Friday, October 31, 2014

worship of uncertainty

It would be fair to make a cautionary statement here--I think there is a tendency to proclaim certainty about things that are less-than-fully-supported biblically. In my last few years of school, I attended a school affiliated with a "Fundamental, Independent, KJV-only" type of church. They were very certain about many things--women should not wear pants (trousers, to you in the UK), rock music in any form is evil, going to the cinema to see movies is evil (though maybe watching videos was ok--this was a few years before DVDs). Christians don't drink, smoke, or chew, and don't hang out with those who do (unless one is witnessing to them, which wouldn't technically be hanging out).

In truth, many of their prohibitions had little biblical support. They would say that rock music is the world's music, rooted in rebellion. Some would say that the beat of rock music is too heavy, that the heavy rhythm is carnal and sensual. The problem is, these are arbitrary categories--where does the Bible say anything about any kind of "world's music"? Where does the Bible prohibit music with a heavy rhythm? The Bible does prohibit a man to wear feminine things and vice-versa, but what does that mean? In the times of the New Testament, the normal clothing of men and women were very similar. Why are pants or trousers strictly men's clothing? What about in colder climates, where women wear trouser-like pieces of clothing? What about cultures where women's clothing may include something similar to trousers? On the other hand, should men not wear kilts, because they are too much like skirts?

I could go on, I suppose, but maybe I've made my point--we need to be careful of forbidding things about which the Bible does not explicitly forbid.

Saying that, while acknowledging that grace may be wise in some things where clear commands and limits are not given, the worship of uncertainty as many postmoderns practice is like being eaten by the dragon while avoiding the whirlpool. The Bible makes many things very plain, and these things are not up for dispute. In the Ten Commandments, things like theft and murder and lying and adultery are shown to be wrong. Worshiping other gods is wrong. Any sexual act between anyone other than a man and woman married to each other is called sin.

We did not make the rules, we were not given the power to veto or remake the rules, and we violate the rules at our own peril. And finally, if we go up against the One who made the rules, we may be sure only of certain defeat and punishment.

There is room for flexibility in many things, but there are things hard and fast, things about which there cannot be compromise. To say that we must doubt those things, doubt that God has forbidden us to do those things, is to echo the words of the serpent, “Did God really say?”

En Passant: a work of not-so-popular theology (Kindle Locations 477-496).

Monday, October 13, 2014

well, there goes hope

Right when one might have had hope concerning this coming election, the Evangelical purveyors of superstitious hyper-spiritual practices have gone and ripped it from us.

Intercessors Set up 'David's Tent' For 24/7 Worship Outside White House

I remember they did this last year, before the presidential election. Yeah, how'd that work out, folks?

One of the sure signs that these NAR types are false prophets and teachers can be found simply in this, that when they prophecy and proclaim something, the opposite happens. I remember Lou Engle writing this,  "Standing on that basketball court, with the U.S. Supreme court beneath the feet of Jesus and my feet, I declared, "From this day forward there will only be pro-life judges." Well, that didn't happen.

And now, there's this kind of stuff, again. These 24-7 kinds of places have become very popular in some circles, such the IHOP and YWAM crowds, not to mention the group that calls themselves 24-7 Prayer. And it's all hyper-spiritual busywork, all based on a superstitious view that if they do this, God will do something.

Hog and wash.

"David's Tent" is some kind of big cause celebre among these NAR Dominionists. They think there 24-7 music fests will have something to do with making "David's Tent" a reality, even though that's not what the Bible teaches.

Anyway, having any kind of hope in the current political situation is rather a difficult thing even on the best of days, but knowing that thus bunch is out there doing their schtick of false praise and worship just took hope right out the room. Please, folks, just stop, you've already done quite enough damage.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

book review—Dark Biology by Bonnie Doran

not awful, not great

I want to deal with this book in two aspects—the story, and the theology.

The story: It turned out to be more of a romance than a suspense or thriller type of book. While some things written about the International Space Station were interesting, the focus was usually put on the romance triangle, and it was just kinda so-so. Hildi was an ok character, though I thought she treated Dan rather badly. And why Dan still wanted to be with her after, for example, leaving him stranded on a beach, I don't understand. And for Frank, he got to play the role of the guy who kept messing things up and making bad situations even worse.

The parallel story of Hildi's parents, and the people around them, could have had a bit more punch. There was certainly enough material with them to make up its own book, but while it has some moving moments, it never really gets to much depth.

