Wednesday, December 30, 2009

believe the lie?

First, imagine a conversation that goes something like these...

A husband to his wife: "Honey, I know that when we were married, you made vows to me, saying you'll remain faithful to me, and I do appreciate that you said those things. But I've come to think that, really, my faith in you would be much more robust and stronger if I think that you didn't really mean those vows. In fact, if I were to come home tonight, and find you in bed with another man (or woman, as I am a postmodern open-minded man), my faith in you would not be shaken one bit. You see, if I really believed you meant your words of binding faithfulness, any slip on your part would be devastating to me, and would make me lose my faith in you. But if I doubt what words, no matter how well intended they may have been, you're slip would not bother me at all, and would in fact merely confirm that my faith is really in you and not in what you say."

Once you've recovered from that feeling of surrealism, consider these real words from comments written by someone in a debate on another blog in which I have participate lately.

I once held the same opinions you and your friends here are putting forth. I no longer do and I am the better for it. I can honestly say that if the Virgin Birth were proven in some way to be false my faith would not falter in the least. That is Bells (and Tony’s) point. But perhaps that is too “meaty” for some.

No one is denying anything. Rather, I would argue that the faith of these pastors you guys are in a huff about is deeper and stronger than the faith of those who fear their entire lives would crumble if the Virgin Birth turned out to be a myth.

It's sometimes instructive to put ideas into another into another situation, because often it will show more plainly how shallow and false the ideas are. Would we really consider a man who doubts his wife's vow of marital fidelity to really love her? Would it not rather show how shallow his love really is? Should she find his words impressive, or insulting?

So, too, should we be impressed by how much "deeper and stronger" it is to doubt the virgin birth of Christ? Should it be considered "meaty" to say that if this account should be proven false, then one's faith would still stand? What does it say about that faith, if it's foundation is proven to be lies?

It was Paul who said that if Christ was not raised from the dead, then our faith is vain, and why should be believe. No doubt, the person I've quoted above would think that approach of Paul's not meaty enough.

Monday, December 21, 2009

God does not play favorites

In any work, there are times when some things done in it are of greater importance than most others. One of the more important entries here at Emergent Pillage was the one against what is today called social justice, and why I do not believe in that concept. This one likely ranks up there with that one, at least in my mind, because it deals with one of the more important aspects of this thing called social justice.

It has to do with the idea with emergents and progressives likely picked up from liberation theology, which as well likely came from Marxism, that God favors the poor. On this rests their attempts to make socialistic economic politicies and wealth redistribution into necessary aspects of their attempts to impliment social justice.

To say that, in any aspect of justice, God favors any social or economic class or another, is to go against what God Himself told the people to do. Consider these passages.

Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.
Leviticus 19:17

Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike...
Deuteronomy 1:17

These are the sayings of the wise: To show partiality in judging is not good:
Proverbs 24:23

So, I will contend here, that to say that "God favors the poor" is to say that God practices injustice. God Himself has said that justice should be given to both rich and poor without partiality, and to show partiality would be to pervert justice.

And, of course, we can see that is true, at least in part. We know that it is wrong to favor the rich in our judgments, simply because they are rich. We know that it is wrong for a judge or political ruler to take a bribe so that their decisions will favor the wealthy. I don't think many people will argue against those things.

But in order to understand things the Bible says about defending the rights of the poor (Prov. 31:9) and caring about justice for the poor (Prov. 29:7), it needs to be understood that justice for the poor does not mean injustice for the rich, and defending the rights of the poor does not mean taking away the rights of the rich.

In other words, social justice is actually injustice, which is why the concept of social justice needs to be abandoned in order for real justice can be given to all of any economic class. And it's why social justice and socialistic economic policies can only administrated through immoral and unethical political means or violence.

Consider the names of these countries or former countries--Russia and the entire USSR, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba. All of these have had communism and socialism "thrust upon them", so to speak. And all the attempts were failures, filled with bad economic thinking, political oppression, suppression of the people's rights and freedoms, and lots of deaths.

And perhaps most of all, considering the topic, poverty. The poor were certainly NOT helped in those countries; if anything, their situation was worsened. China, the closest to a success on a that list, only achieved it's success when it loosened its socialistic stance to allow some free market into the economy.

The rhetoric of "God favors the poor" is simply the tired rhetoric of class warfare with a dash of theological flavoring.

It is not hard to imagine some trying to interpret me as saying things that I am not here saying. They may try to say that I am against charitable giving, which I am not. They may try to say that I am saying that God does not care about the situation of the poor, which I am not.

What I am saying is this--social justice will not help the poor. Practicing injustice against the rich does not equate into justice for the poor. Social justice, which by definition plays favorites, is not true justice. History shows that the poor are not helped by socialistic and redistributive policies.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

the move to make truth into myth

I count Chesterton as one of my teachers, though he died long before I was born, and I have doubts about Catholicism as he had about Protestantism. Plus, I'm not as negative about capitalism as he was. Still, in reading him, I'm struck very often with how he wrote about things that we seem to be dealing with now. The forms may be a bit different, and certainly they call themselves by different names now as then, but there does seem to be some very strong similarities.

Among emergents, and more so among progressives, there is the idea of viewing parts, often huge portions, of the Bible as myth. The Creation account in Genesis is a favorite, as they have sold their minds to the fiction that their uncle was a monkey. Progressives have pretty much sold into a brand of materialism that makes all the miracles in the Bible mythic, and even say that the real historic Jesus is almost completely different than anything in the Bible, though their proofs for that idea seem almost nonexistent, more speculation than real.

I have seen them write such ideas as that the reality of whether Jesus walked on water or His resurrection is not as important as whatever lessons may be learned from the story. Let me give this from Chesterton to show why I think this is wrong.

Paganism lived upon poetry; that poetry already considered under the name of mythology. But everywhere, and especially in Italy, it had been a mythology and poetry rooted in the countryside; and that rustic religion had been largely responsibile for the rustic happiness. Only as the whole society grew in age and experience, there began to appear the weakness in all mythology already noted in the chapter under that name. This religion was not quite a religion. In other words, this religion was not quite a reality.
The Everlasting Man, p. 158

This is one of the dangers of this attempt to turn truth in myth--the truth becomes less real. It becomes easier to pick-and-choose what one wants to believe, and doesn't want to believe. So, when the Gospels become mere myths made up by the early church, it becomes easy for people like the Jesus Seminar to say that the Gospels contain only a very few things that Jesus really said.

But it is more than that. Again, from Chesterton.

I do not believe the mythology must begin with eroticism. But I do believe that mythology must end in it. I am quite certain the mythology did end in it. Moreover, not only did the poetry grow more immoral, but the immorality grew more indefensible. Greek vices, oriental vices, hints of the old horrors of the Semitic demons, began to fill the fancies of decaying Rome, swarming like flies on a dungheap...There comes a time in the routine of an ordered civilization when man is tired of playing at mythology and pretending that a tree is a maiden or that the moon made love to a man. The effect of this staleness is the same everywhere; it is seen in all drug-taking and dram-drinking and every form of the tendency to increase the dose. Men seek stranger sins or more startling obscenities as stimulants to their jaded sense. They seek after mad oriental religions for the same reason. They try to stab their nerves to life, if it were with the knives of the prients of Baal. They are walking in their sleep and try to wake themselves up with nightmares.
p. 159

In this day when things seem to be completed almost before they are started, we may well say that this process is already well into its happening almost before people have seen it coming. Rather, perhaps it could be asked of today which came first, the love of eroticism or the need to mythologize. At any rate, the view of Bible as myth, of the so-called and unproven historical Jesus, is enlisted by the ranks of those who are obsessed with eroticism, among other vices.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

a pretty crucifixion

If there is one thing that Burke and Taylor have done in their book especially towards the very end of it, it is to provide what seems to be the best example I can think of of what much of emergent and postmodernism is about.

In the conclusion, they start with a bit about Dali and one of his paintings. It's one of Christ being crucified, but unlike others that had been like it, his idea was different.

But Dali was oppsed to this kidn fo action. "MY aesthetic ambition was completely opposite of all the Christs painted by most of the modern artists, who have all interpreted him in the espressionistic and contortionistic sense, thus obtaining emotion through ugliness," said Dali. In contrast, he set out to make Christ "beautiful as the God that he is."

Indeed, Dali seems to have succeeded. Unlike other paintings where Christ is emaciated, deathly pale, and sickly looking, the Christ of Saint John of the Cross appears youthful, muscular, and contemporary, more like a male model than the classic image we have come to expect from religious Christian art.
Burke and Taylor, A Heretics Guide to Eternity, p. 222

One thing that always kind of surprises me, when dealing for example with Sojo types, is just how much they hate Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Granting, I have known of times when some people seemed to have gotten too taken up with morbid details of what may have happened, but there is also the opposite error of trying to prettify and sanitize it, too. One would think that they would embrace it, what with all their self-proclaimed love of the underdog and how they are mistreated.

