principles of faith and holiness. And, in particular, I heard him once myself affirm that Christianity and the customs of our town of Vanity were diametrically opposite, and could not be reconciled. By which saying, my Lord, he doth at once not only condemn all our laudable doings, but us in the doing of them.

JUDGE. Then did the Judge say to him, Hast thou any more to say?

ENVY. My Lord, I could say much more, only I would not be tedious to the court. Yet, if need be, when the other gentlemen have given in their evidence, rather than anything shall be wanting that will despatch him, I will enlarge my testimony against him. So he was bid to stand by. Then they called Superstition, and bid him look upon the prisoner. They also asked, what he could say for their lord the king against him. Then they sware him; so he began.

SUPER. My Lord, I have no great acquaintance with this man, nor do I desire to have further knowledge of him; however, this I know, that he is a very pestilent fellow, from some discourse that, the other day, I had with him in this town; for then, talking with him, I heard him say, that our religion was naught, and such by which a man could by no means please God. Which sayings of his, my Lord, your Lordship very well knows, what necessarily thence will follow, to wit, that we do still worship in vain, are yet in our sins, and finally shall be damned; and this is that which I have to say.

Then was Pickthank sworn, and bid say what he knew, in behalf of their lord the king, against the prisoner at the bar.

Pickthank's testimony Pick.

My Lord, and you gentlemen all, This fellow I have known of a long time, and have heard him speak things that ought not to be spoke; for he hath railed on our noble prince Beelzebub, and hath spoken contemptibly of his honourable friends, whose names are the Lord Old Man, the Lord Carnal Delight, the Lord Luxurious, the Lord Desire of Vain Glory, my old Lord Lechery, Sir Having Greedy, with all the rest of our nobility; and he hath said, moreover, That if all men were of his mind, if possible, there is not one of these noblemen should have any longer a being in this town. Besides, he hath not been afraid to rail on you, my Lord, who are now appointed to be his judge, calling you an ungodly villain, with many other such like vilifying terms, with which he hath bespattered most of the gentry of our town.

When this Pickthank had told his tale, the Judge directed his speech to the prisoner at the bar, saying, Thou runagate, heretic, and traitor, hast thou heard what these honest gentlemen have witnessed against thee?

FAITH. May I speak a few words in my own defence?

JUDGE. Sirrah! sirrah! thou deservest to live no longer, but to be slain immediately upon the place; yet, that all men may see our gentleness towards thee, let us hear what thou, vile runagate, hast to say.

Faithful's defence of himself

FAITH. 1. I say, then, in answer to what Mr. Envy hath spoken, I never said aught but this, That what rule, or laws, or customs, or people, were flat against the Word of God, are diametrically opposite to Christianity. If I have said amiss in this, convince me of my error, and I am ready here before you to make my recantation.

2. As to the second, to wit, Mr. Superstition, and his charge against me, I said only this, That in the worship of God there is required a Divine faith; but there can be no Divine faith without a Divine revelation of the will of God. Therefore, whatever is thrust into the worship of God that is not agreeable to Divine revelation, cannot be done but by a human faith, which faith will not be profitable to eternal life.

3. As to what Mr. Pickthank hath said, I say (avoiding terms, as that I am said to rail, and the like) that the prince of this town, with all the rabblement, his attendants, by this gentleman named, are more fit for a being in hell, than in this town and country: and so, the Lord have mercy upon me!

Then the Judge called to the jury (who all this while stood by, to hear and observe): Gentlemen of the jury, you see this man about whom so great an uproar hath been made in this town. You have also heard what these worthy gentlemen have witnessed against him. Also you have heard his reply and confession. It lieth now in your breasts to hang him or save his life; but yet I think meet to instruct you into our law.

There was an Act made in the days of Pharaoh the Great, servant to our prince, that lest those of a contrary religion should multiply and grow too strong for him, their males should be thrown into the river. [Exo. 1:22] There was also an Act made in the days of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, another of his servants, that whosoever would not fall down and worship his golden image, should be thrown into a fiery furnace. [Dan. 3:6] There was also an Act made in the days of Darius, that whoso, for some time, called upon any god but him, should be cast into the lions' den. [Dan. 6] Now the substance of these laws this rebel has broken, not only in thought, (which is not to be borne), but also in word and deed; which must therefore needs be intolerable.

For that of Pharaoh, his law was made upon a supposition, to prevent mischief, no crime being yet apparent; but here is a crime apparent. For the second and third, you see he disputeth against our religion; and for the treason he hath confessed, he deserveth to die the death.

Then went the jury out, whose names were, Mr. Blind-man, Mr. No-good, Mr. Malice, Mr. Love-lust, Mr. Live-loose, Mr. Heady, Mr. High-mind, Mr. Enmity, Mr. Liar, Mr. Cruelty, Mr. Hate-light, and Mr. Implacable; who every one gave in his private verdict against him among themselves, and afterwards unanimously concluded to bring him in guilty before the Judge. And first, among themselves, Mr. Blind-man, the foreman, said, I see clearly that this man is a heretic. Then said Mr. No-good, Away with such a fellow from the earth. Ay, said Mr. Malice, for I hate the very looks of him. Then said Mr. Love-lust, I could never endure him.

Nor I, said Mr. Live-loose, for he would always be condemning my way. Hang him, hang him, said Mr. Heady. A sorry scrub, said Mr. High-mind. My heart riseth against him, said Mr. Enmity. He is a rogue, said Mr. Liar. Hanging is too good for him, said Mr. Cruelty. Let us despatch him out of the way, said Mr. Hate-light. Then said Mr. Implacable, Might I have all the world given me, I could not be reconciled to him; therefore, let us forthwith bring him in guilty of death. And so they did; therefore he was presently condemned to be had from the place where he was, to the place from whence he came, and there to be put to the most cruel death that could be invented.

They therefore brought him out, to do with him according to their law; and, first, they scourged him, then they buffeted him, then they lanced his flesh with knives; after that, they stoned him with stones, then pricked him with their swords; and, last of all, they burned him to ashes at the stake. Thus came Faithful to his end.

Now I saw that there stood behind the multitude a chariot and a couple of horses, waiting for Faithful, who (so soon as his adversaries had despatched him) was taken up into it, and straightway was carried up through the clouds, with sound of trumpet, the nearest way to the Celestial Gate.

Brave FAITHFUL, bravely done in word and deed; Judge, witnesses, and jury have, instead Of overcoming thee, but shown their rage: When they are dead, thou'lt live from age to age*.

*In the New Heaven and New Earth. {footnote from one edition}

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

How the Media is Destroying Democracy

Ron PaulTo put it mildly I am rather disgruntled over how the 2008 presidential election is shaping up, or rather falling apart to be more accurate. My annoyance is not the fact that the guy I think would be the best influence in the presidency (Ron Paul) probably won't win. It has to do with that, but the issues are more why this is the case, and how we know who will win at all. In large measure I blame the news media, I honestly think the way elections are covered by nearly all news networks and news outlets is destroying Democracy. I will why explain in this post.