Chet was the most interesting character, but also in some ways the most iffy. Would it really be that easy for a disgruntled CDC employee to get into an infectious disease lab, hid a vial, and get out? Especially on the spur of the moment? And the book said the he checked the vial's label to make sure that it wasn't anything seriously bad, the book called it H1N2, but he later sees the label again and sees that it actually is a serious bug, something called H4N6. This mistake, though, is not explained, especially since he made sure to check the vial when he selected it as the one to sneak out.

Theology: For a story riddled with ministers, prayer, and other things Christian, it seemed like the Gospel itself was like the proverbial bush that people beat all around, but never quite get into. Let me give an example.

One character, Hildi's father, who has just learned that he is about to die, says, “I've done these seminars to atone for my sins.” While the friend comforting him starts out by saying “Do you believe Jesus' sacrifice was sufficient for everything you've done, past, present, and future?”, his words then turn into some kind of a motivational speech about all the good the guy had done, with the last thought from that minister in this section of the book was “Maybe his life had counted after all”.

This was an excellent place for the Gospel to be told to this man who was having some doubts so close to death, and while something like a “Gospel nugget” (HT Fighting for the Faith) was given, the man was quickly pushed past that to look at his own works. I doubt the author meant it this way, but that does come off as something like work-righteousness, especially just after the man had said that he was trying to do good works to atone for his sins. But out good works do not save us, our works of righteousness are no better than filthy rags, and we sure can't use them to atone for our sins. The righteousness God gives us through Christ is not earned by works of the law, but is given through faith in Jesus Christ. That is mentioned, true, but I wish it had been dwelt on more, instead of jumping to the “You've changed the world” type of motivational jargon.

This is the kind of book that might have benefited from being longer, so that things could have been explained better and the overall story would not have felt so hurried. As it is, it's only a so-so book to me, something that I neither liked overly much, nor disliked.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

a bit of kibitzing

I haven't done anything like this for a while, and I'm actually anticipating it a little. So, onward and upward!

Weeping Jeremiahs” is a blog that's been brought to my attention, for good or ill, mostly ill. I don't know anything about whomever write it, or even if “Jeremiahs” is telling us there's more than one person contributing bad poetry to the site. Anyway, this one example is certainly interesting.
The Values of the Lamb
Ah, the language of values. Not morals, not ethics, but values. But, let's be glad that this person knows so much about what Jesus values, right?
“I do not share your values, America:
Well, all right-y, then. Let's give Weepy Jerry credit for coming on strong, bringing the heat.

Now, first, let's note a few things. First, tie this in with the title of this poem, The Values of the Lamb, and note that this person puts these words in quotes, and writes in the first person, I. In other words, Weepy Jerry is claiming that Jesus is the one saying these words.

Wow, that's quite the claim. Take a look at this passage. “Deuteronomy 18: 18– 20: 18 “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 “It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. 20 “But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.””

First, HT to Michael Beasley and his book, The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism, an excellent resource for the biblical view of prophecy, such as the verses above, which were in his book.

So, claiming to be speaking for God is not a trite thing. Saying “Thus sayeth the Lord”, even if one doesn't use that phrase, was a matter of life or death in the Old Testament. True, we may be glad that in this New Covenant we wouldn't kill a false prophet, but we shouldn't pretend that false prophecy is not a serious issue. And in claiming that the words of this poem are the words of Jesus, Weepy Jerry is putting him/her/themselves in the place of a prophet.

So, noting that, let's go on.
I value love more
than I value independence
Well, that's interesting. Are love and independence mutually exclusive? Are they bitter enemies, such that we cannot have one if we have the other? Personally, I don't see the conflict, and more than that, I think there are many ways in which love and independence go hand in hand. Even if we look at things on a national level, which country sounds more loving—the independence people have in the US, or the micro-control people suffer in North Korea? I think I'll take the independence we have in the US, thanks.
I value charity more
than I value profit.
So, when did charity and profit become mutually exclusive? You know, you work day in and day out, and when payday comes you get the wages you've worked for, and what is wrong with that? How that is anti-charity? In fact, how are any of us suppose to do much of anything charitable without earning anything?

Is work wrong? Is it wrong to want to earn the money you need to pay your bills, get groceries, and maybe afford a few extras? I guess we can assume that Weepy Jerry has at least one computer, or all the Weepy Jerries have their own computers, so it seems like they have some means. How were they able to afford to get computers? And wireless access? And a home?

Charitable giving is fine and dandy, if it is done wisely. I'm quite fine with charity, but I don't see how charity is suppose to be opposed to making a profit.

I value the native people
you uprooted and oppressed.
Ah, now it's cheap guilt trip time. Yeah, America, you ain't been perfect.

True, God does love native people, whatever that might mean, wherever that might be. He also loves the people that replaced them, and the people who replaced those people. After all, how many square inches of this world can really be said to be in the ownership of whatever people first claimed them?

