Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Legalism in Our Midst

As much as I respect Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and admire his stand on Calvinism despite the fact that so many of his peers are dead-set against it, I have to admit that I think that he can be a legalist. I'm sure some of my Moderate Baptist brethren would say, "Duh, we could have told you that," but I am not concerned with all of those debates. No, the matter that I have in mind is the forcing of parenthood upon married couples. Dr. Mohler recently appeared on CNN to push his legalistic views on the nation. Read his own account of it at http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=416. He has also talked about this sort of thing in the past. A few articles can be found here and here.

For Dr. Mohler, intentional childlessness on the part of married couples is sin. Why? Because children are a gift from God. We are commanded to receive gifts from God with joy. But does this mean that we must demand this gift? Does the word "gift" imply that we must demand it? It does not. For some gifts, we are commanded to seek after them, such as the grace of salvation. But the Bible does not command that all couples in all generations until the end of the world are to procreate. The Bible says that a good wife is far more precious than jewels (Proverbs 31:10), but Paul says that it is better not to marry (1 Corinthians 7:8). Being as Dr. Mohler is an avid defender of the expositional style of preaching (for which I am grateful), it is surprising to see that this is all the Scripture that Mohler uses to defend his case, and he doesn't even exegete it.

What about the command to Adam and Eve and Noah to go forth and multiply? Does that apply to everybody? Obviously not, and on this Dr. Mohler would agree. Since Paul writes of the preference for the single life over married life, it is obvious that God does not intend everybody to marry. And it is also very obvious from God's law that only married people should procreate. So no, as Dr. Mohler would agree with me, the multiplication mandate given to Adam is not for everybody, just for those who marry. How are we to infer this from the text? I believe that it is reading the Bible through the lenses of tradition. God is speaking to Adam and Eve. And though I agree that the command probably includes future generations, we cannot dogmatically say so. He was speaking to specific people, and the command He gave them had a specific purpose. Christ was to come in to the world so that Adam and Eve could be saved. Therefore, they had to procreate so that Christ would come. Same for Noah, of course. But does this mean that everybody should procreate? I don't think that there is enough evidence in the Bible to dogmatically affirm that to choose childlessness is to sin.

Personally, I think that the multiplication mandate was for the old covenant only. It finds its new covenant fulfillment in the Great Commission. And besides, how full does the earth have to be until the mandate is fulfilled? How are we to judge? I could imagine a paedobaptist being keen on this mandatory procreation idea, because that would mean filling the earth up with more Christians that way. But for a credobaptist to take this position is just silly. The main priority for Christian couples is to help each other in bring the Gospel to the lost. Children are secondary.

But ultimately, what does Scripture say is the purpose of marriage? We find it in Genesis 2:18-25. God decided to give Adam a "fit helper." It does not say that Adam needed fit helpers. It does not say that Adam needed someone who would help him create even more helpers. Adam just needed one. And in verse 24 we find a Biblical command for marriage: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh." That is all you will find regarding dogmatic commands for all married couples.

Now don't get me wrong; I am not saying that people should not have children. I am just saying that it is not a sin if they choose not to. If it was, then we would have it listed in Leviticus with some sort of punishment involved for violating it. There is no such law. We should not impose upon believers what God does not impose. That is the very definition of legalism.

I am certain that the matter of procreation falls under the same category as Paul's instructions concerning marriage. Just as it is better to not marry but it is certainly not wrong to marry, so it may be better to have children, but it is not wrong to not have children by choice. Speaking of this particular passage in 1 Corinthians, after Paul gives his instructions to single people, he has specific instructions for married people (7:10-11). Not one word is said about procreation. In the preceding paragraphs, Paul speaks of marriage as a means to avoid fornication. So there he speaks explicitly about marriage and sex, but he does not talk about procreation.

If you want to believe that you should have children lest you sin, fine. It is just like abstaining from food offered to idols. That is your perogative, and your duty if you really believe it. But you cannot force a concept that is nowhere found in Scripture upon other believers. That is extra-biblical, which is legalism.

I know that this idea of mandatory procreation is popular among Reformed folk, and I might even be in the minority. But I feel convinced that such a concept cannot be supported by Scripture either explicity or by necessary inference. I think the only thing that can be inferred from Scripture is that children are a blessing and yahoo for those who get them, and that specific people such as Adam, Eve, Noah, and the ancestors of Christ and the Jewish people, were to multiply. But that is all that can be deduced from Scripture. To add more than that to the consciences of men is to bind them with legalism.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A sign for the Parenthetical Baptist Church... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 10, 2005

When I lived in Lawrence, KS back in 2000, I lived at the Boardwalk apartments. Back in When I lived in Lawrence, KS in 2000, I lived at the Boardwalk apartments. Back in October of this year, one of the buildings burned down. It was pretty close to mine. In the diagram, I circled the building that I lived in. Posted by Picasa

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Scene from MST3K -- Overdrawn at the Memory Bank Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Real Cinderella.

Over the past few weeks, the grocery store that I work at has had a display back near the deli of a TV and a DVD player. They've been playing Cinderella, recently released on DVD by Disney. As I've been stocking the lunch meats, I've listen to the movie play over and over again. Finally it affected my mind so that I developed my own Cinderella story. I present it to you now.

The Real Cinderella

Once upon a time there was an evil witch named Cinderella. Her mother died during childbirth, and her godly father never realized that his child was a witch. He eventually remarried a widow who had two daughters, both of whom were about the same age as Cinderella. It was not long, however, that Cinderella’s father also died. Now Cinderella’s step-mother knew that she was a witch, but had never told Cinderella’s father, for she knew how much he loved his daughter, and she did not want to upset him. But now that he was dead, the step-mother could do something about Cinderella’s sinful lifestyle. But what should she do? The best thing to do regarding the safety of all the souls in the village was to put Cinderella to death, or at least to turn her in to the chief magistrate. But the step-mother, a godly woman, was too kind-hearted to do such a thing to any person, even an evil witch like Cinderella.

“Now Cinderella,” said the step-mother, “I know that you are a witch. I have seen you commune with the animals such as birds and mice, and such sorcery is evil and is an abomination before the Lord. In order to prevent you from practicing your wicked witchcraft around other people, I am going to keep you confined to our house. Until you repent of your evil ways, you will serve your sisters and myself at all times.”

When Cinderella and her step-sisters had reached marrying age, the king made a proclamation across the land. His son the Prince was also of marrying age, and the king greatly desired that a wife be found for the Prince. A ball was to be held, and the Prince would choose that woman whom he desired to be his wife. Cinderella’s step-sisters were holy and God-fearing young women, but bless their hearts, they were just plain ugly. Nevertheless, their mother saw to it that they had dresses for the ball so that they could attend and attempt to win the Prince’s heart.

Sinful jealousy festered in the wicked heart of Cinderella. She used her sorcery to cause the mice in the house to steal articles of cloth from the dresses of the step-sisters. These enchanted mice then made a beautiful dress from the pilfered cloths. The rodents even stole a pearl necklace from one of the step-sisters. In her wicked vanity, Cinderella paraded herself in her new dress in front of the step-sisters. This was a mistake on her part, for the sisters recognized the stolen pieces of clothing, and took them back.

Cinderella was not to be stopped, however. She went back to the seclusion of her room, and called upon all her powers of necromancy to raise up a spirit of an old woman. This shade then used the powers of the grave to give Cinderella a beautiful dress, a carriage with a team of horses, and a pair of glass slippers. However, as demonic power always falls short of the perfect power of righteousness, these gifts would not last long. At the stroke of midnight, the gifts would return to the base elements from which they were made.

Cinderella went to the royal ball and there she put an enchantment upon the Prince, causing him to fall in love with her. But when midnight approached, she was forced to flee back to her house. In her haste, she left behind one of her glass slippers.

The Prince was determined that he would have no other person for his bride but the girl who owned the glass slipper. He sent his servants throughout the land to search for the girl whose foot fit the slipper that had been left behind. They searched and searched, but all in vain. Nobody’s foot fit. Finally they arrived at Cinderella’s house. After failing to get the slipper to fit either of the step-sisters, the servants were in despair. But then Cinderella appeared and they knew that they must try the slipper on her foot. The step-mother, suspecting that sorcery was at play, attempted to foil to servants from applying the slipper to Cinderella’s foot. But alack! Cinderella had the other glass slipper, which fit perfectly. She was rushed back to the Palace and a wedding was held at once.

The unsuspecting people of the land assumed that all was happily ever after. But they were wrong. Soon Cinderella turned the heart of the king away from God so that he too followed in her wicked ways. Cinderella had Asherah poles raised in the high places, and altars to Baal were built. She had the priests of God all put to death, accept for those that hid. Soon after she had ordered a man to be killed so that the Prince (now the King, since his father had died by this time) could own the man’s vineyard, a prophet of the Lord came out of hiding and boldly approached Cinderella and the king.

