Friday, October 29, 2010

A Great God Demands a Great Response

Conferences and Events
•Reformation Weekend - St. Francis, KS
Reformation Weekend

October 29-31, 2010

First Baptist Church
420 S. Scott

St. Francis, KS

A Great God Demands a Great Response

Meeting times:

Friday 7:00 pm (session 1) The Great Confession

Saturday 10:30 am (session 2) The Great Commitment

12:00 pm (dinner is provided)

1:30 pm (session 3) The Great Commandment Part 1

3:00 pm (break)

7:00 pm (session 4) The Great Commandment Part 2

Sunday 10:30 am (session 5) The Great Commission

12:00 pm (dinner is provided)

For more information or lodging recommendations call: 785-332-3921 or 785-332-2959, or email: Our website is: Lodging is available in homes on a first come basis. In St. Francis there is Dusty Farmer Motel 785-332-8924, Cook's Empire Motel 785-332-2231, and Homesteader Motel 785-332-607. In Goodland (35 miles south) there are a number of motels including Comfort Inn 785-899-7181, Days Inn 785-890-3644, Super 8 785-890-7566, Motel 6, 785 890-5672, and Holiday Inn Express 877 863-4780.

Our conference speaker will be Bill Ascol. Bill is Senior Pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Owasso, Oklahoma. He began his ministry at Bethel in September 2005 after 28 years ministering in Louisiana Baptist churches. He is a former Vice-President of the Executive Board of the Louisiana Baptist Convention as well as a former President of the Louisiana Baptist Pastors' Conference. He currently serves in an advisory capacity to Founders Ministries and is the Coordinator of the Saved By Faith Youth Challenge Camps for young people. He received the MDiv degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Bill and his wife, Karen, have five children and five grandchildren.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Stanley Fish On Religious Freedom, Islam and the State

Stanley Fish wrote an editorial yesterday for the NYTimes titled, Serving Two Masters: Sharia Law and the Secular State. Now I have for years said that Liberalism can not resist Islam, I really don't think they know what to do with their political ally.

If one studies the issues, I think it can be seen in general that Christianity, properly understood, is a religion for all peoples. What I mean is that Christianity does not necessarily overthrow a culture but may instead redeem it. Of course there may be some cultures that are so debased that, once a majority becomes converted, an overthrow to the previous way of life may occur. We see this a few times in the book of Acts where certain religious businesses come into conflict with people not purchasing their idolatrous fixes. However, Islam is simply not that way. Islam seeks to overthrow cultures and convert the world to 7th century Islam. That is what Sharia Law is all about.

This paragraph offers the initial question being discussed.

The conflict between religious imperatives and the legal obligations one has as a citizen of a secular state — a state that does not take into account the religious affiliations of its citizens when crafting laws — is an old one (Scalia is quoting Reynolds v. United States, 1878); but in recent years it has been felt with increased force as Muslim immigrants to Western secular states evidence a desire to order their affairs, especially domestic affairs, by Shariah law rather than by the supposedly neutral law of a godless liberalism. I say “supposedly” because of the obvious contradiction: how can a law that refuses, on principle, to recognize religious claims be said to be neutral with respect to those claims? Must a devout Muslim (or orthodox Jew or fundamentalist Christian) choose between his or her faith and the letter of the law of the land?

Now obviously we have seen Baptists stand for Prohibition, and so Christians are often supposedly forced to choose either the State's Law or God's (I guess God is against wine). However, this is a false dichotomy that Christians have disagreed upon. But what about the issue of Abortion or slavery. Although Christians also disagree on these issues, to argue that the State may remain neutral would be absurd on its face. But again, we are talking about fundamental issues and the basis for the rule of law.

So Fish's question is correct, can a law that refuses, on principle, to recognize religious claims be said to be neutral with respect to those claims?

This is a great question and the answer that Christianity has offered since the Reformation has been the solution...for the most part. The answer that Christ and His Apostles give is that Christ's Kingdom is not of this world. Therefore, the two are not the same Kingdom. Therefore, the specific beliefs of Christians that pertain to the church and her ordinances are not to be confused with the State.

This is where the difficulty lies for Christians. The State is not "neutral". If the Christian faith is correct, then we must all acknowledge that God is the one who institutes the State. Now obviously, not everyone is a Christian, so how can this work? Though this seems troubling to many, it is actually the best part of our system of government. We all have a voice in the public sphere. The Christian is free to argue that abortion or slavery (as practiced in the South) is wrong. And he may do so on the basis of religion's revelation. If he is able to persuade his fellow man, then so be it.

Sharia law is simply not the same. In Islam, there is no such thing as a separation of Church and State. By definition, there can not be a separation.

