Friday, May 30, 2008

Virgina Foxx: Asking the Right Question

This week's Stop Light video with Stuart Shepard is just to funny to not pass on. The "right question" was asked by Virginia Fox. With the simplest of questions, she blind-sided a panel of "experts" on sex education. Watch for yourself and get a good chuckle.

Monday, May 26, 2008

God's Word: Ultimate Authority For Protection

Reymond’s Systematic Theology has an interesting section on Man As Covenant Breaker. He explains the interaction between Eve and the Serpent from a presuppositional level. When the Serpent comes to Eve, he attempts to make a declaration of God’s commandment, “Even though God has said you shall not eat of any of the trees of the Garden….” By doing this, the Serpent “demands correction”.

Eve then begins to speak about God's actual commandment and to correct the Serpent. We do know that she too adds to the command of God, but something else is more problematic in Reymond’s view. She grants a talking snake authority. Instead of going to the heart of the matter, Eve assumes authority she doesn’t have. She comes out from under her husband’s protection and takes on a role designed for her husband.

The questions that should have been asked of the snake are something along the lines of, “Who are you? What authority do you have to question God? If God is ultimate truth, how are you able to justify your questions?” Now obviously the Serpent should not have even been given the time of day. God may not be questioned, for to do so is to borrow from God as the ultimate source of knowledge for even having the ability to ask questions in order to refute God as God. In other words, it is absurd from the get-go.

This paragraph from page 445 summarizes, I think, what has been written over 5 pages of argumentation:

“What precisely occurred here? Our first parents permitted Satan to challenge God’s Word concerning the tree and to give an alternative interpretation. When the pair remained silent in the face of Satan’s lie and thus demonstrated their willingness to reject God’s authority over them and their unwillingness to take God at His Word merely on the basis of His sovereign authority, they in effect permitted Satan to reduce God’s Word to a mere hypothesis at best and a lie at worst, the invalidity of which could be demonstrated by scientific testing. This means, however, that the center of authority for man had shifted away from God to himself. Adam and Eve came to believe that they were to be their own authority, that they had the right to determine for themselves by experimentation what is true and what is false. Of course, the fact that they ‘experimented’ at all makes it clear that at the moment they ate they already believed the Serpent’s hypothesis concerning the tree to be true, for had they really believed that their experimentation might lead to their deaths they would hardly have tried it. This shows, as Paul says, that men are never truly autonomous, but rather are walking either in obedience to God or according to the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2). But Adam and Eve thought that it was they who were determining the course they would follow, that they were only exercising their autonomous right to determine for themselves the true, the good, and the beautiful. They became, in their understanding, their own authority, and their fallen descendants ever since that time have claimed a similar autonomy from God.”

The application of this to recent posts is simple. If you have been following the exchange on this Blog and the attempted interaction with Bidstrup’s essay, then you know it is here that I challenged Bidstrup. To this moment, the argumentation has been the same in the comments. Both Bidstrup and Nolan are their own ultimate authorities while not realizing they are in fact enslaved to sin and the prince of the power of the air.

Christians are often caught like Eve. They feel they must defend God. They often use unBiblical means. As Reymond points out on page 444, we must "gladly own [our] creaturehood and happily acknowledge [our] delight in living under such authority."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Temptation Number 3

Once again, the church in Shallow Water put up with me. I attempted to preach on the third temptation in Matthew's Gospel. Here is the message if you desire to listen.

The glory of man verses the Glory of the Cross.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sabbath For All part 2

As funny or scary this picture is (depending on how one looks at it), it shows that in even our own country, the Sabbath and its importance has been debated. To what extent should the Laws of a nation govern the Sabbath? Should all men be in church on Sunday? Do we put men to death for violating the Sabbath?

Exodus 35:2 states, "Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death." So how should the Christian respond?

The Philadelphia Baptist Confession states in section 1,

"1. The light of nature shews that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is just, good and doth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart and all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures."

It is clear throughout the New Testament that the Christian is obligated to obey the Law of God under the New Covenant's application of the Moral Law. The Law cited throughout the New Testament is summarized by the Decalogue. The Apostle Paul also summarizes the Decalogue in 1 Timothy 1:8-11 as applicable to the Christian life. We are told by the same Apostle Paul in Romans 2 that the Law of God is written upon the hearts of unbelievers at creation.

The Moral Law of God was not invented by Moses, but was given to man at his creation. Although men have perverted and twisted the law of God, men are still accountable to it. Notice Paul's words in Romans 2

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

So the entire Bible teaches that the Moral Law of God in general and the Sabbath Law in particular is written upon the hearts of men. So the obvious question now comes to the front. Why not the death penalty then?

If one understand the Covenants God has made throughout the Bible and their importance, there really is no question. For atheists like Aaron Sorkin to cite these texts in this fashion shows their unwillingness to see the text of Scripture in its context and in their broader scope of Redemptive History.

When Moses came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments, God was establishing a Covenant with a special people that He had chosen. God had taken the Moral Law, as summarized by the Decalogue, written upon the heart at creation and established it in a unique way. God had made a new application of His Law upon tablets of stone to a particular people and a particular nation. This Covenantal aspect of the application of the Law is not to be confused with its general application from the creative act of God in Genesis 1-2.

