Saturday, December 27, 2008


Every once in a great while I will actually read a novel. This past week I read House by Frank Preretti and Ted Dekker.

Now I have read most of Peretti's books. I remember reading This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness when I first became a Christian. A few years later Peretti wrote one of my favorites, The Oath. He also wrote Monster, which is simply fantastic. As for Dekker, I have no idea who he is and at this point, don't care.

I have mixed feelings about this 2006 co-authored story of a couples' marital struggle. Now I hardly ever read Novels. The only novel I have read in the past decade that Peretti did not write was Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer. So my comments will obviously not be helpful, but I'll share them anyway.

The story takes place in the Alabama south and offers stereo types of back water hicks. This style is completely backwards from Monster. In Monster I felt as if Peretti went to Idaho and lived there. I most certainly do not get that sense with this book, but it doesn't need to be. This book is fiction all the way. (Did Dekker write the majority of this book?)

The first few chapters reminded me of the fear that Burt Reynold's character had in Deliverance. As the book progressed the real fear was turned from external circumstances to the inward fears of our own sinfulness. This seemed to be the thrust of the book. Men are not only enslaved to their particular sins, but the evil in their hearts. This was the book's strength and weakness. The main character's resolution left me unresolved. On the cover of the book Ralph Winter (I have no idea who he is) is quoted as saying,
"They had me ripping through the pages...then blew me away with a final I never saw coming."
My thoughts were the opposite. It was an ending I hoped would not happen and did.

I was a bit confused. After painting a vivid picture of Jack's sinfulness, the authors write on page 341 a conversation between husband and wife, Jack and Stephanie, and Susan.
"But they're real," he said. "Their axes are real--"

"Of course they're real. I am not saying you should walk right into them. But there are greater powers beyond what you can see." [Susan]

"God? You're saying this is about God? Some huge whatever in the sky set this up?"

"You set it up."

"What are you talking about? We were just driving by when White slashed our tires and lured us to this hellish house."

"It's your house."

"That's crazy."

"It draws most of its power from you. We've been over this! Accept it, Jack. You're at the heart of the battle between good and evil."

"I've prayed to God," Stephanie said. It sounded like a question.

"Prayed? But do you believe? Really believe? And do you know how to love, really love?"

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart," Jack said quietly. "Love your neighbor as yourself. Isn't that a famous teaching? Jesus?" He hesitated, meaning settled in his mind like a falling snow. "So what's love look like in a house of horrors?"

"The same way it's always looked," Susan said. Then added after a pause, "It's not just what you do, it's who you are. You've got to change who you are. That's how you change the house. You'll have to see it; words don't mean much at times like this."
I won't spoil the rest if you decide to read this book, but perhaps you might see my confusion. The house reflects his own evil heart. The mode to fixing the world Jack has screwed up is to love...I think. The ending adds another means of fixing Jack's world. So I am not certain if this a Gnostic theology or something else.

For instance notice the line "It draws most of its power from you. We've been over this! Accept it, Jack. You're at the heart of the battle between good and evil."

Does this mean that Jack's heart has the capacity for both good and evil? Or does it mean God is fighting the Devil for his soul and Jack is the deciding factor? In other words, is this the God has voted for you, the Devil has voted against you, now you must cast the deciding vote, mentality?

To be certain there is much truth in the story line. I just didn't feel resolved. I feel like I have only moved on in my sin. The same confusion may be seen through Evangelicalism. Preaching Christ's work on the cross is external. Yet we are always being preached to "experience" the "born again" experience. We are told simultaneously to look to Jesus while doing so inwardly. This book shares that confusion.

If we are going to talk about inner struggles, I prefer the movies Signs and Unbreakable.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sing Star Wars

Update: upon further research, this guy is only lip syncing. Still pretty fun though!

Kuddos to Pastor Groover for putting this on his Blog. This guy is just talented, plain and simple.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

This post is copied from Hard Baked Dirt Living without permission. :-) He says what I think.

So what is the joy of Christmas? Well, it isn’t a warm cup of eggnog lightly spiked with bourbon and glee, though that’s certainly a nice treat. It’s not receiving various gifts under an evergreen surrounded by loved ones while Anne Murray carols spin on your retro-turntable. And it is isn’t a jolly-holly anything from anywhere sitting in his non-existent fantasy throne.

The joy of Christmas is the recognition of the historical moment that Micah prophesied about, when God became flesh and the incarnate deity dwelt among men.

It is the recognition and celebration of the truth that Christ was born in Bethlehem so that we would escape death and condemnation and live forever.

It is the relishing in our submission of faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior; that His righteousness is now mine.

It is the enjoyment of a peace that surpasses all understanding for we deserve nothing from Him, but He is willing to give us the Kingdom.

It is a reminder that we should have this joy all year long and not just when it is commercially and culturally acceptable.

There is no other joy more grand and there is no other peace more precious.

There is no other love more secure. There is no other gift worth giving.

May this gift be yours today.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

All Things Better In Koine

For all of my pastor friends who actually study Greek.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

CitizenLink's Use of Glenn Beck

In this post I want to deal with CitizenLink's use of Glenn Beck. Now Focus has always claimed to be a Christian organization. This is where the problem comes in. There is nothing wrong in my understanding of the Two-Kingdom model for Christians to work with non-Christians in building a better society. A Christian may easily stand shoulder to shoulder with a Muslim or a Roman Catholic or a Mormon in creating policies that end slavery or abortion or better roads or what have you.

But when Christians stand at abortion clinics with non-Christians, or those who may claim the name Christian but are not, and attempt to "evangelize together" with them, we have abandoned our calling. Again protesting abortion is simply protesting murder, and we ought to cooperaate with our neighbor, whoever he may be. But to do so in the context of Biblical evangelism is wrongheaded. Evangelism belongs as a duty to the church, not to non-Christians or the State.

Now you may be thinking what is the big deal about "hoping to spread a more eternal sort of gospel" that Glenn Beck has written "through his new book, The Christmas Sweater"? Glenn Beck is not a Christian. He is a Mormon.

Evidence? You may view a video here from YouTube.

The entire article interviews Beck as though Mormonism teaches the same God and offers the same Eternal Life in Christ as historic Christianity. To mislead the Christian reader and any reader in general is to point men towards Mormonism, a false religion.

How often has Focus on the Family decried moral relativism during these many years? And yet we are getting religious relativism. Why? Because we are using the same terminology. Notice the second question, "2. What message do you hope people take away from The Christmas Sweater?"

Beck's answer is most certainly lost.
I think the message that you can’t really escape is (that) the Christmas sweater is the metaphor for me of the atonement for Christ. We’ve all been given a gift. We celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus — but the real point is the death, and why He died. When I was in my 30s, I was suicidal. I had nowhere else to run. Then I realized that the real gift — the one we really need to appreciate — is the one that took so much to give. In my mother’s case, it’s the sweater. But in all our cases, it’s redemption and atonement. I so remember the day after Christmas when I balled the sweater up and dropped it on my floor. I still remember the look on my mother’s face when she came in and asked me if that was my Christmas sweater. It took everything for her to give me that, but I didn’t know it at the time, how poor we were. When I was 35 and decided to turn my life over and surrender, I made a vow that I would not stand at His feet and have him look at my redemption, undervalued, misused and lying in a ball on the floor. I need Him to know I’m using it every day.
Here is a great example of how the atonement of Christ is divorced from its proper Biblical context and made to mean something completely different. Yet the average Christian may easily miss this because he reads into the words his own understanding of the atonement. Although, I am beginning to wonder if those at Focus even truly grasp what the Atonement means anymore. This is exactly why the Local Church should be in charge of religion and not some para-church ministry. So now in stead of a local body overseeing the local congregation and their own confession of faith, we have para-church ministries spreading error and false doctrine in a manner only comparable to church hierarchies that go beyond the Local Church.