Salvadore Dali understood something that I think we, who are interested in religion, often do not. Our religious needs and points of identification change with the times. Dali replaced the image of Jesus as suffering Savior from another time and place with the God of beauty and grace. He desired a Christ who represented the nuclear age, so rather than focusing on his body, this painting captures mostly Christ's outstretched arms and bowed head, forming, in Dali's view, a perfect circle, the representation of the nucleus of the atom.
p. 223

I know little about Dali, though I know Francis Schaeffer comments about his art in at least one of his books. The point for now is, though, that intentionally on his part or not, Dali's painting, and by extension Burke and Taylor's approval of the project, create an almost mythical, fictitious air around the crucifixion.

Their crucified Christ is a male model. It (it is too much to call it 'he') hangs gracefully upon the cross. It is an object of human beauty. It is, in a word, safe, sanitized. It is the modern world, looking at itself as god, and prettifying the picture for their own ends. From what I've seen of the painting being discussed, Christ isn't even nailed to the cross, the body is free of any marks, there is no crown of thorns, no whip stripes, His precious blood is not in evidence at all. The face is hidden, so the question of the beard cannot be answered.

The crucified Christ of the Bible is not that construct. His real body was beaten with real whips and fists, real thorns were pushed onto his real head, real nails were hammered into his wrist and ankles, and he died a real, ugly, painful death. I will not go into morbid details here, but I doubt even the most "espressionistic and contortionistic" piece of art could ever fully crasp what the Son of Man and Son of God endured.

And to take the focus away from Christ's body is to take it away from the fact "This is my body which is broken for you".

Why is this so distasteful to them? Why do they react so violently against the idea that Christ's death was a substitute for us and our sins? Why are they so eager for us to put it behind us, and look at a safe, sanitized Jesus?

I think it has to do with their view of man. They want to view man as good. If man is good, there was no need for Christ's sacrifice. It is only if man is sinful that Christ's sacrifice means anything.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

accepting mclarin's challenge

Discernment websites ...

Since McLaren has issued this challenge, I hope that he has a way of finding out about this response, and responding in turn.

I wonder if some of the "discernment websites" that enjoy featuring and critiquing the work of many of my friends and me would be willing to host some discussion on this bill currently proposed in the Ugandan parliament.

I'd be interested in reading whether participants in those blogs agree with the Ugandan bill, and if not, why not. (Details after the jump)

Here's what McLaren gives as details.

Andrew Marin gives an excellent overview of the situation here. He says ...

Let me make this clear:

I don’t care how conservative your theological belief system is, killing people or imprisoning them for being gay or lesbian is wrong and should never, ever happen.

Notwithstanding, according to the bill, I, as a straight person, would also be imprisoned if I don’t turn in gays and lesbians to the Ugandan government.

....Please spread the word. No Christian (or person in general) should ever let this happen on our watch.

Jesus was once confronted by a group of people bring an adultress to Him to be in some sense tried by Him. Jesus' response was to point out the accuser's own sins, and then to tell the woman to not commit her sin any more.

In other words, Jesus' response to NOT to say that woman had not sinned--she had, and He and her accusers knew it. And when Jesus had dealt with the accusers, he also dealt with what she had done.

One may disagree with what a people do, while not agree when others make unfair laws against them. So, for example, I do not agree with Buddhism, but do not support the Chinese government's treatment of Tibet. I think that abortion is murder, but that does not condone the murder of a Dr. Tiller.

You are not looking for a reason, though, Mr. McLaren, but merely an emotional response. You are merely looking to accuse, as the rest of you post shows most clearly.

This bill shows where misguided zealotry can lead, friends - the kind of misguided zealotry right here in the US that I posted about recently, the kind that Paul wrote about when he said (2 Cor. 3:6),

You can see why I believe we need a new kind of Christianity. I hope there will be some robust discussion about this Ugandan death bill on the discernment websites and others too, and some constructive action as well.

Your attempt to equate this bill with those who await the end of this current administrations incompetent management is simply a disgusting display of partisanship and liberal bias on your part. You who accuse, check your own eyes first.

the convoluted emergent thought process

Sometimes, an emergent writer simply insults our intelligence.

Christianity is the only to reach God, certain Christians argue, because the Bible says so. It tells us that Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."...

...but I don't believe it can be used to argue that Christianity is the only true religion. First, Christianity as a religion did not exist when Jesus spoke those words...
Burke and Taylor, A Heretic's Guide to Eternity, p. 107

Is this a true statement?

We know that it wasn't until a few years after Pentacost that the people in Antioch first started calling them Christians, or that language's equivalent. I'm unsure of what they were called before then, and to an extent, it doens't matter--things changed with Jesus, no matter what name you put on those changes.

As such, then, I think that his argument that Christianity as a religion did not exist when Jesus was on earth is a matter of symantecs, and not of fact. Already with Him, things were changing--He called the people to believe in Him, and accepted their worship of Him. He called people to follow Him. His death was the sacrifice for their sins.

So, Burke argument is irrelevant--the statement Jesus made then is just as true now.

Compounding this point are two additional facts: no one actually recorded Jesus' words at the time he spoke them, so we have no proof that they are indeed his words, and what he did say, he said in Aramaic, which means that nothing in the Bible as translated into any other language can be taken literally anyway.


If you're puzzled by that last statement, no matter the language you may have read it in, I don't blame you.

First, if Burke wants to claim that it's may be possible that what Jesus said here is something that He may not have said, then how far is he willing to take that line of thought. It's obvious Burke doesn't like what is being said by Jesus (far to exclusionary for his taste, no doubt--God in the flesh should have known better). But is Burke willing to say that he doubts any of the statement recorded of Jesus that he likes? Is he going to doubt that, for example, Jesus may not have told any of the parables that it was recorded that He told? Or maybe Jesus didn't say anything about the peacemakers being blessed?

That's the thing--he can't cast doubt on the authenticity of statements he doesn't like, without casting that same doubt on ones he does.

Which isn't even bringing up what he's doing to Scripture in the first place. His argument reminds me of what 'progressives' like the Jesus Seminar do, claiming Jesus said this but not that, or did this but not that, based mostly on their on materialistic worldview and philosophy., along with an unhealthy dose of political and social liberalism.

Second, his claim that we can't take a translated statement literally is nonsense. He can translate that any way he wishes, as can anyone who wishes to say his statement is profound and not abject nonsense.

But more important, to read this as a literal statement requires that I take the other statements he makes about himself as literal. For example, Jesus declares that he is the bread and the vine and the Good Shepherd. Does that mean that he is literally a loaf of bread or a plant? Of course not! These are metaphors, clues to something about his character and person.

Now for the kicker...

In his book Living Buddha, Living Christ, Thich Nhat Hanh forever changed my understanding of the Christian life when he spoke of Jesus as the Tao, the way.
p. 126

So, Christians take Jesus' statement literally about Himself being "the way" (which the context of the verse supports), that needs to be destroyed (or, as pomos say, deconstructed; or, as I say, spun). But when someone from outside of Christians uses the same word in a different way, well, that's just...profound!!!

And his attempt to weasel out of the words reminds me of something Lewis said about the Bible being a book for grown-ups. When Jesus said He was the way, a grown-up knows what that means. The disciples certainly knew it.

To say that Jesus is the Tao is to acknowledge that the way he walked in the world is the path to follow. It is not about competing with other faith traditions. It's about living out a way of grace, love, forgiveness, and peace.

This is simply salvation by works, a heresy which is the farthest thing from anything in the Bible.

The message of the New Testament is consistent--repentence and forgiveness of sin, and belief in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. None of it involves works. Burke and Taylor make it only about works, even belief in Christ is optional in their opinions.

Monday, November 23, 2009

the cheapness of words

First, take a look at this statement.

With God’s help, we seek to keep this a Christ centered church with a warm and friendly heart, an open mind and an adventurous spirit. We further seek to keep it a church that cares, that heals hurt lives, that challenges the best in all of life and that is inclusive of all people.

Perhaps it reads...fairly well? If you have some experience with how some use words, there may be some warning bells going off, but by and large, the words seem good enough.

Read down a bit further.

As part of a reform-minded or progressive Protestant tradition, Church of the Foothills is an accepting, caring, open and affirming Christian congregation that welcomes and includes all people of every ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, economic status or religious background.

And, finally, this.

Play depicting Jesus as gay packs church

SANTA ANA - A play depicting Jesus as a gay man played to an appreciative audience in a packed church sanctuary tonight while a handful of protesters outside called it blasphemous.

The play depicts Jesus as a gay man living in 1950s Corpus Christi, Texas, playwright Terrence McNally's hometown. The cast of 13 portray Jesus and the 12 Apostles.

