Saturday, March 12, 2005


The Rightful Place Of Man

Maybe it is because I have studied science, but I am always amazed at how people think they can "understand" God. The biggest lesson I have ever learned in any science study I have ever done is how much I do not know. For example, I understand quantum mechanics better than most people -- I have actually performed quantum mechanical calculations, which I am fairly certain most of you have not. Nonetheless, compared to say Dirac or Schroedinger, I am an idiot. Then there is the fact that quantum mechanics, while useful, far from explains everything, so even masters of that science must confess they do not understand all of reality.

If our understanding of the world around us is so limited, how much more so then must be our understanding of its Creator.

Given this premise, I find the subject of this week's Vox Apologia IX most fascinating.
Glory to Man in the Highest: Humanism’s Dangerous Claim
I am no expert of various schools of thought so I did a little looking around into precisely what constitutes "humanism." This site was the best summary I found. Towards the end it lists 11 basic ideas of humanism, whether it is secular or religious. I am going to pick just a few of those basic ideas and discuss them.
Humanism is a philosophy of reason and science in the pursuit of knowledge. Therefore, when it comes to the question of the most valid means for acquiring knowledge of the world, Humanists reject arbitrary faith, authority, revelation, and altered states of consciousness.
Based on this I must ask how there can even be a "religious" humanism. Religion implies deity and deity implies supernatural which, by definition, cannot be experienced save through revelation and faith. Now while I admit the supernatural may be outside the realm of science, I do not see how it is outside the realm of reason. This statement implies that faith, revelation, and altered states of consciousness somehow lack reality. Let humanists prove the non-reality of those things.
Humanism is a philosophy of compassion. Humanist ethics is solely concerned with meeting human needs and answering human problems--for both the individual and society--and devotes no attention to the satisfaction of the desires of supposed theological entities.
Here again, I fail to see how there can even be a "religious" humanism. Religion implies deity, this statement denies it. Religion absent deity is philosophy, and yes, I include Buddhism in this analysis. This statement also makes an assumption about any "supposed theological entities" that I find amusing -- it assumes that the desires of this entity would be for other than concern with human needs and problems. Last Sunday I posted a sermon by John Piper that I think addresses this fallacy very well. Let's look at just one more basic idea of humanism.
Humanism is in tune with today's enlightened social thought. Humanists are committed to civil liberties, human rights, church-state separation, the extension of participatory democracy not only in government but in the workplace and education, an expansion of global consciousness and exchange of products and ideas internationally, and an open-ended approach to solving social problems, an approach that allows for the testing of new alternatives.
Herein, I think, lies the reality behind the idea of humanism. It is an attempt to develop a school of thought that will lend to some social action moral authority similar to that lent to other social action by the church. Here's the thing, morality needs some sort of underpinning, something that grants it authority. Until very recently, that has always been some deific authority

However, in modern times, as the very concept of deity has been attacked, moral chaos has been witnessed. Attempts to use the state to supply moral authority have been highly contentious, and generally resulted in failure -- see communism. Even those that hold moral relativism feel the need to somehow add some "authority" to it. So, it appears to me that they came up with a school of philosophy that attempts to do that.

From a purely Christian theological perspective this amounts to nothing but idolatry. Humanism makes God subject to our understanding -- it places us before God. Humanism worships not God, but our understanding of God, in other words, us. That is idolatry, pure and simple. It is also scary. I see this infesting the church, in the so-called "Emerging Church" movement where "relevancy matters more than theology. I see it in the "self-help" church movement where it matters more what God can do for me than what I can do for God.

I doubt humanism in the rather crude and blatant form I have argued against here is ever going to be proclaimed in the church. These ideas will take different forms, and hide in more Christian sounding proclamations. It is important to listen for them, and guard against them. The original sin was in fact to place ourselves before God. Listen tot eh words the serpent uses to tempt the woman:
Gen 3:1-5
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" 2 And the woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.'" 4 And the serpent said to the woman, "You surely shall not die! 5 "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (emphasis mine)
Mostly I am amazed at the blatantly God defying nature of this school of thought. The tempter is usually more subtle than this.


Comic Art

Winged superheroes hold a special place in my heart. Maybe it is their resemblance to angels. Anyone who has seen the current movie "Constantine" knows how absolutely stunning depictions of winged humans can be. (Warning: have you theology and mythology screwed down real tught before you go to this movie or it will play with your head.)

I do not know if Hawkman is the first winged superhero ever, but he is the first I ever encountered, and visually one of the most stunning, though I wish they would quit messing with his back story. Here are three depicitions, all in different style, that I find lovely.


Pray For Terri

Stones Cry Out reports that Michael Schiavo has turned down the one million dollar offer to spare Terri Schiavo's life that I reported yesterday.

At this point Terri's best hope is prayer.
Matt 7:9-11
9 "Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 "Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
In the temporal sense, her best bet is legislation. I will repeat my call to action from my Thursday post.


Careful Wisdom

When I started the high school Bible study my wife and I lead a couple of years ago, one of the first kids that came knew almost nothing of the Bible but this verse:

Prov 27:15
A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike;

After I stopped laughing and my wife stop giving me the "the glare" for laughing I had to help this young man put this particular verse into some context.

Transforming Sermons has an interesting post on using Proverbs 'wisely' in preaching and teaching. (Don't you just love self reference.) I think this is an overlooked book that should be taught and preached upon far more than it is.


This is Exceptional Fun

A VERY good web designer has a site up to promote something; the site is so good, I never paid attention to what it's selling. Anyway, when you click in it will start asking you questions and evenutally it will tell you what breed of dog you are most like. I am an akita. Find your breed. If the "find you dog" thing does not come up right away, click the word "GAME" on the extreme left of the browser window.


What Is It WIth O'Reilly And The Internet?

I don't watch Bill O'Reilly much, he is so self important, I just want to throw a brick at the TV everytime he opens his yap. I ran across this transcript of an interview he did. Apparently some young ladyhas had a problem with her friends from school "bullying" her on the Internet.

In the first place, whatever happend to "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me?" I am very sorry the young lady has been harrassed, but find me a person that hasn't been at some point in their childhood. I don't see anything in this story that hasn't been going on on bathroom walls for forever. O'Reilly advises the girl to bring litigation! -- Sheesh, when I was a kid, you found the people doing it and then you showed them that sticks and stones really were more hurtful than words -- end of problem. My advice to this young lady -- fight back.

But mostly this non-story seems to be another opportunity for O'Reilly to degredate the Internet. This guy better get with it or he will end up the biggest flash-in-the-pan in cable TV history.


News That Demands Attention

These are great stories!

It seems that a newspaper in Romania keeps accusing that country's Prime Minister of being gay. To answer the charge, the Prime Minister has offered to sleep with the wives of the entire newspapaer staff. The Prime Minister's offer is indeed tasteless, and of questionable morality, but you have to love a country where homosexuality is still a scandal. We just had a politician use it as a sympathy play.

In India, if you are delinquent in your taxes there are no audits, fines, interest, or jail. Instead, they send someone to beat a drum outside your home until you pay up. I like this idea, but I have to wonder if in this country it might backfire and start a tax revolt.

Friday, March 11, 2005


Big Voices for Terri

ProLifeBlogs has called for everyone available to go to Florida and stand vigil for Terri much like some people do when the death penalty is being used. I am normally a person that believes in action, not spectacle, but in this case, our best hope lies in legislation, and the more attention that can be attracted, the more it forces the legislators' hands.

This news is amazing. A San Diego multi-millionaire has placed one million dollars into a trust account for Michael Schiavo should he choose to spare Terri's life. I almost find myself hoping Michael will not take this deal. I want to assume he is operating from a sincere, if misguided, conviction. Should he accept this offer, it would reveal him as a pure opportunist. That's just ugly. Although if it saves Terri's life...