Another troubling aspect of this interview is that the atoning work of Christ becomes moralistic.
3. After your own battles with substance abuse, what does Christmas mean to you now?
The answer is,
A second chance. I just want the people to understand that the message is true. Sometimes redemption has been made into a word that people don’t understand. They need to know it’s true, it’s real. It’s not a word, it’s a life-changing force. It’s transformed my life, who I was to the very core of my being. If it wasn’t for me accepting the gift that the Lord gave to me, I’d be dead today. My doctor gave me six months to live, I was ready to commit suicide — but I took Him at His Word that he’d carry the load of the mistakes I’ve made, and He has. He’s so personal, and your life totally changes, and you can accomplish what you were sent here to do.
Dear Reader, this is not the Gospel. Yet it is what is so often being preached. What is confusing is that much of this is in some sense true. The Gospel does change hearts in the power of the Spirit. BUT...the Gospel is not a "second chance". It is not getting a clean slate! If it were, we would mess it up in about .5 seconds. The Gospel is not taking a bad sinner and making him a better sinner. In Christ, I do not have a blank slate. Instead, I have Christ's slate. His life is my life. His righteousness is my righteousness. His death is my death. His burial is my burial. His resurrection is my resurrection. Beck's Mormonism totally overthrows the Biblical meaning of Christ's work.

Notice this portion of his answer to question 4.
Very soon, events are going to begin to unfold that will mean you’ll need the advice of the Lord. We are all here at this time for a reason, and He needs us to be in the place, ready to do the things (we) promised Him we’d do. If we’re still carrying our own baggage, we can’t fully hear Him to protect ourselves and our country.
This is also the view of God that is being preached from our pulpits. God is not a mere man or an exalted man as taught in Mormonism. He is not wringing His hands waiting for us to come to Him for advise. God is not merely our helper in life's projects, nor is He wanting to give us our best life now in the Joel Osteen sense.

Christians must beware that we may not confuse our religion and the sphere of authority the Christian lives as a Christian, and our citizenship in this world/age. We ought not to promote the Gospel in the realm of State politics. This business belongs solely to the church.

As Christians we must also understand our historic confessions. To lose the Gospel and confuse it with moralism is to follow the error of theological Liberalism.

God's Love Towards the Undeserving

I just received a link to Pastor Glidewell's sermon, God's Love Towards the Undeserving. You may download it here. The text is from Luke chapter 2. Enjoy!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Conservatism Is NOT the Gospel

I know that when I write posts on my Blog there are times when I write specifically about things pertaining the Kingdom of God. For instance, when I proclaim the Gospel or write specifically about the Bible's message, I am not attempting to be political or merely moralistic.

There are other times when I write specifically about the Kingdom of man. For instance my last post was not about the Gospel. It was about the Law of God as it pertains to our government and the rule of law. Hopefully I have been clear over the years that even though I am a Christian and that my Christian beliefs inform my views, they are not the same thing as politics.

Over the years I have grown in my understanding of the Two-Kingdom model that the New Testament teaches. The church is not the government and vice versa. The Preacher of the Gospel is never to be confused with the Magistrate and his duties to the State. Each has their duties in separate Kingdoms.

Today I received an email that not only confuses the Two-Kingdom model, it betrays the Christian faith. In this article of CitizenLink, Radio Talk-Show host, Glenn Beck, is interviewed as if he were a Christian. This article states that Glenn Beck "has been spreading the conservative political gospel through his syndicated radio program." Please note the phrase "conservative political gospel". Let me be absolutely clear. There is no such thing as a political Gospel!

Christianity is not Democrat nor Republican. It has nothing to do with the United States. As wonderful as the united States has been to Christians, it is not the Kingdom of God. Christians from our founding have disagreed over the methods by which we should govern ourselves (even the phrase governing ourselves is a new idea). Christians have disagreed over the best means by which the laws of God should be enforced and to what extent. Even the Constitution Party (which clearly seeks to defend the laws of God) differs over the manner of the Two Party system as being unconstitutional and takes a stand against the War as violating the Constitution.

As a Christian I know that I live in these two Kingdoms simultaneously. I am a Conservative because I believe overall that Conservatism stands for the institutions that have given us the most freedom to succeed or fall and the most liberty from a government that seeks abuse power and become despotic.

As a Christian I also live under the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom is in the hearts of believers everywhere. It is the rule of God that is not of this world. Until this world passes away, we will not see the rule of God on earth in its consummate form.

I say all of this because so often non-Christians hear Christians and think they are trying to force their religion upon people through political means. I know we are simply seen that way and quite often there is not much we may do about it.

I also say this because Citizen Link is an arm of Focus on the Family. Focus claims to be an organization that supports the church As wonderful as Focus may be, they need to either go totally Kingdom of man or join a church and get out of politics. Psychologists should not be theologians. To send out a mass email talking about Glenn Beck as some kind of Christian that Christian Conservatives should model is absurd. I don't mean to say that as citizens of this world we shouldn't work with non-Christians such as Glenn Beck. We should and ought to to make a better society. But the confusion of promoting him as a Christian in order to do this and to involve this as a mission of Christians is also absurd. More on that tomorrow.

If you have bothered to read this far I will leave you with this. At the recent Together 4 the Gospel Conference, Mark Dever gave an excellent lecture on keeping the Gospel separate from politics and other areas of life. It is a must listen. When we attempt to make the Gospel into social action, Conservatives fall into the same trap 19th & 20th century Liberals have already done. Download Here.

Jackson's Solutions Haven't Worked

Harry R. Jackson has written an editorial at on his recent participation in a symposium on homosexuality and the recent News Week article. He makes the claims that the promoters of homosexuality are shallow in their arguments from and use of Scripture. That's not surprising. We are all familiar with the misuse of God's Word. Natural and sinful man is anything but morally neutral especially when he is forced to interact with what reminds him of his sin.

Jackson does note that the homosexual community is not going to be able to persuade the older generations of their view. He writes,
Their hope is that younger Christians who are not committed to mainstream theology will change their views and their votes. Therefore, I expect to see more articles espousing bizarre theological arguments and doctrines in an attempt to re-define this clear-cut, moral issue of homosexuality.
Now this is nothing new. One of the major premises of the public screwl system was to steal children from their parents' morality (as argued in Joel Turtel's article on the modern system by Mann and Dewey). Targeting children has always been the tactic of those who desire to change a society but tire in attempting to change the minds of their fellow man. As Hitler said, "Give me your children from 0-7, I'll have them for life." [my paraphrase. read more here on propaganda tactics he used.]

What troubles me is Jackson's solution. He concludes his article stating,

Let the Newsweek article serve as a warning to the Bible-believing, Christian community. We cannot rest on our laurels. We must do three things. First, we must determine that we will honor the covenant of marriage. Our nation is in need of covenant couples, who will raise the standard for lifelong marriage again, demonstrating to hurting people in noncommittal relationships that lifelong married monogamy is the happiest, most fulfilling arrangement ever created.

Second, we must let our voices be heard as the 40,000 protestors did last week. We must not remain silent. Third, we should boycott media sources that move beyond reporting the news to attempting to ‘create’ the news.

It is not too late to save the family in America. Our movement simply needs to remain focused upon creating a nation that respects biblical marriage and the multiplied benefits it gives to us, and our children.