The Church of the Foothills in Santa Ana received hate calls and letters in the past few days since media publicity of the performance.

One more thing

Corpus Christi (play)

Corpus Christi is a passion play by Terrence McNally dramatizing the story of Jesus and the Apostles. It depicts Jesus and the Apostles as gay men living in modern-day Texas. It utilises modern devices like television with anachronisms like Roman occupation. In this version, Judas betrays Jesus because of sexual jealousy.

Seeing what kind of play they approve of, you can see what this church does and doesn't mean by being "Christ centered".

ht a little leaven

apparently they don't like ALL street theatre

What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff?

The other night I headed into downtown Philly for a stroll with some friends from out of town. We walked down to Penn's Landing along the river, where there are street performers, artists, musicians. We passed a great magician who did some pretty sweet tricks like pour change out of his iPhone, and then there was a preacher. He wasn't quite as captivating as the magician. He stood on a box, yelling into a microphone, and beside him was a coffin with a fake dead body inside. He talked about how we are all going to die and go to hell if we don't know Jesus.

Some folks snickered. Some told him to shut the hell up. A couple of teenagers tried to steal the dead body in the coffin. All I could do was think to myself, I want to jump up on a box beside him and yell at the top of my lungs, "God is not a monster." Maybe next time I will.

Yeah, apparently emergents don't like ALL attempts at being hip, creative, and relevant. A guy doing cheap like illusions, no problem. A guy who may have been trying to save people'e souls, that's just unacceptable.

There was a prophet who once broke a jar to illustrate a point, and the people who saw it mocked him, and the priest who heard him had him beaten and put in prison (Jeremiah 19 and 20). Mockers are so much more sophisticated nowadays--they write articles in national magazines, mocking those who tell the people the truth, and the one they mock has no chance to respond.

Perhaps the man Claiborne holds up to mocking will never read this, but if that should happen, consider please these words the prophet spoke.

11 But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior;
so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;
their dishonor will never be forgotten.

12 O LORD Almighty, you who examine the righteous
and probe the heart and mind,
let me see your vengeance upon them,
for to you I have committed my cause.

So, God, Mohammed, and Buddha walk into an AA meeting...

For all of the attempted humor of the title here, the truth is that, again, real life is stranger than fiction.

First, ht to Mr. Silva and Christian Research Network for telling me about this. Very interesting, especially in light of the undisciplined five-year-old who insists on throw tantrums here for the past few days.

Is God ‘A Recovering Practitioner of Violence’?


Is God ‘A Recovering Practitioner of Violence’?

The first link is to CRN. The second to a blog called zoecarnate. This excerpt if from z, though some or all of it can be found on CRN, too.

More explosively than his challenging theses, it was at this conference that Brueggemann posits that “God is a recovering practitioner of violence.” As Geoff Holsclaw summarizes – “By this he means that God used to think violence was a good idea, but then gave up on it. However, like all addicts, He has relapses. Of which the cross is either the final deliverance, or another relapse.” Of course this is potentially disconcerting, as we don’t like to imagine the repentance of God – and yet, this is precisely what is suggested in Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan (thanks, Jack Miles!).

So, we have emergents taking seriously the concept that God is an addict to violence, and that while he's trying to get over it, he does have relapses.

I remember hearing something some time ago, along the lines of "In the beginning God created man is His own image, and since that time man has tried to return the favor".

When emergents have to throw God under the bus, the game is over. When emergents need a God who can't control His own actions, they may as well adopt atheism. And when their God is equivalent to the drunk staggering down the street, they have left all ideas of His Lordship in the gutter.

And if you it's just empty rhetoric that I say these people consider themselves "smarter than God", think again. That is exactly what they say.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

repeating myself

One really should make the effort of looking at what another has written before say that person has not written about something. To be fair, EP has reached the point where it is now 'not small', though it is probably rather miniscule compared with some other longer-running, more busy blogs. Still, a couple of hundred entries is still rather sizable. Simple because a book of about 300 pages is small compared to, say, War and Peace, doesn't mean it's not a rather substantial read.

Having said all that, here's a blast from the past (coming up soon, the Best of EP--you have been warned).

resistence is not futile

AAR Panel part 1-- roughly 57 minutes in

Tony Jones--When I spoke at the National Cathedral in May, at a conference around Diana's book, that they were nice enough to invite me to, the evening before I spoke, Marcus Borg spoke, and Marcus Borg for the umpteenth time was asked in the Q&A an old--I remember this so vividly--an old man came up to the microphone in the center aisle of the nave of the national cathedral, and said "Dr. Borg, what about the empty tomb?". And he said, probably for the umpteenth time, verbatim, this is what he said, "If I had to bet a dollar or my life, I would say the tomb was not empty, or there was no tomb." I was in the back, sitting around a circle with people my age who came from a mainline church in Wichita, and if you're a mainliner in Wichita, you're not really a mainliner in the way that people on the east coast think of mainliners, or people in Minnesota think of mainliners. In the fly-over territory, you don't get to be a liberal mainliner at a big mainline church in Wichita. You are a bit evangelical, even though you're a mainline church, because you're in Wichita. And they were extremely distressed by this response, and it got me to thinking, that emergents don't have a problem with paradox. And it seems to me, and this is the risky thing that I do in the book, I really think that Marcus Borg and John Piper, who's a right-wing baptist pastor in Minnesota, very five-point Calvinist reformed hyper-reformed guy, that they're basically doing the same thing. They're both looking for an air-tight Christianity. For Borg it's logical positivism, it doesn't make sense that God would upset the laws of physics and do things like resurrect people or have miracles or things like this, so let's do away with those things and make Christianity more believable. For Piper, it's a purely fideistic system, in which the laws of physics matter not at all, and what matter is you know what the Bible says and that's it. And so leads to Creation Science and leads to you know these kinds of interpretations of scripture of which we're all familiar. Those are both part of the modern enterprise, modern apologetics on the evangelical side is built on, and the modern ecumenical movement on the left side is built on it--looking for rock-solid indubitable foundations not to be questioned. And it's this search that emergents find no interest in. And so yes, indeed, the six questions that Scot talks about that he hears his students in evangelical university asking...

minute 1:06
Diane Butler Bass--I really, I just have to jump in real quick, and then we can go to larger questions, but Tony, if Marcus Borg was sitting here and had misquoted you, I would jump in and defend you. Marcus did indeed say exactly what you said, but then three minutes later, he said that "but that in no way undermines the confession of the early church that Jesus lives and Jesus is Lord" and so then he went on to say that he does indeed--I mean I remember how startling it was there in the great high alter of the national cathedral, we got this incredible faith statement, personal faith statement, from Marcus Borg, saying that he does indeed believe in that confession and that he makes that confession proudly with the early church, and so what he actually did was although the way that he got about it was perhaps logical positivism, he came to a place himself of incredible paradox, that he made a faith statement that in a way contradicts old style liberalism and he did it in front of a crowd of some 350 people. And so you both were actually working out of your point of tension or wanting to work out of a paradox its just that your paradoxes where in different places and I wasn't entirely sure that that you were--there were a couple of people who blogged about that as well, heard the second part of what Marcus said and I did hear it because I went downstairs and was attacked by somebody from the Institute of Religion and Democracy and they were going on about how you know this was just old style liberalism and it's the same old same old and on and on and on and I said "Did you just hear what Marcus Borg said upstairs, if you weren't listening, Marcus Borg just said that he believed in Jesus Christ." And he said "Oh yeah I heard that but it just doesn't matter"

I Corinthians 15
15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
15:13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then [is] our preaching vain, and your faith [is] also vain.
15:15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
15:16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins.
15:18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept.

Romans 10
6. But the righteousness that is by faith says: "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' " (that is, to bring Christ down)
7. "or 'Who will descend into the deep?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
8. But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming:
9. That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
11. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

So, here's the deal--Marcus Borg basically bets his life that Jesus did not really resurrect from the dead (even though Butler Bass says that "he does indeed believe in that confession", which I suppose means he's saying that he does believe in Christ's resurrection in some non-literal sense). Paul makes the resurrection central to our hope in Christ and our salvation. And Paul leaves no doubt that "now is Christ risen from the dead", and not in some metaphorical of 'spiritual' sense.

Borg tells us that it is only in this life that we have some kind of hope in some kind of still-dead Christ. Butler Bass' contention that Borg believes in Jesus Christ is wrong. He may have constructed some imaginary or mythological "jesus christ" in his own mind, much like how cults take the name Jesus Christ and add and take away from what the Bible says about Him, but the "jesus christ" Borg believes in is not the one in the Bible, and the person from the Institute of Religion and Democracy was right to say that what Borg said didn't matter.

For my part, I think I'll stick with Paul. After all, he actually met the risen Christ on the Damascus road. Plus his writings are scripture and true, while Borg is just, well, another crank.