There is now a Polish blog for Terri. (HT: New York Minute Blog) That's what I call solidarity!
A woman that nearly FULLY recovered from a state similar to Terri has joined the fight. What a difference a husband's attitude can make. If only Terri were given the opportunity.

Cardinal William H. Keeler, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities has made a statement -- it is worth the read. (HT: Blogs for Terri)

Finally, John Mark Reynolds filled in for Hugh Hewitt on the radio last evening and devoted a good portion of the program to Terri. This is the post that Dr. Reynolds did at his blog after the show. I was very glad to read it, because the call it addresses made me want to scream. I am so grateful things were not as they appeared on the radio. In another related post Dr. Reynolds says:
Each life has a purpose in Divine Providence as the Founders, not all of them traditional Christians, would have put it. So do body and even cosmological "parts" of the Divine order. Stars are at least partly to light the night for humanity. Eyes are for seeing. Ears are for hearing. In a world that rejects Divine order as our cultural elite do humans are free to make up functions and meaning for themselves.

At first this seems liberating, especially if you have a desire to try something unusual or new. In the end, men realize that there is no real meaning when they create their own meaning. Their personal meaning is dependent on the whims of the majority or the powerful. They also discover that defying teleology is not good for the soul which is the hidden part of a human courts no longer are allowed to consider....

...In the same way, it seems to me courts are now in the process of deciding which lives are worth living. Without a divine framework, there is no limit to what a court can say. I am not looking forward to seeing the results. This new secular picture of what makes a man a man is much more horrifying to me.
On the show he made the same point somewhat more plainly. He talked about life itself as God's gift. And since it is a gift of God, no one has the right to take it, not even the person on whom it is bestowed.

Many argued with Dr. Reynolds that Terri's current life is not bestowed by God but by the physicians and their machinations. Such an objection misses the point entirely. Can God only bestow the gift of life via reproductive activity? Has a test tube individual therefore not had life bestowed on them by God, whereas a person conceived in a more normal fashion has?

In discussing this with a friend, he mentioned that if absent medical intervention Terri would have died, then it was probably God's will that she die. This is really the same point from the preceding paragraph.

None of it acknowledges that the actions of the doctors and the technology that sustains Terri's life is also a gift of God, because it is a function of our acting in God's created image in us. The link you have just encountered is to my post this morning on "Science and Christianity," where I discuss some of these issues. Science and technology is not not artificial, ungodly, or inherently evil. We can elect to use them for evil, or we can elect to use them for good.

How can saving Terri's life be construed as using it for evil, and removing it to take her life construed as good? I, for one, don't know. Death is the enemy.

I Corinthians 15:55-56

55 "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;


Scripture Break...

Psalm 51

  1. Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions.
  2. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
  3. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
  4. Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned, and done what is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak, and blameless when Thou dost judge.
  5. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.
  6. Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom.
  7. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  8. Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice.
  9. Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
  10. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
  11. Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me.
  12. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit.
  13. Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee.
  14. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation; {then} my tongue will joyfully sing of Thy righteousness.
  15. O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Thy praise.
  16. For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou art not pleased with burnt offering.
  17. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
  18. By Thy favor do good to Zion; build the walls of Jerusalem.
  19. Then Thou wilt delight in righteous sacrifices, in burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then young bulls will be offered on Thine altar. (NAS)


Once Again, The US Military to the Rescue

Remember a few weeks ago when I pointed out the problems with isolated villages in Afghanistan being unable to get food? At the time I said:
How much you want to bet the US Military will step up...
Well, sure enough Blackfive posts a picture that shows troops doing exactly that.

I am really, really proud of these men and women. They are our best.


Science and Christianity

Are science and Christianity opposed to each other? Are they related? Can they co-exist?

Such is a hot topic right now. Nobel Laureate Charles Hard Townes (inventor of the laser and maser) has been awarded the Templeton Prize for progress or discoveries about spiritual reality. USA Today has a nice profile of Dr. Townes (HT: Michelle Malkin via Broken Masterpieces) Dr. Townes has been given this award in large part based on an article he published called The Convergence of Science and Religion.

Dr. Townes piece calls for a convergence of science and religion because their manners of approach to problems are often similar. He bases his analysis on the uncertainty and duality of quantum mechanics and the similarities such thought has with religious thought. This is a powerful argument, but I do not think it goes far enough. Numerous books have been written shoving eastern mysticism into the uncertainty and duality gaps in quantum mechanics. Dr. Townes argument leaves the door open to too many religions. I am interested not in reconciling religion and science, but in reconciling Christianity and science.

Science and Christianity: Technology as a Gift is how Catez at Allthings2all starts a post in which she calls for a showcase of blog posts on the subject. In her post calling the showcase, Catez points out both the wonders and the horrors that science has produced.

This is a great starting point for my primary thesis. Science and Christianity are not opposed, scientists and Christians are.

This perception of opposition began in the earliest days of science itself, the time of the Reformation and Renaissance. It begins in the now very famous duel between Galileo and the Roman Church. Some of what underlies this old dispute is most interesting. It arose in large part because the church was funding Galileo's work, so as is usually the case with funded science, the funder wants certain results. The church was wrong in this case and has finally admitted so. But why were they doing such funding to begin with?

Because they believed that in discovering more about God's creation, we could discover more about God Himself. This concept was largely rejected after Galileo's misfortune, but I for the life of me cannot understand why. The church's objections to Galileo's work are understandable, though not excusable, given the circumstances of the time. Protestantism was on the rise. Calvinism in particular was spreading with it's teachings of the supremacy of God and humility of man, and along comes Galileo with scientific evidence than mankind was not the center of everything. I personally think the church was really more concerned about a theological battle with protestants than it was in a battle with science. The problem really wasn't science -- the problem was political, the Roman Church was losing it's grip on the world and this was just another nail in the coffin of their empire. As a protestant and a Calvinist, I am rather happy with the theological conclusion that can be drawn from Galileo's work. I believe science really did tell us something about God, and that it continues to do so today.

The first characteristic of God that we see in scripture is His creativity. Gen 1:1 - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. God created us in His image. Gen 1:26 - Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." If we are indeed after God's likeness, then are not we too creative? In this aspect the biggest difference between us and God is that God can create from nothing, but we can create only from that which He has given us. In a very real sense, science is nothing more than discovering the properties of that which He has given us in order to use it in a creative fashion. Science is exercising God's image.

But then , all things that we do exercises God's image in one fashion or another, because that is the essence of who we are. Unfortunately, we are a warped and broken image. Thus we may use the creative power, or any other power that God has given us, in His image, for either good or evil. This is the precise point that I think Catez was making in her original post. More on this in a minute.

Where people really get into problems is when they attempt to base their faith in God only in what they see of Him in His creation. If I read Crime and Punishment, I do know something of Dovstoevsky, but I do not know all of him. Now imagine that instead of simply writing a story Dovstoevsky actually created Rashkolnikov, sent him out only to do good things, with the intent of following him around and writing down his story. Only instead of doing the good things Dovstoevsky wanted Rashkolnikov to do, he went ahead and committed the murder around which the novel is based. Now the book tells us even less about Dovstoevsky than it did before.

One cannot do a biography of a novelist purely by reading the work of that novelist, one can only be a literary critic. No, to be a biographer, you must look at more than just the creations of your subject. So it is with God. If one bases his or her entire view of God on this creation you will be left with only criticism, you will never really get to know God. The best I can ever do with science is enhance my understanding of God, but to really know Him, I must pursue other avenues.

Because God is supernatural, those avenues of exploration are going to be on a level that science simply cannot operate on. I can state unequivocally that I have experienced God, but I cannot subject that experience to measurement or even language. Science, with its emphasis on measurement, excludes such experiences from its purview. This means that ultimately science can never prove nor disprove faith. To know God in any really sense we must open ourselves up to experiences beyond the scientific.