1. The Horse Race Coverage, or "The Polls Show..."

How many times within the past 6 months when one listens to talk radio, reads news, or watches network news have the omniscient "Polls show Guilliani is leading by X points..." or "The latest polls are showing..." talk been used? I have one simple question in regard to this "polls" talk, HOW DOES THAT HELP DEMOCRACY IN ANY WAY?

I can't think of a single positive effect "polls show..." has on voters. Invoking the "polls" seems only to have negative effects by dictating to the public who is the winner before they vote, thus it is really encouraging turning a deaf ear to the "2nd Tier candidates" they don't have a chance so who cares.

This attitude not only is fostered in the public but in the media itself. On Sunday I saw that Tim Russert had a "Open invitation to all the presidential candidates of both parties to come on 'Meet the Press'" I saw that he had Guilliani and Romney coming in the future and wondered whether Ron Paul was coming up as well, or perhaps had already been on. Well unfortunately, The 'Meet The Press' invite isn't as open as one is led to believe. The invite is only for the serious candidates, apparently Paul doesn't qualify as such.

How is such a conclusion reached? Not a serious candidate? The guys out there campaigning every day and is at all the debates what do you mean he's not serious? Well here again comes the "given the polls..." Thus, given the polls the media is justified to intentionally neglect to talk about certain candidates, and thus the public doesn't even know about them.

2. Best Chance to Win

This ties into the previous point about the polls, but one of the major focuses I see in the media is upon which candidate has the "Best chance to win", never mind their policies, ethics, voting record or even competency, "Guilliani can beat Hillary" and that seems to be enough for us to rally around him, so says Sean Hannity. Hannity has been pleading with Christians to overlook the rather blatant moral backwardness of Guilliani and rally behind him or else the Republicans will lose the White House.

Well, I am sorry but as a Christian my political rationale shouldn't be vote for the guy who has the best shot to keep the Libs out of the White house, that is ridiculous. In thinking such way the media encourages us not to vote for a candidate but against the Democrats and their candidate. This hurts democracy.

3. The Focus On Inconsequentials

I can vividly recall a talk radio personality comparing Guilliani's wife to Fred Thompson's as who was hotter and how that effects voting. I have seen similar things on the networks as well. Not only the wives appearance but also the candidates themselves. "Romney just looks like a president" is a phrase I have heard several times.

In the case of this election we also have the gender and even race factors constantly coming up. "It is about time for a women president." Or "We still haven't had a black president perhaps Barack is the guy." While all these issues may seem novel they really are cancerous to a healthy democracy. If you are voting for someone because of how hot their wife is, what sex they are, because their last name is Clinton, or because they have brown skin I frankly don't think your vote should count. Perhaps as a 1/3 vote because you still are a citizen and no matter how empty your opinion may be it should be listened to election day.

My point, simply is that the media fosters these superficial evaluations of candidates. I have above mentioned the more positive superficial treatment of candidates, it goes both ways and most of the negatives are just as superficial. For example the Hillary laugh, while obviously fake and aimed at dismissing the question in itself should be rather moot compared to the actual answer she gives when she stops her boisterous outburst.

Again, when the media harps on the inconsequentials the public does as well. It creates superficial voters.

I can go on with other partiular issues but for the sake of brevity I will only highlight the above. The issue particularly nagging is the polls one. Constant horse race coverage on how Guilliani is up 2 points...Clinton is leading...Huckabee is surging...all of this makes politics a sort of sport and the candidates play the game.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Reformation Day!

This is a pretty good snapshot to remind us of the Reformation and the blessings we have as it's heirs which we often take for granted. At around 4 minutes Dr. Sproul starts trying to sell his study Bible, but if you can look past all of that this is a good video.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Puritan Resolve to Holiness

Thomas Watson"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force." (Matt 11:2)

This is a remarkable passage about what should be our approach toward a holy life, or striving to enter heaven. I remember hearing some John Piper sermons about a "violent streak in Christianity". By that he did not mean violence against others, but violence against the part of us that would do violence to others. In other words violence and war against indwelling sin. Thomas Watson (my favorite puritan author) writes this:

“This is the first thing in holy violence: resolution of their will; I will have heaven whatever it costs me and this resolution must be in the strength of Christ.” (Thomas Watson, "Heaven Taken By Storm")

Let us strive then to enter the narrow gate.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Clearly the Best Candidate For 2008

Ron Paul continues to impress me and certainly has my vote for the 2008 election. The only way things will change is if we start getting behind the best person for the job, not the guy who has the "best chance" for winning. There is no way I can consciously vote for any of the "front runners" of any party as a Christian. I do like all the underdog Rep's, but Paul stands out as the man with a plan.

Video clips of the Ron Paul highlights at yesterday's Republican debate are here.

(The Picture is Ron Paul trying to revive the constitution which has flat lined)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Polemics of Science

Their think tank is launching a counter attack!!!An article has recent;y come out in the NY Times dispelling a myth that has been propagated in the name of science. Which one you may ask? Well don't get too hopeful this is the NY Times after all, it has it's sacred cows. In this article what is being debunked is the common myth that fatty diets cause heart disease and cause shorter lifespans. This is being dispelled by scientists now. (the article can be read here)

The point I want to draw from this is the fact that around 92% of scientists in this field held to the anti-fat philosophy. My main thrust isn't dietary, I really could care less. Rather, what I am getting at is the fact that many people embraced this sort of a view on fat consumption because most scientists said this theory was true.

1)This is a Fallacy Often used

This ties right in to many of the scientific theories floating around today and the alleged near unanimous support for them. It is a logical fallacy to say that "Most X's believe that theory Y is true, therefore we should too." Yet this is the exact line of reasoning that I almost always here from Atheists in defending evolution. Some 90% of scientists believe that evolution is a matter of fact, the other 10% are just religious nuts who shouldn't be scientists anyway because science is inherently Atheistic mind you. If over 90% of scientists say this is true we should as well.

This will tie into the final point of holding theories of science tentatively and not screaming about how "Evolution is Fact Fact FACT!" to quote Michael Ruse. This sort of mantra is used whenever talk of other views is brought up, evolution is taken to be so matter of fact that other views aren't allowed due to the impossibility of any other view. This links to the next point, which is that no matter what theory you are dealing with there are rival theories.

2)All Theories Have Rivals

In the polemics of science and education the ID folks are often just asking school boards to allow their teachers to "Teach the debate". The popular reply to this from the Darwinists has been to firmly state "There is no debate!" Well, that simply isn't true, there always is an in-house debate in science about theories. There is something inherently wrong when in science (where theories are to be held tentatively) you have proponents of a theory deny that there are any counter theories being proposed. There is always rival theories because no theory is perfect, it will have anomolies (or unaccounted for data).

To say that there is no debate is to engage is a slight of hand like Luke Sky Walker saying "These are not the Droids you are looking for..."