I agree with creating a nation that respects biblical marriage. However, do his solutions provide this? First he says that we, who believe in God's definition of marriage, ought to live consistently with that belief. I whole-heartedly agree that this is most necessary. Yet, this is simply living consistently with a belief. Is the belief being articulated and taught? For instance, the homosexual couple could simply live together in such a fashion as to win people to their position. Does it make their position right? I would argue that it no more makes it right than for heterosexual couples living together makes biblical marriage right. Nevertheless, I agree we must clean our own house.

His third solution is to protest companies that promote homosexuality. Although sometimes this has had an impact, is it really creating a nation of people that understand marriage and why it exists? So far, both of these are not positive solutions.

The second [third here] solution is that we make our voices known? I really don't know what this means? Yelling back obviously doesn't work. Simply challenging false presuppositions as I have done on this Blog brings about accusations of homophobia and the like. Perhaps he means the voting booth? If so, how does this withstand the problem of their targeting our children that he points out.

These solutions, as important as they may be, are not really the solutions. They have been tried for years with limited success. Those, who believe in the traditional view of marriage, must not only have a solid philosophical foundation for their definition, but must be able to articulate it as well. So far, almost every article on the subject written by Traditionalists appeals to pragmatism. We have only been hearing arguments that marriage is "better" because of x, y or z. We simply will not win out using these means.

My alternate suggestions that no one will listen to.

First, Traditionalists must take back the idea that parents must be the primary educators of their own children. We must reject the notion that the State is in charge of education. However this may work out in our local schools, this presupposition must be taken back.

Second, we must teach our children the Creator/creature understanding of life. When children learn that there is a Creator, they come to understand the foundation for all rational thought, logic, morality and ect.. This will in turn inform us all as to the purpose of life and offer the foundation for the "Rule of Law".

Third, we must learn how to articulate Natural Law once again. We must not grant the presupposition of "better" and go for the root of the issue. Most Christians believe that we must use the Bible in every instance. Christians must be able to communicate in both worlds. This will inform Traditionalists, who do not use the Bible, that not only does Natural Law lead to the conclusion they have come to, but special revelation by the Creator teaches traditional marriage as well.

I am certain other means could be thought of as well. But if we follow the popular road of "traditional marriage is better because we say so," that Jackson makes use of, then we will continue to lose the culture war. Pragmatism hasn't work for decades. Seeking to be popular with the Media hasn't worked. Cooperation with the Left hasn't worked. Some things are just right and need to be stood for thoughtfully.

Man is made in the image of God. As long as Traditionalists use the image of God within them, and as long as Christians appeal to the One True God's revelation, they will always be constant reminders to the homosexual of their sin. This God and this image of God must be suppressed by those who oppose God's laws due to the sinful nature of man. When we understand this truth, then perhaps we will have a better understanding of what we are facing and what we need to do to stand for what is right.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Two Quick Notes

Two things I'd like to mention. For many years I have been hearing Christmas sermons from Luke chapter 2 in which Mary cooperated with God by her free-will to allow God to send Jesus into this world. This past Lord's Day I heard a terrific sermon on the same text preached by Pastor Glidewell. The message was thoroughly evangelistic and God-centered. Instead of practically giving thanks to Mary for her "response" to God, I heard a pronouncement. I heard the account of an Angel, who gave a proclamation from a Sovereign King to a servant girl. I heard a call given to sinners to repent of their sin throughout the entire message. What an encouragement that message was. If he ever gives me the MP3 I will share here. :-)

The other thing I would like to mention is Michael Horton's recent essay on Evangelicalism and Reformed Christianity. It is an important read for those who are pastors. It may be an important read for anyone familiar with the issues that Evangelicals face today.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Abortionist's Wish List for Christmas

Here is a great example of how people will talk right past each other. CitizenLink has reported that "Abortion Activists" have sent a "wish list" to President Elect Obama. You may read the Abortionist's desires here. The first paragraph states,
The next President will have the opportunity to advance a reproductive health agenda that will make a profound difference in the lives and health of women, men, and families in the United States and around the world. Greater investments in reproductive health care will improve women’s health, reduce the incidence of disease, and promote healthy childbearing. Moreover, ensuring access to reproductive health services is essential to women’s full and equal participation in society.
Now the statement that Abortionists desire "healthy child bearing" is an admirable one. Who wants to have women to have poor health while child bearing? So we all talk right past each other while trying to clear the smoke from the bombs that are thrown past each other. However if words have meaning then we must understand their context.

The last sentence gives away some of their presuppositions. In order for a woman to have full and equal participation in society, she must have free health care. Why must she have free health care? Keep in mind, in the mind of the Leftist, a woman is only equal to a man if she may be "free" to choose any kind of life she desires. Pregnancies obviously get in the way of being equal to a man. Therefore, she must have free access to abortions.

Besides that, how is ripping a baby limb from limb or being burned to death or having its skull broken into with special tools and having brains sucked out healthy for the baby?

This is the world view of people who do not start with the Creator/creature relationship. The role of women in this world is redefined to whatever the idolatrous nature of the woman is.

Another part of this wish list states on page 9,
Select Judicial Nominees with a Demonstrated Commitment to Fundamental Legal Protections and Civil Liberties, Including ReproductiveRights. It is critical that only fair and independent judicial nominees with a demonstrated commitment to fundamental legal rights be appointed to the federal courts, including the Supreme Court and lower courts.
Now where does the right to privacy and the right to have an abortion come from. Just read later in the section on page 9.
These leaders must respect the rule of law and ensure that evidence-based findings will not be suppressed, distorted, or manipulated to advance a political agenda. Where relevant, they should display a commitment to promoting the health and rights of women and men in the United States and throughout the world.
This is just a hoot. I can only sit here and laugh at this deceiving language. They actually appeal to the rule of law? If abortionists really believe we should not suppress facts, lets show an abortion on TV for the entire nation to watch. I am all for everyone seeing the murder of an innocent child to establish the factual nature of what an abortion is. If Americans truly see this act as nothing more than getting rid of some tissue mass that is not human, then I guess I'll just sit here with an umbrella over my head waiting for the rule of law to rain down fire and brimstone.

The blatant hypocrisy of saying that "political agendas" should not be advanced rings hollow when they are seeking to advance their "rights" through the courts to begin with. Politics is not for the courts and here they are trying to advance rights through them. Good grief!

I would also like to know why Federal Judges should advance "health and rights of women and men in the United States and throughout the world". This is simply insane. Where in the Constitution is this power and authority given to Judges?

Since the Republican Party sits on the sidelines while the Radical Left advances, I am even more considering the Constitution Party. Someone in the Republican Party better start convincing me with strong reasons why I should stay a member of their party. When millions of babies are being murdered, while God's laws are being abandoned, someone better start talking and start quickly.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Constitution Party

In this post I want to throw out something I have been struggling with for quite some time. The Republican Party has clearly abandoned not only rational thought, but for the most part, the U.S. Constitution has been shredded. With men like McCain overthrowing the First Amendment and Bush signing the bailout into law, it is also obvious that the Republican Party has given up the fight.

For the last few years I have been wondering if a Conservative could align himself with another party, in particular, the Constitution Party. I have been troubled by some of the stances the Constitution Party takes and have written about that here. Nevertheless, has the Republican Party gone so far as to warrant the proverbial abandon ship?