That does not mean; however, that our faith in God should not affect our science. We have a choice in what we do in science, and in its application which we call technology. We can do good and we can do evil. The question now becomes what is good and what is evil. And herein lies the heart of the matter, apart from God, based solely on science, the concepts of good and evil cannot even be formulated. Moralistic relativity is the only ethical code, if one can call it that, at which we can arrive without some sort of external arbiter of good and evil. This is God's role in science -- He guides us towards good applications of science and steers us away from the evil ones.

The issue is not really between God and science, but between science with God or science without God. Science without God will and has lead us down avenues that are quite evil. Science with God has brought us unimaginable bounty and prosperity.

In the end there is no battle between science and Christianity, there is only the age old battle between man and God. The battle wherein we attempt to take God's place. And thus the battle between Christians and scientists. Scientists that do not hold faith and operate out of moralistic relativism will follow their science and technology wherever it leads them. Christians, and especially Christian scientists will not.

The ultimate solution to the perceived conflict lies not in the individual disputes, but in altering frames of reference. Evangelism is, in the end, the answer.

But in the meantime, we as Christians, must chose which individual battles we fight very carefully. Evil applications of science we must battle, but we need to do so without battling science itself. We must also realize that science is not in and of itself anti-God, it is a revelatory activity, though those revelations are limited.

Consider all the wonders that God has made. Explore them, learn of them and proclaim How great is God.


Friday Humor

Today's humor feature comes in the form of a video I found in my stack of funny stuff that I have on my computer. I bet you have one too, stuff you ran into some time, laughed and just stored away for a smile on another day. This appears to be a commerical -- I have no idea is it really is or if it is something dreamed up on a comedy show somewhere, or just what. I got it a long time ago and kept it -- it's funny. ENJOY!


Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Broken Masterpieces provides a link to this post from Stop The Bleating. STB's post links to a video.

Before I send you there, this is an uncomfortable thing to watch, the title to the video which appears in the player window is obscene, and the advertising, while not pornographic is of questionable taste. The video is a police officer showing a firearm to a classroom full of kids and while attempting to show safe handling, he shoots himself.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this thing. The thing that gets to me is this -- the gun was not originally on the officer's person -- in the video, he walks over to get it for demonstration purposes. Any officer that would bring a loaded firearm into a classroom, and have it anywhere but on his person is by definition an idiot. I know, he didn't think it was loaded, but the first rule of fireamrs, is never think they are not loaded.


More Good Freedom News

Afghanistan has its first blogger -- Afghan Warrior. I am truly amazed at how this medium is spreading freedom so fast.

While I would prefer it coming from Arab Muslims, and be a little more actively worded, the fact that Islamic clerics in Spain have issued a fatwa against Osama Bin Laden is heartening. Let's hope this is the first of many.

This is simply great news. Since the hand over, the PRC has been not so slowly trying to crank down on freedom in Hong Kong, sometimes successfully, but often failing, most notably when thousands took to the street in protest. They may yet happen again.

I was in Hong Kong a few months before the hand over and a friend there said to me that "Hong Kong will change China more than China will change Hong Kong." I think that is true, but it may be fitful in the process.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Why Did Jesus Come -- Really?

Given the time of year, last night's Bible study was dedicated to the crucifixion and resurrection. We read from Matthew about Judas hanging himself, the immediate death of Jesus on the cross and the immediate resurrection story.

The kids that come to out study are kids have grown up in the church, but I remain amazed at the bible stories they do not know. Judas hanging himself was one of them. The kids were interested in the essential question of why Judas betrayed Christ to begin with. I gave the usual answer that Judas expected Jesus to be a political leader, but Jesus wanted to be only a spiritual one.

Where the discussion got really interesting though is when we moved on to the resurrection. We noted how the crucifixion happened amidst earthquakes, mid-day darkness, tearing veils and a general hub-bub, but the resurrection was a quiet affair with two ladies showing up at a tomb to discover that someone had come back to life. Why did the angel appear quietly to the ladies? Why was Jesus resurrection not announced from the top of the temple by Gabriel himself?

I think the answer is because the resurrection, like Jesus ministry, was not meant to start a political movement, but rather a spiritual one. A triumphal announcement of the resurrection would have had people lining up for miles to "sign on board." But that is not what Jesus desired, rather He wanted people lined up for miles to follow Him.

The post just below this one refers to Evangelicals gathering in Washington specifically to organize their political clout. I am not altogether sure this is a good thing. In a democratic society we should exercise our right to speak and influence, I do not deny that. In fact in many cases I encourage it. But I am talking about something different.

Our purpose as a group of believers is to glorify God, not to organize politically. When we gather for purely political purposes, we run the risk of forgetting that fact, or placing the politics in front of God's glory -- a grave mistake. Jesus knew that a triumphal resurrection would cause many people to gather for reasons other than God's glory.

God can glorify Himself regardless of the outcomes of most political debates. If our chief end is to glorify God, then should we really spend political capital, as a church, on issues that do not really affect that glory? This does not mean, by the way, that individual Christians should not be absolutely as politically active as they want, I am simply talking about those issues where we as a group form a political voice. Jesus knew that God's ultimate glory did not lie in overthrowing the Roman Empire, thus He refrained from the primary political issue of the day.

In this blog I will often enter political debate, but I try to be very judicious about when I invoke God in those debates. Terri Schiavo or gay marriage are issues where God's voice must be heard, but many other are not.

Like the power of Jesus resurrection, our collective political voice is a mighty, mighty force. We must be extremely judicious in its use, and do so quietly and humbly.
Phil 2:5-7 - 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant,...


Priorities, Priorities

G.K. Chesterton once said,
When Man ceases to worship God he does not worship nothing but worships everything.
Can there be a better example of the wisdom of that statement than this story.
A man apparently enraged by a Bush-Cheney sticker on a woman's sport utility vehicle chased her for miles and tried to run her off the road while holding up an anti-Bush sign, police said.
When someone is willing to commit a crime to express a purely political position, one would pretty well have to conclude that they have substituted political worship for Godly worship. By the way, there is a kicker to this story -- the woman the guy stalked,
Fernandez said she is a registered Democrat who voted for President Bush in 2004.
Priorities matter. On Monday I posted about the National Association of Evangelicals manifesto. Today, the NYTimes picked up on it as well. Note that the NYT picked up on it as a single issue document which it was not. What issue did they pick up on? -- why my favorite "Evangelical Environmentalism," in this case specifically global warming.

So why is this in a post on priorities. Simple, "priorities" is one of my several arguments against "Evangelical Environmentalism."In the grand scheme of things, I just do not see environmental disasters as high on the priority list. Is it more important than genocide? Don't give me that "It is genocide" stuff, name a single population destroyed by pollution. Is it more important than hunger? Need to feed 'em before we can worry about whether cancer will kill 'em.

Then there is the issue of environmentalism generally. What's more important, Jesus or the earth? Maybe a different way to phrase that is the post immediately below.


What Would You Leave Behind For Jesus?

Nathan's Blog had a post a few days ago wherein he read Luke 5: 1-11 and discussed the ramification of the story.
Sometimes we focus so much on the gift that we have been given that we forget about the journey we are summoned to live. We receive our gift of [insert your desire here] (i.e. fish, money, education, wife, husband) and then we thank God and get down on our knees and acknowledge our Saviour, but then we stay on our boats and keep fishing for the rest of our lives. God didn’t allow him to catch two boats of fish so he could go home with a smile on his face knowing that he surpassed the day’s quota. He did it to show him what he could do with Christ’s help. The three of them took it as a sign for something greater and didn’t stop there. When will we learn that these gifts that God’s given us aren’t for us and us alone? He blesses us to be a blessing to others. It’s time to start falling at Jesus’ knees and acknowledging his presence and not so much focusing on the two shiploads of fish that lie in the horizon.
What are you willing to leave behind to follow Jesus? Is it everything? Why not? What will it take?