This does not mean that every rival theory needs to be taught to school children, but a teacher should be free to do so. That's what science is supposed to be about, the free exchange of ideas/theories to explain phenomena. The reason this isn't allowed anymore is because there are a good number of people who want to make science into a religion that negates God.

3) All Theories Are Tentative

There is never rationally a point in science where Michael Ruse can make the statement he does, especially given his presuppositions. This is because science is based on inductive reasoning. Take for example dropping a pen on the floor, how many times do you have to drop the pen to arrive at certainty that it will fall to the ground rather than float to the ceiling? 10x? 50x? 100x? 1000x? 10,000x? No matter how great the number, you can never have absolute certainty that the pen will fall to the floor rather than float to the ceiling.

Nor can you even really speak in probabilities, you can't put a percented number on your certainty that your pen will fall, that is wholly arbitrary, "I am about 75% sure it will fall rather than I suppose I am 75.00002% certain when I drop it again it will fall."

So how do we get out of this problem? Well the Atheist can't, all he has to go by is autonomous reason, he has no answer to the problem of induction. So for the atheist to do science he has to make an irrational leap (kinda ironic huh? the guys touting themselves as THE rational free thinkers...) For the Christian science is based on God's existence. Based on this presupposition we can expect His creation to behave with a regularity of laws and thus we can proceed to use the inductive method rationally.

4) The False Authority

This is more a problem for the public observer who naturally sees the lab coat fellow as automatically  G.W, An Expert?!authoritative. This is why in numerous commercials people will be wearing lab coats as they pitch the product to the consumer. The white coat says: "Objective Expert" to the observer. Well objectivity is a farce, but my point is that this is how bad research gets accepted, the "Expert" speaks and the observer accepts.

Again this is kind of ironic to me because many Atheists criticize Christians as if they just sort of accept everything their pastor says to them as fact, but it seems there is a parallel to this as well. Granted, there are a good deal of people who are passive pew sitters and don't do their homework or critically think about what is being taught. However, I think it is equally true that there are many pew sitters in the naturalist arena who just uncritically accept what their pastor in a lab coat is saying. Perhaps they are doing poor exegesis (or even isogesis) of the text of nature?

(ps. That is Bush in a lab coat...)


My point in all of this is not to debunk evolution, although I do think it is a smoke and mirrors theory. My point is that all the dogmatic scientific pronouncements made, all the things that are labelled "fact" or "Certain" are made/labelled irrationally. Given the nature of science such statements can not be made.

I would of course go a step further as I began to do so in heading 4 and say that without presupposing the Christian worldview you can't prove anything.

Suffice it to say that no matter what the theory in science we should hold to it tentatively no matter how many guys in white coats accept it at any given time, that is the point of this post.

Friday, October 05, 2007

My Faith Is A Private Matter....

We often hear many cliches and catch phrases when a person is asked rather direct questions about religion in general and religion and politics in particular. Some of the more popular phrases we hear invoked by politicians of all political stripe is "Yes I am a Christian but I don't wear my faith on my sleeve." Or something to the effect that somehow their belief that God is there has no bearing on the decisions these individuals will make while serving in office. Their faith is relegated to a private sector.

Now, my intent in this post is aimed not so much at the integrity of the politicians or individuals who make such utterances but the division that they harbour itself. This division is a private/public, sacred/secular, irrational/rational, values/factual...sort of division. Francis Schaeffer did a wonderful job in displaying this sort of compartmentalized view to life with these sorts of charts:

What we have is a two story view of the world. In the Upper Story we have things like hobbies, religion, ethics, meaning, etc. In the lower we have the objective facts of life like science, one's job, the secular etc.

What this mainly leads to is threefold: 1)An inconsistent thought, 2)A faith without works 3) Irrational leaps (people hiding out, in the private zone to protect their ridiculous beliefs from criticism or unwannted consequences)

1)An inconsistency in thought

This sort of inconsistency comes from contrary beliefs held in both the upper and lower story. One can at least verbally confess belief in Christianity and with the same mouth utter things that are in complete contradiction with the tenants of Christianity. Now I am assuming the person is truly a believer and isn't just using God words to appeal to people. This is because this two-story division is more assumed than consciously thought through.

Nancy Pearcey in her book "Total Truth" gives us a rather alarming example of a woman, or rather a group of women, who were Bible believing Christians, not liberal Christians mind you, who worked at planned parenthood and were part of the process of young women terminating pregnancies. These women really didn't see their Christianity (private upperstory) as in conflict with their job (secular public lower-story). This is because there is an unconscious or assumed division between the two in many people's mind.

No doubt the message these women heard was Jesus died for your sins, He rose again, and through trust in that work we are saved. This is all true, but that is not all there is to the gospel. The gospel truly is both vertical and horizontal. In reacting to the Liberal social gospel many churches abandoned any horizontal emphasis altogether and the Christian message became purely vertical (concerned only with the world to come and our right standing before God). This leads into point number two.
2) Faith Without Works

Going back to what was just said about the Fundamentalists rejection of a social Christianity in the face of a Liberal social gospel, if you are going to err this is the side to err on. At the same time though this is not good enough, we need the entirety of the Christian message. The Christian message or worldview must come to bear on all of our lives because that is precisely what Christ requires of individuals, their entire lives under His Lordship. What this means is that the Christian worldview has something to say about everything and serves as the individual's reference point in everything. If one's Christianity does not effect everything they do it simply isn't a worldview, it may be a private hobby (Like building model ships) but it is not a worldview.

Oddly enough that is precisely how many secularists would have us to view Christianity, it is merely a private hobby just like a man who likes to collect Pokemon cards. We would think him rather odd if he went around telling everybody else (in the public lower story) to collect Pokemon cards. Likewise the secularist finds it equally odd when Christianity enters the public arena giving pronouncements.

What has happened when Christians embrace the upper and lower story division is we end up with a faith in the upstairs and a secular view in the lower. So while the person may indeed go to church and assent to orthodox teaching when it comes acting in the public sphere (lower story) he/she will think just like the secularist. By that I mean in terms of what is pragmatic or some other secular method of deducing the best course of action rather than inquiring for a word from the Lord (Bible) on the matter.

3) Irrational Leaps as Shields

On this last description of the upper/lower story division we have irrational leaps. This is invoked by people of all stripes, things contained within the upper story do not need to be rational. In the Christian arena what is often substituted for a lack of rational is the word "faith". In a more secular sense it is usually phrases akin to "This is my view/belief" emphasising the privativity of the proclamation. In either case a leap into the upper story is made and the point in part is a sort of shield from any criticism.

In other words when such phrases are invoked they are generally used as a sort of shield from any possible critique of the individual's views. So what is being said is this "This is what I think about X but it is in the upper story so you have no right to tell me what I think about X may be wrong." So in short upper story=immunity to many.

Honestly I have read/heard statements from non-Christian individuals who are masters of couching their statements in the upper-story to shield them from criticism. This is quite apparent when politicians speak on matters of ethics and religion. It is also apparent when talking to individuals who hold to patently absurd worldviews (New Agers for example).