The more I think about this, the more I see that perhaps this is also a party that is able to embrace both Conservative ideas and liberal ones but do so Constitutionally. For instance, the Constitution Party's platform concerning marriage states,
The law of our Creator defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman. The marriage covenant is the foundation of the family, and the family is fundamental in the maintenance of a stable, healthy and prosperous social order. No government may legitimately authorize or define marriage or family relations contrary to what God has instituted.
And the end of the paragraph is the kicker.
We are opposed to amending the U.S. Constitution for the purpose of defining marriage.
I would think this would be welcomed by both Conservatives and Liberals. I take this position to be one of restricting the Federal government. To which I say a heartily "AMEN!"

The party also speaks to the issue of trade.
We favor the abolition of the Office of Special Trade Representative, and insist on the withdrawal of these United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and all other agreements wherein agencies other than the Congress of these United States improperly assume responsibility for establishing American trade policies.
Instead of Congress abdicating its responsibility, the platform calls for a return to the Constitutional requirements. One of the biggest problems I have with the current situation is that Congress has instituted many bureaucracies that are not subject to the people. A return to the Constitution certainly outweighs the silliness that Republicans claim they stand for. Perhaps instead of wasting time with meaningless Senate hearings on global warming, Congress will actually do its duty.

There are many aspects that I think many from different perspectives could come together on. The one thing that is impressive is that this party actually cites the U.S. Constitution and attempts to follow what it says. That is most refreshing.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Hannah Overton Guilty Beyond Reasonable Doubt?

I finally had some time to watch the 20/20 Hannah Overton. The first two segments here and here seem to leave some doubt as to which way the case should have gone. This third segment, however, has some extremely troubling statements by both jurors and the prosecution. Both admit she was not guilty of a Capital Crime, and yet they turn around and say she was guilty of a Capital Crime. With illogical and irrational people serving on the jury and with overzealous prosecutors, who lie about what the primary family doctor stated, it would not have mattered if she had O.J. Simpson's lawyer crying "If the glove does not fit, you must aquit."

If you watch this video, you might need one of those Scooby Doo paper bags to yell in.

At approximately 2-1/2 minutes in this section a couple of jurors are interviewed. Keep in mind, these jurors found Hannah Overton guilty of Capital murder. Here is the relevant section transcribed.

20/20: "Do you think she intentionally withheld medical attention in order to kill that child?"

Juror #1: "That's something we will never know. I mean...We'll just never know that, because..."

20/20 "We heard a number of times you saying, 'We'll never know that', and so it raises the question of reasonable doubt. Is there any reasonable doubt in this case?"

Juror #2: "I don't think there is."

Now I know these things are edited and the original taping may give a different picture. Juror #1 states a contradiction to juror #2. Yet she would have to have voted for the guilty verdict...right? If 20/20 has any basic honesty at all, I simply have trouble reconciling these statements by these jurors.

The lead investigator admits also that Hannah Overton did not seek to murder the child. He states in the interview,

Investigator: "I don't think she woke up today and said 'Ok today is October 2. I am going to kill Andrew.' I think that she was trying to change his behavior."

20/20: "Capital murder by my understanding is not to change his behavior. It's intent to kill."

Investigator: "You're changing his behavior, and she's gonna be able to tell you the law part."

Perhaps 20/20 left out some juicy material that explains why the law says changing behavior equals intent to murder?

You may go back and listen to Chris Arnzen's radio program interviewing Pastor John Otis here (07) and here (08).

Thanks To Shallow Water

The Pastor at Gospel Fellowship in Shallow Water became ill, and I was granted the opportunity and privilege to fill the pulpit on very short notice. I did not have a sermon prepared that I felt I could use. Instead we read from 2 Corinthians 5 and proclaimed the message of reconciliation. Sinners of all stripes now have access to God through Christ. Christ is the Christian's victorious life. I am certain my message was probably disjointed. Yet I hope the people benefited despite this weak vessel.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Prisons and Justice

I remember watching one episode of Cops in which a young woman had been arrested because she had a needle in her handbag. Although in some sense her arrest may have actually helped her to seek help for her drug problem, the entire situation was ridiculous. Here was a woman that was actually going to jail and spend time in incarceration because she had taken a drug at some point and forgot to leave the needle at home.

Perhaps I may be sounding more on the liberal side of things, but the "crime" just did not fit the punishment. We have made an entire prison system that we put people into in order for us to rid ourselves of societal trash. In doing so we never solve the problem but have only created an underground society and culture.

Chapter 12 of Poythress' book, Just Penalties for Many Crimes, points out some interesting principles from Old Testament Law that I think we would do well to learn from. Allow me to offer a coupe of citations from pages 167-8.
According to Mosaic Law, thieves who cannot repay the penalty for their crimes are to be sold into servitude for their theft (Exodus 22:3). The same logic of justice is operative here. The thief must be forced to pay even if such action involves selling the price of his future work.
He concludes the section with this paragraph.
Nowadays some criminals are allowed to "pay a debt to society" by doing meaningful work for the state or for some charitable cause. But such a course is still wrongheaded. The thief's debt is not to the state or to society but to the injured person. We help the thief understand better the nature of his crime as well as conform to Biblical principles of restoration and punishment when we follow the Old Testament practice more directly.
Although I am not certain we may overthrow the "debt to society" idea so firmly embedded in our laws, the idea of the prison system has certainly destroyed altogether justice that Scripture speaks of. The idea of an eye for an eye or tooth for tooth is one that reconciles man to man or at least brings justice between men.

Prisons simply hide men who have done an evil. The public never sees justice being carried out. The criminal is never forced to deal with the society or individual he offends except perhaps during the trial. Sitting in a court room and hearing a judge or jury say guilty is hardly the full extent of what needs to occur.

Here is a great example of the State of Texas sending a mom to prison for not knowing her adopted child was allergic to salt. The State was actually at fault in this whole case. The jury admitted after their life in prison verdict that she was not guilty of the crime the State had charge her with. So instead of justice, we now have an innocent mom taken away from her family to sit in a prison. What justice is there in her sitting in prison for what at most could be involuntary manslaughter due to the State's negligence? How is she paying her debt back to the child that died?

I realize there are some crimes that require the removal of a person from society. A dirty needle or accidental salt poisoning simply isn't one of them.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Racism #3

Once again my pastor friend in the south writes on racism. It is an excellent read.

Race, Race, God’s Race

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Conservative Arguments Won't Stand

Yet another Judge takes it upon herself to overthrow the Constitution. According to the Baptist Press,
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman ruled the law violates equal protection rights of homosexuals under Florida's constitution. In the 53-page ruling, Lederman also found the law banning homosexual adoptions "defeats a child's right to permanency as provided by federal and state law."
So on what basis does Cindy feel the right to do this, when "previous federal and state rulings upholding Florida's ban on adoptions by homosexuals..."?

Apparently She sees it as a new day to change the law through the courts.
Lederman found the constitutionality of the ban is now "again ripe for consideration" because of recent "developments in the fields of social science, psychology, human sexuality, social work and medicine, the existence of additional studies, the re-analysis and peer review of prior studies, the endorsements by the major psychological, psychiatry, child welfare and social work associations, and the now, consensus based on widely accepted results of respected studies by qualified experts."
Of course, recent developments demonstrate that abortion is clearly murder beyond any reasonable doubt. So do we see her defending children in this field? Of course not. She is a Leftists, and Liberalism comes first, not children that are being murdered.