Of course, this still begs the question of how should we view it today. First, National Israel's Old Covenant and its application (such as the death penalty for breaking the Sabbath) has passed away. God has reconstituted the Israel of God to be both Jew and Gentile. Jesus Christ is the true Israel of God. He has established the New Covenant with a particular people and nation before God, which is what the New Testament calls the church. This church is not the state. The New Testament does not give the church the powers of the state but is to abide among the peoples of this world under their respective governments. The Gospel is able to go into all the world without overthrowing governments.

Second, there is no command to go into all the governments and convert them to become Sabbatarians. Christians are subject to the civil rulers and authorities God has put into place. Chapter 25 section 3 of the Baptist Philadelphia Confession states,

3. Civil magistrates being set up by God for the ends aforesaid; subjection, in all lawful things commanded by them, ought to be yielded by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but for conscience sake;and we ought to make supplications and prayers for kings and all that are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.

(Rom. 13:5-7; 1 Pet. 2:17; 1 Tim. 2:1, 2)

Although this is just a brief summary of the arguments explaining the Covenantal aspects of the Moral Law of God, I want to be clear. Just as the commandment against murder is binding upon all men, so also is the Sabbath. Yet there is a distinction between the Covenantal application of these Laws and the same Law written upon the hearts of men. Therefore, the Christian should argue in the public forum for the Sabbath's morally binding nature while recognizing the distinction between church and state and its covenantal applications respectively.

Sabbath For All part 1

“My chief-of-staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police?"

I wanted to deal with Nolans understanding of the Sabbath problem first. The reason being that most people intuitively recognize that the Ten Commandments or the Decalogue seems to be cited in such a way that it is applicable to all men, including his football fans (so pig skins are not their only problem). Many Court Houses throughout our nation still have the Decalogue posted. Coupled with the passage cited from Exodus 35, this seems to cause quite a problem. For the Christian is supposed to be declaring a message of mercy.

Again, my first response is that those who cite passages like this do not have a sound presuppositional framework. They must borrow from the Christian's worldview of ethics, to then attack the Christian faith. When asked for their foundation as to their system of ethics, there isn’t any. Might makes right.

The presuppositions also do not allow for the idea that Scripture can be a coherent system of thought. The Bible is broken down into minute texts, which are then placed on a table like a jigsaw puzzle. There are so many pieces; it literally looks to be irreconcilable.

I do not share these false assumptions. I firmly believe that God is able to speak through men infallibly. God is all-powerful and is able to do anything He desires with his creatures. He is the Potter. We are the clay.

Second, although the Law is taken to be a single whole throughout the Old Testament, it is obvious that there are different aspects of the law. Many have seen three distinctions in the Law, Moral, Judicial and Ceremonial.

Much of American Jurisprudence has borrowed from principles seen throughout the Old Testament, especially from the moral and Judicial facets of the Law. For instance, our form of government has separated powers to the various branches in order to maintain integrity within our system. We also have historically maintained a separation of church and state. However we do not follow the Ceremonial facets of the Law.

Many Evangelicals have relegated the Sabbath to the ceremonial department. Since the New Testament has abrogated the Ceremonial aspects of the law, Evangelicals have avoided the argument altogether. Uncle Paul once told me, “The Sabbath is the one Law we probably break every week.”

I do believe theology matters. I am not willing to relegate the Sabbath as being a Ceremonial law that Christians may ignore. Historically, Baptists have agreed with their Presbyterian brothers. The New Hampshire Confession briefly summarizes the meaning of the Sabbath.

We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord's Day, or Christian Sabbath Acts 20:7; Gen. 2:3; Col. 2:16-17; Mark 2:27; John 20:19; 1 Cor. 16:1- 2; and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes Exod. 20:8; Rev. 1:10; Psa. 118:24, by abstaining from all secular labor and sinful recreations Isa. 58:13-14; 56:2-8; by the devout observance of all the means of grace, both private Psa. 119:15 and public Heb. 10:24-25; Acts 11:26; 13:44; Lev. 19:30; Exod. 46:3; Luke 4:16; Acts 17:2, 3; Psa. 26:8; 87:3; and by preparation for that rest that remaineth for the people of God Heb. 4:3-11.

With this foundation being laid, I will continue to defend the Sabbath’s relevance for both the Christian and non-Christian in my next post.

Nolan quoted a common argument often used against Christians in order to portray that God’s Word is unclear and has no real authority to pronounce morality in order to defend “the pick and choose texts of Scripture we like" position. The attempt is to discredit the Levitical Laws altogether since a clear passage against homosexuality is within the same pages.

“My chief-of-staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police? Here's one that's really important, 'cause we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean, Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side-by-side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?”

Now it must be admitted from the outset that Christians have debated the uses of the Law for centuries. This is not new. What is new by the opponents of Christianity and God’s Revelation in particular is the presupposition that God has given man so many crazy commands that to follow them would lead us to killing each other for silly little things like what we plant in our fields or what kind of clothes are sown together. This is done while ignoring the contextual backgrounds for these apparent difficulties.

These two examples are actually great examples because one is found in the Decalogue and the others are found outside of the Ten Commandments. In other words, most Christians would apply the Ten Commandments to all men while the other commandments mentioned in the quote might only apply to National Israel prior to the New Covenant. So how do they apply to today and what is their relevance?