Being more particular, take the naturalist. On a lower story assessment of reality man is a machine, we are animals that have been conditioned to survive in a hostile world. Our existence is really aimed at one purpose survival. This is the lower story factual world for the naturalist, a rather bleak meaning to our existence.

However, that is not how the naturalist lives. The naturalist will make a leap (irrational) into the upper-story to find meaning greater than survival and make statements that the lower story (empirical science) can not verify. Sam Harris for example in his critique of Christianity writes:

"It is terrible that we all die and lose everything we love; it is doubly terrible that so many human beings suffer needlessly while alive." (p.57 LTCN)

Given Harris' worldview where does this come from? Why is this such a terrible thing? Harris does not give any rational explanation based on his worldview as to why he thinks this way about human life, he just makes this utterance and expects the reader to agree that these things are rather evident. Given his Atheistic Darwinism suffering is just part of what is, you can't rationally say it is terrible. In doing so Harris is leaping into the upper-story.

This is why Schaeffer talked about "taking the roof off" the unbeliever's worldview. Harris is hiding under this umbrella that is really borrowed or leftovers from Christianity (that human suffering is bad). Part of our job is to show folks that given their worldview they have no rational basis for believing such things, we need to take the roof off and let the implication of their God rejecting worldview rain in, this is a form of law.

4) Conclusion

The upper/lower story grid is very insightful as far as analyzing the ideas that are constantly swirling about in our culture. It really helps to give an understanding of the "culture wars" (ex: "science" vs. "faith") and how Christians are gagged by secularists and forbidden a hearing. It also helps to shed light on a lot of the self inflicted silence or disconnect many Christians have in bringing the Christian worldview into all of life.

Monday, October 01, 2007

This Should be Interesting...

This Here...
I recently found out that Ben Stein has a movie coming out in February on the Darwinian captivity of the sciences (as I call it). In other words it is about how you can't question Darwinism without loosing repute and well in many cases your job. It seems to me that it is fairly clear that there is a conscious suppression of anything that would challenge the frankly Atheistic presuppositions in the sciences, and that simply is NOT science. Science is supposed to be about free thought not suppressing ideas and theories because they don't fit one's God rejecting philosophy. It's high time that some of the sacred cows that have been erected by godless secularists and Atheists receive a thorough challenge.

To be fair, I don't have great hopes for this documentary. My main concern is that it isn't a Michael Moore style ambush journalism where they will in freeze frame zoom in on a rather dumb looking face Richard Dawkins has made upon cringing at a difficult question while having some smearing monologue going as the stupid look on Dawkins' face gets bigger. That's the way most documentaries go nowadays, I can't remember the last really well researched one I have seen...The Trouble with Atheism was ok, (Never mind the poor star ratings on Youtube, it is a decent documentary).

At anyrate even though I reject evolution theory (at least macro) and I agree that the sciences are called upon to just matter of fact (a word science has no right to use but Darwinists use it all the time in regards to their theory) assume Darwinism, my concern is simply giving a good representation and not just having a smear campaign. Honestly, that is hard to do in an hour and a half, that is why the slapdash Michael Moore approach is so popular. So I hope it is a good film and opens people's eyes to the role of science.

(***All I know is that Ben is going to get hammered by the evolutionists [not necessarily intellectually but through personal attacks which are already gushing forth] so he better make this movie worth it and count the cost.***)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

You Have Got to Be Kidding Me

That's what I said when I read one of the recent stories on Ted Haggard. I don't need to go into all of the details of his infidelity and the sin that caused him to be removed from being pastor and president of the NAE. My problem is this:

Colorado Springs, Colo. — The Rev. Ted Haggard, who left the megachurch he founded after admitting to "sexual immorality," has asked supporters for financial assistance while he and his wife pursue their studies.
The former New Life Church pastor plans to seek a master's degree in counseling at the University of Phoenix while his wife studies psychology, he said in an e-mail sent this week to KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs.
The couple and two of their sons planned to move Oct. 1 to the Phoenix Dream Center, a faith-based halfway house in Phoenix, where Haggard and his wife would provide counseling, the e-mail said.

"It looks as though it will take two years for us to have adequate earning power again, so we are looking for people who will help us monthly for two years," the e-mail said. "During that time we will continue as full-time students, and then, when I graduate, we won't need outside support any longer." Haggard left the 10,000-member New Life Church late last year and resigned as head of the National Association of Evangelicals after a former male escort accused Haggard of paying him for sex.

Mike Ware, an overseer for New Life Church, told The Gazette of Colorado Springs on Friday that it was premature of Haggard to release the statement without first consulting the overseers.

A New Life spokesman did not immediately return a phone message left late Friday by The Associated Press.
Haggard received a salary of $115,000 for the 10 months he worked in 2006 and an $85,000 anniversary bonus before the scandal broke, The Gazette reported. Haggard's severance package included a year's salary of $138,000, and he collects royalties on his book titles, the newspaper reported.

El Paso County records show Haggard's home, which has been up for sale, has a market value of $715,051.
(From The Denver Post)

I am honestly immensely grieved by this whole situation. I think this is a prime example of what it means to not take responsibility for your actions. It is due to his own sin that he has been removed from ministry and his obscene 6 figure salary will cease at the end of the year. It just seems like Mr.Haggard got used to living high on the hog and doesn't want the gravy train with biscuit wheels to stop rolling.

This situation bothers me particularly as a full time student with a family to support through work. My advice to Mr. Haggard is to be like most poor students, get a job sir. That would be the Christian thing to do, rather than using your remaining celebrity status to get handouts. I wonder just what he means by "adequate earning power"... he's getting checks through 2007, he can sell his $700k house at a knock down price and move into a modest living arrangement, what is "adequate income"?

Well, I don't want to rant about how bad this fellow is but frankly this whole mentality disgusts me. It disgusts me as a Christian. What I see in this news story is wrong for so many reasons. I hope this fellow truly is repentant for his sin, but as far as I can tell this doesn't look like repentance. It just looks like he is switching from a religious pastoral position (because of his removal) to a secular pastoral position and he wants people to sport him to make the transition nice and smooth.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Meditation on Faith by C.H. Spurgeon

"His fruit was sweet to my taste."
- Song of Solomon 2:3

Faith, in the Scripture, is spoken of under the emblem of all the senses. It is sight: "Look unto me and be ye saved." It is hearing: "Hear, and your soul shall live." Faith is smelling: "All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia"; "thy name is as ointment poured forth." Faith is spiritual touch.

By this faith the woman came behind and touched the hem of Christ’s garment, and by this we handle the things of the good word of life. Faith is equally the spirit’s taste. "How sweet are thy words to my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my lips." "Except a man eat my flesh," saith Christ, "and drink my blood, there is no life in him."

This "taste" is faith in one of its highest operations. One of the first performances of faith is hearing. We hear the voice of God, not with the outward ear alone, but with the inward ear; we hear it as God’s Word, and we believe it to be so; that is the "hearing" of faith. Then our mind looketh upon the truth as it is presented to us; that is to say, we understand it, we perceive its meaning; that is the "seeing" of faith.