Sorry, but Borg will not assimilate me.

Consider what's being said in the emergent debate linked to above.

Marcus Borg claims that "If I had to bet a dollar or my life, I would say the tomb was not empty, or there was no tomb."

For a summary of Borg's views on what he calls the pre-Easter and post-Easter Jesus', look here.

Despite this, Borg wants to also say that "but that in no way undermines the confession of the early church that Jesus lives and Jesus is Lord".

This is in an emergent debate, and this statement is made by the emergent Diane Butler-Bass.

Butler-Basse claims to have said to someone "Did you just hear what Marcus Borg said upstairs, if you weren't listening, Marcus Borg just said that he believed in Jesus Christ."

So, to the emergent Butler-Basse, Borg's claim that the Jesus of the Bible is largely a mythical figure made up by the early church, the Jesus was really only a man, does not in any way contradict the statement the Jesus lives and Jesus is Lord.

If the person who has been disrupting this site wishes to repudiate Butler-Basse's claim, and say that Borg's statement is in direct contradiction to scripture and has no place in emergent, than he may do so. If he does not, than he is merely showing that any claims of the part of emergent that they believe in the lordship of Christ is simply them playing with words and ideas, trying to disguise their real intention behind religious words.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

the more things change...

To think of Christ as the center and norm of all humanity made a certain sense in the Ptolemaic universe, which had the earth at its center. It continued to make sense, however strained, in the Coperican universe, which had the sun at its center. Today, Christocentrism cannot make sense in the Einsteinian universe, which has no center and in which every structure is a dynamic relationality of moving components.
Tom F Driver, quoted in A Heretic's Guide to Eternity, p. 97

Oh, my.

You know, way back when, someone forgot to tell God that the earth actually orbits around the sun.

And Jesus, well, when He said that only He was the way to the Father, well, He just didn't know about molecules and atoms and quarks and stuff.

But we today, well, we're smarter than God. And we know that those statements have to be discarded, because our voices have thundered from on high (though there is no up there, we believe we know).

So, because Einstein was born, God is taking Muslims in to Heaven.

Or something like that.

sound the trumpets!!

Remember when Jesus told the people to not make a big deal about doing good? Not to, for example, have trumpets blasting when they give alms, and all that?

Keep that in mind when you read this.

On December 19, 2005, Time magazine annouced an interesting trio of people as its Persons of the Year: "For being shrewd about doing good, for rewiring politics and reengineering justice, for making mercy smarter and hope strategic and then daring us to follow, Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono are Time's Person of the Year." Who is seen to be doing the most good in the world today--or at least having the most influence? Not the church, it seems, or any of its representatives, but the creator of Microsoft and his wife and a rock star.
Spencer Burke and Barry Taylor, A Heretic's Guide to Eternity, pp. 84-85

I know many Christian people who will never have the rock-star status or wealth of those people (and they won't curse us with Windows Vista, either). Some of them have left their homes, and gone to other places to take the Gospel, and some of those places are hostile to that endeavor. Others have families and homes and jobs, not much wealth or status, but live Christian lives among those around them. Some are preachers who have lives faithfully for many years among their peoples, have experienced hard times, done weddings and funerals, and are there to comfort when things happen to their people.

But, no, they get slapped in the face by Burke and Spencer, because Time magazine picks other people as their Persons of the Year. Maybe those people I know just need better PR people, and to make a bigger noise when they bother to do something good.

Perhaps this is one things meant by Jesus' statement about many who are last will be first.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

credit where it's due

I don't have much respect for Sojo. They are a bunch of libs trying to disguise themselves as evangelicals and whatnot, and their positions are horrid. And how they have treated Sarah Palin, either by silence when her daughter was the subject of someone's sick joke or by blatant attacks, has shown me a lot about them.

Saying that, I give credit to one writer, who does defend her in regards to Newsweek's cover photo of her.

I don’t have a problem with the lead title, but that image of Palin is demeaning. Let’s call it straight: It’s sexist. She is a politician — one of the very few visible female politicians. Why would they take a picture from a shoot from some time ago from Runner’s World magazine (and use it without permission from RW)? What is the point of her with her “running legs” for a political article?

While I do have a problem with the lead title (mainly, it's misleading--she's bad news for the DEM), it is a bit of a wisp of fresh air to see a Sojo writer actually defend her. Such a rare gem should be noted, even if it isn't faultless.

ah, those tolerant libs (update)

The Hills article has posted a correction, so it's fair to put it here.

DeGette says Stupak won't have the votes to keep his amendment

She also said that religiously-affiliated groups like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which had pushed for the Stupak provision, should have a place in the process, but not the final say.

"Last I heard, we had separation of church and state in this country," she said. "I've got to say that I think that the Catholic bishops and all of the other groups should have input."

Note: An earlier version of this post misquoted Rep. DeGette as saying the bishops should not have input, but when in reality, she said they should. The post was updated at 6:00 p.m. to correct the quote. We regret the error.

While I do think the corrected statement a bit strange in light of the first statement about separation, without any other proof I'll accept that there was an error that was corrected.

ah, those tolerant libs

FRC Calls on President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senator Reid to Repudiate Diana DeGette's Religious Bigotry

Emphases mine

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Family Research Council President Tony Perkins today called on President Obama and Congressional leaders to repudiate comments made by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) to The Hill's Michael O'Brien that "religiously-affiliated groups...should be shut out of the process" in the health care debate because of their support for the Stupak/Pitts amendment. She told The Hill, "Last I heard, we had separation of church and state in this country," she said. "I've got to say that I think the Catholic bishops and all of the other groups shouldn't have input."

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins made the following comments:

"Rep. DeGette's comments are stunning. According to her, if a group of people who are in association with one another because of their Christian faith, they should not have a voice in the crafting of public policy. What she is asserting is that if your ideas and actions are a product of your faith, you're a second-class citizen and your voice should not be heard.

"Rep. DeGette's comments serve to only further confirm that this takeover is not about health care, it is about a radical social policy in which the expansion of abortion, at taxpayer expense, is at the very center of this effort.

Monday, November 16, 2009

they fear her

As Rush Limbaugh says, liberals will tell us themselves who they fear. Since Sarah Palin has had a book published, one that is already a best-seller, Sojo has come out with what I can only term a "hit piece".

The whole thing reeks of liberal elitism. To give you some low-lights in it...

It is hard to imagine a scenario in which one would undertake such a study and come to the conclusion that the impact she has wielded on culture has been even marginally positive...It is hard to imagine a single intersection with culture at which Sarah did not cheapen the quality of our public discourse. Now, with the publication of a “best seller,” we get to hear even more gems of wisdom...Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Jim Cramer, and Bernard Goldberg are all examples of folks whose participation in public dialog leave our public discourse more impoverished... What ponderous chain does someone like Rush Limbaugh bear for his “contribution” to public discourse? He used to refer to himself as having “talent on loan from God.” I used to wonder what Rush thinks God will say when Rush returns that talent, in light of his use of it...A willing and interested audience, coupled with freedom of speech and the freedom to market virtually any idea, no matter how harmful, the reduction of our age to a “sound bite” mentality, are all things that contribute to an environment in which negative influences on public discourse are allowed to flourish.

Everything about this entry is disgusting, and puts the lie to Sojo's supposed claim to want dialogue with others. They don't, likely they never did.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

when the willfully blind speak

Coming on the heals of what happened at Fort Hood, I can think of only one apt response to Claibornes little rant here

Step one: Find sand.

Step toe: Firmly insert head.

Fortunately for him, there are people out there defending his right to say such stupid things. While I respect Claiborne's right to say what he wants, I reserve my respect not for him, but for those who protect him and his rights.

And when he tries to undermine their ability to do so, then I have no use for him except as an example of what NOT to do.

And the fact that he posted it on Veteran's Day is simply insulting.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

a (couple of) heretics' guide to heresy

I have a slight taste for horror.

It's not my favorite genre, though often when horror elements are added to other genres, they add a good bit to them. I have no taste at all for slasher horror, or anything Saw or Hostel. Silent Hill was ok, and probably the creepiest recent movie I've seen was I Am Legend. The sci-fi/horror Alien movies are favorites, too.

One of the more interesting horror writers was Lovecraft, he who brought us Cthulhu and his ilk. While not matching King or Koontz in his writing volume (which may be a good thing), his stories did have some interesting elements, including glimpses into realms that are essentially other-dimensional, where our laws of physics are trumped by others, where the lines and angles of structures just don't behave like they do in our world.

Reading Burke and Taylor's "A Heretics Guide to Eternity" felt a lot like that. Attempts to find reason and sanity are too often lacking, and one is left trying to make sense of...well...what???

For example, consider these two statements.

One of my other earlier titles for this book was I'm a Universalist Who Believes in Hell.
p. 196

And a couple of pages later.

