Sunday, January 29, 2012

Riding At the Cat House

On a more personal note, my daughter and I decided to do some riding at a place we've never been before, known as the Cat House. It is a little place north of Dighton, KS and just north-east of Shields, KS [3 miles east and 3 north], which is basically the middle of nowhere near the Smokey Hills.

I have never ridden there mainly because I didn't know much about it, and it costs $20 per day per person. That is a big turn off factor, but the membership fee is even more amazing. I won't bother to tell you. Now to be fair, the membership fee is probably fair if you camp a lot. However, since I just want to ride a couple of days a year, I just can't see spending that much money.

Well, today, I spent the $20 and went with my daughter (he didn't charge for her today). Now I must say I was pleasantly surprised. It truly is a little hidden oasis for dirt bike riders. Now there were several campers there. So if you like camping in a desert looking place with no trees, I guess this would be your place as well. Plenty of fishing too!

Here is a picture of Rachel.

Now the negative, which may be a positive, was that there were not really any motorcycle trails per se. I basically rode anywhere I wanted. The draw back was that I had to be very cautious where I went. At one point I climbed a very steep hill only to stop as my tire hit the peak. You see, there was no top. It was literally a peak with a sheer cliff on the other side. So I had to do the skiing thing to get back down. Therefore, I needed to spend much of the day scouting what I could really ride.

However, this was also an advantage. I could literally climb all kinds of slopes, (yes, I said slopes in Western KS!) some of which had been cimbed many times,while others maybe not so much?

Now I don't want to make myself sound like a pro-rider. I am not by any means. But if you want a good work out and you live in western Kansas, and you don't mind losing $20 to ride one day, you may just enjoy yourself.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Have You Prayed About Your Faith's Truth?

Yesterday I was visited once again by our local LDS, Mormon missionaries. Of course the two elders that stopped by were another two that I had not met before since they constantly rotate them. The conversation was very good, and to their credit, the young men tolerated me.

The conversation was typical. They started by asking me what I believed. Then they proposed their view about Joseph Smith being a modern prophet and that the priesthood has been re-established. Then came the famous question, "Have you prayed about the Book of Mormon?"

It fascinates me to no end that people place religious truth into an entirely different category of knowledge. As I commented last July in a post about that very issue (read here), we place religious truth in a merely experiential arena of knowledge. So when I ask the LDS missionaries about praying whether or not Roman Catholicism being the true church or the Methodists or the Watch Tower or a Hindu church or an Islamic church, and I get a warm fuzzy feeling telling me that one of those churches are the one true church, they simply revert back to praying for the heart burn feeling of confirmation, even though that heart burn feeling might be from having too many enchiladas for lunch.

Any time I appealed to the Bible, they used the old "That is your interpretation verses another interpretation" argument. Now of course, that is an argument that presupposes that the New Testament is unclear. This of course means God can't speak clearly. Now it begs the question. How do we know we are interpreting the Book of Mormon correctly, or Joseph Smith for that matter? Is God really unable to speak as clearly as Joseph Smith?

I decided to bring up the passages of Scripture that challenge this false presupposition. Here are a few of them. Deuteronomy 13:

1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

Where in Moses' teaching does Moses place knowledge in the mere esoteric category? Does Moses teach that we should pray about the Book of Mormon? The passage is quite clear. We are to test what prophets teach against the Revelation God has already given through Moses.

Of course, you will say, "How do I know Moses is a true prophet?" The answer is quite simple. The Revelation Moses gave was not in some secret room. Instead, God invaded history with all kinds of signs, not the least of which was the Crossing of the Red Sea. Perhaps if Joseph Smith parted the Missouri or Mississippi River, the LDS missionaries might have something to stand on.

In the New Testament, the Gospel according to Luke starts wit this:

1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Where does Luke say something that would teach we should pray about his Gospel? Nowhere! Instead, Luke appeals to historical events that he personally has investigate and confirmed by eye-witnesses in order that Theophilus could have certainty outside of himself, a certainty that would not be based in some esoteric religious experience but a certainty that would be based squarely in the world in which we normally live.

Paul's charge to Timothy contains a most sufficient passage. 2 Timothy 3:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

This passage is quite clear. Scripture is sufficient. We do not need another supposed God-breathed source. But could there be another source? One last passage from the writer to the Hebrew Christians chapter 1:

1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

In these last days we have the full Revelation of God in the Person and Work of the Son of God. There is simply no need to go any further. There is no need for other prophets of other revelatory sources. We have all we need in Jesus Christ and His Apostles as preserved in the Apostolic writings in the New Testament and the Hebrew Scriptures.