Now here is the problem. She is right based upon the poor arguments provided by Conservatives. Please read Steve Chapman's editorial at and notice he provides the same argumentation Judge Cindy does. He writes,
Would orphaned and abandoned children be better off if every one of them could be raised by stable, loving, heterosexual couples? Possibly. But that's not an option. For many children, the alternative to having gay adoptive parents is having no parents at all.
And again,
As it happens, those dangers are mostly imaginary. According to evidence cited by the judge, gays are slightly more likely than heterosexuals to suffer psychiatric problems, engage in substance abuse and smoke, but so are lots of other groups that are allowed to adopt. The American Psychological Association says it finds no difference between the parenting of homosexuals and heterosexuals.
So based upon research, gays and lesbians are no more likely to harm the child than heterosexual couples. At this point I do not care about the legitimacy of these studies because when you look at the arguments put forth by the conservatives, you have to wonder what all the fuss is about. Notice how Conservatives argue. John Stemberger, an Orlando attorney who leads the Florida Family Policy Counsel is cited in the article.
Stemberger added, "The studies are clear that children always do better with a married mother and a father. There are an enormous number of married couples trying to adopt. Some are even going overseas to adopt, and these children can easily be placed in families with a mom and a dad."
So what is the moral imperative? Why is it so bad that kids should not be places in homosexual home? "Because kids do better" is the answer. Talk about subjectivity.

Conservatives are always complaining that moral standards are going "out the window". They argue against moral relativism. Yet what moral standards are appealed to in the Court room? As far as I can tell, none.

No one is willing to demonstrate that homosexuality is an evil. No one is able to appeal to natural moral law nor are they willing to appeal to God's revealed law. So why should Conservatives win? For now, their case simply rests upon the fact that Judges are violating the Law. However, that will only last till legislatures finally give in and abandon all rationale.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Dr. White Challenges Dr. Vines On John 3:16

Dr. White challenges Dr. Vines' eisegesis of John 3:16. For most of us, we have all heard John 3:16 over and over again outside of its context. We actually have heard it to the point that it sounds like a summary of all doctrine. We hear John 3:16 without realizing the traditions that we force upon the text. Most of us hear, "For God so loved every single person ever in a salvific way, that He gave His only begotten Son as a substitute for every single person ever, that whosoever of their own autonomous free-will would just believe in Jesus, would not perish but have eternal life."

Is that what the text teaches? Watch this video and see if that is the case. You will see one side interacting with the text. You will see the other side make assertions with no foundation for them.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Racism #2

In this second post I must again confess that I think most white Americans may never truly grasp the plight of African-Americans in our nation's history. The idea that men went to Africa and kidnapped black men and committed them into slavery is simply unfathomable to me. How that could possibly be legal in any nation that considers itself Christian has to be one of the greatest hypocrisies in all of the so-called Christian West.

Although the Bible has permitted certain kinds of slavery in order not to overthrow complex economic institutions, I believe the Bible provides the foundation for the justification of ridding the world of evil practices. So again, it amazes me that slavery could arise within a Christian community. With passages such as Ephesians 2 that describe Christ breaking down the barriers between Jews and Gentiles or Acts 17 "and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation...", it would require the Christian to act against the Word of God to defend such evil practices.

Although I am certain much more could be said against slavery from the Bible, I wanted to approach this with the stated perspective that I believe the Bible condemns such practices. With that as my starting point I would like to comment on the video.

The video shows a white man arguing against Affirmative Action. Now the video doesn't show the entire context of the "conversation". I am not certain why these things are considered "conversation" anyway. Bringing people before a national TV audience that looks for emotional heated fights for ratings is silliness. By the look of Chappelle in the video, this conversation was leading nowhere.

Now I must disagree with Chappelle. I am against Affirmative Action. Yet I say this knowing that I never experienced the evils of the South's Jim Crowe Laws. I have never been turned down for a job simply because of my skin color.

A few reasons against Affirmative Action. First, how are we going to rid this country of racism if we simply reverse it. Second, there are other groups who are now running circles around all of us, despite racist tendencies in all of us. Third, I think the Racism Industry is never going to end using tactics like this. Fourth, I think Affirmative Action could cause problems similar to Welfare. It takes away the incentive to work hard and become the best one may be.

Having stated just these few reasons against Affirmative Action, I have to say that the complaints of white people of reverse discrimination rings hollow. Now I don't live in the south, but it seems to be that racism still exists. For white people, especially in the South, to complain is like a bully who is now getting a taste of his own medicine. So I just don't buy the reverse discrimination is as bad as they complain.

Nevertheless, I wonder if Affirmative Action is the best solution. I see that the purpose of it was to give opportunity to the oppressed that would otherwise never happen. But was/is there really no other way? Have Black/African American communities reaped the benefits of this program? Perhaps it was a needed response in the beginning, a response that needs to be looked at again.

For example, the same people who are for Affirmative Action are against breaking up the Public School monopoly. Inner city public schools are nothing more than prisons. The inner city welfare culture has destroyed the black family. All of these programs have simply moved the black family from one plantation to another. I would argue this latter plantation may be worse than the former. At least in the former, there were black leaders that understood what freedom and liberty need, a solid family foundation and a Creator that defines morality. Is that the case today?

My opinion is that Conservatism has the answer. The promotion of personal liberty and responsibility and less government. Real opportunity as opposed government sponsored welfare produces the best that people have to offer. When men do not look to government as the solution but instead look to their God, family and community, I think we will see a real difference.

Now on the flip side, I am not thinking government has no role. Government should promote good citizenship among its citizens. When injustices occur, government ought to judge righteously. The purpose of government is to maintain justice (in the historic sense of the term).

However, America is a melting pot. People in time will come together. Policies that force multiculturalism and constantly divide us will not help but harm. I am afraid that Affirmative Action has now run its course. Whatever help it would have done should have happened by now. Now is a time for change. Now is a time for new policies that will really help the black family. School choice and vouchers is one example. Just as the white man's complaints sound hollow, so do the complaints the Left when it says "no" to school vouchers and freedom while decrying constant racism.

I know I have said a lot. Much of what I think is outside of the mainline experience. I have not experienced the Jim Crowe south as a black man. I have never been called a nigger in its meanest derogatory sense. However, as the video shows, racism doesn't seem to be ending. I doubt it ever will. There must be better policies than what is be offered now.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Racism #1

A friend of mine has one of those cell phones that shows videos. He had shown me this one.

One of the things in my life that needs desperate sanctification is my humor. For instance I find Dave Chappelle extremely funny. There is just one problem. At times Chappelle may become very vulgar, and you never know when he will do so. Although, I don't see the world from his perspective, I think listening to the humor of men like him helps those of us who live in a different world to grasp how they see us.

In this video we see "angry white men" decrying Affirmative Action as an evil being forced upon them. I don't think I have ever written about racism or our Nation's Public policies regarding the topic. I grew up in an area of the country where you could literally count the number of black/African Americans with a hand that is missing fingers.

The irony of growing up in a white suburb south of Boston is that one of my first friends in kindergarten was a black girl. I really don't remember much else from that school year. I don't really remember anyone else. Her name was Grace Adams. We would sit and listen to records and music together. After kindergarten, we pretty much went our separate ways. I hung out with the boys as boys tend to do. In fact, I rarely spoke with her for the rest of our school years. Not that I avoided her. I just didn't hang out in the same circles.

One day in high school she approached me and basically accused me of not being willing to talk with her. She seemed to say that I would not because she was black. I must confess that that deeply saddened me. Here was a girl, who thought I had become some kind of racist. Why did she think so? What was it that I did that gave this impression? Could I have lived my life differently? Did I choose to not talk with her when I could have? She wasn't in any of my classes. She didn't hang out with my friends. She lived in a different part of town. Yet there she was accusing me of racism. Why?