The prophet spake, “The Lord has said that the dogs shall eat Cinderella within the walls of the land.” And so it came to pass, many years later, after Cinderella’s husband the king had died, that a man claiming right to the throne rode into town. Cinderella made herself up so as to wickedly seduce this man. But he would not be tricked by her cunning wiles. Instead, he called to those who sided with him to turn against Cinderella. Some servants of hers did so, and defenestrated her. When she hit the ground, some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, and they trampled on her. The claimant to the throne went in and ate and drank. And he said, “See now to this cursed woman and bury her, for she was the Queen..” But when they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. They reported this to the man, and he said, “Thus it is as the Lord spoke through the prophet, “In the land the dogs shall eat the flesh of Cinderella, and the corpse of Cinderella shall be as dung on the face of the field in the territory, so that not one can say, ‘This is Cinderella.’”

And then everyone lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Thomas Watson on The Right Understanding of the Law

One of the issues that differentiates Covenant theology from Dispensationalism and New Covenant Theology is that of the place of law in the life of the Christian. By declaring that the moral law is still essential to Christian living, Covenant theologians are often looked upon as being legalistic. The Puritans, especially, have been accused of being too works-oriented. These misconceptions usually come about because of ignorance or misrepresentations of the Covenantal, Puritan position. Seventeenth-century Puritan Thomas Watson wrote a very clear and concise statement on the right understanding of the law in the second volume of his Body of Practical Divinity.

Watson begins by naming the differences between the law and the gospel. First, “the law requires that we worship God as our Creator; the gospel, that we worship Him in and through Christ.” Secondly, the law requires obedience but gives no strength to obey. The gospel gives us the strength to obey God’s law.

The question then arises, “Of what use is the moral law to us?” Watson answers that it allows us to see our sin and our need for Christ. He quotes Galatians 3:24, “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.”

Is this moral law still in force for believers? Watson tells us that the law has been abolished in certain ways. The first (and it is the ignorance of this fact that causes others to view Covenantalists as legalists) is that law has been abolished in respect of justification. Watson stresses (as did all the Puritans) that obedience to the moral law does not justify anybody. The second way in which the law has been abolished for believes is in respect to its curse. Christians are no longer under the curse of the law because Christ became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).

This leads to the question of how was Christ made a curse for us. As a surety, Christ was made a curse. The curse was placed upon His manhood, thus taking away the curse to do the elect. However, though the law is not our savior, Watson says, it is our guide. “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid.” (Romans 3:31). Watson warns against antinomianism, which teaches that the moral law is completely abrogated to believers, because it leads to a sinful life. He says, “They who will not have the law to rule them, shall never have the gospel to save them.” If a person was to reject one thing that God says (the law), why are we to believe that they would accept the other (the gospel)?

Then follows some rules that Watson gives concerning the Ten Commandments.

Rule 1. The commands and prohibitions of the moral law reach the heart.

Rule 2. In the commandments, more is intended than is spoken.
(1) Where any duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden.
(2) Where any sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded.

Rule 3. For any sin forbidden, the occasion for that sin is also forbidden. For example, if adultery is forbidden, then ogling is also forbidden.

Rule 4. Where one relation is named, another relation is included. If a child is commanded to honor his parents, then the parents are commanded to love the child.

Rule 5. Where greater sins are forbidden, lesser sins are forbidden. If idolatry is forbidden, then so is superstition.

Rule 6. The law of God is entire. The duties to God go hand in hand with our duties to our fellow man.

Rule 7. We are also forbidden to being accessory to the sins of others.
(1) By imposing sinful laws on others, or forcing them to sin.
(2) By not hindering others from sinning when we have the chance to do so.
(3) By counseling, abetting, or provoking others to sin.
(4) By consenting to another’s sin.
(5) By our sinful example.

Rule 8. Though we are unable to fulfill the law perfectly by our own strength, God has provided encouragement to fulfill what we can.
(1) God has promised to work in us to obey and to love Him.
(2) God for Christ’s sake will accept our less-than-perfect works.
(3) Though our works be imperfect, God will accept us in Christ because of his perfect obedience.

I hope this summary has clearly explained the role of the law in a Christian’s life. If this whets your appetite for more on this sort of topic, then read the whole book. All of my quotes and paraphrases and whatnot are taken from it. Here it is: Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, The Banner of Truth Trust. If you’re going to read that, then you should probably also read Watson’s Body of Divinity and The Lord’s Prayer, both of which are also published by the Banner of Truth. The Ten Commandments belongs in between those two in order. It was all originally one volume, but was split into three separate volumes later on. Soli Deo gloria.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Church and Post-Weimar Germany

Wow, it's been a long time since I've written anything here. But I guess we're all used to that by now, hm? Well, anyway, I've been reading a wonderful book by German historian Joachim Fest titled Plotting Hitler's Death: The Story of the German Resistance. The opening chapter attempts to answer the question of how the German people could allow somebody like Hitler and his Nazi party to gain so much control? As I read through Fest's analyses of the general feelings of the German populace, I couldn't help but think of modern Christendom.

One reason why Hitler was allowed to gain so much power was pragmatism. Many people really were uncomfortable with much of Hitler's views and methods, and many were even vocally opposed to him. But in the end, they allowed him take over more and more governmental functions simply because they thought that some good might come of it, despite the bad. You see, Germany just wasn't a great place to live at this time. After their defeat in World War I and all the humiliations placed upon them by the Treaty of Versailles, Germans were left with a nation that they just couldn't have pride in. And national pride was a very deeply ingrained trait in Germans. Also, following WWI, they went through an incredible inflation period and then the Great Depression. Joblessness was at an all-time high. Things just really stunk. The government that was created after WWI, the Weimar Republic, just never seemed to do anything that actually benefited anybody or helped to restore the national pride. All Germans knew that some sort of change was needed. They were not all agreed on what sort of change, but they knew that something needed to happen to better their existence. Along came Hitler who promised change. He promised to restore national pride to Germans. He promised to repudiate the humiliating articles of the Treaty of Versailles. He promised financial prosperity. Now whether you were right or left-wing, socialist or democrat, that all sounded really good. However, there were the downsides to Hitler. For the right, he was too radical. For the left, he was too conservative. For the socialists, he was...well, too anti-socialist. To the democrats, he was too authoritarian. But most of them decided that perhaps much of the stuff the disagreed with about Hitler was just bluster on his part, and as crazy or evil as he may have seemed, perhaps it was worth it to let him have more power if he would bring about all those positive changes that he promised. They were being pragmatic. They were allowing positive change to occur by whatever means, regardless if evil changes also occurred.

How does this apply to the church? First of all, I want to make it perfectly clear that I am comparing nobody to Hitler or to the Nazis. My comparison is with the apathetic German populace. So, to the church. Today's Christians are very pragmatic. They perceive that worship and the Christian religion had become stale and cold and that it was just not gaining any new converts. So change was needed. It is true that the church must always be reforming, but not just any change will do. But for many people today, any change will do. Worship services have been altered so that the preaching of the word has taken a secondary role behind music and drama and puppet shows. False teachers are allowed to speak in our churches because they attract such large followings. Doctrine is no longer important--instead all we want is something or somebody who can draw a crowd. No matter if this speaker fills his listeners with distortions of the truth, or with nothing at all--just ear-tickling about how you can be healthy and wealthy. Just so long as he carries a Bible (no matter whether he actually opens it or not) and drops the name of Christ now and then (no matter if his Christ matches up with the one described in Scripture), and that's good enough. Some people recognize the error in these persons or methods, but they decide that the good outweighs the bad. "Sure," they may say, "our means of getting people into the church are not Scriptural, and may even be anti-Scriptural, but at least we're getting people into the church, where we can then teach them the Gospel." It seems as if many of these people are trying to "trick" people into church--they lure them in with promises of relevance and great music and drama, and then later, when they feel that the new converts are ready for it, then they'll teach them real doctrine. Unfortunately, they never seem to decide that the people are ready for the real doctrine, so they continue in the unScriptural frivolities indefinitely, despite the promise that such methods were only going to be temporary. Which leads to my next point...

Many of the political, governmental, and military leaders of Germany allowed Hitler to gain power because they felt assured that they would be able to "tame" him. After he had served their purposes, they would rein him in and prevent him from doing the things that they disagreed with. But Hitler was clever. He was able to work his way up into power in such ways so that by the time anyone would want to reign him in, they would be unable to.