I may be a universalist,...but I also believe in Hell. Do I mean a place filled with fire, brimstone, and flames that burn bodies forever in eternal torment? No.
p. 198

So, he's a universalist who isn't a universalist, who believes in Hell but doesn't believe in Hell.

While you're making sense of that, I need to go feed my Puppy of Tindolis.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

blaming with lies

In my last post, I linked to a post at Sojo. Reading the comments to it a few minutes ago, I found this whopper by someone who calls him/herself BlueDeacon.

Conservatives will try to paint this as an attack by a violent Muslim. In truth, it's really because they don't like people who don't look like them. You see, conservatives need to have an enemy to be successful. It's all about fear and racism.

Remember, this is the same place that has banned me from commenting on their blog. BlueDeacon has been there a while, and this isn't the first time this person has spewed this kind of lies and filth. Apparently saying this about conservatives doesn't get one in any kind of trouble there.

So, let's see.

Conservatives will try to paint this as an attack by a violent Muslim.

Well, it was.

In truth, it's really because they don't like people who don't look like them.

Yeah, because all Conservatives look alike. Sure. There are no conservatives of any other races or colors at all.


You see, conservatives need to have an enemy to be successful.

Actually, it's liberals who need enemies--conservative Christians, social conservatives, pro-lifers, pro-marriage, insurance companies, doctors, anyone making a profit, capitalists, soldiers, Republicans, and so on.

It's all about fear and racism.

Yeah, because liberals aren't trying to paint every critic of our President as racist. And Jackson and Sharpton aren't waiting for the next incident they can go ballistic over.

What a moron.

Friday, November 6, 2009

blaming the victims

When something happens like at Fort Hood yesterday, it's quite natural to view the victims as, well, victims, while the one who committed the act as one who was, to put it mildly, wrong.

Unless your a progressive, then you try to spin things so that the person who did it was really the victim. Such as how a person at Sojo has done.

Fort Hood Shootings and the Prophetic ‘IF’

In Fort Hood, if the reports and claims from the police and military are correct (we already know that a number of falsehoods were reported as facts), an officer, a physician, trained to heal traumatized people from the maiming of their souls, was refused an exit from the soul-destroying prison he begged to leave.

If the reports are accurate, it seems that he broke, choosing murder rather than the nonviolent forms of resistance he might have chosen. In that sense he replicated the violence of the war he abhorred and the violence that kept him in the Army against his will –- replicated the violence instead of resisting it in a deeper way.

I don't know what reports he's heard or read, and my own knowledge of the incident and the people involved is far from complete, but I've heard none of that. What I have heard is that the perp was already talking and writing about terrorists being in his mind people to admire.

It's simply crazy how people like those who write at Sojo are so quick to blame those like the police (as in the incident with the Harvard prof a few months ago, and even when it became clear that the office had acted correctly) and the military, while essentially making excuses for the person who committed the act.

No, it's not simply crazy. It's distasteful. Our soldiers are doing good work, more so than these Sojo elitists, actually putting themselves at risk for the sake of the freedom of a nation on the other side of the world, and this elitist progressive twit has nothing but sympathy for the one who killed some of them yesterday, and disparages their efforts in other places in the article.

If – IF, the prophetic word — If we seriously want to help grow a grassroots democracy there, we might send teams of women from American community banks to provide grassroots micro-loans to those who are prepared to use them, especially women, while abandoning the self-destructive effort to impose democracy with Predators. Then Fort Hood might help Americans grow into a new relationship with the hundreds of millions of Muslims who seek to shape their own futures in peace.

Yeah, because American democracy didn't come about through war, right? That whole American Revolution thing? War of 1812? Civil War? World Wars?

At least, not in this person's universe. In the real one, it's a bit of a different story.

back at it

Well, I did say maybe...

It's been an adventurous few weeks, and not always in ways I would have chosen. Nonetheless, here I am, and after a few days of considering, I've thought it best to re-start the EP entries again.

So, to the few who check in here every now and again, and weren't driven off by the earlier declaration of an end, here we go again...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

so long, most likely

Making a move, especially a rather significant and lengthy one, usually involves changes of various kinds. As one now in the process of moving, some things will no doubt change for me.

One thing about moving is that some things need to be left behind. One thing I am not moving is a large portion of what passes for my library. One part of what I'm not taking is the rather more numerous than I thought number of books by emergents and those they have claimed as inspirations. So the numerous books by Bell, McLaren, Pagitt, Jones, and those they recommend like Wilber, Borg, and Fox, are not among the things I'm taking with me.

But not to worry, they will soon be in what I only consider a better place--biodegrading in a landfill. I suppose I could have taken them to a used book store, but I refuse to spread their rot in such a way.

So, most likely, this will be it for EP. It's been good, I hope you've enjoyed it and found it helpful, or if you're emergent, I hope you're either honked off at me or well on your way to not being emergent any more.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

an emergent action/horror movie

No, seriously, I'm (more or less) serious. Ok, pretty serious.

Anyway, recently, in my movie watching, I saw a preview to movie that I thought could have been written by Peter Rollins, or at least based on a Peter Rollins parable and then embellished by someone else so that it had lots of guns and grannies crawling up walls and all that stuff.

The movie is called "Legion". What made it seems so Rollins-ish is that the 'hero' of the movie is an angel who...

A. Decides to break his relationship with God because he disagrees with God having lost faith in humanity.
B. Tries to keep the instruments of God's wrath from killing a baby, one may assume at God's command.

Remember, Rollins is the one who thinks that disobedience is the sign of true discipleship and that god should have man's permission so he can stay in heaven. A movie where the archangel Michael has a falling out over God's wrath at humanity and starts working against Him, a movie where God is the big bad guy, how could such a movie not meet the approval of Rollins and perhaps other emergents? Wouldn't Michael be Rollins' ultimate disciple?

For a bit more on the movie, look here.

'Legion' film a slap in the face to Christianity

The premise of the movie is typical of the garbage that Hollywood spews these days. "Legion," in a nutshell, is about mankind, how we have angered God somehow, and how he is going to take vengeance on His own creation: man. God does this by unleashing various plagues, Gabriel the Archangel, and hordes of "warrior angels" on mankind. But wait, the blasphemy gets even better. Mankind's faux messiah is an unborn baby who was recently released from his wings and his allegiance to God. Archangel Michael has to protect the unborn baby. Michael, in his graciousness, decides to protect mankind from God and His angels. The blasphemy is really set up as a delightful dichotomy as Michael, releasing himself from his servitude to God and the Messiah, is essentially going to be reborn in a desert in the Southwest United States.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Churches actually doing evangelism? The horror!!!

Oh, sure, this Sodrones article is all about the war imagery, but come on, we all know what's really scary to them--real Christians really trying to convert people from the world to Christ.

But Butler-Basse's (Christianity for all but the real Christians) histronics make for interesting reading in their own right.

“Taking the Hill” is a bizarre call to evangelize depicting Christians as “soldiers” in a war for souls under their “real” commander-in-chief, Jesus. It reveals almost pornographic-religious obsession with guns and violence that should be deeply disturbing for any faith community.

Reminds of the Robins guy from a post a few days ago, and his disgust with the hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers".

But all this is is spin. I am pro-gun-rights, but not obsessed with violence.

I know that it is a free country, and that we have both religious freedom and certain rights to own guns. But when these two rights interweave — as they are doing — it is dangerous to both church and state.

Oh, dear, the church-goers have guns, runnnnnn!!!!!

(and watch out for the zombies)

Now, who's fear-mongering here? This church's use of military metaphors is "dangerous to both church and state"?

Guns and grace don’t go together.

Yeah, I guess that's what she's saying. It's silly, I know, but that's her take on it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

offending liberal sensibilities

...In the future liturgies of the church, the word "trust" should replace the word "faith" as often as possible. The word "wisdom" should replace the word "salvation". "Blood" should disappear altogether--along with all military metaphors and images. Bloody liturgies in church only encourage and sanctify the bloodletting of the battlefield. Please, for God's sake--no more "Onward Christian Soldiers".
Robin R Meyers, Saving Jesus from the Church, p. 179

There is a certain fascination at seeing the kinds of things that offend these genteel, liberal souls. Why is salvation offensive? Because it is individualistic. Why is the blood of Christ something to be replaced? Because it's an icky thing that only primitive pre-enlightened people would value, and we have progressed so much since then, and don't make me send the ACLU after you to make you stop!

Remember things like this when they tell you that they take the Bible "seriously but not literally", but it shows that that statement is a lie, and they take it neither seriously nor literally. If they took it seriously, they would see how seriously the Bible takes "the precious blood of Christ", and would not treat that blood as something to be "trampled". And they would see that the Bible says no nice things about those who do that.

But this man, and those like him, not only do so, but encourage others to do so. Thinking themselves wise, they have become fools. In their eyes, the wisdom of man is to expose the foolishness of God.