Next we discover its preciousness; we begin to admire it, and find how fragrant it is; that is faith in its "smell." Then we appropriate the mercies which are prepared for us in Christ; that is faith in its "touch." Hence follow the enjoyments, peace, delight, communion; which are faith in its "taste." Any one of these acts of faith is saving.

To hear Christ’s voice as the sure voice of God in the soul will save us; but that which gives true enjoyment is the aspect of faith wherein Christ, by holy taste, is received into us, and made, by inward and spiritual apprehension of his sweetness and preciousness, to be the food of our souls. It is then we sit "under his shadow with great delight," and find his fruit sweet to our taste.

(This is from "Morning in Evening" A wonderful devotional by Spurgeon, Aug 25 morning)

Monday, August 20, 2007

On Theological Cuss-Words And the Spirit of The Age

In much of today's theological conversations and books and writings there are what I am coming to label the "dirty words" of theology. These are the words and phrases used as a psuedo argument, or pseudo fallacy that is being pointed out. Upon whomever these post-modern anathema's fall, that fellow is wrong. The image I have is that of an army laying siege to a city without bringing weapons or food but spewing fourth threats of annihilation to those within the city's walls. Without the weapons nor the food to sustain a long lasting siege the threats no matter how stoutly yelled or graphically stated are simply empty and meaningless.

With that in mind let me define what I mean by a "theological cuss-word", by that I mean a word that is used negatively labeling another person's theological position in place of an actual argument. Ex: "Oh, well that sounds kinda like a Fundamentalist belief to me...". So in short it is a dirty word used in the place of an actual argument.

I think this analogy of the hollow siege threats is applicable to much of the theological interactions between Bible believing Christians and unbelievers, especially those who believe in "god" but not "that God". In one of the more recent posts where I dealt with some of the blatant contradictions from a lets say left leaning theologian named Harry Rix, you can see Mr.Rix cursing up a storm throwing words around like "Fundamentalist" (F-word), "Literalist", and even "dogmatic" ALL as if they were negative words anathematizing those he labeled with those titles. In the article I was responding to one can see that these words were used in a dirty sense and in the place of a thought out argument.

This filthy language is used so much by those who are theologically left-leaning against Bible believing that it really is akin to listening to a lumber jack after he has hacked off a limb (In the words of Kent Brockman). One of the leading Liberal theologians John Shelby Spong, whose book I half reviewed at the "Babyl-Blog" (I stopped because it was honestly getting more ridiculous as I read and thus more of a waste of time; by the end I just pitied Spong immensely), Spong is a master at theological cuss words. I really think that is about all he has going for him, he almost never makes an actual argument, he just swears a lot calling people who actually believe the Bible and haven't bowed to the god of modernity and "progress" stupid and ignorant.

In a more day to day sense this language is invoked all the time and gives a glaring reflection of the current spirit of the age. In our day those who say "X is the truth" are the blasphemers, they are the ones our culture wants to burn at the stake. I one just said "I personally think X is true...for Me" well that is fine and dandy, however as soon as one speaks in absolutes and universals the swear words come belching out like a sailor whose ship has just run aground on his watch.

One experience that comes to mind is when I was evangelizing at this pagan festival near Sacramento. There were numerous stages set up with crummy bands playing and cursing about Bush and saving the trees. On one stage was this white reggae band, in their songs they threw the word "Jah" around talked about feeling good and George Bush. In the middle of the set the guy felt the need to put a disclaimer on the use of "Jah" in their songs, he said "Just so you know when we say 'Jah' we just mean deity, so you know it's like whatever, god or goddess...there is no dogma up here."

My thoughts of course were: "Huh, that's an odd dogmatic statement. He's saying it is wrong to define God...that statement itself is dogmatic." What was really going on is that this reggae rocker was using "dogma" as a swear word, those who define God are the "dogmatic" as if being such is automatically bad/blasphemous. That is the spirit of the age, those who hold that there is truth in an absolute sense are the blasphemers of our age. The rocker was simply saying "I'm not blaspheming against the spirit of the age...I don't believe what I am saying is true in any real sense of the word true."

Now the theological swear words are not merely confined to the interactions between believers and non-

believers, but also can take place in a believer to believer discussion on theology. In this case they are swear words primarily in that they are words invoked in the place of an argument. The most popular word I have seen in this sense is "Prooftexting". When someone appeals to scripture to support some position the lazy rebuttal is "Ah, but that is prooftexting!"

Granted, there is a proper use of the term prooftexting (just like all of the theological swear words) but I have almost always seen it used in the place of an argument and invoked to dismiss the otherwise seeming Biblical support for a position that the potty mouth disagrees with.

Another one often used in believer to believer debate is "reductionism". I have seen this used a good bit by more emergent leaning fellows. What is often said is "Saying X about God is reductionism!", this is often said whenever an attribute of God is defined. You don't wanna put God in a box do you? In reality all theology is reductionistic, because God is infinite. However, simply because He is infinite doesn't mean He can not reveal Himself truly in propositions (Bible). In our theology we are saying who God is in the least, He is much more then the definitions we have BUT HE IS NOT LESS THAN.

(Again, the funny thing is the guy yelling about putting "God in a box" has his own definitions and box, one that excludes the definition he is disagreeing with you over. Simply saying "God is undefinable therefore all definitions of God are empty" isn't satisfactory. Why? Well isn't undefinable in itself a definition? Mr. Spong makes this rather blatant error repeatedly in his writings.)

To wrap up I want to give a list of the numerous swear words used, 1) their proper meaning and 2) their dirty context.

Literalist- 1) Person who believes the entire Bible to be the word of God and therefore true in all it contains.
2) Lunatic who believes the passages that teach homosexuality is sin, and believes there is a hell.

Dogma- 1) Any belief held to be true
2) Cultural blasphemy, an arrogantly held narrow minded view of God.

Fundementalist- 1) Person who believes their religion to be true.
2) Cultural blasphemer. Narrow minded arrogant bigot who won't listen to reason.

Biblicist- 1) One who believes the Bible alone is the word of God.
2) Cultural blasphemer. Narrow minded nut case lunatic who is so raving mad out of their brain and foaming at the mouth that they think there is one truth.

Prooftexting- 1) Error in doctrinal support where a passage is used that seems to support a doctrine while the whole counsel of scripture on the subject is neglected.
2) I don't like how that Bible passage looks like it supports what you are saying, so rather than actually show how it doesn't support what you say it does I declare thou guilty of this practice.

Reductionistic- 1) Any view/definition that is overly simplistic.
2) I don't like your clear definition as much as my vague and fuzzy one.

Intolerant- 1) A person can not stomach differing views/religions but aims at physically removing dissenters to his own held beliefs.
2) A cultural blasphemer. A person who actually thinks that other people are wrong and believes their lifestyle to be wrong.