In my next post, I will deal with the Sabbath law during the time it was given and its application for today. Then following I will deal with the Levitical Laws within the context of Israel’s separateness from the pagans around them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

They Finally Won!

I keep forgetting to post some pictures of my kiddos playing soccer. Here is Rachel going for the ball.

They finally did it. I really think I had the best of the 3 teams in our little soccer league. Yet until the last Saturday and final game, we had not won. Several games had blown leads in the last 5 minutes. They would just run out of gas. But not this last game. They went for it and defeated the other team. Here are a couple of pictures.

Can't wait till next year.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Oligarchy: Last One

Same-sex marriage would start us down a "slippery slope" towards legalized incest, bestial marriage, polygamy and all kinds of other horrible consequences.

A classic example of the reductio ad absurdum fallacy, it is calculated to create fear in the mind of anyone hearing the argument. It is, of course, absolutely without any merit based on experience. If the argument were true, wouldn't that have already happened in countries where forms of legalized gay marriage already exist? Wouldn't they have 'slid' towards legalized incest and bestial marriage? The reality is that a form of gay marriage has been legal in Scandinavian countries for over many years, and no such legalization has happened, nor has there been a clamor for it. It's a classic scare tactic - making the end scenario so scary and so horrible that the first step should never be taken. Such are the tactics of the fear and hatemongers.

If concern over the "slippery slope" were the real motive behind this argument, the advocate of this line of reasoning would be equally vocal about the fact that today, even as you read this, convicted murderers, child molesters, known pedophiles, drug pushers, pimps, black market arms dealers, etc., are quite free to marry, and are doing so. Where's the outrage? Of course there isn't any, and that lack of outrage betrays their real motives. This is an anti-gay issue and not a pro marriage issue.

I think I’ll end with this one. I am starting to get bored of being shunned into a corner by the Politically Correct crowd with terms like “hatemongers”. The Left constantly appeals to emotional arguments and good intentions. To say this is an anti-gay issue assumes a redefining of marriage that he has yet to justify throughout his entire essay.

The appeal to European countries by many today is a strange one. A few years ago, I heard that Europe is going to a 4-day workweek. America is falling behind. We should be like them. This is just more of the Left’s anti-American sentiment. It is simply arrogant. Since when is doing less work and becoming socialistic a good thing?

So here in this argument we have yet another appeal to mighty Europe. Yes, the Scandinavian countries are apparently the model to follow. Why, because they haven’t slid down the proverbial “slippery slope”. None of these countries comes close to “American Exceptionalism” (to borrow Rush’s terminology). In fact, Europe’s socialism is causing itself to be defeated with the rise of Far Eastern countries coming up on the world stage. They simply will not be able to compete. I just don’t understand the appeal to these guys.

I must confess. I just don’t get it. Why do Leftists always appeal to Europe? Europe has been burying its head for over a century. If it is so wonderful, move there. Yet, we don’t see this massive immigration to Europe except by one group of people. I’ll bet you’re wondering which group that might be. Islamic peoples are indeed migrating.

Last I checked, nothing is not able to resist something. Bidstrup’s non-existent foundation for his position will not resist Islam. If he thinks Christianity is oppressive, he simply has no idea what Europe is in for in the next few decades.

Of course his argument picks the worst scenario such as Bestial marriage. Notice however, he offers no argument. None! He offers no reason why Polygamy hasn’t been legalized other than by the force of the state. Is he really suggesting that Polygamists in those Scandinavian countries are simply ambivalent towards the state’s understanding of marriage? Here is a great example in a post written about Islamic polygamists. Enough said I think about that.

And of course, we could look to nations in the past that have become immoral in their view of marriage. God’s judgment eventually comes in many forms. The wicked and disgusting Canaanites were destroyed. We don’t even know what happened to the Aztecs. They just disappeared.

To end this, we must not redefine institutions given by the Creator because of pragmatism or some new social fad. Bidstrup’s essay has no foundation to build upon, and it has no ability resist true evil. It is simply another form of man’s suppression of the truth in order that he may attempt to rid society of its conscience and do what his sinful desires lead him. If anyone believes that sinful man is morally neutral and that Christians would not be a future target to be neutralized, they are sorely wrong. Not only does history demonstrate that to be the case, we see it now in post-Christian Europe and Canada.

May God grant us repentance.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Oligarchy Part 4

“Same-sex marriage would threaten the institution of marriage. Well, that one's contradictory right on the face of it. Threaten marriage? By allowing people to marry? That doesn't sound very logical to me. If you allow gay people to marry each other, you no longer encourage them to marry people to whom they feel little attraction, with whom they most often cannot relate adequately sexually, bringing innocent children into already critically stressed marriages. By allowing gay marriage, you would reduce the number of opposite-sex marriages that end up in the divorce courts. If it is the stability of the institution of heterosexual marriage that worries you, then consider that no one would require you or anyone else to participate in a gay marriage. You would still have freedom of choice, of choosing which kind of marriage to participate in -- something more than what you have now. And speaking of divorce -- to argue that the institution of marriage is worth preserving at the cost of requiring involuntary participants to remain in it is a better argument for reforming divorce laws than proscribing gay marriage.”