As I said, many people recognize the errors and dangers of some of the things coming into the church, but they allow it anyway because they figure that after they have exhausted the usefulness of the method or ideology of person, then they could step back in and put a halt to any extreme errors. But this just doesn't happen. Error is like leaven--it spreads quickly throughout the whole of the dough and then you can't separate it from the rest of the dough. All erroneous teachings must be nipped in the bud. Once you allow an error to come into the church, you will not be able to just take it away once you feel like. Pastor Gregory N. Barkman, in a sermon from Galatians about Paul's confronting Peter for his hypocrisy, asks what it would be like if Paul had just been nice and had been more interested in unity than in doctrine. What if Paul had decided to wait before speaking up? What if he went to the church in Jerusalem 25 years later and tried to put a stop to their segregating practices? It would have been a lot harder. By then it would have been an ingrained tradition. There would be young people who had been raised that way. And many of them could have said, "Hey, Peter did it, so it must be right!" This argument would have been particularly forceful if they had already started thinking that Peter was the infallible head of the church. This error of Jewish Christians not eating with Gentile Christians might have spread to other churches, making Paul's task of correction even harder. Thankfully, Paul did not wait 25 years, but he addressed the problem as soon as he became aware of it. Had the Germans done this in 1933, a lot of hardship could have been spared. And so it is for the church today.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Steve Lemke's paper

In my last post I talked about SBC president Bobby Welch's article againts the Founders, and his use of a paper by Steve Lemke. Well, I was looking at a blog (http://www.joethorn.net/?p=141) about the same thing, and Lemke himself made a response. Well, I responded to that. I thought I would copy my comment there and paste it here. For all of you. Enjoy!

Lemke writes: “Fourth, I also included an extended section in which I emphasized that there are many varieties of Calvinism, and distinguished a sofer “ROSES” version of Calvinism (i.e., Timothy George) from a harder line “TULIP” kind of Calvinism. My concerns were voiced not about Calvinism in general, but a trend line toward a particular kind of Calvinism.”

This is one of the problems with the paper, however. Are George’s “ROSES” softer than “TULIP”, or is it a restatement of the exact same doctrines in phrases that are less likely to lend themselves to misinterpretation? For instance, R.C. Sproul changes the phrases so that he ends up with RSDEP or something like that, which is completely useless as a memorable acrostic. Which is why TULIP uses the phrases it does; TULIP is easier to remember that RSDEP (or whatever it is). For instance, take the “T”, total depravity. Adrian Rogers tells us that this means that Calvinists teach that man is as depraved as he can be. But if you read anything by any Calvinist (even the “harder line”) who affirm TULIP, they will start out the discussion by saying that this is NOT what total depravity means. So a rephrasing of TULIP doesn’t necessarily make it any “softer”. It just may make it more understandable.

In his paper, Lemke goes through Timothy George’s ROSES and contrasts it with TULIP. But the contrast seems to be with something that doesn’t exist. For instance, “Compared with total depravity, radical depravity agrees that we can do nothing to save ourselves, but affirms that humans are not totally evil because we treatin the image of God despite our fallennes.” What 5-point TULIPer believes otherwise? All of the definitions for the terms in ROSES are the same definitons for the phrases in TULIP. So it is no softer. And by saying “in contrast to” Lemke suggests that TULIPers do believe that humans are totally evil, or that election is mechanistic that doesn’t “allow for human responsiveness.” In fact, Unconditional Election is what insures human responsiveness!

Another thing that has gotten people riled up is this comment in Lemke’s paper: “One stream is what we might call hard hyper-Calvinism (often associated with the Founder’s Movement)…” I do not know anybody associated with the Founders ministry who denies the duty of man to repent and believe or who denies the need for holy living in believers (the two major tenets of hyper-Calvinism). I’m not saying for certain that these people dont’ exist. But they are few, and the majority of the people involved in the Founders ministry would be quick to object to that person’s hyper-Calvinism. But, since Lemke associates the Synod of Dort (where Calvinism was really first systematized into points) as hyper-Calvinism, then this discussion is meaningless. We are working with two different definitions. With this line of thinking, Calvin was a hyper-Calvinist! That somebody can believe more than he believes is nonsense. And this is not taking into account the question of whether or not Calvin believed in particular redemption. Even if he didn’t, (though i think he did), he still definately affirmed the other four points, which is more than Lemke is allowing to belong to regular Calvinism. This all reminds me of people like Norman Geisler who calls himself a Calvinist by redefining all the points of doctrine. But what does the history of Calvinism say a Calvinist is? I think the answer would be at least someone who holds to TUIP, but for most people in church history, the answer would be someone who affirms TULIP. Lemke can redefine that to mean “hyper-Calvinist” but he has no historical precedent for doing so.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Tom Ascol Speaks

Over at the Founders blog Tom Ascol has started to respond to the Bobby Welch issue that I just posted about. Nice to see that my guesses are justified...When I made my comment about the number of attendees-to-members, I just guessed the numbers. Well, Tom Ascol is more responsible than I am and actually did some research to show that of the 4000 people who are on the membership rolls of Bobby Welch's church, only 2000 show up on an average Sunday. That makes 2000 baptised people who do not care about Christ's church. I dare Welch to produce that kind of number regarding Founders churches.

Oh Boy

I just wrote a really long post and then lost it. Aye carumba. That exasperates me too much to get mad about it. So I guess I'll just rewrite the whole dang thing. I'll make it shorter this time because I don't feel like rewriting all of my great arguments.

SBC president Bobby Welch has written an article concerning Founders-friendly churches. That article is here. He believes that these Calvinistic churches just aren't as evangelistic as Arminian SBC churches because they have fewer baptisms and fewer members. He says, "In 2004, not a single one of the 233 self-identified Founder's Fellowship Southern Baptist Churches had 40 or more baptisms. Their baptism to member ration was 1:62; it was 1:42 in the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention." Also, "Only eleven of the 233 churches had more than 1,000 members in 2004, and only one had a regular worship attendance of 1,000 or more."

Here we see the ungodly philosophy of pragmatism rearing its ugly head at the very top of the SBC heirarchy. Welch seems to be suggesting that good evangelism is that which produces the most visible results. This is not the Biblical concept of evangelism, however. I would argue that Founders churches are the most evangelistic because they do real evangelism--that is, they preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). They do not ignore important doctrines just so as not to offend people. That is how most of these 1,000+ member churches get so big! Take Joel Osteen as an example. Why does he have the biggest church in all time and space? Because his congregants get to hear about how great they can feel and how peachy things can be and how materially blessed they can get without ever having to hear about the fact that their sin is infinitaly heinous and is sending them to eternal torments in hell. I believe that this is how so many large SBC churches get large--they ignore the tougher doctrines and just tickle ears. They replace sound doctrinal preaching with extra vacuous chorus chanting, puppet shows, and dramas. But Founders churches know that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). The churches that pound out such a large rate do so only because they will baptise and make members of anybody who repeats a prayer. Founders churches do not want unchristian baptisms or unregenerate members. They examine people to see if they exhibit any real fruit of repentance. This is the biblical method, but it is not a popular method.

I know that not all megachurches are only large because they neglect sound teaching. Spurgeon's church is an example of that. But I believe that to be an exception and not the rule. I would love to see the Lord create a large revival in Reformed Baptist churches. But I would rather not see an explosion of numbers rather than to see the gospel of God laid aside for ear-tickling trivialities and falsehoods. Bobby Welch can have those churches. We don't want them.

There is one statistic that I didn't see Bobby Welch talk about. I saw his concern that Founders churches' baptisms-to-member ratio was lower than other SBC churches. But how about the ratio of regular attenders-to-members? Oh, so we don't have many 1,000+ member churches. But for non-reformed churches in the SBC, what is the ratio? I bet that in these large churches, it could be as low as 50%. That is, there are half as many people regularly attending as there are people on the membership rolls. I dare Bobby Welch to find that to be the case in Founders churches. I'd says it would be over 90%. Because Reformed folk take church membership seriously. To my great shame, that is why I haven't joined my church yet. I have been a sloppy attender, and I don't want to waste their time in admitting me as a member until I can show that I am dedicated to the church enough to actually go all the time.