I say all of this because I would like to make some comments on the above video knowing full well I am walking into territory that I am unfamiliar with. I know that I have never faced the world in a way that a black American does. So with fear and trepidation I hope to post on the video with thoughts that attempt to express a consistent biblical view knowing that many may disagree.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving & Plimouth Plantation

During this Thanksgiving season, I truly have many things to be thankful for. This past summer, I went on one of the best vacations ever. We traveled across this great land. While staying in Plymouth, we visited Plimouth Plantation.

In this artist's depiction of the First Thanksgiving we see William Brewster offering thanks to God for His care and provision. This summer, my family and I were able to meet this "Ruling Elder", as he referred to himself.

Apparently, he ages very well. Then again, it was the year 1627. I had the opportunity to ask him many questions. What a great conversation. I only wish I had written down more questions and had more time to spend there. Taking kids to a living museum may not be all that exciting for the kids, but I sure loved it.

Here is a video taken from the upper floor of the Meeting House. There were also canons. So I guess we have an example of the "church militant". ;-)

Anyway, it certainly gives some context to history. They also had a Native American portion of the museum. Although the Native Americans don't "play the roles" as the Pilgrims do, it was very informative. To see how both sides viewed each other makes for interesting discussion.

The woman below in the right side of the video had some interesting comments about the "Indians" (not in this video). She likened them to children who had all of this land and not working it as its potential could yield. It was interesting what these Anglicans had to say about the "Separatists". They spoke of them as being lazy. When I brought this up to William Brewster, he was able to tell the names of the Anglicans that complained about this. Apparently, they had people problems too.

Don't these guys look like they are having fun?

Of course you have to have the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock. Unfortunately, the rock was having construction done. But the tide was out so we managed to go down along the shore. But then the battery on the camera ran out. /so you will just have to take my word for it. The Rock was still there.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Confidence In Atheism Waning?

Not only has the public's trust of the Stock Market gone down but apparently Atheism's trust in science is also waning. This weekend I spent a few minutes in a Christian apologetics chat channel talking with an atheist. Within about 30 seconds the atheist said, "Whatever".

I must confess that that is a bit unusual. Most of the time atheists that would take the time to come into a Christan apologetics channel put up a pretty good fight. I usually have to really think about their arguments. This guy just seemed to not have the energy of love for atheism in him.

Dinesh D'Souza has written an article for offering a interesting viewpoint. He writes about the fact that science, especially in astronomy and molecular biology, has been showing the universe to be fine tuned for life. The coincidences are just too much to handle.
The appeal of multiple universes—perhaps even an infinity of universes—is that when there are billions and billions of possibilities, then even very unlikely outcomes are going to be realized somewhere. Consequently if there was an infinite number of universes, something like our universe is certain to appear at some point. What at first glance seems like incredible coincidence can be explained as the result of a mathematical inevitability.

The only difficulty, as Folger makes clear, is that there is no empirical evidence for the existence of any universes other than our own. Moreover, there may never be such evidence. That’s because if there are other universes, they will operate according to different laws of physics than the ones in our universe, and consequently they are permanently and inescapably inaccessible to us. The article in Discover concludes on a somber note. While some physicists are hoping the multiverse will produce empirical predictions that can be tested, “for many physicists, however, the multiverse remains a desperate measure ruled out by the impossibility of confirmation.”

You got to love it when atheists are now defending a position that places them outside of the scientific realm. Keep in mind that this is exactly what they have been accusing Christians of for as long as I can remember.

Albert Mohler, President of SBTS, has also noticed this quite some time ago (read article here). The "New Atheism" is on the move. In my opinion, atheism is like that proverbial animal that is dying and backed into a corner. The leaders are attempting to fight back with one last stand. However, I am sensing the lay-followers have lost their zeal.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pope Agrees With Luther...Double Talk

In this second post I want interact with the Pope's understanding of the Law verses the context of Scripture's use of it in Galatians. The article explains,
But in order to understand this Pauline teaching, Benedict XVI affirmed, "we must clarify what is the 'law' from which we have been freed and what are those 'works of the law' that do not justify."
So here we see that some aspects of the Law justify and some that do not justify. But what are they?
Instead, the Pope said, the law to which Paul refers is the "collection of behaviors extending from an ethical foundation to the ritual and cultural observances that substantially determined the identity of the just man -- particularly circumcision, the observance regarding pure food and general ritual purity, the rules regarding observance of the Sabbath, etc."

These observances served to protect Jewish identity and faith in God; they were "a defense shield that would protect the precious inheritance of the faith," he remarked.
By making this distinction between ethnic (Jewish Identity) laws and moral laws, Rome is able to say that justification occurs with a faith that works [moral laws] in love, not a faith alone that simply looks outside of one-self, looks to another and rests solely in the work of Christ alone.

In Galatians we read,
Gal 2:15 "We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles;
Gal 2:16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.
With the Rome's definition of law smuggled in, many Protestant will readily accept Rome as simply another denomination. The irony is that there is a movement among Protestants called the New Perspective On Paul (NPP). This movement interprets Paul's letter to the Galatians and sees that Paul was arguing against the Judaizers that were wanting to have Gentile Christians keep the ethnic laws that were used as boundaries for the Jews. In other words, Paul, according to this view, simply wanted to break down the cultural ethnic barriers of the law that separated Jews and Gentiles, not the moral law. But is this all Paul meant by the term "law"?

Jeffery Smith's article in the Reformed Baptist Theological Review (vol IV, No.1) demonstrates that the NPP is in serious error. His arguments I think apply equally strong here against the Roman Pontiff. He writes examination of Paul's use of the phrase "the works of the law" demonstrates that he saw in this insistence a much deeper problem that goes far beyond the mere issue of boundary markers or the social function of the law. Paul argues that to insist that justification is dependent on obedience to any aspect of the law means that we must be obedient to all that the law as a whole demands in order to be justified.
Now how do we know that Paul is referring to the entire law? Smith goes on to explain verses 3:10-14 and cites Venema's comments,
Those who would be justified by the works of the law are reminded that the law pronounces a curse upon everyone who fails to keep "all things" that are written in it.
The reference makes plain that the entire Old Testament Law must be kept or the curses of Deuteronomy would be fulfilled in the law-breaker. To make this passage refer to only "boundary markers" is to miss the point of the text itself. Paul not only includes circumcision, but also the Ten Commandments.

Think about it. Are we going to say that we may by faith keep the commandment "Thou shall not commit adultery" as justifying while circumcision is not? Who in the world keeps that commandment? I'll bet you broke that commandment within the last fifteen minutes. Are we really going to say that Christ has only freed us from the "boundary markers"? Why was it necessary for Jesus to die on the cross for circumcision? The problems with NPP and Rome's understanding of these passages in order to get round the plain teaching of Scripture only worsens the problem. God truly becomes the "cosmic child abuser" if Jesus' death on the cross is merely for racism.

To put it another way Smith writes,
...If this is the meaning of Christ being made a curse for us, then the Jews themselves had no need of a cross. The cross was only for the Gentiles, to show them that God is for them [is this not what Benedict basically says?]. The only need, then, that Jews had of the cross was with reference to their unwillingness to receive Gentiles. Thus the cross was only for those Jews who were racist and only for those Gentiles who were unhappy with the idea of having to become Jews.
Smith's comments on Romans 7 are helpful.
Some argue that it's only a legalistic obedience to the law that Paul excludes from being the ground of justification. It is only obedience out of the sinful motive of seeking to bribe God. However, they argue that evangelical obedience, or believing obedience, is not excluded from being the ground of our justification or from in some sense being the condition of our justification. But it is not merely a legalistic obedience that Paul excludes. That, of course, is excluded. Paul excludes obedience to the demands of the law period, whatever the motive.
Man is always attempting to insert himself somewhere in salvation. We just can't let go of the idea that we must do something. The common objection raised by all religions including Roman Catholicism is the same objection that was raised against Paul's teaching of Justification by faith alone.
Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
Or as one RC asked me, "So you believe that we are fully and completely justified by faith alone apart from any works of any kind? So you may get saved and then kill people without any possibility of losing your salvation?"