I am reminded of a Mad TV skit where George Bush is asked if homosexuals should be allowed to marry. He said, “Of course, a gay man may marry a gay woman.” As funny as that skit was, I thought it pointed out the obvious. Marriage by definition is a male becoming legally and physically and spiritually united to a female. Isn’t this the obvious point that Bidstrup misses?

There is no such thing as gay marriage. He simply assumes that anybody may become married. His statement, “You would still have freedom of choice, of choosing which kind of marriage to participate in -- something more than what you have now.” is indeed the real argument that Conservatives attempt to argue. Could we have polygamy marriages or something we haven’t even thought of yet? What if my religious beliefs were that of Joseph Smith’s? Bidstrup has absolutely no foundation upon which to define anything.

Bidstrup makes some good practical points that his position would bring about. Pragmatism and what seems to work is irrelevant to whether or not something is morally justified. The example that some marriages end up in divorce is truly sad in itself. I agree that quite often conservative churches have made homosexuality the unpardonable sin. However, failed marriages happen all the time due to someone believing they married the wrong person or have desire for someone else. Marriage counseling may not always help, but quite often we hear of success stories including men who struggle with homosexuality. I have personally witnessed this fact.

Another assumption in this statement above is the idea of love. If “people” love one another, who are we to say they can’t get married. This simply leads us into another presuppositional discussion. Bidstrup simply assumes an American version of the definition of love. He is simply wrong. Love is defined by God, not human emotions or desires. He assumes man is not a sinner that bends and perverts everything, including love. True Love fulfills the Law of God. If we break God’s Law, then we do not love according to God’s definition.

In conclusion, we do not redefine terms and institutions simply because of pragmatism or using man as a starting point to form a moral and ethical system. Bidstrup is constantly using negative arguments against heterosexuals to justify his position. He assumes moral arguments, yet he simply begs the question constantly. I keep rereading his post. Perhaps I am reading with a strong bias against his position that keeps me from hearing his positive arguments, but I just do not see anything in his essay that makes a positive presentation why gay marriage is morally justified. I never hear his basis for saying heterosexuals are wrong. His philosophical position is simply assumed. He borrows from the Image of God within himself to use reason and attempted logical argumentation and morality. Yet he does this while fulfilling Romans 1. He suppresses the truth and perverts it at every turn.

Oligarchy Part 3

"Marriage is an institution between one man and one woman. Well, that's the most often heard argument, one even codified in a recently passed U.S. federal law. Yet it is easily the weakest. Who says what marriage is and by whom it is to be defined? The married? The marriable? Isn't that kind of like allowing a banker to decide who is going to own the money in stored in his vaults? It seems to me that justice demands that if the straight community cannot show a compelling reason to deny the institution of marriage to gay people, it shouldn't be denied. And such simple, nebulous declarations, with no real moral argument behind them, are hardly compelling reasons. They're really more like an expression of prejudice than any kind of a real argument. The concept of not denying people their rights unless you can show a compelling reason to deny them is the very basis of the American ideal of human rights."

This paragraph is a great illustration where people who oppose the Christian faith or the Revelation of God in Scripture or nature must borrow from the Christian faith in order to make their position even be somewhat coherent. Notice he asks, "Who says"? To which he answers, "The married?", "seems to me...", "a compelling reason...". The most interesting word he uses in my opinion is "justice". What is his notion of justice based upon? A particular argument, compelling reason or himself, seems to be his answer. Yet to even begin to make this work, he offers no explanation or justification for why he is able to reason, offer a specific argument or making himself the measure of justice. He is not even able to justify the notion of morality. He writes,

"Gay relationships are immoral. Says who? The Bible? Somehow, I always thought that freedom of religion implied the right to freedom from religion as well. The Bible has absolutely no standing in American law, as was made clear by the intent of the First Amendment (and as was very explicitly stated by the founding fathers in their first treaty, the Treaty of Tripoli, in 1791) and because it doesn't, no one has the right to impose rules anyone else simply because of something they percieve to be a moral injunction mandated by the Bible. Not all world religions have a problem with homosexuality; many sects of Buddhism, for example, celebrate gay relationships freely and would like to have the authority to make them legal marriages. In that sense, their religious freedom is being infringed. If one believes in religious freedom, the recognition that opposition to gay marriage is based on religious arguments is reason enough to discount this argument."

So Bidstrup borrows from the Christian revelation that there is a right and wrong while claiming that we can't appeal to the only consistent justification for morality. How can we be free from God's revelation to man? If God is the Creator, He, by definition, is the source of knowledge, reason , laws of logic and morality. By denying religion, Bidstrup denies the foundation for even having a conversation at all.

So we are left with might makes right. In this case, 4 men dressed in black robes have forced an unjustifiable viewpoint on society. That in itself is immoral since our form of government doesn't allow tyranny. Therefore, these men have acted in a traitorous way and have violated the American way of life.

There are also historical arguments that would easily refute the statement that the First Amendment would keep the Bible out of American jurisprudence. I would recommend WallBuilders website as a resource. Here are some quotes of Justices from the founding era.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

No free government now exists in the world, unless where Christianity is acknowledged, and is the religion of the country.

(Source: Pennsylvania Supreme Court, 1824. Updegraph v. Commonwealth; 11 Serg. & R. 393, 406 (Sup.Ct. Penn. 1824).)