Fish offers an example of Reverend Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury's

suggestion others had made before him) that in some areas of the law a “supplementary jurisdiction,” deriving from religious law, be recognized by the liberal state, which, rather than either giving up its sovereignty or invoking it peremptorily to still all other voices, agrees to share it in limited areas where “more latitude [would be] given in law to rights and scruples rooted in religious identities.

The solutions offered by religious scholars seem problematic as Fish notes,

The words to stumble on are “reasonable” and “just,” which at once introduce the requirement and indicate how hard, if not impossible, it will be to meet it: “reasonable” means confirming to rational, not religious, principles; “just” means respecting the equality of all, not just male or faithful, individuals.

How can laws be based upon such an idea if Islam is not able to keep their "reasonable" laws from harming those who would disagree with them? As I said earlier, Christianity has a solution to this dilemma. Islam does not and sees no need for one.

Fish cites Milbank as arguing that Christianity has the ability to show respect for Islam where a secular liberal state can not. In the end, I don't see that Fish really comes to a solution. It seems to me he is on the right path in acknowledging Christianity as a solution, but I am not certain if he sees the "Two-Kingdom" model as a part of his terminology?

My personal opinion is that perhaps the term "secular" needs to be more carefully defined. Whenever I have this conversation with atheists, at first they seem to like the idea of my understanding of Church and State. The problem always arises when the definition of secular, as being applied to the State, comes in to play. I reject that secular has to mean "Godless". At the same time, I don't think Christians need to argue a particularly Christian (ie Baptist, Presbyterian) position to persuade his fellow man of the "Laws of Nature and Nature's God". The problem, however, will become reversed. Instead of the State being hostile to religious claims, it will be seen as hostile to the atheist.

The truth is that this is God's world. He is the Creator of all things as Fish rightly points out that a so-called Christian worldview has a "teleological view of history notably lacking in liberalism". So once again, our nation is going to have to go back and rethink these issues in light of Islam. Do we go back to a definition of secular that the Founders would have embraced? And if so, how can we as a nation embrace an immigrant Islamic people that fundamentally, must overthrow our way of life.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

O'Donnell On the First Amendment

Everyone is making a big deal out of Christine O'Donnell's statement about the separation of church and state. YahooNews is reporting/editorializing about her comments.
Keeping government out of religion and religion out of government is a core principle of the First Amendment. The first 16 words say, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." That means government can't limit our personal faith or favor one religion over others. It also means that creationism cannot be taught in America's public schools.
The fact that they wrote this paragraph shows their ignorance about the point that she made and their willingness to try to help the Democrat running against her and say and do anything to fulfill that agenda.

There is nothing in the Firsts Amendment that says creationism can not be taught in schools. The Left's assumption at this point is that creationism is a religion that would be established if it were permitted to be taught. If that were the case, then the Declaration of Independence could not be taught in our schools either. Wouldn't that be just a little insane?

But notice the clause that is overlooked.
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
What is so difficult about this clause? But again, the political Left gets to define what science is and thereby make creationism a religion. How do they do this. Well, they simply define science from a purely naturalistic perspective. How are they able to do so? They just assert that is the case, and don't you dare question their ultimate authority.

It is true the the Framers wanted to keep the institution of the church separate from the state, but they believed both institutions were ordained by God as, again, can be seen from the Declaration.

So in conclusion, they proceed to lecture us all, not just O'Donnell, about the Constitution in the rest of their editorial. But the fact is, they haven't the slightest idea of what they are saying. For example, they say,
The separation of church and state means that teachers in public schools can't teach their faith to their students.
This is a tactic used by the Left to get religious people to keep God out of the public sphere. It assumes that because someone uses God the Creator as the basis of their arguments for a political policy, say..."thou shalt not murder", then they are forcing their private religious views on the rest of us. But by doing this, they undercut the foundation for any laws. Laws simply become rules to govern society by the elite. The State becomes the ultimate authority and the measly little citizens should just bow down to the Emperor.

Hidden within the article is a passing sentence in which YahooNews defends Coons in passing. Making it no big deal that he was clueless as to the rights of the First Amendment.

Later in the debate, O'Donnell challenged Coons to name the five freedoms of the First Amendment. He came up four freedoms short. It seems to me, if she knew the other 4, then perhaps she understands the first one better than they do? I think so.