One last thing about Founders churches. They are mostly concerned with discipleship. Evangelism is important, but it is mostly the job of the individual. The church isn't for the lost. It is for the saved. I know the Founders church I go to regularly and emphatically emphasises us to evangelize the people around us, and the elders are constantly teaching us the Biblical method of doing so. But if every Sunday's sermon was simply about what words to say to accept Jesus into my heart, then I would never ever grow as a Christian. I need to be fed, and not just milk for the rest of my life. Founders churches are concerned with nurturing Christians into maturity. But the average man doesn't care about being a mature Christian. He wants his ears tickled with fluff. So he will only join and be baptised into a church that tickles his "felt needs." But that is not Christian baptism. So Bobby Welch can have his churches that dip unregenerate people into water. I know that God wants me to choose a church that teaches the whole of His truths, and not just one that makes a lot of people wet.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Death By Laughing

Last night I watched one of my favorite comedies ever, so I thought I'd talk about it. Murder By Death. Buy it. Watch it. Love it. Live it. I laugh my socks of watching this movie. It was written by Neil Simon and it features an all-star cast of some of my favorites: Peter Sellers, Alec Guinness, Eileen Brennan, Peter Falk, David Niven, and Estelle Winwood (Estelle--she's swell!). This is one of the few good moves to come out of the seventies (1976), and this movie will keep me laughing until I die. I suppose a reasonable knowledge of old detective novels and films is necessary to get some of the humor. So come on, people, go rent some film noir from the old days, and then watch this movie. Each of the five detectives is a take on some famed fictional detective. Milo Perrier (James Coco)=Hercule Pirot, Sam Diamond (Peter Falk)=Sam Spade, Jessica Marbles (Elsa Lanchester)=Miss Marple, Dick Charleston (David Niven)=The Thin Man, Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers)=Charlie Chan. Great, okay, we have that settled, now add in some of the greatest quotes of all time. You know how Napolean Dynamite seems great for quotes? It's nothing compared to this movie. Goodness gracious me. Let me think of a few examples:

Sam Diamond: The last time that I trusted a dame was in Paris in 1940. She said she was going out to get a bottle of wine. Two hours later, the Germans marched into France.

Tess Skeffington: There's nothing on him 'til '46, when he was picked up in El Paso, Texas, for trying to smuggle a truckload of rich white Americans across the border into Mexico to pick melons.

Sam Diamond: Now, if one of you gentlemen would be so kind as to give my lady friend here a glass of cheap white wine, I'm going down the hall to find the can. I talk so much sometimes, I forget to go.

Sam Diamond: Look all over him.
Dick Charleston: All over his body?
Sam Diamond: Well, somebody's gotta do it. I'm busy standing guard.
Dick Charleston: Why don't I stand guard? You look all over the body.
Sam Diamond: All right, we'll take turns. You look over the first dead, naked body that we find and I'll look over the second.

Willie Wang: Why do I do all the dirty work, Pop?
Sidney Wang: 'Cause your mother not here to do it.

Sidney Wang: Someone just put deadly snake in room. Wake me when it come near bed.

Well, that's enough for now. Just thought that I'd say that I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!! Murder By Death. Buy it today, folks.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

What I'm Doing Now Update

In the short time between my last post, I have finished reading Chuck Palahniuk's Stranger Than Fiction, and then read all of his novel Diary. Right now I'm on the road so I just brought the Kornbluth book with me.

It is hot, hot, hot in Texas right now. I'd love to go someplace nice and cold.

James White recently conducted a Great Debate with a Roman Catholic, which sends their nuttier apologists into a frenzy. Art Sippo, in particular. He loves to spew out all sorts of nasty things about Dr. White, and I can't see any sort of proof or documentation for the things he says. He accuses Dr. White of being abusive, but I have never seen any such thing. James White can be very blunt and he doesn't allow himself to be pushed around, but he never says anything beyond what is true. I have never seen him try to bully people around, like Sippo claims. However, White doesn't allow himself to be bullied around, either, and this may be what the Catholics don't like. But really, and I think this is true for any group that disagrees with truth, what the Romanists are really upset about, and what they perceive as being abuse, is the fact that he believes that many of their tenants are anti-Gospel. So when White says that, for example, the Roman concept of justification goes against the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Sippo believes that this sort of comment is abusive. But that's just my opinion. Like a Catholic, I am full of them.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

What Am I Doing Now?

Since I've been so silent lately, I thought I should let you all know what I'm doing. So you can know I'm still alive and all that. Of course, my existence is defined by my recreational activities, so that is what I'm going to list for you.

Currently reading:
Jonathan Edwards, Freedom of the Will
Chuck Palahniuk, Stranger Than Fiction
C. M. Kornbluth, His Share of the Glory

Currently listening to:
AC/DC, Stiff Upper Lip

Currently watching:
Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode 408, Hercules Unchained

Keep circulating the tapes!

If Only Arminians Were So Honest...

"God is not willing to do everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us." -- Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, chapter 26.

"So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy." -- Romans 9:16.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." -- Ephesians 2:8, 9.

"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." -- John 1:12, 13.

Lately I've been reading Jonathan Edwards' Freedom of the Will, and so this sort of thing has been on my mind lately. When I came across the Machiavelli quote, I thought it was very appropriate. Most Arminians are not willing (if I may so pun) to completely disregard phrases such as "no man may boast," so they still pay lip service to it while contradicting it in their doctrine (such as by affirming that it is their own pre-regenerate will that decides their soul's fate). This sort of contradiction and inconsistency just boils my potato, so it is refreshing to see someone honestly declare that he believes that a share of the glory is owed to man, despite the words of St. Paul.

Monday, May 09, 2005

I found this picture on the internet and thought it was too cute to not show it around. Posted by Hello

New Drawing

Well, Challies.com is doing a new drawing. This time you can win the Amazing Grace: the History and Theology of Calvinism DVD set and the movie Luther on DVD. Enter here:

May Giveaway

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Good Life

Wowzee wow wow, where can I begin?! I have just returned from a fantastical trip throughout the great state of Texas following around a Nebraskan band called The Good Life. This is headed up by Tim Kasher, also the leader of Cursive. Kasher is one of the greatest songwriters of all-time. I am a total fan. Like complete crazy. I don't get this way about bands often. Radiohead is one example of my raving lunatic fanaticalness. Love 'em. And now...Tim Kasher. Anything he touches is gold. Since being in love with him means I'm in love with whichever of his two bands he currently is recording/touring with, I usually just refer to him personally rather than either one of the bands singly. So if you asked me, "Who are some of your favorite bands?" I would just say, "Tim Kasher" instead of "Cursive" or "The Good Life", because I can't have one without the other. It's all good, baby. Well anyway, he is now touring with The Good Life, and he made three stops in Texas, so I had to go to all three of them. Of course. With my wife Stephanie, and our good friend Jane. We are all three of us rabid Kasherites, and it was Jane who introduced us to such wonderful music.

For the uninitiated, I suppose I should explain a few things. Tim Kasher is part of the Indie scene, that is, he records for independent record labels. No big time labels for him like Capitol or Sony. It's all pretty much a small-time thing. His current label is Saddle Creek. This is basically a group of friends and like-minded individuals who like to make music and need it put out some way. It doesn't work like the big labels, where basically executives own the bands and force them to work within the labels' specifications. No, these guys can do whatever they want. Saddle Creek just sort of puts it out for them. There is no big money promotions or anything. It's all pretty much just word of mouth. So of course, the shows are not big. No sold out arenas here. No, they just play at little clubs for something like $10 a ticket. Just bar bands that happen to tour the country or even the world. These bands cannot be really considered famous. At a big place like Best Buy you may find the latest CDs from Cursive and The Good Life, but usually none of their older stuff. A place like Wal-Mart is out of the question. The best places to find CDs by these type of bands is online or at weird CD stores that cater to indie kids. These stores are usually only found in the bigger cities, like Good Records in Dallas or Waterloo in Austin.

The darling of the indie scene right now is Conor Oberst, a complete moron whose leftist views have so completely softened his brain so as to be utterly useless, is gaining some sort of fame right now with his band Bright Eyes. They seem to be featured in every music or entertainment magazine and are appearing on every late night talk show. His music stinks, and he recently sold one of his most completely retarded songs ever to Sesame Street for $1.5 million. So, for those real indie kids who aren't so enamored with Conor that they can take an honest look at things from a historical indie perspective (which is the grandchild of the punk perspective), he is a total sell-out. He is quickly becoming one of those famous bands that supposedly represent the indie scene, but because of his rising fame, is automatically disqualified from being considered indie anymore. For those of you who are familiar with none of these things, don't worry; you're not missing much. The historical school of Indie thought is to say that anybody who becomes even remotely famous is now a sell-out, is no longer meaningful, and isn't "indie". I think this is complete nonsense. Why shouldn't talented bands become famous? And can they really help it if all of a sudden people like them? No, I only consider a person a true sell-out only if he compromises his original artistic and musical principles in order to sell more records. Now, I am not in a position to judge if whether or not Conor Oberst is a sell-out according to my definition because I don't know his intentions. Maybe he is just getting famous accidentally, as it were. But I will call him a sell-out for two reasons. One is that he sold a song to SESAME STREET! For $1.5 MILLION! I mean, COME ON! Secondly, I call him a sell-out because I know it will infuriate all of his silly little teeny-bopper fans and all those who like him mostly because of his retarded politics. Stephanie and Jane used to be big fans of his and were able to tolerate his stupid political views until a recent tour of Texas. At the show they attended, he said that he hated Texas and that all Texans did was rape Indians and rope steers. There he goes, biting the hand that feeds him. Let's not mention that Nebraska (where Oberst hails from) has a much more politically incorrect history with Native Americans than Texas does. It just goes to show what a completely small, closed-minded bigot he is. Now I use these phrases on purpose. Being some sort of bleeding-heart liberal, Oberst is exactly the kind of person that likes to accuse others of being closed-minded and bigoted. That is the way of the political left. Oh, you think abortion is murder? Well, you're just a small-minded bigot. But making a baseless caricature of over 22 million people is a-okay. Moron. I guess Stephanie and Jane still listen to his music, but that have agreed with me that personally, he is a big stinker. I always thought his music sucked even before I knew what an idiot he was, but now I have more reason to heap scorn on him.