Joseph Story

Supreme Court Justice

Indeed, the right of a society or government to [participate] in matters of religion will hardly be contested by any persons who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well being of the state and indispensable to the administrations of civil justice. The promulgation of the great doctrines of religion—the being, and attributes, and providence of one Almighty God; the responsibility to Him for all our actions, founded upon moral accountability; a future state of rewards and punishments; the cultivation of all the personal, social, and benevolent virtues—these never can be a matter of indifference in any well-ordered community. It is, indeed, difficult to conceive how any civilized society can well exist without them.

(Source: Joseph Story, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1847), p. 260, §442.)

Daniel Webster

Early American Jurist and Senator

[I]f we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity.

(Source: Daniel Webster, The Writings and Speeches of Daniel Webster (Boston: Little, Brown, & Company, 1903), Vol. XIII, p. 492. From "The Dignity and Importance of History," February 23, 1852.)

Oliver Ellsworth

Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court

[T]he primary objects of government are the peace, order, and prosperity of society. . . . To the promotion of these objects, particularly in a republican government, good morals are essential. Institutions for the promotion of good morals are therefore objects of legislative provision and support: and among these . . . religious institutions are eminently useful and important. . . . [T]he legislature, charged with the great interests of the community, may, and ought to countenance, aid and protect religious institutions—institutions wisely calculated to direct men to the performance of all the duties arising from their connection with each other, and to prevent or repress those evils which flow from unrestrained passion.

(Source: Connecticut Courant, June 7, 1802, p. 3, Oliver Ellsworth, to the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut)

Fisher Ames

Framer of the First Amendment

Our liberty depends on our education, our laws, and habits . . . it is founded on morals and religion, whose authority reigns in the heart, and on the influence all these produce on public opinion before that opinion governs rulers.

(Source: Fisher Ames, An Oration on the Sublime Virtues of General George Washington (Boston: Young & Minns, 1800), p. 23.)

John Quincy Adams

Sixth President of the United States

The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes . . . of universal application-laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of laws.

(Source: John Quincy Adams, Letters of John Quincy Adams, to His Son, on the Bible and Its Teachings (Auburn: James M. Alden, 1850), p. 61.)

There are three points of doctrine the belief of which forms the foundation of all morality. The first is the existence of God; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is a future state of rewards and punishments. Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these three articles of faith and that man will have no conscience, he will have no other law than that of the tiger or the shark. The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.

(Source: John Quincy Adams, Letters of John Quincy Adams to His Son on the Bible and Its Teachings (Auburn: James M. Alden, 1850), pp. 22-23.)

If might makes right, I'll go with the framers.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Oligarchy Part 2

Now for my second post I would like to interact with Bidstrup’s quote of Anthony Kennedy and his reply. Kennedy is cited:

"We cannot accept the view that Amendment 2's prohibition on specific legal protections does no more than deprive homosexuals of special rights. To the contrary, the amendment imposes a special disability on those persons alone. Homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without constraint"

-Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court in the decision overturning Colorado's Amendment 2 referendum

To which Bidstrup begins his article,

“Ask just about anyone. They'll all tell you they're in favor of equal rights for homosexuals. Just name the situation, and ask. They'll all say, yes, gays should have the same rights in housing, jobs, public accommodations, and should have equal access to government benefits, equal protection of the law, etcetera, etcetera.

Then you get to gay marriage.

And that's when all this talk of equality stops dead cold.

More than half of all people in the United States oppose gay marriage, even though three fourths are otherwise supportive of gay rights. This means that many of the same people who are even passionately in favor of gay rights oppose gays on this one issue.

Why all the passion?

It's because there is a lot of misunderstanding about what homosexuality really is, as well as the erroneous assumption that gay people enjoy the same civil rights protections as everyone else. There are also a lot of stereotypes about gay relationships, and even a great deal of misunderstanding of what marriage itself is all about and what its purpose is.”

Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument. Bidstrup rightly sees it as most homosexual activists do. The problem with the Conservative argument is that we say we believe in equal rights. Then we say we believe homosexuals have these same equal rights. Then we say homosexuals may live privately in their homosexual lifestyle with the attitude of Seinfeld ("I don’t like homosexuality…not that there is anything wrong with that…"). Then the obvious response comes from the other side as we see in the above quotes.

Conservatives have granted a false premise and have allowed themselves to be shamed by the Politically Correct crowd. The “Drive-by Media” is obviously culpable as part of those who would mock the Christian world view. Movies and TV/Cable programs are also part of the problem. But I believe the main reason is that Conservatives have failed to articulate a coherent response that is persuasive. In a day an age where the Bible is considered an antiquated book, is there really much the Conservative (Christian or not) can do? Let’s face it, socially Conservative’s opinions are not any more valid than a Liberal’s. Why, because he grants to the homosexual that the basis for morality is to found in man, not God. He is embarrassed to even mention that the Creator ordains the institution of government, much less marriage.

A great example was used by Rush Limbaugh when he discussed John McCain's position on Global Warming. Here we have granted Liberals the false premise that Global Warming is occurring and man is responsible for it. Then Conservatives try to argue that we can fix it in a better way. The problem now is that Conservatives have granted a false premise to the other side, and now we are surprised Liberals are running away with victory in hand, leaving Conservatives embarrassed to even discuss the issue in a fundamental way.