This is no ordinary leader you are being asked to follow -- this is the Creator and Sustainer. What could possibly hold you back?


Have YOU Acted On Terri Schiavo's Behalf Today?

Terri Schiavo lives today, and while she lives hope remains. Have you acted on her behalf today? What can you do?

If you care about the sanctity of life at all, act. If you do not, you only aid those that wish to kill her.



Jim Kelley in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, writes an opinion piece headlined, "Democrats must reclaim moral ground" (registration required - HT: BOTWT)
We need to go back to our religious roots and reactivate the religious, and especially the Christian, left. Liberalism has strong historical roots, from Moses who freed his people from bondage, to Jesus who taught peace, inclusion, fairness, and humility, from the pre-Civil War Quaker and Unitarian abolitionist who worked for freedom for all people, to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who died struggling for civil rights and fairness for all. We have allowed the extremists of the right to steal Jesus and to use their limited version of Christianity to make their philosophy appeal to the mainstream population.
"Steal Jesus?"..."Steal Jesus!?"Is the Lord of the universe ours to bat back and forth between political persuasions like some sort of magic talisman?

This article underlines why the left has lost its moral authority. God, and morality are not subject to our conceptions and ideas. They a matter of truth, timeless and changeless. One does not capture or appropriate Jesus or morality, one aligns him or herself with them. The left did not somehow lose Jesus to the right, they walked away from Him. They cannot pull Him back, all they can do is turn around.

By the way, I would love a biblical quotation on where Jesus taught "inclusion" in the fashion that that word has come to mean today, and Unitarians are so far off the theological map that most Christians do not include them in the fold.

The Christian left is killing the church as fast as the left is losing political clout. Check out this article. (HT: SmartChristian)
With Christian moral values and legal protections under assault on all sides, it is commonly said that the reason pews are emptying is that traditional religion is not relevant. A new survey of thousands of churchgoers in the UK says the opposite however, and indicates that the emptying of the churches has been caused mainly by preaching and pastoral care that has been emptied of moral or doctrinal Christian content.
I hate to break it to these people, but retrenching is not the answer.


Illuminated Scripture

Welcome to a new Thursday feature. This will highlight the creativity of my lovely wife. Each Thursday I will post some of her art in which she has artisitically rendered a scripture quote. Sometimes she will draw, sometimes she will paint, and sometimes she will use clipart and computer tools. She has a lot of technique, and it is always good. Enjoy!


Do You Mourn The Unsaved?

biblelike wonders in a great piece from a couple of Sundays ago, "Have we no tears?"
Many of us have no memory for the great revivals of the church, because we have never seen what true revival is. We walk calmly with the status quo as our generation marches inexorably toward hell. We sleep peacefully at night because our church is saved and those outside have to face the problem for themselves. It’s not our responsibility after all. Jesus whipped the money changers out of the temple, but first He wept over them. He grieved for their souls. Shame on us. Everlasting Shame on us for we do not weep a single tear for those misguided souls.
Transforming Sermons wonders in response
Surely Biblemike is overstating the case here . . . isn't he?
Biblemike's post does wander into some some places I would not go in terms of finer theological points and denominational differences, but I have to endorse his sentiment entirely. Even as a calvinist, I mourn the those not among the elect. I grieve those that do not know the glory of God. It is my fondest desire for all to find the Kingdon of God.


Where Would You Put Your Terrorists?

Deployed blogger Major K has a great post reproducing an editorial cartoon from an Iraqi newspaper. People around the world really do understand freedom, it is only hubris on some Americans part that could say they could not manage it.


Christian Carnival Is Up

I have not had a chance to read through all of it yet, but this week's Christian Carnival looks like a great collection of posts. Many Thanks to Belief Seeking Understanding for hosting. Read, learn, enjoy.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Well Worth The Read

Jollyblogger has a great post today on interpreting the parable of the prodigal son.

If you have ever wondered what "hermenutics" is, this is a great chance to see it in action.

More importantly, I like where he ends up:
A tangential point can be made about the nature of repentance from the younger son,...
I think someone did a month or so ago. It's always nice to be affirmed in such a scholarly fashion.


Good Move

Check out this great post From Evangelical Outpost. Joe hits the nail right on the head, and in the middle of a move!
From the evangelical viewpoint, homoerotic desire might very well have a biological basis. It is not the desire, however, but the activity that is considered immoral. Desire may be determined by genetics but acting upon that desire in the form of sexual activity requires a freely chosen decision. On this point we see no difference between the desires of homosexuals and those of the heterosexual. An adolescent heterosexual male, for example, is certainly driven to distraction by his hormonal urge to reproduce. The desire is natural and outside of the young man's control. He would not be justified, however, in satisfying that desire in any way that he pleases. While the desire is natural, it can lead to promiscuity, which is an immoral and self-destructive behavior.
Great point -- it's not about desire or orientation, it's about behavior.


Are You Praying For Terri Schiavo Today?

Ask God to spare this woman's life. Then got to Terri's Fight (graphic the the blog) roll and donate.

Ask God to spare our society the ramifications of starving someone to death simply becasue someone else thinks their "quality of life" is insufficient.


Do We Already Have The Answer?

On Monday I wondered about why Barbara Demick wrote the piece she did in last Thursday's LA Times, a propagandist puff piece about North Korea, and commented on Hugh Hewitt's email interview with her.

Hugh promised more answers from her on Monday and they have not appeared, I assume because she has yet to supply them to Hugh. This fact has caused me to wonder if she has not already answered my questions about why. This is the first thing she said to Hugh on Monday:
Hello. I still need to get permission from my keepers to appear on the program, but I suspect it will not be forthcoming. Sorry about that. (emphasis mine)
I assumed when I first read it that by "keepers," she meant her editors and publishers. But then it dawned on me, and particularly in light of the guarded nature of her other answers, that her "keepers" might be North Korean? I have been to places (the Soviet Union) where government permission was necessary to ever get on an international telephone connection, and then it was monitored. She may be very heavily censored, even life-threateningly so.

If that is the case she should, of course, leave the country. This would also raise a number of questions about whether she knew such would be case when she went there. Then there are questions about why the paper would publish anything so heavily censored. All I'm saying is we may already know more than we think we do, she may have told as best as she could.


Erupting News

Check out these great pictures of yesterday's eruption of Mt. St. Helens.


Scripture Break...

1 Cor 13:1-13

1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 4Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Devilish Wisdom

I have said before that I think everyone should reread The Screwtape Letters from time to time. So I'm going to help.

This particular letter speaks to our current age more than almost anything I have read in a very long time.
My dear Wormwood,

The real trouble about the set your patient is living in is that it is merely Christian. They all have individual interests, of course, but the bond remains mere Christianity. What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call ‘Christianity And’. You know—Christianity and the Crisis, Chris¬tianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Chris¬tians let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Chris¬tian colouring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing.

The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart—an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friend¬ship. The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy (being a hedonist at heart) has made change pleasurable to them, just as He has made eating pleasurable. But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has bal¬anced the love of change in them by a love of perma¬nence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual year; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before.

Now just as we pick out and exaggerate the pleasure of eating to produce gluttony, so we pick out this natural pleasantness of change and twist it into a demand for absolute novelty. This demand is entirely our workman¬ship. If we neglect our duty, men will be not only con¬tented but transported by the mixed novelty and familiarity of snowdrops this January, sunrise this morn¬ing, plum pudding this Christmas. Children, until we have taught them better, will be perfectly happy with a seasonal round of games in which conkers succeed hop¬scotch as regularly as autumn follows summer. Only by our incessant efforts is the demand for infinite, or unrhythmical, change kept up.