I assume that at least one of the Weepy Jerries is white, because this person obviously relishes wallowing in his/her white guilt. As a white man myself, I think I'll pass. I know very well that the US has a lot of really ugly things in our past, something true of any nation, something true even of those native people.

How do I know that? Simple. Those native people were like us—fallen, sinful, corrupt, and even their attempts at works of righteousness were no better than filthy rags. They were just like me, because I was and am like that. I am a sinner, I am still fallen, even as I am forgiven and made clean in Christ. I think it is the Lutherans, and maybe the Reformed, who have a saying that we Christians are simultaneously just and sinner.

So, yes, God loves native people, God loves those who took their place, God loves all peoples. And He showed that love in this, that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.

I value your enemies
as much as I value you
No problem there, but what is this person really saying? I think this next verse may show this person's hand.
I value peacemaking
and nonviolence
Yep, typical leftie cowardice and self-righteousness, right there on full display.

Notice the lack of a contrast here—no “I value X over Y”, but “I value X and Y”. As you might expect, I think this is a bit of an either-or, more so than this person's other attempts at contrasts.

For example, why does peacemaking equal nonviolence? I've had some exposure to leftie rhetoric about these things, and, frankly, it's full of contradictions.

Maybe one would think about Jesus' words in what we call The Sermon on the Mount, where He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers”. All well and good, but does that mean pacifists? Does that mean nonviolence? I think that could be debated. First, by much of the Old Testament, where God often tells His people to go to war, and even seems to indicate that King David got into moral trouble with Bathsheba because he was not at war at a time when kings went to war. Warrior images are also often used for God. And there is no contrast between God the Father and Jesus. One isn't the thunder-god who just wants to do a lot of smiting while the other is the meek and quiet one who's pulled off an Occupy Heaven type of takeover. No, there is no conflict between the Father and the Son. Jesus completely approved of everything in the Old Testament, and the Father completely approved of everything Jesus said and did.

To put it another way, the same God who told Yeshua to lead the people of Israel into a conquest of The Promised Land is the same Yeshua who said that peacemakers are blessed, and He will be the same Yeshua who will return as a king and a conqueror, as Revelation tells us as do other prophet passages.

Proverbs, an Old Testament book, often speaks against violent people. Of course, these violent people were not like King David, or Joshua, or Moses, or Gideon, or any of David's mighty men. Rather, these violent men were murderers, bandits, robbers, ambushers, people who shed the blood of the innocent.

In a human sense, the policeman who stops a murderer or a robber is a peacemaker, even if he uses his weapon and even does so lethally. A soldier fight his country's enemies is a peacemaker. Of course, there are complications—it could be seriously questioned how much of a peacemaker a soldier in Nazi Germany was, and an ISIS terrorist is obviously not a peacemaker at all. Hamas terrorists lobbying thousands of mortars and rockets into Israel are not peacemakers, no matter how much they try to disguise themselves in false concern for the Palestinian people. And there are corrupt police officers, sadly. But by and large, police officers and soldiers do far more peacemaking than leftist radical activists.

I value freedom from sin more
than I value political freedom

Oh, my, how hyper-spiritual. I guess that might work as a cover for leftist attempts to curtail political freedom.

I value your salvation more
than I value your nation.
Ok, so, who is this person now talking to? I thought this person was address the US as a whole, but now it's changed somewhat.

And, again, it's hyper-spiritual. It's a common ploy among those on the left, and sadly even those on the right.
Do not confuse your values with Mine!”
Oh, and now we have “Mine” capitalized, another sign that Weepy Jerry is claiming that these words are form Jesus. So, are we suppose to put this little poem into the Bible? Maybe make it part of the Psalms, or at least a New Testament version of the Psalms?

Sorry, I can't do that.

One wonders if Weepy Jerry is actually taking his or her or their own advise? After all, they are claiming that their own values are the values of Jesus, but are they not then confusing their values for His? I think this little poem shows that they are, and pretty badly, too.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


"But the law is not the end of it. It is, rather, to prepare us for something else. We need the law, we need it to break us, to smash our pride, to show us how helpless we are, so that we can be ready to receive the message of The Gospel."

What is this message? That Christ, the Son of God, born of a virgin, lived the sinless life that we cannot live. Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, was crucified for our sins, the sacrifice for our atonement and redemption, as this passage said. He rose from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. And now we, through repentance for our sins and faith in Christ, may be made clean of our sins and receive eternal life."

Behold this man! Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world! As it it written, God has shown us his love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us, so that we can have this righteousness spoken of in this passage.