“It's because there is a lot of misunderstanding about what homosexuality really is, as well as the erroneous assumption that gay people enjoy the same civil rights protections as everyone else. There are also a lot of stereotypes about gay relationships, and even a great deal of misunderstanding of what marriage itself is all about and what its purpose is.”

I am certain that there are a lot of stereotypes of gay men. When I Googled homosexuality, I saw nearly every perversion that could possibly have come up on my screen. I immediately had to hit that back button and fast. Yet, I know this is not necessarily the real world of homosexuality.

Nevertheless, it is irrelevant what the stereotypes are. The State has a duty to maintain justice before God. The State knows what is right and wrong because the State also is able to read God’s Revelation. No, the State does not have to become Christian, nor does it have to believe in Jesus or promote it in a way that the church is responsible for. There is a separation between the two institutions (I will discuss more on this subject in a later post.). Social Conservatives, Christian or not, must stop granting the false premise in the culture debate.

Suffice it to say, that men know what the truth is. God is the Creator and man is His creature. God is the one who decides how His creation is to function. Homosexuality is a perversion of the created order. Suppressing that truth will only further bring the judgment of God upon us. Perhaps the Oligarchy is His judgment upon a people that have been freed from tyranny for over 200 years.

Oligarchy Now Rules

Today is a day when homosexuals are celebrating a huge victory in California. As most of you probably know by now, the California State Supreme Court decided that homosexuals do have a right to get married. You may read one story here and read the Court's decision here. Eventually, I would like to sit down and read through the Court's ruling. For now, I have come across an interesting web page that defends homosexual marriage. For the next few posts, I will be interacting with some points that are made.

Approximately 2/3 down the page a question is asked

"Why Does Conservative Politics Find Gay Marriage So Deeply Threatening?”

To which the writer, Scott Bidstrup begins to answer,

“As George Lakoff, in his excellent book, "Moral Politics" points out, conservatism is based on a "strict father" metaphor of morality, in which a wise father (church or political leader) sets the rules, and the children (the people) are disciplined to comply, thereby gaining self discipline, and with it, autonomy and self-sufficiency.”

Here is the irony. The will of the people through their elected representatives and normal Constitutional means decided against gay marriage. So the law on the books was determined by the will of the people. Yet, 4 of seven Justices, by the power of a pen, decided what is right and what is wrong and “the children (the people) are disciplined to comply”.

The real heinous thing about this entire issue is that while claiming to seek liberty, homosexuals and those endorsing their position are undermining the very system that gives rise to our liberty. So it is hypocritical to call social Conservatives or religious conservatives to be those blindly following a “father” figure, when homosexual groups are forcing exactly that.

Our Constitutional form of government has been violently attacked. Although this is not new, it is troubling that the Courts are now consistently ruling from this perspective. When Judges may overthrow the Constitution and the normal means of passing legislation (make no mistake, that is exactly what this is) but instead passes legislation from the bench, then we cease to be a free people and come under the tyranny of an Oligarchy form of government. Homosexuals may rejoice today, but even their so-called victory could be overturned by a new dictator tomorrow.

Lord willing, I’ll have more time to interact later this evening.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Update On Sign

An update to the prior post. Now the sign reads, "You can't tell the Good News while being the bad news." Now again, this is a serious misunderstanding of the doctrine of Sanctification. How good does one have to be?

Now obviously Christians that act hypocritically will lose credibility as a witness as any person does in a court of law. Nevertheless, this has no impact on whether the Gospel is true or not. The Gospel isn't true because of my behavior. We don't know that Jesus lives because He lives within my heart. The Gospel is true because God invaded time and space. The events that happened happened in history.

What is even more troubling about this sign is a related question. If the doctrine of Sanctification can be so misunderstood, how much more the doctrine of Justification? Is Justification an experience? Is it a part of Sanctification without any distinction at all? It truly makes me wonder what Gospel is being preached.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Living For Or In Light of Christ?

In light of a recent post by Cory and other posts we have written I thought this sign would make for an interesting discussion. I have no doubt the author of this sign has a love for Christ. I have no doubt there is even some truth to what is being said. The problem I have is trying to put theology into a clip that turns sanctification into a slogan or perhaps a cliche.

If this were merely a descriptive idea, an idea of a man who is being described, then there really might be nothing to say to this. After all, a man that is saved by Christ is going to live for Christ. There are many passages in Scripture that describe things in this manner. Yet quite often we misread texts of Scripture as I am certain we misread this one as well.

Let me explain. Life is not worth living simply because I got up one day and decided to live for Jesus. This is not the Gospel. Anyone who thinks it is has not the Gospel and lives a life that is upside down and backwards from it. Life is worth living because Christ lived for me. By faith I trust in the finished work of the Son of God. His life is my life. His death is my death. His resurrection is my resurrection. His ascension is my ascension. His being seated in the heavenly realm is my being seated with Him. All of this is by faith alone. I have done none of this. Yet, it is as if I had through the means of faith.

The lack of understanding between Law and Gospel that is being taught in church today is sad. We preach so much law in the guise of self help or motivational preaching, that in the Name of Christ, we hold up our lives. For example, have you heard it said that "We should always be preaching the Gospel. Sometimes we should even use words."? If so, then you have been misled. Your life is not the Gospel. Christ and His perfect life and death is the only Gospel. It is a proclamation.