This demand is valuable in various ways. In the first place it diminishes pleasure while increasing desire. The pleasure of novelty is by its very nature more subject than any other to the law of diminishing returns. And continued novelty costs money, so that the desire for it spells avarice or unhappiness or both. And again, the more rapacious this desire, the sooner it must eat up all the innocent sources of pleasure and pass on to those the Enemy forbids. Thus by inflaming the horror of the Same Old Thing we have recently made the Arts, for example, less dangerous to us than perhaps, they have ever been, ‘low-brow’ and ‘high-brow’ artists alike being now daily drawn into fresh, and still fresh, excesses of lasciviousness, unreason, cruelty, and pride. Finally, the desire for novelty is indispensable if we are to produce Fashions or Vogues.

The use of Fashions in thought is to distract the atten¬tion of men from their real dangers. We direct the fash¬ionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is least in danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to that vice which we are trying to make endemic. The game is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under. Thus we make it fashionable to expose the dangers of enthusiasm at the very moment when they are all really becoming worldly and lukewarm; a century later, when we are really making them all Byronic and drunk with emotion, the fashionable outcry is directed against the dangers of the mere ‘understanding’. Cruel ages are put on their guard against Sentimentality, feckless and idle ones against Respectability, lecherous ones against Puritanism; and whenever all men are really hastening to be slaves or tyrants we make Liberalism the prime bogey.

But the greatest triumph of all is to elevate this horror of the Same Old Thing into a philosophy so that non¬sense in the intellect may reinforce corruption in the will. It is here that the general Evolutionary or Histor¬ical character of modern European thought (partly our work) comes in so useful. The Enemy loves platitudes. Of a proposed course of action He wants men, so far as I can see, to ask very simple questions; is it righteous? is it prudent? is it possible? Now if we can keep men asking ‘Is it in accordance with the general movement of our time? Is it progressive or reactionary? Is this the way that History is going?’ they will neglect the relevant questions. And the questions they do ask are, of course, unanswerable; for they do not know the future, and what the future will be depends very largely on just those choices which they now invoke the future to help them to make. As a result, while their minds are buzzing in this vacuum, we have the better chance to slip in and bend them to the action we have decided on. And great work has already been done. Once they knew that some changes were for the better, and others for the worse, and others again indifferent. We have largely removed this knowledge. For the descriptive adjective ‘unchanged’ we have substituted the emotional adjective ‘stagnant We have trained them to think of the Future as a promised land which favoured heroes attain—not as something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is,

Your affectionate uncle



The Best of Pravda

I am putting myself on a Pravda diet. I am not sure you readers are as fond of that newspaper as I am, so from this point forward I am simply going to have a once a week (Wednesday) feature of the best thereof.


I thought that by this point in history everyone understood what a monster Joseph Stalin was. Apparently not. Obviously Pravda has never quite forgotten its roots.


This story would make my mother-in-law's husband quite, quite jealous. That's a big fish.


This is not really news. I know my own wife is an exception, but I think this headline applies to women everywhere, not just the Russian ones.

Russian women's ability to love is directly connected with men's ability to make money


Now this is simply a great story.

Laziness cures brain cells and extends life span

This is what I call a money quote:
Excessive physical exercises exert a negative influence on the human body on the whole.
In my world, "excessive means more than what it takes to get to the frig.


Two Great Reads

I ran across a couple of very good posts that are worthy of sharing. The first comes from Reflections of the Times. It is a very alarming, moving, and personal story that reminds us directly about our own depravity.

The other post is from, Walking Circumspectly and is a good Bible Study lesson in relying upon God's strength, wisdom and timing.


Big Time Breaking News

Have I told you my wife is from the Washington side of the Columbia River, near Portland Oregon? She is -- an area dominated by the Cascades. This just in...Mount St. Helens is going off again. It's almost dark there and all the web cams are grossly overloaded, but I managed to capture this shot before things got too far out of control:

See that plume on the right? There she blows...


Blogging Light

The next couple of days are going to be very busy for me at work, blogging is likely to be sparse. Just before I go to bed, I will put up a few posts that I would normally do tomorrow morning since I won't be here then. After that I'll do the best I can. It's likely to be more plinking and quoting than writing. Thank you for your tolerance in this regard.


Freedom Marches On....

First there is this article about women in Kuwait protesting their second-class status. That's good news.

Then there is great news -- The President's speech today. First this quote:
Across the Middle East, a critical mass of events is taking that region in a hopeful new direction. Historic changes have many causes, yet these changes have one factor in common. A businessman in Beirut recently said, "We have removed the mask of fear. We're not afraid anymore." Pervasive fear is the foundation of every dictatorial regime -- the prop that holds up all power not based on consent. And when the regime of fear is broken, and the people find their courage and find their voice, democracy is their goal, and tyrants, themselves, have reason to fear. (Applause.)

History is moving quickly, and leaders in the Middle East have important choices to make. The world community, including Russia and Germany and France and Saudi Arabia and the United States has presented the Syrian government with one of those choices -- to end its nearly 30-year occupation of Lebanon, or become even more isolated from the world. The Lebanese people have heard the speech by the Syrian president. They've seen these delaying tactics and half-measures before. The time has come for Syria to fully implement Security Council Resolution 1559. All Syrian military forces and intelligence personnel must withdraw before the Lebanese elections, for those elections to be free and fair. (Applause.)

The elections in Lebanon must be fully and carefully monitored by international observers. The Lebanese people have the right to determine their future, free from domination by a foreign power. The Lebanese people have the right to choose their own parliament this spring, free of intimidation. And that new government will have the help of the international community in building sound political, economic, and military institutions, so the great nation of Lebanon can move forward in security and freedom. (Applause.)

Today I have a message for the people of Lebanon: All the world is witnessing your great movement of conscience. Lebanon's future belongs in your hands, and by your courage, Lebanon's future will be in your hands. The American people are on your side. Millions across the earth are on your side. The momentum of freedom is on your side, and freedom will prevail in Lebanon. (Applause.)
Didn't I just say this morning that, "Syria would do well to remember the very large contingent of the US military sitting on it's borders." Sounds like the President is thinking the same way. Then he ends with these stirring words,
Americans, of all people, should not be surprised by freedom's power. A nation founded on the universal claim of individual rights should not be surprised when other people claim those rights. Those who place their hope in freedom may be attacked and challenged, but they will not ultimately be disappointed, because freedom is the design of humanity and freedom is the direction of history. (Applause.)

In our time, America has been attacked. America has been challenged. Yet the uncertainty, and sorrow, and sacrifice of these years have not been in vain. Millions have gained their liberty; and millions more have gained the hope of liberty that will not be denied. The trumpet of freedom has been sounded, and that trumpet never calls retreat. (Applause.)

Before history is written in books, it is written in courage -- the courage of honorable soldiers; the courage of oppressed peoples; the courage of free nations in difficult tasks. Our generation is fortunate to live in a time of courage. And we are proud to serve in freedom's cause.

May God bless you all. (Applause.)
Why is it that this seemingly "poor public speaker" always moves me so? Simple, what he says is so right on and so important that it far out how he says it.


I Hate It When Good Information Bothers Me

SmartChristian gives a link to this post from Blue Goldfish.

The post concerns 10 signs fo a dysfunctional organization. It's great stuff for leaders. But here is what bothers me. Church leaders are spending way too much time these days worrying about their organizations and not enough worrying about the souls of those within the organization.

There is nothing inherently unChristian about stuff like this, I just wonder if it is where we should be focusing our attention. All this stuff involves metrics of one sort or another. What is the right metric for a church? People in the pews or souls in the Kingdom. Precisely how do you measure that later category?


Thank God...