In conclusion I think more passages could be presented, but I think it should suffice in these brief arguments that searching for truth through esoteric means is one Christians need to learn to be consistent within their worldview and evangelical missionary endeavors. If we believe Mormons are wrong simply on the level of "praying about the Book of Mormon", then we should not attempt to evangelize using similar means.

However, if we agree with their esoteric viewpoint, then we have no basis for evangelizing people to come to our faith. Of course this may explain why so many Christians accept the false premise of Mormonism being just another Christian faith. But Mono-Theism, by definition, can never be compatible with Poly-theism, no matter how esoteric one gets.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Theology Matters

[I wrote this post originally for the Tea Party Hobos blog simply because it is more political, especially in defense of a political candidate, but since I think some of the issues raised by Michelle Goldberg have discussed on this blog in principle, I thought it worth posting here as well.]

Bill Anderson wrote a brief post on Lew Rockwell's blog this morning. Now I have noticed several statements that, though, I bet they do know the reasons for certain quasi-religious claims, the contributors of the blog seem to hide their knowledge in an attempt not to get into overly religious discussions on a political site.

First Bill quotes a Leftist, Daily Beast's, Michelle Goldberg:
It might seem that Paul’s libertarianism is the very opposite of theocracy, but that’s true only if you want to impose theocracy at the federal level. In general, Christian Reconstructionists favor a radically decentralized society, with communities ruled by male religious patriarchs. Freed from the power of the Supreme Court and the federal government, they believe that local governments could adopt official religions and enforce biblical law.
To which Bill responds by saying,
So-called biblical law would require stoning of gays and other measures that would mirror the Taliban, she writes. (Not surprisingly, Goldberg misrepresents both Covenant Theology and the diversity of opinion of people who fall under that theological umbrella.) So there you have it: Ron Paul's libertarianism is going to create a new American Taliban. Look for more of this kind of nonsense as clueless mainstream reporters try to write about someone who does not believe the State should be an object of worship.
Bill is absolutely right. Covenant Theology is very able to answer the objection by the Left's thinking concerning religious people wanting to establish some kind of Theocracy, but some seem to overlook that Covenant Theology is only now coming back into popularity in mainstream Evangelicalism.

Dispensationalism has been the popularized eschatology and theological framework for quite some time. It is Dispensationalism that has led many to favor the nation of Israel as if they were God's modern day people and theocracy. Of course, since Dispensationalism's utter predictive failure of Christ's Second Coming through date setting schemes, Dispensationalism is waning. But I think it might explain some of the statements on LRC.

As a Christian, I recognize "theology matters". It greatly impacts life and culture. Good theology does so in a good way. Poor theology does so in a poor way. So when women like Michelle Goldberg misunderstand (purposeful or not) politically active Christians, I am not convinced it is entirely her fault. Yet after trying to explain sound theology to people such as Michelle Goldberg, it is my experience she has no intention of trying to understand. She fears that without Central Planning from the Federal Government, the homosexual agenda will not go forth. And of course, as one who has embraced Libertarianism to an extent as a Christian, I have made that exact same argument. She is quite right for seeing Libertarianism's stress on private property rights as something to fear.

In other words, the easiest way to stop the culture war and/or win it from a conservative perspective is to restore private property rights. Then people are free to be who they are, and that includes being able to discriminate with your property. That is something, I think, Michelle fears far more than anything else.

Now she does mischaracterize Covenant Theology when she wrote,

In fact, they’re often much further to the right. While dispensationalists believe that Christ will return imminently and establish a biblical reign on earth, covenant theologians tend to believe its man’s job to create Christ’s kingdom before he comes back. The most radical faction of covenant theology is called Christian Reconstructionism, a movement founded by R. J. Rushdoony that seeks to turn the book of Leviticus into law, imposing the death penalty for gay people, blasphemers, unchaste women, and myriad other sinners.

Covenant Theology does no such thing. What I think she is referring to is a position called Theonomy. Theonomists are usually under the umbrella of Covenant Theology, but is in fact, an eschatological position based squarely in Post-Millenialism, and she may very well be right in linking this with an American version of Christian Nationalism. However, even its modern proponents such as Greg Bahnsen saw that Old Testament laws as cited by Michelle were problematic and that far more work needed to be done in this area.

In conclusion, the arguments provided by Michelle are in my opinion emotional and fear-mongering. She admits that she is taking the fact that her argument is based upon the "fundamentalist faction that has until now been considered a fringe even on the Christian right" and that this position is a small minority among those who are Ron Paul supporters.

Ron Paul is a libertarian. Libertarianism and Theonomy are just not compatible.