I would really like to add to this list, these are just the terms that came to mind off the cuff. So I would love any other suggestions in the comments section!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Martin Luther's Views on Mary and Dave Armstrong

A Frank Turk GraphicThis post is written in response to a Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong article (HERE) where he portrays Martin Luther as Catholic in his views of Mary. A Catholic gave it to one of my friends, and he passed it on to me. You need to read the Armstrong article or else what follows will be like hearing one side of a phone conversation. Here are my thoughts on what Armstrong asserts about Luther's Maryology.

Firstly, some of the quotes are from Luther's early life, one should expect him especially earlier on in his exodus from Catholicism to still hold to beliefs he would later reject or rethink.

Secondly, Armstrong wrangles the context on some of the quotes using the ellipses trick, you know the ...'s that appear mid sentence. If you throw enough of those ...'s in when quoting people you can make them appear to be saying almost anything you want. Lets look at a few of the quotes Armstrong gives of Luther.

a) Sources. He points to some texts full of ellipses from "Sermons on John chapters 1-4" well which sermon? You see I have a nagging feeling that he doesn't want you to look up the source, I have see the first quotation on countless Catholic all referenced "Sermons on John ch 1-4". That just says to me that most of these guys are just quoting these things second third and fourth and fifth...hand without actually having read the context themselves.

Just trying to look up these references in their original context without the ellipses is a herculean effort. These citations should be footnoted with links to the original, or the original should be easy to find. Luther has numerous sermons on those 4 chapters from the gospel of John which one is being referenced? Simply saying from "Sermons on John ch 1-4" isn't a footnote, and if you are going to use ellipses you had better have the original source easily available so that critical readers can double check to make sure the ...'s are not being used to twist the actual meaning of the sentence.

This is in contrast to THIS ARTICLE in response to Mr.Armstrong where the responder is excruciatingly meticulous with footnoting. The response raises almost all of the problems I saw with Armstrong's writing, as well as many more, and is very thorough. (Excellent job Mr. Swan!)
b) Mother of God. Well, yes it appears that Luther did call Mary the mother of God. However, I think he had a vastly different emphasis in the use of the phrase (particularly later in his life) than Roman Catholicism. The title mother of God is not meant to elevate Mary but Christ, it is a declaration of the divinity of Jesus Christ not the exalted state of Mary. Whenever I hear the phrase used by Catholics it is in the context of extolling the greatness of Mary, in its inception that was the context of the usage of "mother of God" it was a statement that Christ was God.
I think if you say it in that sense (focusing on the divinity of Christ not the person of Mary) it is not blasphemous and I will give Luther the benefit of the doubt and assume that was his rationale.

So I think one could call Mary the mother of God and not be blaspheming because they are exalting Christ as divine and Mary indeed was the vessel God used to bring Him into this world. However, I personally am not going to use the phrase simply because there are so many people who use it blasphemously in their idolatrous worship of Mary.

c) Quotes of Significance. This quote is probably the most significant of them all from Armstrong as it shows Luther held to the Catholic view of the sinlessness of Mary:

"She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin—something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil." (Personal {"Little"} Prayer Book, 1522).

I think this quote is representative of Luther's early views of Mary, again the 95 Theses was written in 1517, so we should not be surprised to find that there are still numerous Catholic errors lingering in Luther's doctrine. I mean when Luther wrote the 95 theses he had no intention of starting a new church or challenging the pope's right as head of the church, he just thought that these errors needed to be dealt with in the Church his original intent wasn't at all aimed at starting a new church but reformation in the Catholic church.

So perhaps in between realizing we are saved by faith alone in the work of Christ alone and running for his life and hiding from the Catholic hit squad he didn't get his Maryology right early on in his Christian life. I don't think we need to fault him on this. The point is this, that Luther was growing in his understanding and later in his life revisited this subject and saw it quite differently, he writes in 1544 (2 years prior to his death):

“…Christ was truly born from true and natural flesh and human blood which was corrupted by original sin in Adam, but in such a way that it could be healed. Thus we, who are encompassed by sinful flesh, believe and hope that on the day of our redemption the flesh will be purged of and separated from all infirmities, from death, and from disgrace; for sin and death are separable evils.

Accordingly, when it came to the Virgin and that drop of virginal blood, what the angel said was fulfilled: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and overshadow you”. To be sure, the Messiah was not born by the power of flesh and blood, as is stated in John 1:13: “Not of blood nor of the will of a man, etc.” 

Nevertheless, He wanted to be born from the mass of the flesh and from that corrupted blood. But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin. Although death remained in that flesh on our account, the leaven of sin was nevertheless purged out, and it became the purest flesh, purified by the Holy Spirit and united with the divine nature in one Person.

Therefore it is truly human nature no different from what it is in us. And Christ is the Son of Adam and of his seed and flesh, but, as has been stated, with the Holy Spirit overshadowing it, active in it, and purging it, in order that it might be fit for this most innocent conception and the pure and holy birth by which we were to be purged and freed from sin. Therefore these things are written for Christ’s sake. The Holy Spirit wanted Him to sink into sin as deeply as possible. Consequently, He had to be besmirched with incest and born from incestuous blood.” (Commentary on Genesis) can be found here.

I think Luther goes into speculation on the mechanics of how Christ was born sinless, but the point is clear, in Luther's mind the Spirit had to interced in His incarnation to keep Him from contamination.The Spirit would only need to intervene and preserve Christ from being born sinful if and only if the vessel He was to be housed in was herself sinful. Luther saw Mary as tainted by original sin, or rather Luther viewed Mary this way towards the end of his life, perhaps in his earlier utterances he still held much Catholic dogma about Mary.
Again can we fault him? He was a Catholic monk and professor, he was merely repeating what he had been taught for years.

Lastly, in the final analysis even if Luther was jumbled in his Maryology all I as a protestant need to say is "So what?". Luther is not my authority like a pope or a council, he is the man God used to bring about reformation and he has a good deal of wisdom. However, he is not perfect and has a good deal of things where he and I don't see eye to eye. In a number of ways he didn't carry the Reformation far enough I think but that is beside the point. Really when you get down to it Armstrong's entire article is beside the point in that as a protestant Luther and the teachings/traditions of great men of the faith are not my authority my authority is the word of God alone. I love the Johns of the faith John Calvin, John Owen, and Jonathan Edwards, BUT they are not my authority, what they say needs to be seen in light of the scriptures alone.

This really is the heart of the matter with Catholicism, it is not their soteriology or their views on purgatory, penance, mass, Mary, the saints, angels, prayer to other mediators, etc. The issue is one and one only, is the inspired word of God, the traditions given by the apostles and prophets, our authority in our doctrine (2 Thess 3:6) or is our authority and foundation in the traditions of fallible men (Mar 7:9)?
(Sorry for the large font and the poor spacing...blogger can really be fussy at times)

Friday, August 10, 2007

What Does God Mean When He Calls People "Fools"?

"Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense, and he says to everyone that he is a fool." (Eccl 10:3)

"In everything the prudent acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly." (Prov 13:16)

Now in the citation from Ecclesiastes we see that Solomon says that the fool "says to everyone" that he is a fool. The meaning is not that a fool walks around verbally saying to everyone he bumps into "I am an idiot! Look at me!" BUT he does say that in some way. I would say in his actions and his worldview contradictions. He (the fool) is so oblivious to the utter lunacy of his actions or beliefs that he actually flaunts these things as if they were to be shown off and commended by others.

I have been saying to myself that I need to take my camera with me wherever I go to capture such illustrations, many of the images I want to capture are the bumper stickers I see in parking lots. One cliche next to another, often making for rather ludicrous bed fellows. Take for example these two slogans I saw on a vehicle today:

I can't see how anybody can have both of these stickers on one car and not be touched in the head, or rather one of whom God has labelled a "fool" flaunting their folly. I am not going to in this post give a point by point defense of the dignity of unborn infants to the insipid "My right my body" camp. What I am more focusing on here is the lunacy that befalls individuals when they have rejected God and chosen to write their own morality.

You see the "fool" is man who has rejected the wisdom of others (in the first place God the fountain head of all wisdom is rejected) and chooses autonomy and calls this a sort of freedom. After all having this God and His word over one's life seems stifling and after all nobody has the right to tell me how to live MY life, I have the right to decide what I want in my life. The Spirit of God says this about such a person:

"For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools," (Rom 1:21-22)

Here we see the actually source of folly, unbelief in God. Once men banish God from being Lord in their thinking their thinking actually becomes foolish. An analogy would be like a maple leaf choosing to be disconnected from the tree that made it and sustains it and by itself attempting to produce sap and fill jars of maple syrup for people to enjoy. This is a picture of how man thinks when divorced from God, it is utter futility.

The simple issues for our misguided "progressive" motorist whose vehicle I saw at the library this afternoon, are 1.Where do rights come from? and 2.Why is animal life valuable and to be preserved? And finally the obvious: 3.If animal life is to be valued and preserved where do you get off saying a woman has the "right" to kill her baby? Isn't that a tad inconsistent?

When pressed on all of these questions the person who has rejected God really has no answers. Today the popular answer I have heard from Atheists in regards to this is "I don't feel I need any answers, it is all subjective." Well, if that is the case then there is no real discussion to be had because we are ultimately trapped in our own bubbles of subjectivity and conversation is meaningless.

In contrast when we come to Christ, we not only are saved from the wrath we deserve but also the folly our enmity with God has created, so we have our intellect redeemed as well, and this is what the Scriptures in fact teach:

"They [unbelievers] are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart...[and now exhorting believers] be renewed in the spirit of your minds, " (Eph 4:18,23)

We need to come to Christ, or come under Christ, to have our minds renewed and restored. He needs to be our intellectual foundation for our utterances in the areas of ethics to have any meaning. Now do people who are Christians make blunders like putting a sticker that says "Jesus Saves!" on one side of the bumper and "Assassinate Chavez!" on the other? Yes they do. The difference is they have a foundation for their moral pronouncements and should know better. Also, they probably should spend more time in their Bibles having their minds renewed before they start flapping their lips.

To wrap up, in reality aborting babies and calling it "moral" is a meltdown of ethical sense...I mean it is just so obvious and the "My body!" line is a tragic example of "suppressing the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom 1), we all know that killing that baby is NOT the same thing as cutting one's fingernails or going to the salon.

To put stickers on one's car in support of this barbarity while at the same time have stickers that say "Save the Whales" is a flaunting of foolishness (Prov 13:16) and is an example of announcing to the whole world "I am a fool" which Solomon speaks of (Eccl 10:3).

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Atheism and Christianity Debate

I am a big fan of Gene Cook's show "The Narrow Mind", this debate is worth a listen to and gives those who are unfamiliar a taste of a presuppositional apologetic approach to defending the Christian worldview.

The Debate can be found here.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Fallen Man's Ideas Over Against God's Word: A Response to a Common Method of Critiquing Christianity

In other words: The parts of the Bible I don't like I just throw out.What I am going to address in this post is a typical example of the responses to Biblical Christianity in our culture by many who bear the title "Minister", "Reverend", "Pastor" or even "Priest" for that matter. This message really could come from any city's daily newspaper, it is an example of the ubiquitous feel good god that our culture likes over against the God who orders and reigns over the universe to whom we must give an account which our culture (or rather natural man) hates.

I will put the authors words in BLUE. This article comes from "The Westerly Sun" Newspaper and is by a man named Harry Rix, it is entitled "Bush's Dangerous Literalism-and How it Hurts the True Christian Spirit". He begins with the text of Matt 7:21 where Christ says: "Not everyone who says to Me 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven...[ellipses his]".

The author's goal from the outset is to diffuse this bomb of a statement by Christ, to defend a sort of universalism (everybody is just fine with hell). I see him like the bomb squad arriving on the scene after a call to the station, using his tools of unbelieving presuppositions, exegetical gymnastics, hand waving, and holding verses hostage out of context at gunpoint.

His response focuses on George Bush's belief that this passage shows that not everybody will be saved, and Billy Graham's advice to the Bush family not to worry too much and just leave it up to God. (A rather sad situation hey? G.W. more evangelical than Billy Graham?!)

The author writes:

"This conversation is revealing [The contrast of Bush and Graham's reaction to Matt 7:21]. Bush insists on a literal interpretation of the Bible: he points to particular words of scripture and ignores their context. Using the dubious method of prooftexting, he draws the conclusion that only Christians gain God's favor. After all, it's 'what the New Testament says.'"

It has become popular to dismissively refer to "literalism, literalists etc" as if it is something that is matter of factly agreed upon that this is just NOT what you do when you come to the Bible. A couple of things to say on that note:

1.) If By "literalist" someone is really implying actually true, well then I am definitely a "literalist". However, if it is confined to exegesis then no, not on every passage is a literal interpretation sensible. When the Bible says things like "Our God is a rock" (Ps 18:31) there is an obvious meaning apart from the notion that God is an inanimate object. Comparing God to a rock is saying that He is trustworthy and sure. The passages that one doesn't take literally but figuratively are pretty obvious, just as obvious as the message they are conveying.

So unlike our misguided friend (pictured above) it simply is not at all sensible to interpret every passage alike, some passages are metaphors others are to be taken literally. I remember someone on College campus yelling at these Christians with signs saying homosexuality was a sinful practice, the person shouted "You can't take the Bible literally! The passages about homosexuality are metaphors!"

My response was "Metaphor of what?". She of course hadn't ever thought of that, this was just supposed to be a one-liner to shut up the fundies and diffuse a scripture bomb. In reality saying "metaphor" in this case was just hand waving.

2) For this author to say that Matt 7:21 is not to be taken literally is to imply that there is some meaning shrouded in the literalism that is lost if the passage is taken literally. So what meaning is that Mr. Rix? When Jesus says "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord,'Lord', will enter the kingdom of heaven..." what DOES Jesus mean apart from the rather obvious message that not everyone will enter heavenly rest?