As ambassadors for Christ, we ought to live consist godly lives that we gain an audience with those to whom we have been called to serve. This is not the Gospel though. The Gospel is the lifting up of Christ and His finished work in behalf of those who will look to and believe in Him.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


It’s funny in the saddest way. Recently, Pastor Paul and I, by means of donated tickets, attended a lecture by Don Piper, author of 90 Minutes in Heaven. A church in the area “felt led” to bring Pastor Don Piper to speak and, after reading the 13% of his book which chronicles his reported 90 minutes in heaven I was curious as to the content of his lecture.
It was apparent to both Paul and I that, whether Don’s experience was genuine or not, he is not a conman and is definitely not void of concern for people who suffer as he suffered after his auto accident. Additionally, the bulk of his address focused on two main propositions that, I think, were appropriate for American Evangelical Christians to hear. Namely, God answers prayer and God still works miracles. I cannot deny that Don’s survival and recovery is miraculous. If it was not, it is, at least, highly implausible. We are so pragmatic these days that we do not trust God and therefore, do not pray to him. I have no conflict or dissatisfaction with Don Piper’s ministry and presentation in these issues.
Regarding his presentation, concerning Heaven, and what he would probably refer to as “The Gospel” I would adamantly, and passionately take issue. It is my sincere belief, and I will elaborate on this as I proceed, that in all of Don Piper’s time, and in all of his words about heaven, getting to heaven, and how Jesus was the way to heaven, he did not once come to close to presenting the true gospel, and, in fact, obstructed it. That’s why it’s funny in the saddest way. In the process of telling American Evangelicals where they’ve gone wrong on certain issues, he demonstrates his own Evangelical bias and tradition.
Here’s the issue. Saying that “Jesus is the way to heaven” is NOT the gospel. Heaven is not the gospel. Heaven is not even the goal of Christianity. Jesus is not a key, a portal, or a steppingstone into an everlasting reward. Jesus Christ is the reward!
Don Piper’s message essentially concluded, “Heaven is real. Do you want to go there? If you do, Jesus is the way.”
Is this where we have landed? Really? Are we so inadequate to present the God of the Bible, the glorious and risen Son of God, and so ill informed as to the content of Scripture that in order to bring people into our camp we must present incentives to do so? Have we really become salesmen? Who wouldn’t want to become a Christian with incentives like heaven?
Here’s the problem with saying that Jesus is the way to Heaven and saying that it’s the gospel: That’s not what the gospel sounds like in the New Testament! The gospel start like this…“Repent! Believe!”
The word gospel means “good news”. It is the good news that, “while we were still sinners” (undeserving of anything but punishment, much less heaven) “Christ died for us.” Without Christ, Heaven is actually bad, bad, bad news, because we can’t get there no matter how hard we try. There is no good news without Christ! To preach all the blessings of the gospel such as heaven, reunion with fellow saints, resurrection, escape from hell, the clearing of our conscience and simply stop, without proclaiming Christ, you obstruct the gospel and deny the listener access to all the blessings which you so heartily proclaim and own through Christ.
To quote Pastor John (not Don) Piper, “The goal of the gospel is not the forgiveness of sins. The goal of the gospel is not justification. The goal of the gospel is not escape from hell. The goal of the gospel is not the entrance into everlasting resurrection, health and pleasure. The goal of the gospel is God.”
This might sound shocking to some, but here’s what he means.

I Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit…”

As Jesus prayed for his disciples and for all believers, on the night he was betrayed he said, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).

When Don Piper said, “Do you want to go to Heaven? Jesus is the only way” he quoted John 14:6 as his support.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The problem with such reasoning is that Jesus isn’t talking about how to get to Heaven. The rest of the verse reveals what Jesus means when he says he’s “the way.”
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
For Jesus, the goal of the gospel is God.

I Corinthians 15:1-5 is also significant. Listen to the way Paul talks about the gospel and what is central for him.
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved.”
Let me just stop right there and say how glorious this passage is! This one little tiny verse is so beautiful and magnificent I can hardly stand it! Paul is about to articulate and present the gospel and, according to Paul, it is by and through this gospel that the church stands and is being saved! The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all those who believe! How I fear for those who obstruct it!
Continuing in v. 3, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”
You’ll notice that Paul doesn’t say anything about Heaven. He does however affirm the eternal redemptive plan “according to the Scriptures”, substitutionary death of Christ for sin, “Christ died for our sins”, and the resurrection “raised on the third day.”
I didn’t hear a word of this at Don Piper’s event. I cannot express how sad it made me when the man received standing ovations before and after a message that contained no gospel and, therefore, no hope for lost souls who need it.

At this year’s national Resurgence Conference, Pastor John Piper closed his message, titled, “How I Distinguish between Gospel and False Gospels” this way…

“God isn’t a stepping stone to a reward. He is the reward. Don’t step on him towards health, wealth and prosperity. Don’t step on him towards forgiveness. Don’t step on him towards escape from hell. Don’t step on him towards reunion with your mother or your wife. Don’t step on him and use him for anything. Don’t step on him and use him for church planting. Don’t step on him and use him for growing a big church. Don’t step on him and use him for doctrinal precision. Don’t USE him! He’s the end, not the means! He’s the end. He’s where forgiveness is going. He’s where reconciliation is going. He’s where justification is going. He’s where propitiation is going. Unless you say this, your people are going to be forgiven television watchers. They will never break free of their idols – they’ll just feel better about them.”