Monday, October 18, 2010

One More Comment On Mulch and Abortion

I did need to comment one more thing on this statement by Mulch.
Prior to that decision [Roe v. Wade], many women were having children who were ill-prepared to take care of and raise them with good parental skills. As a result of that, these children grew up to commit violent acts.
This kind of reasoning is basically why the founders of the abortion movement started in the first place. Abortion was designed by radical Leftists to rid the world of the unwanteds, ie: black people, poor people, etc. As writes in this article,

From the beginning, Sanger advocacy of sex education reflected her interest in population control and birth prevention among the "unfit." Her first handbook, published for adolescents in 1915 and entitled, What Every Boy and Girl Should
Know, featured a jarring afterword:

It is a vicious cycle; ignorance breeds poverty and poverty breeds ignorance. There is only one cure for both, and that is to stoop breeding these things. Stop bringing to birth children whose inheritance cannot be one of health or intelligence. Stop bringing into the world children whose parents cannot provide for them.
Later in the article the author states,

Sanger advocated the mandatory sterilization of the insane and feebleminded." Although this does not diminish her legacy as the key force in the birth control movement, it raises questions much like those now being raised about our nation's slaveholding founders. How do we judge historical figures? How are their contributions placed in context?

It is easy to see why there is some antipathy toward Sanger among people of color, considering that, given our nation's history, we are the people most frequently described as "unfit" and "feebleminded."

Although, I am certain Bob Mulch would find racism applied to abortion abhorrent, I would have to ask why? With the government's destruction of the inner city black family through the welfare system, would they not qualify and fit the definition that he offers in the quote above?

It is simply a dangerous idea to empower any group of people to "decide" who is fit to live and die. Of course, in Bob Mulch's world, to even challenge the assumption that babies in the womb are not people with certain inalienable rights is never even part of the discourse.

In my opinion, it seems Bob is struggling with the problem of evil in the world. He wants to rectify it while ignoring the Creator's right to govern this world. In fact, it is my uderstanding that Bob rejects the Christian God. Yet by doing so, he rejects the very foundation for there being a problem at all. Even more, he rejects the only solution to the problem of sin and death.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bob Mulch On Abortion

I realize I haven't been posting much lately, but when you have a kid in high school, life radically changes for the busier. Hopefully I will be able to get back to interacting with the WT issue, but in this week's local paper, a friend of mine, Bob Mulch, wrote a letter concerning abortion entitled, Conservative Politicians Have No Concern For Welfare, Rights of Women.

Now what is interesting about this article is that much of what has been said has also been discussed on a personal level between us. Being that we have discussed some of these things, I would think that he would have updated his form of argumentation to take into consideration opposing views. Sadly, his letter acts as if the Prolife position is unknown and "conservative" politicians are just doing things to be mean to women. In fact, my prolife friend, Dr. James White, a christian apologist, has been unable to find a prochoice philosopher to debate because they know their position, when publicly debated, loses every time. Yet my friend Bob Mulch seems to be unaware that his position has been fully dealt with by the "other side" or he is simply unable to hear due to what I believe to be his emotional proclivities on such an emotional issue.

For instance, in his article, he wrote,
One night an officer and I were called to meet a person on a street corner. We pulled up to a young woman who was crying. We seated her in the back seat of the patrol car and found out that she was only 13 years of age and that she was only about six blocks from home and had been walking along the street when a man grabbed her and took her into some bushes and raped her.
To which he concludes what most of us would,
This would be an event that I would never forget.

For much of the article, my friend makes great use of the emotional argumentation about back alley abortions and the fact that women get pregnant due to being raped. This form of argumentation and the statistical issues Abortionists have used have been blown out of the water for decades. The entire premise is based upon a lie. But let's grant the false premise of his article for the moment. This is what I find particularly deceiving. He states,

Our conservative legislators who are antiabortion [never prolife of course, perhaps I should start saying he is anti-life?] fail to realize that the crime rate in the United States was going up through the '60s, '70s, and '80s and surprisingly started to go downward during the '90s. Researchers have found that this downward trend was a result of Roe versus Wade.

Now this is a simply amazing conclusion. The fact that researchers have also found violence against children can be linked to abortion is totally overlooked. But what evidence does he offer for this conclusion? Nothing! That's the beauty about statistics. You can force them to say whatever you want. Never mind the fact that a child being murdered and ripped limb from limb within the mother's womb is being ignored in this entire discussion.

But a further conclusion gets even better.
Prior to that decision [Roe v. Wade], many women were having children who were ill-prepared to take care of and raise them with good parental skills. As a result of that, these children grew up to commit violent acts.
Granting this false premise, we should just kill our children in the womb because that would keep bad kids from running around with bad [relatively speaking of course] parents.

But again, what does rape have to do with this conclusion? I haven't the foggiest idea other than Bob Mulch played the emotional rape card in order to get the unwary reader to agree with his illogical conclusion that all women should have this "right" to murder their babies and rip them limb from limb for the good parental reasons of less violence.

Then Mulch concludes to tell us what is in the "best interest" of women legislatively. Isn't that a hoot. A man is now going to tell us what is best for women. If a conservative made this statement, the feminists would be up in arms. Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument.