The author never ventures to answer this question. He can't.

As for the "prooftexting" the author refers to, I agree that can be dangerous. That is why if we are going to say Matt 7:21 teaches that there is a hell, and that people will be there we should have numerous passages to show that this is what Christ taught. WE DO. In the end it will be Mr.Rix who will be guilty of proof texting to try to justify his belief in a wrothless God when relying on the Bible. Your going to have to do some serious cherry picking to arrive at that conclusion Biblically.

The author continues:

"Such literalism is dangerous. Instead of studying Scriptures, this method confirms one's own prejudices. In this case, Bush determines that all but Christians are excluded from God's Kingdom. This demonstrates a fundamentalist mindset with extraordinary implications for public policy- and explains the genesis of many of Bush's disastrous policies."

I don't know how many fallacies are rolled up in this statement, trying to sort this out is like shoving your hand in a box with a porcupine in it giving the box a good shake, removing your hand and counting the quills painfully embedded in your hand. I mean he is using the F-word and everything!

Ultimately, I don't think it is possible for Mr. Rix's own criticism to not backfire and in the end accuse him. Mr. Rix wants to accuse all Bible believing Christians of just coming to the Bible and "confirming their own prejudices" in their interpretations of it. It is fairly obvious that that is precisely what Rix is doing with Matt 7:21. All of a sudden Matt 7:21 doesn't implicate an exclusion of people from the kingdom of God.

How does Rix arrive at this conclusion? Is it by exegeting and setting the passage in context? That is doubtful because nowhere in the article does he venture to explain what Matt 7:21 DOES mean if it does not in fact mean what it seemingly is stating. I would say that Mr. Rix is the one who comes to the Bible and strangles it's teachings to fit HIS prejudices. His prejudices and rejection of a God that is wrathful (John 3:36), a God that is angry at sinners (Ps 5:5), and a God who has a narrow path where few are saved (Matt 7:13-14).

It is this God, the God of the Bible that Rix is prejudiced against. I know this because I was as well until I was born again. I hated Christianity, and I hated God. I naturally much more preferred my god that I fashioned who didn't care who I slept with, would never judge me and was always there for a big warm hug... But by His grace He has brought me to Himself. And that is in fact what the Bible says, that natural man is prejudiced against the true God and will always erect idols in the place of the true God (1 Cor 2:14).

On the side, I really could care less about defending Bush here, that is not the issue for me at all. The issue for me is how this man approaches theology and God's word. That is why I won't give a complete blow by blow analysis here but just the more theological unctions made by Mr. Rix.

"What does it mean to be a Christian? Is it enough to love the Bible? Proclaim you are born again? Have good doctrine? Pray daily? Despite all these external signs of faith, I want to suggest that being a Christian is impossible when a person refuses to follow Jesus. If we pursue Jesus' path, his teachings must be central to our worldview; as with Graham, the Spirit of Christ is our guide; and the honesty and compassion, principles and peacemaking of Jesus transform us."

Well, there is some good in there from Mr.Rix and words we should heed as Bible believing Christians. Professions, don't make anybody a Christian. It truly is a life that is brought to it's knees and acknowledges one's complete lack and Christ's sufficiency. However, one must see there is something missing in Rix's definition of what it means to be a Christian. The Cross.

He is right it is impossible to live up to all of the teachings of Jesus, and until we are abased and by God's grace see that we need a saviour the teachings of Jesus only condemn us. Yes we are to love our neighbors, but who really does? Ultimately we are to look to Christ's death in our place, and it is a forsaking of our righteousness and putting His that makes us Christians.

The acid test for whether that has happened will be a changed life, one that earnestly hungers to live up to the standard He has given out of gratefulness and worship of our Lord and saviour, not to store up merit or anything like that. Mr.Rix in his definition of what a Christian is just seems to offer up a steaming cup of Law Light for us to drink.

"Contrary to Jesus' teachings, Gnosticism prides itself on secret knowledge; Fundamentalism idolizes an us-gainst-them ideology that rejects science when it challenges Biblical literalism; and Dominionsim-the most deadly dogmatism-advocates a Christian theocracy that rivals imposition of Sharia law among Muslims in its pursuit of a 'Christian Nation.'"

Well there is a lot wrapped up in that burrito, we have again the F-word, the L-word, the D-word. These are all buzz words that are tossed around so much that they are just supposed to automatically conjure up negative associations, they are the dirty words in dialogues with the Liberal theologians.

I of course do not disagree with Mr. Rix in much of what is said here, us against them is bad news and is not Christian. I am not down with Sharia laws (I don't know what Christians are for that matter, I think it is just becoming popular to say Christians are just as nutty as the terrorists...thank you Richard Dawkins). As for the science issue I am all for science, I do have a problem with how Atheists twist science to make it fit their anti theistic presuppositions.

The thing is I am sure that to a fellow like Mr.Rix I am the Fundamentalist nutcase who is supposed to be foaming at the mouth and hating everybody who doesn't believe in the God of the Bible. That of course is a straw man, but that really is all we see in the last quotation from Mr.Rix.

All of that aside, I do have to press Mr.Rix on one thing in this last paragraph. Why would "Dominionism" be a bad thing and on what basis? Who are YOU to judge?

"Members of the United Methodist Church are preparing petitions for the May General Conference to request President Bush's resignation from the church. A movement for church expulsion is emerging.

I am exploring these questions of church discipline in a book proposal with the provocative title, 'George W. Bush is not a Christian: The case for Church Expulsion.' Is Bush following Jesus? Consider the evidence."

Now if this isn't hypocrisy on the part of Mr.Rix I simply don't know what is. From the outset of the article Mr.Rix has been complaining about Fundies making lines and saying some people are "OUT", he has said that is for god to decide and we have no place to make these kinds of declarations.

Well what do you know, the whole time Mr. Rix is saying that out of one side of his mouth he is spewing all over George Bush and even has a book coming out saying that he is not a Christian. This article really serves as nothing but a definition of what it means to have a double standard.

On a side note, these petitions really show how ravaged the United Methodist denomination is by Liberal Theology. I want to wrap up by pointing to the teachings of Christ. Christ spoke more about hell then anybody else in the Bible. Yet many folks who want to toss the phrases like "true Christian spirit" just turn Jesus into this vague esoteric figure who had a perm, wore a hemp dress, spoke with a lisp, talked about making love not war in a very sublime manner, wore bio-diesel sandals, and eventually got beat up by the Republican Fundies of his day.

This is a far cry from the Jesus of the New Testement. He (capital H) is Lord of heaven and earth, at His name every knee will one day bow, and there is a coming Day where He will judge men and punish His enemies (those who would not have Him as Lord but rebelled).

"He said therefore, "A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, 'Engage in business until I come.' But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.' [...]

'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.'" (Luke 19:12-27)

"When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades." (Rev 1:17-18)

I would like to conclude with what is becoming one of my favorite passages from Christ in the New testament:

"Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?" (Mar 12:24)