Paul's answer in the rest of chapter 6 is something I will let the reader decide. For now I will agree with Lloyd-Jones. You are not preaching the Gospel unless you are accused of preaching the free-grace of God. This Rome denies and will not do. Therefore Rome is an apostate church. She has redefined faith and the law and ultimately the Gospel, which is really no Gospel at all.

Anne Milgram Terrorizes Private Business

According to Michelle Malkin, "the New Jersey attorney general intervened on behalf of the gay plaintiff and wrangled an agreement out of eHarmony to change its entire business model." They now have to provide a service to homosexuals that the company was never designed to do.
This case is akin to a meat-eater suing a vegetarian restaurant for not offering him a rib-eye, or a female patient suing a vasectomy doctor for not providing her hysterectomy services.
Malkin informs us of other law-suits.
For three years, the company battled McKinley's legal shakedown artists -- and staved off other opportunists as well. The dating site had been previously sued by a lesbian looking to force the company to match her up with another woman, and by a married man who ridiculously sought to force the company to find him prospects for an adulterous relationship.
As I argued with Nolan T, once you allow homosexuals super rights, how do you argue against these kinds of suits.

Basically the Attorney General's office in NJ headed by Anne Milgram will now terrorize private citizens and businesses if they don't abide by their political correctness. Their personal views of the world will now be forced on anyone they choose. So once again, the Nolan T style ignorance runs a muck. Not only do Americans have foreign enemies that hate our Constitution, we have domestic enemies as well.

Michelle Malkin offers a potential strategy. Start suing the private companies of homosexuals. There is just one problem with that idea. Most Conservatives have lives.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pope Agrees With Luther...Not

Yesterday, the Pope announced that "Martin Luther's doctrine on justification is correct..." You may read an article by Zenit here (thanks to Algo for pointing this to me). I guess we can all close our Protestant churches and go back to the true church Jesus founded. We Protestants have been wrong for the last 500 years. If only the Pontiff of Luther's day would have said this. We could have avoided all of this misunderstanding.

At the close of the article the Pope is quoted.
Faith is to look at Christ, to entrust oneself to Christ, to be united to Christ, to be conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence, to believe is to be conformed to Christ and to enter into his love."

"Paul knows," he added, "that in the double love of God and neighbor the whole law is fulfilled. Thus the whole law is observed in communion with Christ, in faith that creates charity. We are just when we enter into communion with Christ, who is love."
What modern Protestant would disagree with this? As a Protestant who has spoken over the years with many different sects that claim to be Christian but are not, I have learned one thing. There is a "language barrier" that must be scaled.

First, let's look at what the Pope is actually saying. Then we will look at what the Reformers taught in their confessions. Tomorrow's post we shall look at the meaning of "law" as defined by Scripture.

If you read the article carefully, you will notice there are significant qualifications that Benedict the XVI stipulates.
Martin Luther's doctrine on justification is correct, if faith "is not opposed to charity." - [emphasis mine]
What does the Pope mean by this. He clarifies with the same old Roman Catholic trick. He redefines "law".

What is law

But in order to understand this Pauline teaching, Benedict XVI affirmed, "we must clarify what is the 'law' from which we have been freed and what are those 'works of the law' that do not justify."

The article then explains the meaning of this,
Instead, the Pope said, the law to which Paul refers is the "collection of behaviors extending from an ethical foundation to the ritual and cultural observances that substantially determined the identity of the just man -- particularly circumcision, the observance regarding pure food and general ritual purity, the rules regarding observance of the Sabbath, etc."
So what the Pope gives with one hand, he takes away with the other. It is true that Jesus' work on the cross takes down the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles, such as circumcision, pure foods, and ect..
"The wall -- so says the Letter to the Ephesians -- between Israel and the pagans was no longer necessary".
This is often the argument used by Roman Catholics to explain Paul's use of the Law in Galatians. According to Rome, Paul was not saying that men are justified by faith alone without works of love. They were just not justified by keeping ethnic barriers of circumcision (perhaps also eating certain clean foods and keeping certain rituals) that the Judaizers were forcing upon churches. So Rome teaches that we must keep the law of love by faith in order to be Justified. But is this the only meaning of "Law" Paul is speaking of or is this really what Luther meant by faith?

The Lutheran and Protestant Confessions as a whole reject what the Pope defines as faith that Justifies a sinner. Luther's Lectures On Romans has an interesting paragraph that deals with the external nature of Justification.

The saints are intrinsically always sinners, therefore they are always extrinsically justified; but the hypocrites are intrinsically always righteous, therefore they are extrinsically always sinners....Hence, we are extrinsically righteous in so far as we are righteous not in and from ourselves and not in virtue of our works but only by God's regarding us so. For inasmuch as the saints are always aware of their sin and implore God for the merciful gift of His righteousness, they are for this very reason also always reckoned righteous by God. Therefore they are before themselves and in truth unrighteous, but before God they are righteous because He reckons them so on account of this confession of their sin; they are sinners in fact, but by virtue of the reckoning of the merciful God they are righteous....
One must wonder if the Pope would agree with Luther. Obviously not.

The Augusburg Confession states,

1] Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for 2] Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. 3] This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4.

As the LBCF states defines the historic understanding of Faith Alone,
Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ, and his Righteousness, is the (f) alone instrument of Justification: yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving Graces, and is no dead faith, (g) but worketh by love.
And again,
But the principal acts of Saving Faith, have immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving, and resting upon (i) him alone, for Justification, Sanctification, and Eternal Life, by vertue of the Covenant of Grace.
These quotes demonstrate that for historic Protestantism including Luther that faith without any works whatsoever saves a man. The reason is simple. It looks to Christ. It looks to another's work and righteousness alone. Yet obviously saving faith is never without works, but those works have no justifying power in any way, shape or form. This is what Benedict denies in his qualifications of faith. The Reformers did not misunderstand Rome. They knew full well the stakes involved. Once works entered into the definition of faith that justifies, then resting in Christ's work alone is not possible.

So why does the Pope say Luther was right, when he knows full well what Luther taught and knows full well that he disagrees with Luther? Deception. As Algo said to me last night, "This is double talk." Double talk is what you get with Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. It is also what you are getting with Rome.

You may say, "This seems trivial." How a man is made right with God is anything but trivial. Of course if you see man as merely "sick" then, God's grace may be necessary, but it will not be sufficient until man cooperates with God. For the Reformers, God's grace is not merely necessary, but sufficient. This, tied together with man's total depravity, brings about faith alone in Christ Alone.

When a man sees he has nothing to offer God, even by faith in love, he will see salvation is By Grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. To God alone be the Glory.

Court Flushes Constitution Down Black Hole

BPNews has reported that the California Supreme Court will see if the Constitution is Constitutional.
SAN FRANCISCO (BP)--The California Supreme Court agreed Nov. 19 to consider the constitutionality of Proposition 8, but -- in a win for supporters -- allowed the amendment, which prohibits "gay marriage," to remain in effect during the interim.
If you remember this was exactly my point to Nolan T back in May. Due to his ignorance of how our form of Government works, he was more concerned about whether I was homophobic than whether the basis for law was sound and solid. The fact is this case shows we have abandoned any sense of American government. If we overthrow the Constitution and allow men in black robes declare what is right and wrong, then we have truly fallen down the black hole. No one seems to know where this will end up at. Outer darkness is a dark place indeed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Scalia and Foreign Law

Just got this from Citizen Link. I just love Justice Scalia. We need more men like him to stop Liberals from overthrowing the Constitution.