Why did I mention Conor? I don't remember. I think it was probably to help explain to any of you not familiar with this aspect of the music scene what the Indie scene is all about, and since he is starting to appear on television, you may have actually heard of him. So I bring him up to give you a concrete example of all this stuff that I'm talking about.

Well, back to my boyfriend, Tim Kasher. He is probably an idiot, too, but he doesn't bash us over the head with it at concerts. So hoorah for him.

So the first Texas stop is in Austin at Emo's, then onto Denton where they played at Haileys', and finally Houston, at Mary Jane's Fat Cat. There were three other acts performing before the Good Life at each show. The first was Consafos. This is a delightful band that turned us into instant fans. Stephanie bought their new LP. This band is led by Stefanie Drootin, who plays bass for The Good Life and sometimes for Bright Eyes (the afore-mentioned band led by Conor Oberst). I guess you could say that she is an all-around handy bass player for the Saddle Creek stable of bands. I am glad to see her going out front with her own band and singing prettily after playing second banana to all these other guys. She deserves her own spotlight. She's awesome.

A second band playing is called Bella Lea. This band is also awesome. Stephanie and Jane weren't too keen on them at first, but they came around by the third show. For one thing, the singer, Maura Davis, is freaking HOT. Now, I know this has nothing to do with their talents, and that they would probably not be pleased at all if her hotness was the only reason to like them, but I can't help but mention it. Dang, she's hot! But the main reason I like these folks is that they play real rock and roll with real guitar solos and stuff. This is not very common in the Indie scene at all. As I have suggested earlier, the Indie scene and "emo" music (as it is often called) is a direct descendent of punk music. One of the hallmarks of the punk scene was its stripping from rock music all showiness. And this usually included guitar solos. For punk, it was usually considered a very bad thing if you could actually play guitar well. The Indie/Emo scene is similar. They may not be consciously anti-guitar solo, but I think it is a subconscious left-over. A lot of the music is also derived from folk music, which is also not very solo-y. Just basic chords on an acoustic guitar. Remember the uproar that occurred when Bob Dylan went electric and had Robbie Robertson play lead guitar for him? Scandalous! Well, it's kind of like that today. But not this band! For one thing, Maura Davis is a very good rhythm guitar player. From watching her, I could tell that she knew more than just the basic Mel Bay chords. She was playing figures all over the neck with weird fingerings that I couldn't recognize. And Matt Clark is an excellent guitarist. He wears his Jimmy Page influence on his sleeve with his bluesy guitar licks and, most notably, with his use of violin bow. I asked him about this after a show, and he said that of course Jimmy Page was an influence. Then seeing my AC/DC shirt, he cited them as an influence as well. Awesome! This band is good. They have a bluesy quality that I love. If you haven't noticed from my generally negative remarks, I am not a big fan of the Indie/Emo style of music. I love Tim Kasher, and I like a few others okay, but most of the scene is just not my bag. I'm a guitar player, I'm a rock 'n' roller, and I love the blues. So Bella Lea appeals to me in those ways. Yet they also have the sort of Emo sadness that I do like. It's the beautifully sung sadness of Tim Kasher that makes him appeal to me, and this is also one of the major appeals of Radiohead. Bella Lea's slower songs have this sadness that is sung so beautifully that just tears at the heart-strings. Lovely. If you click on the link I provided above for Bella Lea, you should start hearing one of these songs immediately. Beautiful.

The third band, Make Believe, just plain stunk. Oh my gosh, they were like the male Yoko Ono. Need I say more? If you like Yoko Ono, then knock yourself out and check this band out. If not, then I suggest that you leave this band alone. Man. They're the suckiest sucks that ever sucked.

And finally...The Good Life. And man, are they good. Let me tell you the story of Tim Kasher, as I have been told it. This may not be all true, but it sounds good. He used to make music, got married, and then stopped making music because his wife wanted him to get a real job. So there you see, he's a nice guy, changing his plans for the woman he loves. But it didn't work. She left him anyway. So, even though his songs were all sad before this point in his life, now they got really sad. The album that the Good Life is currently touring for, the aptly titled Album of the Year, chronicles a relationship through the course of a year. Kasher says that some is autobiographical, some is fictional, but it is all good. This is the album that I heard that turned me into an instant Tim Kasher fan. For one thing, the music is beautiful. I could be a fan no matter what the lyrical content was (well, except unless it was bigoted anti-Texas crap). His singing is so full of emotion so that you can't take your attention away. But the lyrics are what jumped out at me. This album pretty much describes word-for-word a previous relationship I was once in. Well, except for the bits about bars and drinking. I thought that I could have written this album. Except, of course, that I met my wife. This made me very happy, and so I could no longer write sad poems. Or any poems. I seem to be one of those guys (probably like Tim Kasher) who is creative when I am sad. When I am sad, I could put out great poems, and sometimes great songs. But happiness is a writer's block to me. Since I've been happy since December of 2000, I haven't had any real creative output since then. Darn you, Stephanie, for ruining my musical career! I kid her, of course.

Now then. As I said, these venues that the Good Life played at are small. Just little clubs. Bars, really. And again, these bands aren't really famous at all. So, you put these two facts together, and what you get is a bunch of awesome musicians wandering around the club with us regular folks when they're not needed on stage. Which means that I could, say, walk right up to my hero Tim Kasher and say, Hello, Mr. Kasher. Which I did. To my great embarrassment, I was so star struck on the first night that I just sort of blubbered at him and barely spit out what I was trying to say. He was probably very amused. He probably doesn't have grown men go a big gooey wet one on him very often. I think he was also amused by the fact that I called him "Mr. Kasher" instead of acting all cool like the other people there and just saying, "Hey, Tim, great to see you," as if they know him, which they don't. I got to talk to a lot of people in these bands. There are all cool and awesome. Especially when engaging in guitar talk with the guitarists. And even though Tim Kasher is my hero and I was there only for him, I think the most celebrity moment for me was meeting Stefanie Drootin, his bass player. As I have said, she also plays bass for Conor Oberst, and because of that fact, I have seen her on TV when Bright Eyes played on the Late Late Show with Colin Ferguson. So even though I am in love with Tim Kasher, I have never actually seen him on TV. Stefanie, I have seen on TV. So meeting her was, as I said, my most celebrity moment. It made me think of seeing wax figures at museums. I always see them and think, "This is way too small to be built to scale." But then you meet a famous person and discover that they are, in fact small. Other than that, they look just like they do on TV. Well, that was how I felt meeting Stefanie Drootin. Fortunately, I didn't go all gooey on her like I did on Tim Kasher. I was able to play it cool around her. I have a crush on her now, I've decided. Yes, I am in love. Stephanie (my wife) is cool with it because she has a crush on Tim Kasher. It all works out.

The first night, in Austin, we're watching the show and I had forgotten to bring my camera. Well, actually, I had remembered to bring my camera, but I had forgotten to put batteries in it. So I'm standing there thinking that I need to take pictures at the next show in Denton. And then I get a marvelous idea. Keep in mind that all previous concerts that I've been to were big famous ones. AC/DC, Radiohead, Velvet Revolver...that sort of thing. All these places are full of security guards and metal detectors. So I always had to smuggle cameras in my rectum and so forth. But not these shows. So I have this great idea. Nuts to my camera, why not bring a video camera to the next show? I asked my fine ladies with me, and they said that Haileys (the club in Denton that was next on the itinerary and with which they are very familiar) would have no objection to my bringing a video camera. I just needed to get permission from Tim Kasher. So I did! After the show. Well, actually, I got Jane to ask for me. Remember, I'm too star-struck to speak intelligible phrases at this point. Tim says sure, he doesn't care. So the next day I take my video camera with me.