And do not be ashamed of the military metaphors. They are based on the Bible, and no amount of spin these people can put on them can take away from their power and accuracy.

Onward Chrstians Soldiers
Marching as to war
With the Cross of Jesus
Going on before.

a question one emergent doesn't like

Coming up soon--emergents start having questioners screened to make sure they ask questions only emergents want to answer, so they don't have to sound like abject wafflers.

btw ht

One day I hope to believe in God…

Bear in mind, Rollins is a pastor (or at least plays one on the internet).

The first question that William asked was, ‘do you believe in God’?

Yeah, such a plain, straight-forward question. In fact, one a pastor who is suppose to Christian should be able to answer with conviction in the affirmative. Heck, one would expect a dyed-in-the-wool atheist to answere it with conviction in the negative. I may disagree with such an atheist, but at leat the honesty would be respected.

But for Rollins, the question becomes...difficult, through no fault of the questioner.

The first thing to notice however is that the question itself rests on the idea that we all have a shared understanding of what belief is and what we mean by the word ‘God’. And, of course, in our cultural context most of us do have a shared understanding of these terms. If we use Saussure’s linguistic theory of the sign we can begin to isolate what that shared understanding is. For Saussure a linguistic sign is composed of a signifier (sound/word) and a signified (a concept that the word brings to mind). Using this idea the question basically can be broken down as such,

I'll let you check out the "as such". I just want to show you the types of hoops and loops he twists himself in to try to avoid the question.

Rather tell, though, is this statement, from a paragraph or two later.

If I was asked this question in the university I would be happy to discuss it, but being asked it in ikon is problematic as it might suggest to people that ones answer to this question is somehow important to the life of faith. To me it is as relevant in the setting of ikon as the question, ‘do you believe in string theory’.

So, to him, the question of his own belief or disbelief in God is not important to his life of faith? The question of any person's belief or disbelief in God is not important to their life of faith?

On may think that is what he's saying, by this statement later on...

So the question remains… as a Christian, do I believe in God? Well, while I am drawn to the idea that there is a Supreme Being I must confess that I don’t believe in God, at least most of the time.

One could certainly say that verbal shenanigans are going on in his "answer". For example, his attempts to redefine God.

The ideas that God should be described as love and that belief in God is intimately connected to how we treat our neighbor are, of course, deeply heretical and one must be wary of even suggesting them.

I've already dealt with someone else, Steve Chalke, trying to make the love of God the big thing with God while leaving out all the other things God tells us about Himself in the Bible. It's at this link...

come on, at least do a bit of research

And his attempt is make it seem as if how we treat other people is somehow only something a waffler like himself sees as important is laughable. As someone who has been for years in fundamentalist and evangelical churches, I know the ideas of "walking the walk" and "living like you believe" are very much a part of what they teach.

Rollins is a poser. That's all he is, that's all he has.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

hall of as shameful as it gets

Scorsese, Allen, Aronofsky&others join "FREE POLANSKI" petition

I have no idea who most of those people are, but some are disturbingly familiar, and I would expect better from them.

Here's one of the parts of the petition that is perhaps most telling.

Roman Polanski is a French citizen, a renown and international artist now facing extradition. This extradition, if it takes place, will be heavy in consequences and will take away his freedom.

Umm...he gave drugs to a 13-year-old girl and sexually abused her. I would hope he would get some heavy consequences from such an act, including having his freedoms taken away by being put in prison.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

irony, thy name is the next page

There are times when the irony is so thick, one wonders how the author didn't get slapped up side the head with it while he was writing.

Consider this, from McLaren's "The Secret Message of Jesus", p. 118.

I should acknowledge that many people assume the sermon (Sermon on the Mount) intends to answer one question--namely, "How does an individual go to heaven after death?"...I have become convinced that Jesus is exploring a very different set of questions--... Rather then directing our attention to life after death in heaven, away from this life and beyond history, these questions return our focus to the here and now--and in so doing, they provide an essential window into Jesus' secret message.

While granting that the Sermon on the Mount is about more than getting to Heaven, the irony comes in when you actually consider some of the things Jesus said in it, which McLaren actually has written out over the next few pages in his book.

Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kind of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven...

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisess, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
pp. 119, 120

These are parts of the Sermon, and are early in the record of it. And we see Jesus telling about the kingdom of heaven and rewards in heaven. Far from being peripheral or even nonexistent, it looks like Jesus' teachings in the Sermon have Heaven pretty much in focus.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
p. 132

This passage gets short changed (pardon the pun) in the book. He tries to make it all about secrecy, which is likely a way of de-emphasizing the "treasures in heaven" aspect--sneaking in treasures on earth, but doing so in a pious and 'spiritual' way; rather, I would say this is about focus. If we keep in mind what the NT says elsewhere about our longing for our real home, where God is, then we can see that storing up treasures in Heaven real is about storing up treasures in Heaven.

To understand McLaren's attempt to de-emphasize Heaven, you must understand that he wants to establish the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. And I don't mean that he wants Jesus to return to establish His reign on the earth, but that he wants to use political means to establish his version of the Kingdom of Heaven (and if you think I'm misrepresenting him, consider why his writings have such a political element to them, and why he writes for the political blog Sojourners).

Such thinking is wrong. Let him ridicule us as being "escapist" or whatever other labels, as he wishes--he answers no questions that way, and only comes off as childish.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

a proud day for me

At least, it would be, if I weren't convinced that "pride goes before destruction". Still, I do have a quite satisfactory feeling of accomplishment.

Why, you may ask? (Not that he won't tell you, you may mutter under your breath)

Well, let me tell you...

Yesterday, with not much time left to be online, I made a quick little trip over to Sojo, where I comment and upon which I sometimes make comments here. But yesterday, I found a new message when I browsed some topics. That message went something like this.

The site has blocked you from posting new comments.

Yes, I have ticked off the power-that-be at Sojo so much, they've banned me!!!

Why, you may again ask (et al...)

Perhaps because, in one particular topic (I'd link to it, but they removed the post) I commented about how a) Jimmy Carter actually used the racially-charged word that Wallis accused Joe Wilsom of implying b)a few months ago Sojo allowed someone to post a topic about Ruth and Naomi which strongly implied that Ruth and Boaz had sex when she visited him at the threshing floor, so c) it's not the 'new blood' at Sojo that needs to clean up their act, but the old blood like Wallis who have allowed Sojo to, for example, claim to be pro-life while supporting a presidential candidate who was not only pro-choice but also pro-infanticide.

Yeah, they claim to like "speaking truth to power", just so long as you're not speaking truth to them.

One poster there asked me if I wanted to "Defeat Sojo". I didn't get the chance to answer that, and now Sojo has answered it for me--they have defeated themselves by showing how little they value free speech and disagreement with their opinions.

I'm glad to have been a part of the catalyst.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

we're better then God!

It is the question all who have been to war face, for war is a godless endeavor. When love, compassion and human kindness are replaced by the vast, grotesque panorama of violence and destruction of war, God is banished.
Chris Hedges, Losing Moses on the Freeway, p. 177

But up close war is a soulless void...In this moral void, blessed by institutions at home, the hypocrisy of our social conventions are laid bare.
p. 183

Killing and murder are each sinful...The failure of religious institutions, whose texts are unequivocal about murder, to address in times of war the sinful state of war has left them unable to speak to the reality of war.
p. 185

"In theological terms, war is sin," writes Mahedy. "This has nothing to do with whether a particular war is justified or whether isolated incidents in a soldier's war were right or wrong. The point is that war as a human enterprise is a matter of sin. It is a form of hatred for one's fellow human beings. It produces alienation from others and nihilism, and it ultimatley represents a turning away from God."
pp. 186-187

Don't you just love when people try to be more righteous than God?

Seriously, take a quick look through the Bible, if you have to, to see what I mean. Hedges tries to tell us that war is godless, war is sinful. But to do that, he has to ignore the many times God told His people to go war, to conquer, even to totally obliterate a race of people. If war in itself is what he says, then God was telling His people to sin, which would be something God would not do.

In the first quote above, Hedges talks about love and compassion. I think he's using those words in ways they are not meant to be used here. For example, look at this.

The pattern of neighborhood that pilgrims and pioneers created was interwoven with the understanding of compassion that they gained from reading their Bibles. Hebrew and Greek words commonly translated as "compassion" are used over eighty times in the Bible. Their most frequent use is not as an isolated noun, but as the culmination of a process. Repeatedly, in Judges and other books, the Bible shows that when the Israelites had sinned they were to repent and turn away from their sin. Only then, as a rule, would God show compassion. Second Chronicles 30:9 states the process precisely: "the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face form you if you return to him." Nehemiah 9:27 notes that "when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers..."