Now for his last line.
They [women] need to actively work at controlling their destiny for
themselves and their daughters.
Following this reasoning could lead to a lot of dark places if we took it to an extreme. It is true that Americans have traditionally stood for the individual to choose for himself what he wishes to be, but this should (as I think liberals would agree to some degree) not deny the created order and the fact that we live in a sinful and fallen world.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Jesus Judged the Israelites in the Wilderness

An aquaintance of mine pointed out to me a textual variant at Jude 1:5. Now it is not so much the variant but what the text is about. He wrote,

There is some variation w/ the greek, some say "κυριος" [Lord] and others say "ιησους" [Joshua], but off the top of my head, I don't think that "κυριος" in the NT ever refers to the Father. (do you know of an example?) Plus, verse 4 calls Jesus both "κυριον"and "δεσποτην"! So, Jesus destroyed those who did not believe in the OT after he had saved them from Egypt. Paints a little different picture than the long hair fairy Jesus!
I decided to get Philip Comfort's, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary, out and see what it had to say about the variant.

Among all the readings cited above, the first and second variants are the most remarkable, for they say that "Jesus delivered his people out of Egypt." This reading is found in A B 33 17 39 [among others] cop Origen Cyril Jerome Bede- an impressive collection of witnesses. P72 may possibly be an indirect witness to the reading with "Jesus," because it shows that the scribe had before him in his exemplar a messianic title--"Christ" (="Messiah"). At any rate, it is easier to argue (from a textual perspective) that the reading with "Jesus" is the one from which all the others deviated than to argue that the reading with "Lord" (or "God") was changed to "Jesus," because scribes were not known for fabricating difficult readings.

Some scholars, such as Wikgren have argued that Jude may have written (Joshua) in Jude 5 intending "Joshua" as in Heb 4:8. But this is very unlikely, because Joshua led the Israelites into the good land of Canaan, but not out of Egypt, and Joshua certainly did not destroy those who did not believe (Jude 5b). This was a divine activity. Thus, it is likely that Jesus, the I Am (see john 8:58), who was present with the Israelites and operative in their deliverance from Egypt. Paul shared a similar view inasmuch as he proclaimed that "Christ" was the one the Israelites constantly "tested" during these times (see 1 Cor 10:4,9). Thus, the reading "Jesus," though difficult, is not impossible. As such, it should be accepted as the original reading (as it was by Nestle and FF Bruce). The first edition of the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament contained the reading "Jesus" in the text. But this was changed in the third edition, when a slim majority of the editors voted to put the reading with "Lord" in the text and the one with "Jesus" in the margin. (Metzger and Wikgren voted against this decision).

The first English translation to adopt the wording "Jesus" was NLT. (As the NT coordinator who proposed this reading to the NLT committee, I was glad to see them adopt it.) Two other recent versions have also adopted this reading: TNIV (a change from the NIV) and NET. Otherwise, it has been relegated to the margin of all other versions. NASB notes that "Two early manuscripts read 'Jesus.'" Those manuscripts are A and B.
So whether or not "Jesus" is the original reading, a sound number of scholars believe "Jesus" is the original reading. That is quite compelling in itself. However, even if "Kurios" is the original reading, the overwhelming majority of times Kurios is used, it refers to Christ. Therefore, the NT writers believed that Jesus existed as Yahweh prior to His birth in Bethlehem. There is just no way to get around it.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Is The End Near?

I was just looking at the August issue of the Watchtower, and before I go on to respond to the next article on freewill, I think I need to make a comment Watchtower's answer to the question "What must you do to survive the End?"

The article goes to 2 Peter 3:5-7 and comments:

Live by God's moral standards. Those who wish to survive the end wil perform "holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion," wrote Peter. (2 Peter 3:11) Notice that Peter emphasizes "holy acts of conduct" and "deeds of godly devotion." more is involved, therefore, than a superficial confession of faith or last-minute effort to put things right with God.

Now I must confess it is right and good to understand that last minute
efforts to avoid judgment or superficial confessions are self-deceptive at best.
Yet the article goes on to tell us what acts are
What specific acts and deeds does God find acceptable? Why not
compare what you know with what the Bible teaches on this subject.
Here is the problem. If everyone could just understand the difference between descriptive passages verses imperative passages, we would probably stop talking past each other. Of course a true conversion will bring about good works. Yet the answer given here is no different from Rome's or any other faith that demands personal good works as the basis for salvation.

The Watchtower has no Gospel. It is the same as Rome's treadmill of sacraments without the terms. It does not have a proper view of sin or grace. When talking with my friend Russell, he is never able to respond to my question, "When may a person have assurance of salvation?" In fact, his response has always been in the negative. No one can know if they will be in paradise tomorrow.

I thank God that Christ, His life, His death, His burial, His resurrection and His ascension is the basis for the forgiveness of my sin and all my righteousness. On that basis all of my hope is in the Son of God which can not fail.