I would submit to you that Don Piper has flung the door wide for people who might make Heaven an idol. I believe that Pastor Don Piper is a Christian and that God miraculously saved his life. I also believe that he must be called to submit to Scripture in his presentation and repent of so blatantly obstructing the gospel. I will pray for my brother Don Piper and I will pray for the souls that heard his message, that they may somehow be driven to God’s word and realize that the gospel is only good news when Christ is magnified above all our idols – even the ones that we would never remotely suspect could be idolatrous.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Willful Blindness

Andrew McCarthy made a guest appearance on the Rush Limbaugh program promoting his new book Willful Blindness, A Memoir of the Jihad. So many believe Islam is a religion of peace. In my opinion, it far more resembles a worldwide cult. Those in positions of government are so politically correct and so fear religion that taking an honest approach to dealing with the threat of Islam may have to wait for another attack.

McCarthy discusses his prior ignorance of Islam while fighting certain leaders within the court system. He admits that he thought Islamic terrorists were men who had hi-jacked a peaceful religion. While in court he attempted to prosecute the Blind Sheik. In this portion of the interview with Rush he explained his beginning to understand Islam.

RUSH: And that, of course, helped you prepare your case. What was your role in the trial against the Blind Sheik?

MCCARTHY: Well, I was the lead prosecutor, and that informant turned out to be the main witness in the case, and he was my witness, so I spent, you know, quite a bit of time studying what he had done and also, you know, having to do the other odds and ends that you do when you do a case like this, one of which was to try to get prepared in the event the Blind Sheik decided to testify, which, you know, ultimately he didn't do but that didn't mean we didn't have to prepare for it. And that was an eye-opener. In fact, the whole experience in watching the dynamic of him and other people in the Muslim community throughout the trial was a real eye-opener for me. I wanted to believe in 1993 the stuff that we were putting out, you know, that he basically perverted who was otherwise a peaceful doctrine. But what I found was going through all of his thousands of pages of transcripts and statements, was that when he cited scripture to justify acts of terrorism, to the extent he was quoting scripture or referring to it, he did it accurately, which shouldn't be a surprise.

RUSH: So you went in thinking this guy might be a fringe little kooky and perverting Islam, and you were stunned to find out that everything he said or proclaimed had a root basis?

MCCARTHY: That's correct. There's no other way of putting it. And it shouldn't have been a surprise. I mean, he was a doctor of Islamic jurisprudence, graduated from Al-Azhar University in Egypt. Why in the world I would have thought that I or the Justice Department would know more about Islam than he would is beyond me now that I look back on it, but back then I was pretty confident that we must have been right when we said that he was basically perverting the doctrine.

Rush asked McCarthy, “We didn't take it seriously until 2001. Do you think we still take it seriously?

McCarthy’s response was indeed troubling. Here is the conversation.

We're taking it less seriously. I think there was a time right after 9/11, probably I put it at about 18 months -- probably into the Iraq operation, so longer than that -- that I think we really were taking it seriously. We certainly changed our enforcement methods. The Justice Department still had a role, but it was much more subordinate. The military was out front, which it needed to be in that phase, but there was a realization that it needed to be a wholesale government approach. But when I read things like what we've heard in the last few days about how we're getting guidance inside the government about purging our lexicon and saying things like jihadism and mujahideen and the like and --

RUSH: Wait. Wait, wait, wait! Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Who's getting what? Guidance? Who in the government is sending this out to who?

MCCARTHY: Well, the reporting that's come out since -- I guess it was about April 24th -- is that the internal syncing at least in parts of the administration -- and this is something the State Department's pushed for a long time -- is that we make a mistake call jihadism, jihadism; because there are all kinds of jihad, not just forceable jihad. This is how the thinking goes. And, by the way, while there may be all kinds of jihad, jihad is a military concept. That's how it grew up. That's the reason there is a Muslim world in the first place. But secondly the idea is that when you call them jihadists, you are somehow emboldening them as if what they were relying on is how we regard them rather than how they see themselves.

I thank God for men, whether they be Christian or not, who understand the role of the State, especially our own form of Government and are willing to defend our way of life. I hope his message is heard clearly by conservative leadership. I hope even more they will lead.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

March of Dimes In Memory of Faith, Hope and Seth

I did not have the opportunity to meet them. I don't have any pictures of them. Their lives were too brief. Yet, there is a joy of knowing that their lives had meaning and purpose. At the same time, there is great sorrow. Death is wrong. Burying our children is every parent's greatest fear.

A few years ago, my brother and sister-in-law lost triplets within a matter of weeks. Seth was 20 weeks old. Faith and Hope were barely 22 weeks. I do not pretend to understand why God does what He does. I am certain, however, that He has His purposes, and they are not to be questioned as if God is accountable to the creature. Nevertheless, I also firmly believe there is a time for rejoicing and a time for weeping and remembrance. This Sunday my brother's family will be participating in the March of Dimes March For Babies. As the site says, "The money raised through March for Babies will support lifesaving research, community services, education and advocacy that help babies get a healthy start."

My brother and his family were blessed through March of Dimes' assistance during that time. So I encourage anyone who is led to give, to please do so. Here is my brother's page through the March For Dimes.

God Bless