...They read angry biblical descriptions of Israel as "a people without understanding; so their Maker has no compassion on them..." They read in Jeremiah of God telling Israel, "You have rejected me...I can no longer show compassion." They saw compassion as mutual obligation,...
Marvin Olasky, The Tragedy of American Compassion, pp. 217-218

Hedges' compassion, it would seem, is not a "mutual obligation". For him, it would seem, it was wrong to fight to try to keep a nation of people from falling into the slavery of Communism. May I be kept from a situation where my life or the life of one I love is in his hands to defend from another wishing to cause harm or even death.

The simplest way to answer Hedges and those like him is that simply point out that their claims that "war is sin" is unbiblical. Once they stop twisting Scripture like that, to fit their own agenda, then maybe questions of whether this or that battle or war is good or bad may be answered. But until then, no discussion can be had, and trying to equate killing in war to killing in cold blooded murder is like trying to equate loving marital sex with rape, and is equally distasteful.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

enter the store, put hands over eyes

The US has simply made it to difficult for other people to exist...The US has structured the global economy to perpetually enrich itself and reduce non-Western societies to poverty. "Free markets" are simply a euphemism for free mobility of American capital, unrestrainted expansion of American corporations, and free (unidirectional) movement of good and services from America to the rest of the world.
quote from a book called "Why Do People Hate America", quoted favorable in McLaren, everything must change, pp. 257-258



What planet are people like McLaren living on?

I mean, seriously, how can one go to almost any store, and say those things?

Goods and services only going from the US to other nations? Do the people who say that ever look at the "Made in..." labels on things in their stores? Do they notice how many foreign-made vehicles are on the road? Does the phrase "trade deficit" mean anything to them? And as if that wasn't enough, how about the little nutty libs who are all into "buy local" because they think people don't buy local enough?

Free markets reduce non-Western societies to poverty? I wonder if Japan and South Korea would agree with that? Or how about China, since they've started doing a few free market things? Russia struggled with the market, and likely other former Soviet bloc nations, too, but when last I was there, Russia was starting to get with it. It was slow, yes, but they had help. It wasn't perfect, but things were improving.

If anything makes it "to difficult for other people to exist", it's not free markets, but economic ideas like communism and socialism, greedy and corrupt "strong man" rulers who care only to enrich themselves, and places where freedoms are denied and those who speak out about it are punished. One could likely throw in other things, too--I don't find it an accident that most hard Islamic countries suffer from poverty, or are rich only because a few have access to resources like oil. Or that much of India's poverty has to do with the demonic caste system, which is based on the Hindu religion and ideas of karma and reincarnation.

The US has been far from perfect, but blaming it and the free market for poverty is, at best, entirely too simplistic to be taken seriously, and at worst a blatant lie that shows the blinders on these people.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

very good post about Adam

Read anything written by so-called liberal christians or emergents (assuming they are different), and you'll soon see that they go to great lengths to try and make the first few chapters of Genesis into fiction. They may try to soften that some by calling it 'myth', but in the end it equals the same thing to them. Rob Bell, for example, is all into the idea of the Creation myth as "poetry". McLaren has made no bones that he considers much of Genesis to be made-up, at least up to Abraham. Another liberal whose books I've read some of waxed to great lengths (though without proofs) trying to say that even way back when this creation account wasn't considered factual, though he never explains how he knows that.

Following a link from this blog, it took me to this entry about why Adam should be considered to have been a real, historical person.

1. On the face of it, the basic literary genre of Genesis 1-4 is that of historical narrative (as opposed to, e.g., poetry, legal code, or apocalypse). This isn’t to say that these chapters can contain no figurative language; many conservative OT scholars would readily grant that they do. But it does imply that these chapters (like the rest of Genesis) are intended by the author to report important events within historical space-time. As such, there should be a strong presumption that the Adam of chapters 1-4 is no less a real historic figure than, say, the Abraham of chapters 12-25.

8. In Romans 5:12-21, Paul draws his famous parallel between Adam and Jesus. The transgression of “one man” (Adam) brought judgment and death, but the obedience of “one man” (Jesus) brought righteousness and life. If Adam never actually existed (never mind sinned), Paul’s parallel — on which his theological argument depends — falls flat.

I can recommend it, it puts paid to many of the assumptions liberals and emergents operate under.

but it's so much fun!!

I'm tempted to put the punchline in this comic in the title of this blog. Or make it my life's motto.

I'm a little surprised at the character he chose to say it, but then again, even a broke clock is right every now and then.

Monday, September 21, 2009

a shade of sadness

Sometimes I read things that make me a bit sad, for whatever reason. One thing I read a few moments ago was this, from a site called Faith House.

My Summer of Religion

Here are some things in it that saddened me.

3. Music creates sacrality for me. I’ve chanted to Allah, sung to Jesus, and la-la-la-ed through Jewish melodies.

I'm sorry, but if you're chanting praises to Allah, you're not singing songs to the real Jesus. There is no communion between those two. Any Jesus that lets you worship a false god is not the real Jesus, but a construct of your own mind.

When I visited Nur Ashki Jerrahi, I had no idea what I was saying, or what the meanings of the various movements were - and I imagine many who visit a Jewish community are overwhelmed by all the Hebrew. But I learned to let go of my need to understand the why and what to every religious practice. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, and in doing so you learn the how. There is a leap of faith in letting go – letting go of my desire for explanation, letting go of my fear of appearing ignorant – and through this leap I was able to experience other faiths as I wanted to: with compassion, empathy, and a receptive heart.

I suppose I'll never understand this worship of ignorance on the part of pomos, which I guess this person's internship at Faith House shows her to be. But it makes it convenient when there are those who try to sell them the idea that all religions are equally valid ways to God. Tell people to don't bother with understanding, and you can pretty much sell them anything.

I wonder, sometimes, if people like this ever read the Bible. Do they ever really read the New Testament? Do they ever really see that Christian grew in a climate of various religions around it? And that, far from trying to appreciate, say, the worship of Athena, they came out against it and tried to bring people out of it?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

twisting in the hot air

There are reasons why I have little to no respect for Sojourners--their attempts to foist sainthood upon Ted Kennedy, a man whose life was marked by corruptiong, excess, sexual debauchery and marital unfaithfulness, and support of the murder of the unborn; their selective outrage, which gets in a tizzy over comments about the President's wife's hair but says nothing about ACORN helping people set up prostitution rings of underaged girls from other countries, and says nothing when a conservative politician's underaged daughter is subjected to a sexually-laced 'joke' by a late-night comedian.

Now, Wallis of Sojo is trying to paint us who object to Obama's attempts to add an extra S to USA as know...

But fourth — and importantly — there was, and is still, a hard core of racially-motivated white people in this nation who did vote against Obama because he is black, and who virulently oppose him as president because he is black. And that racist core of angry white Americans resides on the extreme political right of U.S. politics. The Far Right in America have never supported racial equality. Their political representatives voted against both the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, and most have never repented for it. And, let’s be honest, the loudest voices of right-wing talk radio and cable television appeal directly to that core with subtle and not-so-subtle racial messages, as has the right wing of the Republican Party for many years.

And, agree with me or not, I saw it in the disrespect shown toward a black president by a white Congressman from the South, whose less than enthusiastic apologies have now turned him into a fund-raising martyr, cheered on by a defiant rebel yell against the man (or is it “boy”?) in the White House.

No one doubts that there are still racists in the country. Very well. Those who wouldn't vote for someone simply based on skin color are wrong, but by that same token, those who would vote for someone simply based on skin color are equally wrong. Racism cuts both ways.

To see what Wallis sounds like in that second paragraph, take a look at this from a raving lib.
Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t.

But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!

Now, I have heard Obama referred to as "boy" lately. It was in a recording of something said last year. By current race-card-playing poster-boy Jimmy Carter. (emphasis mine)

CARTER: It already has sent a wave of approbation and admiration in many countries around the world, just knowing that this black boy, who grew up with just a loving mother and a -- and grandparents and that was about all he had to start with, has now had the chance to become the nominee of Democratic Party for president.

Now, why hasn't that been made big to-dos about? Instead of shoehorning a racially charged word into one man's statement, why not find the blatant one in anothers?

I think we all know the answer to that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

i'll call them george

(btw if you don't get the title, watch some older Bugs Bunny cartoons, particularly those with Daffy and Marvin the Martian)

I wish I had worked up this one last week, particularly for Friday. It would have been appropriate, I think.

Jesus' disciples must work to dehabitualize and delegitimize even small expressions of aggression like name-calling. They must realize the dangers of language that dehumanizes the other--whether it is Hutus in Rwanda calling Tutsis "cockroaches" and "tall trees," or political and religious leaders using language like "infidel" or "terrorist" or "axis of evil," or a husband and wife trading insults in a loud, late-night argument.
McLaren, everything must change, p. 179

First, I can imagine McLaren, if he had been alive when Jesus was on Earth, going up to Him and saying something like "You really shouldn't call the Pharisees and others things like hyprocrites and blind guides and vipers. That dehumanizes them, and we who are disciples of yours just don't think that's right."