Scalia Warns Judges Against Relying on Foreign Law

He says the Founders of this country did not want us to emulate Europe.

The U.S. Constitution is not a "living document" and should not be filtered through foreign law.

That's the message U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had for a group of judges and lawyers in Houston this week.

"I fear the courts' use of foreign law in interpreting the Constitution will continue at an accelerated pace," the 72-year-old jurist told the local chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

Scalia called on judges to adhere to the constitutional authors' intent. He said the Founders of this country did not want us to emulate Europe.

Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said Scalia is right to criticize his colleagues for relying on foreign law to justify their decisions.

"If judges are just going to make stuff up, they should have the courage to admit it," he said. "If we're not vigilant as citizens to protect our law-making authority under the Constitution, the judiciary will increasingly take that authority from us and use it to create a society in their own image.

"We must cry 'foul' whenever the court dabbles in its fondness for the use of foreign law to justify its own excesses."

Wendy Long, legal counsel at the Judicial Confirmation Network, agreed.

"The whole idea of America was that we were going to be a nation built on the consent of the governed," she told Family News in Focus. "That means we’re only governed by laws that a majority of us have assented to — that includes the Constitution."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

BPNews John 3:16 Conference Part 6 Election

Richard Land spoke about election. The BPNews article states,
Reacting to Reformed commentaries that say "all" can't really mean "all men" because if God willed something it would have to happen, Land said, "I believe in a God who is so sovereign and so omniscient that He can break out of Calvin's box ... and He can choose to limit Himself and He can convict us and He can seek to bring us to conviction ... but He will not force us."
I constantly hear this God limiting Himself argument. This is the same mentality from the pagan movie Bruce Almighty. God creates a creature, man, in such a way in that the creature has more freedom than God does. This is simply a philosophy of man and love that is read into the Bible.

Please notice the phrase "but He will not force us." I thank God that God forced me to rise from the dead. I thank God that He recreated or regenerated my will in Christ to seek and follow Christ. I thank God that while I was a wicked rebellious God-hating sinner, He chose to convert me through the preaching of that wonderful proclamation of the Gospel. For it is the power of God unto salvation.

Of course when I say these things, the other side hears "robot" or a chatty Cathy doll. They see the "free agency of man" being violated. Yet this is their Tradition speaking, not Scripture.

Monday, November 17, 2008

BPNews John 3:16 Conference Part 5 Perseverance

Ken Keathley spoke on the subject of Perseverance and assurance. The article states,
While the Reformers taught that assurance is the essence of faith, the doctrines of the hidden will of God, limited atonement and temporary faith undermine this assurance, he said. Some argue that final justification is obtained by perseverance.

"Doesn't this come close to a works-based salvation?" he asked.

Keathley said the only basis for assurance is the objective work of Christ, and that saving faith perseveres or remains until the day when it gives way to sight.

"Any model that begins with Christ but ends with man is doomed to failure," he stated.
I am not really certain why assurance and perseverance are considered as the same thing. They are not. The irony in the above statement is that Calvinists were accused of having faith in faith earlier in the article. Yet that is exactly what we get with "Once Saved Always Saved". We have perhaps millions of Christians who are told never to question their faith. They are simply to believe that they believe, therefore they are saved. How Calvinists become the target of this argument is beyond my comprehension.

It is true that Luther and Calvin seemed to say that "assurance is the essence of faith", yet not all would agree. Sam Waldron discusses the idea that assurance and faith (listen here) are not the same thing even though they are inextricably linked together. Albert Mohler has an article on assurance that I believe is helpful in understanding the Christian's responsibility in his growth in Christ.

Dealing with assurance or perseverance or whatever he is trying to address is a little more complicated that just saying Calvinists start with God and end up with man. This is simply not helpful to the discussion at all. The article says,
"Some argue that final justification is obtained by perseverance."
Who are these "some"? The article does not mention. There is a movement within the Reformed community to abandon Justification as historically taught. Sam Waldron's dissertation is a helpful read.

Since there seems to be all of this confusion on Perseverance being equated with assurance and final justification, allow me to cite the London Baptist Confession on what the doctrine actually is verses what we are told it is by those that have constantly misrepresented the Reformed Faith.

Chapter 17: Of The Perseverance of the Saints

1._____ Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, whence he still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon; notwithstanding, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them, yet he is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palm of his hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity.
( John 10:28, 29; Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 2:19; 1 John 2:19; Psalms 89:31, 32; 1 Corinthians 11:32; Malachi 3:6 )

2._____ This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ and union with him, the oath of God, the abiding of his Spirit, and the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.
( Romans 8:30 Romans 9:11, 16; Romans 5:9, 10; John 14:19; Hebrews 6:17, 18; 1 John 3:9; Jeremiah 32:40 )

3._____ And though they may, through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins, and for a time continue therein, whereby they incur God's displeasure and grieve his Holy Spirit, come to have their graces and comforts impaired, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded, hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves, yet shall they renew their repentance and be preserved through faith in Christ Jesus to the end.
( Matthew 26:70, 72, 74; Isaiah 64:5, 9; Ephesians 4:30; Psalms 51:10, 12; Psalms 32:3, 4; 2 Samuel 12:14; Luke 22:32, 61, 62 )

Anyone see assurance in this section? That's because assurance is dealt with in another section. Again, they are not the same thing. Here is the section on Assurance, which is oddly enough (surprise surprise) the next chapter.

Chapter 18: Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation

1._____ Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God and state of salvation, which hope of theirs shall perish; yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.
( Job 8:13, 14; Matthew 7:22, 23; 1 John 2:3; 1 John 3:14, 18, 19, 21, 24; 1 John 5:13; Romans 5:2, 5 )

2._____ This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel; and also upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises are made, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; and, as a fruit thereof, keeping the heart both humble and holy.
( Hebrews 6:11, 19; Hebrews 6:17, 18; 2 Peter 1:4, 5, 10, 11; Romans 8:15, 16; 1 John 3:1-3 )

3._____ This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it; yet being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of means, attain thereunto: and therefore it is the duty of every one to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance; -so far is it from inclining men to looseness.
( Isaiah 50:10; Psalms 88; Psalms 77:1-12; 1 John 4:13; Hebrews 6:11, 12; Romans 5:1, 2, 5; Romans 14:17; Psalms 119:32; Romans 6:1,2; Titus 2:11, 12, 14 )

4._____ True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God's withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light, yet are they never destitute of the seed of God and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived, and by the which, in the meantime, they are preserved from utter despair.
( Canticles 5:2, 3, 6; Psalms 51:8, 12, 14; Psalms 116:11; Psalms 77:7, 8; Psalms 31:22; Psalms 30:7; 1 John 3:9; Luke 22:32; Psalms 42:5, 11; Lamentations 3:26-31 )

Just in case you missed the first sentence in paragraph 3 it says exactly the opposite of that which is claimed by Keathley. Read again.
"This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it..."
It says assurance does not belong to the essence of faith. So much for refuting Calvinists. This reminds me when Dr. Wilkins debated Dr. White on this subject. After the debate Dr. Wilkins tried to question Dr. White about the London Baptist Confession. Dr. White asked point blank if Wilkins had ever read it. After being asked a couple of times, Wilkins finally had to admit that he had not read the Confession, to which Dr. White responded by saying, "You don't know what you are talking about." I have a sense that Keathley is in the same boat.