...that this woman is not First Lady. Don't just read what Drudge has to say, read the whole underlying Seattle piece. Quoting Ms. Heinz-Kerry:
"You cannot have bishops in the pulpit -- long before or the Sunday before the election -- as they did in Catholic churches, saying it was a mortal sin to vote for John Kerry," she said.

Heinz Kerry gave no examples. Last year, a few ultraconservative prelates said they would not allow the Democratic nominee to receive communion in their dioceses. The bishop of Colorado Springs declared that Catholics voting for pro-choice candidates were not welcome at the communion rail.

"The church has a right and obligation to teach values," Heinz Kerry declared. "They don't have a right to restrict freedom of expression, which they did."
I see, attempts to influence how someone votes qualify as a restriction of freedom of expression -- No that couldn't be what she meant, then she'd have to shut up. I've got it, attempts to influence how someone votes when you are in a position of religious authority qualify as a restriction of freedom of expression. But what about that whole "right and obligation to teach values" thing? This is a deep thinker.


Cop Needs Life

It is quite possible that these poeple were in violation of the law, but couldn't the cop just have politely asked them to move on? Any bets the cop was under some sort of undue pressure, or had an extraordinarily bad day.


Taste Does Matter

Despite my precoccupations with the tasteless, I think the magazine "New York Press" was wise in dealing with its editor over the article he published entitled, "52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope."

Look, making fun of people has been part of debate pretty much since man started to speak. But there are limits. Wishing for their death is one of them. Couldn't he have just waited until after the Pope dies? -- May it be a long time away. It would have still been tasteless, but not contained a wish for someone's death. Bad judgment -- not good in an editor.


Terri Today

Terri Schiavo lives today -- that is good news. Celebrate it.

This post tells us about how the judge ruled yesterday. About what we all figured.

This post is extremely sarcastic and hard edged, without being terribly funny. Nonetheless, it spills wholly appropriate bile.

This post tells us that a bill to save Terri has been introduced to Congress. Find and write your Congressperson and your Senators today.

Finally, this post tells us that Terri can be rehabilitated with therapy -- from no less than a Nobel nominated doctor.

Do what you can for Terri. Donate at Terri's fight (graphic in blog roll at left) Write your federal legislators as I said above. Finally, pray. Then pray some more.


How Do We Evangelize The Hostile?

Ragamuffin Ramblings has a really interesting post wherein, "Jesus Talks With A Gay Man" (HT: Internet Monk)

The post is a creative and well done recasting of Jesus encounter with the woman at the well in John 4. The post is entitled "Just how shocking is the gospel?"

I'm not sure I now what to make of this. Is it really shocking that Jesus would love and cherish a gay person? It may be shocking to some, but I don't think it is shocking to anyone that really knows the gospel.

Jesus' love and saving work is for all. We are all sinners. After all, homosexuality is just another sin. The church is full of sinners, of all varieties, and it should include the particular variety known as homosexual.

To my mind the problem is not that we are to include homosexuals among our number, it is that they demand we do so without pointing out their sin. Many will argue that the church "overlooks" a lot of sin. That is probably true, but does that mean we are to overlook all sin, or maybe instead correct the fact that we have been overlooking some sin?

On Sunday Adrian Warnock quoted Charles Spurgeon:
So, when a man has to speak for Christ, if he is not in earnest, let him go to bed. You smile; but is it not better that he should go to bed than send a whole congregation to sleep without their going to bed? Yes, we must be in downright earnest. If we are to prevail with men, we must love them.......
It is not at all shocking that the gospel is for homosexuals. We must love them.We must love them enough to welcome them, and help them overcome their sin, as we help all who enter to overcome sin.


From the Edge of Taste

This has been a regular Friday feature with occasional appearances other days when something really tickled my fancy. It will now be making its regular appearance on Tuesdays, with the occasional appearances continuing as I deem fit.

This week it is not tasteless news, but tasteless humor. If this link does not make you laugh out loud then you suffer from entirely too much taste and are sentenced to read this blog daily until you have had enough taste drummed out of you.

Now enjoy this bit of animation.


Hugh For Pres

The President of the University of Colorado announced her resignation yesterday amid controversy around both the football team and Ward "what stupid things will he say next" Churchill.

Hugh Hewitt has announced his vigorous candidacy for the post. In his search for the ultimate "no-work job" I wonder if Hugh has bitten off more than he can chew on this one -- it might require some actual work, not much mind you, but some. Nonetheless, if he wants it, he has my vote.


Middle East Round Up

The news from the Middle East continues to do my heart much good.

From FOXNews comes word that Syria has begun to pull its troops back from Lebanon -- not as much as most would like, but it is a start. I'm hopeful. MSNBC reports that there was a large pro-Syrian demonstration in Beruit yesterday. Can there be a starker contrast in reporting? Same day, same country, entirely different news. You just have to wonder what people are thinking when they make these editorial decisions. I'm still hopeful - Syria would do well to remember the very large contingent of the US military sitting on it's borders.

Powerline reports on an Iraq survey that indicates in most people's mind the insurgency is dead -- it is now just crime. That's worth a PRAISE THE LORD!

Little Green Footballs reports that pro democracy demonstrations are now happening in Morocco. Just takes a taste...

Powerline again reminds us of democratic demonstration in Lebanon, but points to the extreme problems in sub-Saharan Africa as a potential next area for action. Muslim rule is far more contentious in sub-Saharan Africa, and the atrocities are stomach churning. I'm with Hindrocket, this might be a good place for the US to turn its attention.

While we are on bad news, FOXNews reports that Iran has admitted to underground nuclear facilities. I remain hopeful that as democracy takes hold in Iraq, Iran will be forced to back down by its own people, but if not, we cannot let nuclear weapons into the hands of that bunch. It's almost beyond debate, they will use them for sure, something the world can ill afford.


As If We Don't Already Have a Hard Enough Time Getting Attention...

...Bill, former President, Clinton has to go and start a blog. (HT: SmartChristian) Can, no make that should, a former President have that much time on his hands, or need that much attention? Of course, it is probabaly ghosted, but still....

At least it's not a list of the "hotties" he has seen today.


Vox Apologia VIII Is Up!

Amy's Humble Musings got Vox Apologia VIII up yesterday. Thanks Amy for your hard work!

I really like it this week, less intellectual, more from the gut stuff. Jesus grabs both our hearts and our minds, I like speaking to and from both. My highlights --

Attention Span posts on Closer Than We Think, a reminder that the least of these may be in the room with you.

Sharing Life reminds us that the least of these includes everyone regardless of religious conviction.

Finally, Blogtional fav Allthings2all chimes in with Is It Tomorrow Yet, an extremely touching portrait of street life in urban New Zealand.

Please read all the Vox Apologia entries, they're all good, these are just my favorites -- What are yours?

Monday, March 07, 2005


Wow! Just Wow

Adrian Warnock links to Blogcorner Preacher, who in turn links to the audio of a radio interview with John Piper. I going to repeat the link here.

Both Adrian and John Luke have their "money quotes" from the interview. I started taking notes and eventually decided there was not enough paper, I just needed to transcribe the whole thing. I'm just going to point out a few things:

Piper said that he feels that in an effort to attract people to church are denying the essential doctrinal truths. Amen and Amen.

The interviewer said that Piper's latest book on justification was a "shot across the bow" to conventional evangelicalism. That immediately called to mind a rather lengthy post on Best Of The Web Today where Taranto pulls from several sources to examine how Evangelicals are "A Counterculture No More." One must wonder at what cost we have achieved that success.

Finally Piper, pointed out that today we use the cross to "exhalt our worth" instead of the worth of God. Talk about a money quote!

Thank God there are people like Piper in the world standing up for reformed theology and understanding. We would be hopelessly lost without them.