Before the show I went up to my good friend Tim Kasher and asked him if he could manage to play my favorite song for me, "October Leaves". He said, "Oh, I'm sorry, we didn't learn that for the tour." I don't know if this is a cock-and-bull story or not. I see no reason why he should lie, because he takes lots of requests. Unless he thought maybe I was coming on to him. I suppose normally that it is girls who come up to him to request songs. Not some huge guy. But that's probably me just being paranoid. Maybe he honestly didn't remember how to play it.

And then I film the show. No tripod. Too short. Can't rest the camera on my shoulder. Too short. So I have to hold it up. For an hour and a half. Let me tell you, that is freaking hard work. Jane asked me if I'd film the Houston show, too, and I said no way. My shoulder is still sore. But it was worth it. Now I can see The Good Life live every night! Wee ha! And the fact that I got the blessing for its filming straight from Tim Kasher himself, well, that just makes it extra special.

But the absolute highlight of the whole experience came on the last day, in Houston. At every show, after about an hour, Tim would announce that it was the end of the "set proper." So all the other musicians would leave the stage, and he'd stand up there with his acoustic guitar and play a brand new song. Each night was a different new song. After that, the band would rejoin him and they'd play a few more songs. Anyway, he would always introduce the new song in some way, or dedicate it to somebody. So that last night, he's about to play his new song, and he stands there thinking of something to say. Then he points straight at me and says, "I dedicate the song to that guy, because he's been coming to all our shows. Following us around. But in a good way, not in a bad way. He hasn't been showing up at my doorstep." Well, I had an emotional orgasm right then and there, I can tell you that. Stephanie and Jane felt a bit slighted because they were sitting right next to me and had also been to every show, but he didn't mention them. Ha! So I am very special. I can die now. Just make sure you bury me with my recording of the Denton show.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Civil War Crimes

I just thought that I would remind everybody that on this day in history, April 27, 1861, Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. This was, of course, very unconstitutional. At that time, this act pertained only to a section between Washington, DC and Philadelphia. The entire nation was affected by it a year and a half later, again by an act of Lincoln. Again, this was very unconstitutional. What all this meant was that people could be arrested and held indefinitely without ever being tried for a crime. Pity those who ever tried to point out the unconstitutionality of this act. If this fact makes you curious as to what other crimes against freedom that Lincoln committed, I suggest that you read the book When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession by Charles Adams. Now I understand that a lot of people get very upset when ever any question of Abraham Lincoln's character or presidency is questioned. Even when presented with irrefutable facts, they will plug their ears and refuse to listen. I say, beware idolizing any man. Read the facts first.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

I just thought that I'd fiddle around with Paint just to imitate my good friend, Josh. Posted by Hello

Long Time No Speak

Well well well, it has been an awful long time since I've last uttered a peep on this blog. Over a month, it looks like. My how time flies! I've been kind of busy with school so I haven't given much thought to internet rantings. Not that there hasn't been anything to rant about! The Pope died, for goodness' sake! Well, what can be said about that? Apparently, much of what calls itself Protestant Evangelicalism can say a great deal of good things about the Pope. What a great number of good deeds he performed. But unfortunately, if John Paul II was still adhering to the doctrines of the church that he led when he died, then sadly, he was relying partly upon these own good works to get him to heaven. That's what his fellow Catholics believe! Some say that he was so good and meritorious, that he has been able to skip purgatory and go straight to heaven! Unfortunately, the true Gospel has no such place for works. Only the work of Christ can get a man into heaven. Salvation comes wholly by God's grace. Now, I can't say where the soul of Pope John Paul II is at this moment because I cannot say to whom God has or has not been gracious to. If He can save me, then He could save John Paul II. If He could save Paul, the chief of sinners, then God could save this good-working Pope. On the other hand, God is true to His Word, which states that His graceful salvation comes through faith alone in Christ alone. Those who do not accept this Gospel are under condemnation. Now, though we cannot say what went on in the heart of the Pope in his last hours, we can see that his ministry has been one of rejecting this Gospel and replacing it with another (which is not really another). The true Gospel can say, as the Pope's motto, "totus tuus" (totally yours), but only to Jesus Christ; not, as the Pope's motto meant, to Mary. That so many "evangelicals" and "protestant leaders" are remaining completely silent on the issue of the gospel and instead just praise the late Pope's works is very sad and is, it would appear, a return to Rome.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

King James Onlyism

Out of all the controversies and debates that can arise in Christiandom, there is none that aggravates me more than KJV-onlyism. I will debate with Arminians, paedobaptists, Catholics, cults, or what have you, but I have no patience for KJV-onlyists. I would get more benefit from arguing with a brick wall. There is a slight chance that a brick wall could be reasonable. These people are so legalistic and smug and prideful. They have the special gnosis that lets them know that the KJV is the only completely inerrant translations of the Scriptures. Full of hateful pride, they will accuse all others of heresy, or at least being close to it. And they have absolutely nothing to prove their point. There is nothing in the Scripture that allows for only one inerrant translation, and even if there was, there is nothing in Scripture to indicate that this one translation is the KJV. And of course the big problem for KJV-onlyists that they can never fully address is which KJV? There have been many different versions with different changes throughout the years. If given an original, first printing of the KJV, most KJV-onlyists wouldn't be able to make heads or tails of it. It's be all Greek to them, as they saying goes. They try to make some sort of Scriptural argument by bringing up a verse that says something about God presevering His word for all time. Case closed, they say. Point proven, they say. I agree fully that God's Word will be preserved for all generations. BUT HOW DOES THIS PROVE THAT THE ONLY PERFECT TRANSLATION IS THE KJV?!!! It doesn't! But to point out the obvious is to use reason, and KJV-onlyists will have nothing to do with reason. They argue in circles and have absolutely no proof for their claims. They start with the assumption that the KJV is the only perfect version. Then they show where another translation differs from the KJV. Thus proving, they say, that this new translation is aberrant. NO IT DOESN'T. It only proves that it says something different than the KJV. It doesn't prove which one is correct. By examining the oldest original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts is the best way to determine which is correct. Often times, the KJV fails pitifully compared to such translations as the NASB or the ESV. Again, this is a use of God-given reason and logic. Reason and logic are anathema to a KJV-onlyist, so again, I might as well go talk with my friend the brick wall. After all, they say, those old Greek and Hebrew manuscripts have been corrupted. Only the KJV is pure. How do we know this? Just because. Special gnosis. Because if this wasn't the case, I'd have to find something else to be legalistic about.

And then they say that we reasonable people don't believe in the inerrancy of Scripture as we claim, because we cannot claim any one translation as being inerrant. This is ridiculous. We believe that the words spoken of God and written by his apostles, prophets, etc. are inerrant. That which the translations translate are inerrant. The word of God is presevered inerrantly for us. perhaps not in any one translation, but by His Spirit guiding our reading through these manmade translations. I can read the KJV and the NASB and get the exact same truths from both. They are worded differently, but the same inerrant truth is in both. Perhaps I will admit that there is no one single compilation of Scriptural texts that is completely word-for-word exactly as that penned by the original authors. But I do believe that in all the disparate elements that exist, we have access to the inerrant word of God. Maybe we need to read more than one translation. Maybe we need to take advantage of the benefits of manuscript research. But in the end, the entire inerrant truth is there for us. But there is no proof that all this inerrancy is solely contained in the KJV. There is nothing in the Scripture to indicate this, and there is nothing in logic or reason to indicate this, and there is nothing in history to indicate this. The spirit behind KJV-onlyism is itself a heresy. it is a legalistic and devisive spirit. It is a form of gnosticism, one of the oldest of the Christian heresies.

Final note: I have no problem with people who use only the KJV, as such. It is the person who says that all others MUST also use only this translation that I am in sharp disagreement with. It is the person who idolizes a translation that I disagree with. It is a person who regards a certain translation of Scripture as being more important than Scripture itself that I regard as a heretic. There will be many people who will be surprised when they come before the throne of God and He doesn't speak ye olde English.

Praise the Lord for giving us His inerrant Word without that inerrant Word being confined to a single bulky translation that most of the world can't even read.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson Dead

Well, I guess you've all heard the big news. The famed gonzo journalist who authored the classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, has committed suicide. Though I think it is impossible that any one person could have agreed with everything Thompson said, it should be agreed that he was a very interesting character who wrote like nobody else. He was truly one of the great innovators in 20th century literature.