Second, I wonder what kinds of people he thinks committed the acts of 9-11-01? Consider that he thinks calling people "terrorists" is unacceptable, what else is he going to allow us to call them? What other name for such scum would be acceptable to McLaren? Or what should we call those who put bombs on themselves, or on women, and send them into busses and market places, to blow themselves up and as many others as they can, in places like Iraq and Israel and even Britain? Or who blow up trains in Spain?

And was a description ever more accurate than President Bush's of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as the "Axis of Evil"? Iran and NK are without doubt two of the bigger hot spots in the world, and one need only consider how Iran handled the recent protests of their election to see evil, or how NK's insane ruler allows his people to starve in the midst of his socialist paradise.

McLaren isn't speaking out for love, but for political correctness. Such a pale imitation of love is to be shunned, not adopted.

spinnin' da misunderstandin'

There must be an element of something like fun, maybe the mockery of real fun, in how some people use postmodernism. Consider this, from the pomo discussion forum Open Source Theology.

While my “straight” conservative Christian friends readily argue that “gay” people can be converted through various therapeutic means, they never mention what this logically entails for their own sexual orientation. Simply stated, it seems reasonable to say: If a “gay” person can be converted into a “straight” person, then a “straight” person can be converted into a “gay” person. Even though my conservative friends don’t explicitly talk about this concern (that they might be converted to “gay”), it does seem to come through in their everyday practices. This fear of conversion helps explain why many “straight” conservative Christians keep their children away from people who are openly “gay”—I’ve seen instances in the news where “straight” conservative Christians don’t want “gay” teachers in the classroom teaching their kids, they don’t want “gay” daycare providers or babysitters, they don’t like “gay” politicians and “gay” actors and actresses setting bad examples or celebrating the “gay” lifestyle. All these fears, in seems to me, are related to a fear that their children might be converted to a “gay” sexual orientation.

One might think, from this person's view, that he or she had never been around parents, or adults in general. Perhaps not, but that would be quite remarkable. Considering he cites examples he has seen on the news, he must have had at least that much exposure to parents.

Because nothing is more natural or understandable than the parents should show concern for whom their kids are around. If, in the paragraph above, we substitute, let's say, "drug use" for "gay", we would find nothing remarkable about the parent's concerns for any of those things.

In an interesting way, “straight” conservative Christians who advocate the notion that sexual orientation is changeable are implicitly taking a social constructionist view of sexuality and gender, which is much closer to a postmodern way of thinking than most are apt to admit. On this view, sexual orientation is in whole or at least in part, a product of various choices and ways of thinking and acting.

No, they're acting no different than parents have since probably not long after the Fall--parents know that children can influence by those around them, particularly authority figures. The only "new" thing about all of this is that the homosexual lifestyle is "politically correct", and to try to ward one's children from it would likely be considered a hate act.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

depressed over the resurrection?

Emergents try to paint themselves as happy and cheery (compared with those grim-faced fundies out there). But I think the truth is, their smiles and laughs are forced, and they are really floundering around in hopelessness and depression.

Take a look at this 'parable', written, I suppose, by Rollins and here referenced on Samilovich's "Faith House" blog. Only a part of it is here.

Living Room Gathering -

‘Why are you in such sorrow?’ asked the missionary in amazement. ‘Today is a day for great celebration!’

‘A day for great celebration and great sorrow,’ replied the elder, who was all the while crouching on the floor. ‘For over 300 years we have followed the ways taught to us by Christ. We followed his ways faithfully, even though it cost us deeply, and we remained resolute despite the fear that death defeated him and would one day defeat us also.’

The elder slowly got to his feet and looked the missionary compassionately in the face.

‘Each day we have forsaken our very lives for him because we judge him wholly worthy of the sacrifice, wholly worthy of our being. But now I am concerned that my children and my children’s children may follow him not because of the implicit value he has, but because of the value that he possesses for them.’

With this the elder left the hut and made his way to the celebration, leaving the missionary to his thoughts.

This 'parable' posits a fictitious group of people who knew of Christ while He lived, but didn't know of His resurrection. The response above is part of what happened when they learned, 300 years later, about Him rising from the dead.

I can only think of how important Paul says the resurrection was, that if Christ had not been raised, we would still be in our sins, and merely miserable human beings.

Anyone that can posit that news of Christ's resurrection would somehow take away from His message, has a rather twisted mind, as would anyone who would support such a position.

Friday, September 11, 2009

a little something for 9-11

A bit off-topic, but not much.

I have nothing prepared for today, so I'll let someone else's words say it for me.

Sarah Palin Tells People to Thank a Veteran on 9/11's Anniversary

It has been eight years since the United States suffered the worst attack on our soil since Pearl Harbor. As we look back, we should take stock of what has transpired since then. We have sent our nation's soldiers into battlefields far from home to defend us. These brave men and women live in treacherous conditions, facing improvised roadside bombs, suicide bombers and other attacks. Yet they fight on in their mission to defend the United States and all of us without complaint.

Our all-volunteer service is made up of Americans of all races, creeds, and economic backgrounds. These soldiers are on the front lines of this battle, and there are others in the fight as well. We must continue to give our utmost support to the United States military and those that support their efforts. In light of this, I have added my name to a letter sent to President Obama urging him to remain committed to prosecuting the War on Terror in Afghanistan. Never have so few defended the liberty of so many. We must continue to support their mission because they will continue to fight for us.

I thank all our servicemen and women, in and out of uniform, for keeping us safe over the last eight years in the face of enormous odds.

Please thank a veteran today. They certainly do not look for those thanks, but they have more than earned it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

as before, take 2

Oh, and earlier today, McLaren posted at Sojo, and boy, is it a doozy, especially in regards to the last post.

A Plea for a New Generation of Republican Leadership

...I’m convinced that there is some degree of white fear and resentment behind at least some of this reaction: fear and resentment of an African-American president, mingled with xenophobia regarding brown-skinned immigrants, undergirded by fear of a future where there is no more racial majority status for white people...And where Christianity becomes a tribal religion rather than a reconciling faith — the exclusive and combative religion of rural non-coastal folks, for example, or Southern folks, or socially conservative folks, or folks who hold a certain economic ideology — there is probably some old-fashioned religious supremacy at play too: the “Our God is better than your god, so we should be in power” syndrome.

Wow, McLaren had the poison pen loaded for bear!!

well, yes, he SAYS, but...

If you want to see a good example of "do as I say, not as I do", check out these two statements, made by McLaren in "Everything Must Change", and are not even many pages apart

Jesus' disciples must work to dehabitualize and delegitimize even small expressions of aggression like name-calling.
p. 179

And then...

No wonder Catholic thoelogian Tom Beaudoin offers the term 'theocapitalism' to describe the contemporary prosperity system of the global suicide machine.
p. 190

One could point out that McLaren isn't calling any person theocapitalism, but only an economic system. But let's not kid ourselves--it is as much as swipe at those who think capitalism is good because it works as it is at the economic philosophy and practice itself.

I could as well point out that the last statement is made in a chapter called "capitalism as god". And that the chapter also contains what he calls the "Four Spiritual Laws of Theocapitalism", a further swipe not only at conservative capitalists but also that the Campus Crusade's idea of the Four Spiritual Laws.

Yep, McLaren's throwing punches left and right. Well, centrist and right may be more accurate.

But let's look at reality, and see if "theocapitalism" is even a reality. I would content that it's not.

First, he says it's a way to "describe the contemporary prospertiy system of the global suicide machine". The problem is, how many nations have a capitalist system? Especially, how many have that compared to the various socialist and communist countries out there? Or other forms of economic or social structure that limit personal freedoms and opportunities to succeed?

China and much of Southeast Asia have forms of communism, though China is at least learning that such a system doesn't work. Many countries in South and Central America either have or are struggling with communists. Much of Europe has some serious socialist leanings. The Middle East has it's own issues concerning personal freedoms. And even in the US, the present president has stated the goal of "spreading the wealth".

It gets even more interesting when considering the places that are wealthy, compared with the places that aren't. Outside of maybe China (who has been let capitalism in bit by bit over a number of years, though there are still no small issues of human rights with them, especially in regards to religious beliefs and children), I can't think of a socialist or communist country that is economically healthy, and most would likely be among the poorest nations. Even the economic problems in the US can be traced to socialistic practices, such as the numerous attempts by the government to provide economic bailouts to some banks and companies, which has been nothing short of a abysmal failure and wasted of billions, perhaps trillions, of dollars.

Only a fool would want to escape from boat that is seaworthy to get into one that's proven to be unreliable and is even then sinking. But McLaren and crew would have us do do, by abandoning an economic system that works for one that has proven time and again to be woefully inadequate.