Beatitudes Versus The Big Ten

SmartChristian links to Richard Mouw's piece about lobbying for public display of the Beatitudes instead of the Ten Commandments. I seem to recall meeting Dick Mouw at a function or two, but I do not recall him being quite this naive.

First of all, I do not think that on a theological level Jesus intended the Beatitudes to be in opposition to the Ten Commandments, but I'll leave that discussion to others more learned in the matter than I.

The answer to Mouw's question is straightforward, and purely political. Judaism and Christianity both embrace the Ten Commandments wholly. They are echoed in Islam and some other most ancient law codes known. They are the basis for virtually all know codifications of law, certainly in the western world. Save for the utter atheist that objects to the "no God before Me" things, they are almost universally acknowledged and accepted.

The Beatitudes, though marvelous, are purely Christian and would to some extent constitute a state establishment of religion. They lack the universality of the Big Ten. Sorry Dr. Mouw, I understand what you're driving at, but not practical.


"Best Of The Web" Mines NYTimes

If it wasn't for the fact that it would be the tail wagging the dog, I would assume that BOTWT read my piece yesterday pointing out several amazing headlines in the NYTimes and decided to play copycat. But, somehow, I think they got their first.

The first bit they did simply has to be repeated verbatim, it is just to funny. They pull from this roundtable to come up with this post.
Everyone knows that liberals are smarter than regular people--only sometimes we harbor doubts. Could this be one of those things that "everybody knows" but that turn out not to be true? What prompts this observation is a roundtable on "the present state of liberalism in America, and its future," which appeared yesterday in the New York Times book review. Among the participants was Michael Tomasky of The American Prospect, who had this to say in answer to the question, "Can the Democrats become the majority party in America again?":

One of the Democratic Party's problems is that it doesn't have enough contact with its rank and file. Right-wing people in this country have a place to meet and talk politics--their churches, increasingly the megachurches in the exurbs. There's not a meeting place like that for liberals and for Democrats.

If this is true, and if liberals are so smart, why don't they start going to church?
The other great post they have comes from reprinting the lead of this NYTimes article.
The chief of Ukraine's security service said Saturday that the country's former interior minister, Yuri F. Kravchenko, had shot himself twice in the head on Friday, refuting speculation that he had been killed by someone else.
Read it carefully, think about it a minute, it'll come to you. Its really, really funny.


Civically Responsible Christianity

Given that SmartChristian baited me for comments over the weekend, I wonder if he is not at it again today? Andy linked to a CBS News piece on the upcoming convention on evangelicals in Washington. The keynote of the convention will be the release of this document, Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility.

I have not read the document carefully, but I have scanned through it. It scanned great for quite a while, but then on page 11 of 12 came this:
We labor to protect GodÂ’s creation

As we embrace our responsibility to care for God’s earth, we reaffirm the important truth that we worship only the Creator and not the creation. God gave the care of his earth and its species to our first parents. That responsibility has passed into our hands. We affirm that God-given dominion is a sacred responsibility to steward the earth and not a license to abuse the creation of which we are a part. We are not the owners of creation, but its stewards, summoned by God to “watch over and care for it” (Gen. 2:15). This implies the principle of sustainability: our uses of the Earth must be designed to conserve and renew the Earth rather than to deplete or destroy it.

The Bible teaches us that God is not only redeeming his people, but is also restoring the whole creation (Rom. 8:18-23). Just as we show our love for the Savior by reaching out to the lost, we believe that we show our love for the Creator by caring for his creation.

Because clean air, pure water, and adequate resources are crucial to public health and civic order, government has an obligation to protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation. This involves both the urgent need to relieve human suffering caused by bad environmental practice. Because natural systems are extremely complex, human actions can have unexpected side effects. We must therefore approach our stewardship of creation with humility and caution.

Human beings have responsibility for creation in a variety of ways. We urge Christians to shape their personal lives in creation-friendly ways: practicing effective recycling, conserving resources, and experiencing the joy of contact with nature. We urge government to encourage fuel efficiency, reduce pollution, encourage sustainable use of natural resources, and provide for the proper care of wildlife and their natural habitats.
I have posted repeatedly on my opposition to "evangelical Environmentalism." This, this, this, this, and this are just a few examples.

I'll try not to repeat myself here. But this represents a new low. This is not just Christians being concerned about the environment, rather this is a call for Christian to lobby the government for environmental laws. This I think is decidely unchristian. I've talked about socialism and it's problems, so I won't go there. Let's think about this though:
Rom 8:3-8

3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God {did:} sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and {as an offering} for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
It seems to me that when it comes to far more important moral matters, God's intention was to transform us, thus freeing us from the law as oppressive, creating obedience in us instead of demanding it from us. Adrain Warnock today is beginning a series on preaching designed to create such transformation.

If the paradigm given to us by Christ is freedom from the Law, do we really want to position ourselves as law makers? - particularly when it comes to environmental matters? Shouldn't we be about the business of creating transformation in people? If we do, don't you think your environmental concerns will solve themselves?


Military Stuff

First off, let me recommend OpinionJournal's weekly Good News round up. It's always worth reading. This week, I would like to specifically recommend this, this, and this story. They are great stories about great Americans doing great things. Shed a tear and swell with pride.

Next I am going to reprint one of those things that landed in my inbox. I can't attribute it and I cannot veryify it's veracity, but that does not take away from it's power. Its sentiment is true, even if its details are not.

"They are so young"

I was going to the gym tonight ( really just a huge tent with weights and treadmills), and we had heard that one of the MEUs (Marine Expeditionary Units) that had come out of service in the "triangle" was reploying (leaving country).We saw their convoy roll in to the Kuwait Naval Base as the desert sun was setting.

I have never seen anything like this. Trucks and humvees that looked like they had just come through a shredder. Their equipment was full of shrapnel blast holes, and missing entire major pieces that you could tell had been blasted by IED's (improvised explosive devices). These kids looked bad too! I mean, sunken eyes, thin as rails, and that 1000-yd stare they talk about after
direct combat. Made me pretty embarrassed to be a "rear area warrior." All people could do was stop in their tracks and stare...and feel like I wanted to bow my head in reverence.

A Marine Captain stationed with me, was standing next to me and also headed to the gym. He said, "Part of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 8th Marines sir. Took the heaviest losses of any single unit up north as part of Task Force Danger, sir."As the convoy rolled up, all of us watching just slowly crept toward these kids as they dismounted the hummers and 5-tons. Of course, we were all shiny and clean compared to these warriors.

These kids looked like they had just crawled in from Iraq. I had my security badge and ID around my neck, and started to help them unload some of their duffle bags. A crusty Gunny came up to me and said, "Sir, you don't have to do that..." "Gunny... yes I do..." They all looked like they were in high school, or younger!! All held themselves sharply and confident, despite the extreme fatigue you could tell they had endured."You guys out of the triangle?" I asked. "Yes, sir, 14 months, and twice into the grinder sir." (both fights were for Fallujah involving vicious house to house combat).

All I could do was throw my arm around their shoulders and say "Thanks Marine, for taking the fight to the bad guys...we love you man." I looked at these young kids, not one of them complaining or showing signs of anything but focus, and good humor. One said, "Sir, they got ice cream at the DFAC sir?" "I haven't had real ice cream since we got here..."

They continued to unload... and after I had done my hand shakes and shoulder hugs, the Captain and I looked at each other... They want ice cream, we'll get them ice cream.You see a squid O-5 and a focused Marine O-3, can get just about anything, even if the mess is closed.

Needless to say, we raided the closed DFAC (mess tent), much to the chagrin of one very pissed-off Mess SGT. and grabbed boxes of ice cream sandwiches (as many as we could carry), and hustled them back to the convoy. I felt like Santa Claus. "Thank you sir.." again and again from each trooper as we tossed up the bars to the guys in the trucks. "Son, what the hell are you thanking me for...? I can't thank you enough..."