"There he goes...one of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

More on Calvin and Servetus

Check out this webpage: http://www.doctrine.org/history/HPv2b14.htm#2-14-19-15

This is a history written in the late 19th century that describes the Servetus issue in great detail in chapters 19-22. It would probably be best to read some of the chapters preceding those to get an idea of what Calvin's Geneva was like. It is shown that Calvin's influence was very much on the wane during the time of the Servetus episode. In fact, Calvin was on the verge of being kicked out of the city. Calvin let the council know that Servetus had entered the city, in accordance with Genevan law. He wrote up the articles against Servetus. After that, Calvin had very little involvement.

"Therefore, without consulting Calvin, without even thinking of him, and viewing the question as a social rather than a theological one, and dealing with it as sedition rather than heresy...the magistrates of Geneva closed their Diet of the 26th of October with a decree condemning Servetus to death."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Straw Man Brutally Murdered

I don't remember how, but I managed to come across one of the worse webpages I've ever seen. http://www.ritualabusefree.org/Calvinism.htm I couldn't even read the whole thing, it was just so ridiculous. The misrepresentations on this page are of such magnitude that I can't help but think that they must be purposely false and malicious. The reason I believes this is, although I believe in the total depravity of all men, I still hold out some hope that nobody is actually so stupid as to believe what is presented on this webpage.

The page starts out by using the good old tactic of attacking Calvinism by attacking the character of John Calvin. And what do all of us Calvinists say in response? "WHO CARES?!" I could care less about Calvin when it comes down to it. I believe in the doctrines known as Calvinism, not because of the the name attatched to it, but because they are found in the Bible. Perhaps a more accurate name would be Paulism, or, as CH Spurgeon says, Christianity. However, I will provide a brief defense of Calvin because a man of such sterling Christian character ought not be maligned in this fashion.

First of all, I must dispel the myth that the Genevan government was a dictatorship run wholly by one man--Calvin. There was a council of rulers. They were the ones who asked (demanded, actually) that Calvin come there to be their church leader. Calvin was not some lone judge before whom every case was presented and he was not the lone executioner. He probably wasn't even involved at all with most cases. The most famous case involves Michael Servetus. He was a heretic who was executed in Calvin's Geneva. Poor Servetus. Big, bad Calvin. Actually, Calvin warned Servetus not to come to Geneva. He warned him that if he came and still held to his heretical beliefs, he would be put to death. This was not a threat. It was a warning. This what the whole government of Geneva dictated. Calvin could not change their rules whenever he wanted to.

Secondly, does not the civil government have the right to administer its laws? Yes, you may say, unless those laws go against the laws of God. Well then, where did the Genevan government err? Their law codes were the most Biblical out of any nation since Old Testament Israel. Do I agree that it was the best thing that they made heresy a capital offense? I do not. Do I agree that they were within the bounds set for government in the Bible? I do.

And remember, Servetus was not coerced into this government. He freely chose to come, even after Calvin warned him that Geneva's laws would effect him if he lived within it. Servetus, knowingly and willingly came to a city that made it clear that heresy was a capital crime and that violators would be prosecuted. This is clearly a case of divisive rabble-rousing on his part. Consider it a 21st century-style crusade against another government's laws that he didn't like. So in that respect he was not innocent. Furthermore, Servetus was not innocent of the crime of heresy. He was what we would call a unitarian universalist. He denied the Trinity. He denied the gospel in all of its essences. And he sought to propogate this false teaching among a people that chose to live in a city that would protect them from such falsehood. Do I agree that he should have been put to death? No. Do I agree that he deserved to die? Absolutely. By entering into the outward covenant of the church, he was under the duty to preach the truth. As a human being, it was his duty to reject all falsehood. Had he lived in Old Testament Israel, he would have been put to death. But in that case you wouldn't be able to blame big bad John Calvin. You would have to blame big bad God. So before you start offering honor and praise to Servetus and before you start burning Calvin in effigy, you must ask yourself: Am I mad at teachings of Calvin that are not found in the Bible, or am I mad at God and His holy and righteous justice that says that the wages of sin is death? I am convinced that the only honest answer is the latter one. I will stay convinced of this until someone presents me solid biblical arguments against the actions of the Genevan government. And "do not kill" is not sufficient because this is a case of civil government and government is given the right to enforce capital punishment by the Bible. Calvin is no more a murderer than the executioners at our prisons.

I must again say, that as for as the doctrines of Calvinism go, this is all besides the point. If Calvin was some sort of sodomizing vampire abortionist with horns growing out of his head, it wouldn't change the fact that the doctrines popularly known as Calvinism are found in the Bible. It doesn't change the fact that the doctrines known as Calvinism were taught before Calvin ever taught them by such men as Martin Luther, Gottschalk, and Augustine. The doctrines as presented in the acrostic known as TULIP were not systematized until after Calvin. But none of this matters. The doctrines are found in the Bible, and that is all that true Calvinists care about.

Here's a stupid quote from this site:

"Christians should be outraged that Calvin persecuted and killed so many people because of his religious goals and beliefs. However the Calvinists we have met will defend these murderous practices saying that we need to understand the times Calvin was living in. There is no time in our history that this type of behavior was right.

"We must remember this when we are dealing with Calvinists and other cults. However, the time is now upon us to be concerned about what people believe as it could cost you your life! There are many people today who still uphold the doctrines of Calvinism and as we show below, those doctrines do not line up with the word of God.

"Here is the Mission statement from one group:

""The Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics (CRTA) is dedicated to providing biblically sound online resources for the edification of God's people. The Center is committed to the system of doctrine known as Calvinism, which we see to be the most biblically faithful systematization of the Bible's teachings. The Owner is a Reformed Christian committed to a strict subscriptionist view of the Westminster Standards, yet many of the articles on this site represent a wider view of the Faith. Please use discretion in all that you read here -- and everywhere else too." (http://www.reformed.org/index.html)

"Many of these people are just as zealous as Calvin and would consider taking a person's life if they did not agree with Calvin's doctrines thinking they are doing the right thing and doing it on behalf of Christianity."

Now, I don't know anything about the CRTA, but I feel pretty confident that they would NEVER consider taking a person's life if they did not agree with Calvin's doctrines. I guess this website cannot be considered to be slandering the CRTA because they don't directly say that the CRTA contains the people mentioned in the paragraph following the CRTA quote. However, anybody can see the sort of manipulation that is going on here. This website author takes some Calvinist ministry that has probably never even heard of the author and gives a quote that has nothing at all to do with the discussion (Calvinists being murderous) and then intimating that such people are murderers. You know, if Calvinists really believed in killing non-Calvinists, then there would be a lot of dead people right now. Reformed, Calvinist churches aren't exactly bursting full of people. Calvinism is a minority within evangelicalism. "Many of these people are just as zealous as Calvin and would consider taking a person's life if they did not agree with Calvin's doctrines..." THEN WHERE ARE ALL THE MURDERS?! Does this author actually believe that people are stupid enough to think that "many" Calvinists would consider killing non-Calvinists when in fact they never, ever, ever hear of such a killing taking place? One last thing..."However the Calvinists we have met will defend these murderous practices saying that we need to understand the times Calvin was living in. There is no time in our history that this type of behavior was right..." Somebody tell Moses! That was a time in our history, right? And that behavior was commanded and enforced by GOD. Therefore, the God of the Bible must not be right. That is the only logical conclusion that this website's author can come to.

Now this post of mine is getting way to big for my average reader, so I will not refute all the arguments for the five points of Calvinism that this website offers. Another reason I will not refute them all is because I couldn't read past the first couple of sentences talking about the first point--total depravity. I was laughing too hard to read. Now, either this author is purposely deceptive, or he has really never ever read anything by a Calvinist (except for the quotes from Schaff's History). What am I talking about? Here's the quote: "In this passage we see how one person can be more depraved than others. If depravity is "total" than how could one person be more depraved than the others? "More" speaks of quantity. If one can have "more" than someone else, then the others cannot have "total". Yet, Calvin believed that all of humanity was "totally depraved." What this author doesn't seem to understand (again, because it appears he has never read anything by a Calvinist), is that the phrases given in tulip are imperfect phrases that were devised to make an easy acrostic. Most Calvinists would put the five points in a manner like this: Radical depravity, Sovereign election, Definite atonement, Effecual grace, and Perseverance of the Saints (see R.C. Sproul, Chosen By God). This makes the acrostic say RSDEP. Well who can remember that? So, some less accurate phrases were thought up to make an acrostic that everybody could remember. I should also point something else out: Calvin did not devise these phrases. I have read very little of Calvin's writings (because my Calvinism doesn't depend on him), but I feel confident that he probably never used the phrase "total depravity." Now, what made me decide that I could read no more of this garbage was the statement that it is obvious that no man is as depraved as he could be. Some men are more depraved than others, therefore nobody can be totally depraved! Well, if that is what total depravity meant, then you would have a point. But since it doesn't, we will have to discard this straw man. To quote an expert on Calvinism, R.C. Sproul: "Total depravity is not utter depravity. Utter depravity would mean that we are all as sinful as we possibly could be" (Chosen By God, p. 104.) If the author of this website had bothered to flip through this basic primer on Calvinism, then he would know that his argument is against a non-existent opponent.