And they are so young....I will sleep well knowing they are watching my back tonight.



Large Voices For Terri

I am very pleased at the very public. very loud voices for Terri that have been heard from today. I just listened to Alan Keyes on Michael Medved.

From Blogs for Terri and WICatholic Musings, we hear of a new statement from the Vatican.

The Medved/Keyes interview was troubling in that a doctor called and spoke about how this "happens every day." Of course, it was pointed out that there are two problems"
  1. In cases where it does happen there is indisputable proof that the individual whose life is ending has said unequivically that they want to die, and
  2. How can starving an individual to death possibly consitute a humane death?

The doctor pointed out that the removal of a feeding tube happens all the time. I know it does and I am very troubled by it. I worry terribly that the best answer to that is to challenge those that want to remove Terri's tube to instead do the standup thing and actually kill her. I am really afraid someone might do it. I would classify that as a backfire on the arguement. This situation is quite frustrating.


PC Nutiness...

I have stayed away from the story about Jada Pinkett's comments at Harvard last week. This story; however, puts it in the proper perspective, along with a lot of other politically correct nonesense.

I must say this though. "Heteromormal," is one of the most specious terms I have every heard. Simply put, there is no 'normal.' The concept of normal is a statistical illusion -- no one really qualifies.

I cannot tell a homosexual or anyone else that they are normal, that is something they will have to figure out for themselves. Could it be that the vitriol of the protest owes more to the fact that they know how abnormal they really are than to any slight implied in the comments?



This feature, which has been appearing on Fridays will now be appearing on Mondays.

The Absurdity Of It All

Because my life is spent not actually doing much to help the environment, but generally spinning bureaucratic wheels, sometimes the absurdity of the whole thing just hits me in the face. Take this story and this story about recent fines leveled for environmental damage. In both cases, the perceived damage has been done, long ago, and is irreversible. Is the environmental actually helped or are bureaucrats simply enriched?

Then there is this piece. The EPA is considering changing what constitutes 'clean water.' So is water clean because it quenches my thirst and sustains my life, or because the EPA tells me it is. While we are on the subject, do you know why the earliest developments in chemistry were beer and wine? Because people knew most stream water carried something that made them ill, and alcoholic beverages did not. Doesn't a glass of wine with dinner sound like a better idea than this overblown grossly expensive federal bureaucracy?

Environmentalists are GOOD People -- NOT!

FOXNews says it all. Go there, click "Only on Fox" on the right hand side, and choose the video report entitled "Tree-hugging Vandals?" (Sorry, I could not make a direct link work.) Why is it Christians want to get in on this action?

This Is Just Funny

FOXNews also brings us this story of protests at NASCAR's use of lead fuels. The link points out the technical absurdity of the protest, so I won't bother. These people really need a life.


No Theologian?

Paul T. McCain put up a post on Saturday that is getting all sorts on interest. Michael at BHT pointed to it. Andy Jackson at SmartChristian pointed to World Magazine Blog who point to it.

What's all the hubbub? Pastor McCain is bemoaning pastors that say "Well, I'm not a theologian...." Pastors? What about Christians in general? Aren't we all supposed to have some understanding of what we believe about God in a coherent and logical fashion. Theology is not faith, but faith absent theology is pretty lame stuff too.

I think this ties in with the discussion that started over the weekend about preaching that 'sticks.' Adrian Warnock has added his good thoughts in that discussion by the way.

Pastors say they are "not theologians" because they think people will tune them out right away. I think the job of pastor is well down the road in a change from shepherd to 'church builder.' A church builder is going to say what will draw people in, and they perceive that is "not being a theologian."

McCain has some wisdom when he says:
Now don't get me wrong, I'm just as turned off as you are by pastors who have this compulsion to use jargon, to throw around Greek, Hebrew, Latin or German terms to wow and amaze their listeners. They love to toss out technical terminology. No, those aren't theologians either, in many cases they are insecure little boys who haven't gained confidence in what they think they believe, and so have to resort to rhetorical game-playing to try to "wow" their audiences.

The best theologian/pastors are men who can preach clearly and simply so that the most unlearned layman in the church can understand what they are talking about.

Am I suggesting pastors are to be ethereal eggheads whose heads are so far buried in weighty tomes they have no concept what life in the real world is like? Of course not....

If a pastor is not a theologian, he should not be a pastor. Similarly,a pastor who is an incompetent teacher should not be a pastor. How many times have we experienced a pastor who can't teach a Bible class well to save his life. If he can't then he should never have been certified to be a pastor. The Scriptures say a man must be "apt to teach" in order to be a pastor.

Now, mind you, I'm not suggesting all pastors necessarily are experts in all facets of academic scholarship concerning theology. But a "theologian" is not a professor at a seminary, or a researcher at some institute. Ivory tower academics speculating about theology are not necessarily theologians. A Ph.D. is not the qualification to be a theologian. Perhaps part of our problem is that we have mistakenly equated "theologian" with academic. But pick up most any academic theological journal and ask yourself, "What in here is really going to serve the teaching of the Gospel?" Sadly a lot of academic theology today is just playing to the guild of scholars. That's not necessarily theology and the academics doing this are not necessarily theologians.

Pastors must be theologians. Theologians are men who rightly divide God's Word, properly and carefully and faitfully distinguishing Law and Gospel, faitfully preaching and teaching that Word and fulfill the duties of their office as pastor, caring for the souls entrusted to their care with the Word of God.
The key is to not be an academic, but rather be a good theologian. I am also willing to bet that people will travel an awful long way and in decent numbers to hear a good theologian.


So Why?...

So why, if Barbara Demick of the LA Times is as informed of the atrociousness of the North Korean regime, as she appears to be in her ongoing email interview with Hugh Hewitt, did last Thursday's piece come out as it did?

Most especially I wonder why when she says about the subject of her interview:
His job is to bring foreign investment and development aid into North Korea. As all North Korean business is owned by the Workers' Party, government or military, he is a government official -- or agent, as it were. He spoke in ways that other people would get imprisoned for, which means, not necessarily that he was a spook, but definitely that he is elite with some kind of tie to the top that is his source of protection."
that she would not include such information in the story? Seems rather pertinent to me.

I opined in my original post joining the swarm that, in essence, the idea of 'fairness' has simply overridden morality. The directness of Ms. Demick's answers in Hugh's interview shows a command of the facts, without any understanding of the impact of those facts. Based on her answers to date, it looks like her explanation is that she was just recounting the interview.

But even if Ms. Demick was playing some sort of "We report, you decide" gambit, don't you think the connections and background of her interviewee were pertinent facts? And although not Ms. Demick's decision, don't you think the placement of the story in the paper adds a certain credence to it that would put more importance to the words of this 'official' than might otherwise have been accorded them.

Clearly, there is something at play here that we do not know and will likely never know. Maybe there is indeed an Eason-Jordan-like quid-pro-quo arrangement for Ms. Demick either to remain in country or gain access to Kim Jong Il. Maybe some of those involved just want to show that communism isn't really so bad after all. Maybe it's simply bad journalism. Maybe it's an effort to gin up a blog swarm which in a perverse way might sell more papers? Maybe its just a desire to get a "scoop" and therefore sell more papers.

I'm going to go all Dennis Prager here and say one thing is for sure, a broken moral compass is involved. I love this post from Allthings2all. Catez rightly points out that journalism is increasingly about what people want to see (Michael Jackson and Martha Stewart), instead of what they should see (starvation in the Sudan -- the atrocities of Kim Jong Il). The sensational trumps the important.

I fail to see what was sensational about this story, other than it's lack of information necessary to create a proper perspective, but I'm betting somebody, somewhere thought it was. That may be as good an explanation as we will every get.

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