I've glanced over some of the other arguments, and they are just about the dumbest ones I've ever seen. Any self-respecting Arminian who reads this article against Calvinism must groan and slap his forehead. "I'm opposed to Calvinism," he would say, "but even I can disprove these weak arguments!" I recommend to anybody that should read this silly page and would like to know what Calvinism actually teaches, and how the verses offered either (1) have nothing to do with, (2) do not disprove, (3) or actually support the doctrines of Calvinism, I suggest that you read any book on Calvinism by a Calvinist. Anything. That is how basic the errors on this webpage are--You don't need to read something that deals with the hard questions of Calvinism; anything basic will do it! The reason is because this webpage doesn't address the hard questions of Calvinism--it doesn't address Calvinism at all! It address a fabricated system that was born in the imagination of the author and who decided to call it Calvinism.

Some reading suggestions (and the author of the webpage should read these, too, so he can see what ridiculous article he has written):
R. C. Sproul, Chosen By God
R. C. Sproul, Grace Unknown
James White, The Potter's Freedom
Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination
David N. Steele, Curtis C. Thomas, S. Lance Quinn, The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented

Now here's the funny part...I just now checked out that CRTA website...The one cited in the the webpage and right before the paragraph about Calvinists wanting to kill people... It's a great site! Go there! It will teach you about Calvinism! If the author of this unChristian article had actually looked at the CRTA's definition of the points of Calvinism, then he would have seen that he was arguing against a fantasy--That his own definitions of the points of Calvinism were completely different from the definitions given by Calvinists that he cited! Good grief! I hate to keep on throwing less-than-Christian words around like "stupid", but I can't help it! But while I'm at it, I can call this article and its reasonings more words than stupid. I can also call it blasphemous, lying, heretical, malicious, slanderous, lying, ill-researched, divisive, and lying. No, I didn't must make a typo. I stress the lying aspect because I really don't believe the author is that stupid. I think he has an agenda to purposefully deceive other Christians about the the truth of God's sovereignty and God's godness, and to purposefully malign the characters of anyone who is labeled a Calvinist.

No, sir, I am not one of those imaginary Calvinists that you say exists, I do not think you should be put to death. But I do think that if you persist twisting the Scriptures to support your man-centered theology, and to blatantly misrepresent the Biblical doctrines of Calvinism, then you should have whatever ordination you have revoked. No pulpit should ever have the dishonor of being filled by a person who so flagrantly lies and misrepresents others.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Enter Now to Win Total Awesomeness!

Some great website is having a drawing for an opportunity to win an autographed copy of the Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul and the Reformation Study Bible, English Standard Version. Now the former is one of the greatest books every written outside of the inspired canon, and the former is some inspired canon that is on my birthday list! So enter in the link posted below so you can win! And so I can win, too! Yay!

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Support Your Local Blogger

Just in case one of you hundreds of my faithful blog readers suddenly come into a great deal of money and just don't know what to do with it, I have a suggestion for you. Buy me an expensive present! I am currently reading The Mystery of Providence by 17th century Puritan John Flavel, and I love it so much that I want the 6 volume set of his works put out by Banner of Truth Trust! I think the cheapest price is to be found at http://www.trinitybookservice.org/10604.html If I had that and read it all, then I could condense it for you into little blog postings! So it would be the gift that keeps on giving.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Decisions Decide Destiny

That was the title of a sermon I heard on the radio today by Adrian Rogers. Our decisions decide our destinies. He said that in one sentence, and then in the next says that we are saved by grace. Well, which is it? There seems to be some confusion here. Certainly my destiny was determined by a decision. Thankfully, it wasn't mine. It was God's decision. God decided my destiny. His grace is all that saved me. I would have only decided against myself had He not already decided in my favor. This is not to say that our decision for Christ is unimportant. Indeed, it is the means that God uses for our salvation. But even our deciding to accept Jesus is a gift of God, for He gives the faith that empowers that decision (Eph. 2:8). But the decision is still ours, and the responsibility still lays with the sinner (see my last post). But though my decision was instrumental in my salvation, it wasn't what decided my destiny. God and his electing love and grace did that. Once again, I am merely trying to teach you, my beloved blog readers, that our confession that salvation is by grace alone is to have actual meaning, and not be just a fancy statement to make ourselves feel better after having given ourselves the glory for our own salvation.

Soli Deo gloria.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Human Responsibility and Ability

One of the most common errors of Arminianism is that it assumes that since humans are responsible for their souls, then they have the ability to choose salvation or damnation. Tied in with this assumption is the assumption that Calvinists deny human responsibility. They do not. They recognize that human beings are completely responsible for their sinful states. Calvinists affirm that men have wills and have a responsibility to choose Christ. However, Calvinists take seriously the numerous Biblical passages that speak of man's enslavement to sin. The notion of a libertarian free will is nowhere found in the Bible. The Bible repeatedly speaks of the will being enslaved to sin. There was freedom. Man was free in his original state. But he freely chose to become enslaved to sin. But Arminians think that humans have a libertarian free will simply because the Bible commands men to choose Christ. They argue thus: "God wouldn't command men to do something that they can't do, would He? That wouldn't be fair." It is completely fair because it is man's own fault that he is unable! The relationship between human responsibility and human ability is this: humans are responsible for not being able! But if you were to say that this matter of ability is not clear enough (because words like dead and enlsaved are just too ambiguous for you), then I would ask you this question from a matter that is more clear to us. The Isrealites were commanded to obey every single law given by God (Deuteronomy 28:15). Now the question must be raised: Were the Israelites able to do so? We must say no, unless we decide to abandon even what orthodoxy remains in Arminianism and become full-out Pelagians. If man is able to keep all the commands of God, then why do we need a Savior?

Now this is where grace comes in. If man were able to achieve his salvation, even just a tiny part of it, then he could boast. Salvation is wholly of grace.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The First Sin

So I was at my place of work the other day, and this fellow came in who comes in now and again. He's a complete freak of the vegan type. Shaved bald, including his brow. No eyebrows. That's new, actually. He used to have eyebrows. But he has those big huge ear hole things, you know, those piercings that they make big like them people in Africa. And he has whole sentences tattooed on his body, sentences that spew forth liberal tree-hugger crap. So, you know, a freak. Anyway, he had a shirt on this last time that had a liberal message on it. It said, "Living your life for God? Live your life for yourself." Which immediately brought to my mind the very first temptation given by Satan to our parents in the Garden of Eden: "You will be like God" Genesis 3:5. The living of life for self is the most basic form of idolatry and is the root for all sins. It is precisely this that Jesus commanded people to reject if they wanted to follow Him (Luke 14:26-27).

As a side note, I should mention one other thing. There are many people who have dedicated their lives to follow Christ and are true believers, and may even with their mouths claim that all of salvation is of the grace of God alone, yet in their theology that manage to retain some of the glory for themselves. They see that to be a Christian you must reject your self, and so they believe that their work (rejection of self to follow Christ) is what allows them to be Christians. Oh, they'll say that salvation is not of works, yet a simple examination of how their beliefs work out in practice will show that they manage to claim some glory for themselves by claiming the work of self-denial. But even this work is of God. No work of man can get him into heaven because then he would have room to boast, and this is impossible (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus told the rich young man to reject himself by giving up all that was precious to him, but this was too hard for the man. Then Jesus tells the disciples that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to be saved. The disciples, exhibiting a rare astuteness, realized that it would be hard for anybody, rich or poor, to be saved, so they asked Jesus, "'Who then can be saved?' But Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" (Matthew 19:21-26) This is a familiar verse to us. Whenever something looks impossible, such as paying the bills, we say, "With God all things are possible!" Or maybe we think we'll never get to work on time today, but "with God all things are possible!" Now this is all very fine and good and is true, but the exact context in which Jesus speaks these words is the matter of salvation. With man, salvation is impossible. With man, self-denial is impossible. With man, following Christ is impossible. But with God, this is possible. So next time you judge the man who is honest enough to speak of his rejection of God and love of self plainly, and you begin to pat yourself on the back for not being like him and choosing to follow Christ, stop yourself. The pat doesn't belong on your back. God did it all. Glory to God in the highest, who chose to save a wretched sinner like myself whose only desire was to sin continually (Genesis 6:5).