Saturday, July 30, 2005

 

Theology As Sin

Not quite two weeks ago, the Upward Call, asked a great question and I attempted to answer it. Yesterday, courtesy of Rebecca, I learned that she is at it again.
In fact, my friend has gone so far as to make this comment, about which I'd like someone to share his or her opinion. My friend's comment is: "Love covers a multitude of sins, including bad theology."

So, tell me, does love cover a multitude of bad theology? I see red flags with this. Am I nuts or what?
At first glance, it is easy to simply dismiss this question -- "sin" is either a description of "apartness from God" or it is an action -- theology does not fall into either of those categories. Theology can be either right or wrong, but I am not sure it can ever rise to the level of sinful. Theology can have sinful consequences, but the theology itself just does not qualify for the adjective.

I do not; however, think that such a pat answer really addresses the issues Kim is raising. Basically, I think there are two issues raised by the situation and quotation Kim describes. The first issue is what to do in church when there is bad, or maybe just disagreeable, theology. The second issue concerns the interrelationship of love and sins.

The first issue is a situation with which I have a great deal of experience. In the first place, I have never found a church where I agree with every theological stance it takes. Secondly I have seen churches with pretty poor theology bear good fruit, and churches with excellent theology produce nothing but ugliness. To me the answer is simple -- if you have problems with the theology taught in your church -- argue. Teach a Sunday School class and present your view -- write letters and columns for the church newsletter -- blog. When the person that fills your pulpit is teaching classes, attend, and badger him/her during Q&A sessions. Do your homework, be prepared. Write courteous, thoughtful, probing letters. Engage in the conversation. Beyond that there is not much to do.

Problems arise only if the church attempts to squelch such discussion and alternate viewpoints. I have been in churches like that, but not for long. Such behavior is one of my personal trigger points for suspicion of the cultic, they are generally not great places to be. Theology is an academic exercise, which demands openness and debate. When it ceases to be academic and becomes dogmatic, the church is looking for robots, not members.

The interrelationship between love and covering sins is the far more important and much deeper question. Does love, in fact, cover sins? Only in the sense that love sacrifices for the sake of the sinful. The question here is really the essence of the penal substitution debate that Adrian Warnock has been following so closely and on which Pyromaniac has been commenting for the last several weeks. I will not recreate that long and deep discussion, the reader is urged in the strongest terms to follow the links and read for themselves.

I will say this, as I read scripture, only one thing "covers" sin -- blood. The blood of the goat on the Day of Atonement, and in the present age -- the blood of Christ. Truly, Christ's sacrifice on the cross was an act of love, but it was not Christ's love that remitted sin, it was His blood, shed on our behalf. This is more than a semantic distinction -- when we say, "love covers a multitude of sins," we overlook sin, we do not overcome it. We neglect the huge price actually paid to genuinely cover sin.

 

Out Of The Action...

...onto your computer screens. I have heard again from my friend Jared Leinhart in Iraq -- this time with pictures!

Still cracking away in Iraq. Today we worked with the Iraqi Army again in going into a village that is suspected of housing terrorists. We stormed two schools as there are no classes (due to the heat) and it was suspected that terrorists are using the buildings to live in and hide weapons. The Iraqi Army guys are getting much better to work with and are progressing very well. Many of us have not officially been tasked, but still try to help train them. To us it means the quicker that they are up to speed the quicker we can go home and not have to come back. I have started becoming friends with the Iraqi battalion's intelligence officer. He speaks English pretty well. We talk about our love for our families and our countries.

I have attached 10 more pictures. Here's a little narrative for each:

Picture #1 shows a bomb makers lab we found in Mosul. They use the electronic equipment to rig 2-way radios, cordless phones, and cell phones to bombs. They then sell or issue these to other terrorists who plant them and then can be far away and wait for a US convoy to go by. They then call or contact these electronic devices which cause the explosives to detonate.
Picture #2 is a picture of SSG Tom Petri's door to his HMMWV. SSG Petri is my platoon sergent who seems to attract all sorts of attention. This was the 3rd time that insurgents had fired at him and the round here near him. In this one, it struck the door. As the armor is very thick, it only made a small dent and scratched the paint on the door. Gotta love good American steel!!!
Picture #3 is of the largest cache we found in Mosul. It was actually found in a rural area south of Mosul where many caches were found. The terrrorists would store them in the country so they don't get caught red-handed with them in their house. The many small round discs are Italian-made anti-tank mines. Each one of those little discs have enough explosives to flip a 2-ton HMMWV.
Picture #4 is SPC Israel Lopez manning the radio inside of an armored personnel carrier. Either that or he's trying to phone home!!!
Picture #5 is of a cookout that we had with EOD in Mosul. As we worked hand-in-hand with them, we got to know them very well. It was the first cookout that we were able to have and included some paying off of local workers to bring us some supplies we needed (meat, buns, etc). If you look real hard, that's me at the grill in the back.
Picture #6 is another picture of when we were in Mousl. This is one of our APC (armored personnel carrier). We actually prefer to be in the HMMWVs as they were faster and more resiliant than these things. These looked tough, but were made out of aluminum whereas the HMMWV is made out of steel.
Picture #7 shows several of the guys waiting to go on a mission while in Mosul. We had gotten the call of a possible IED so everyone geared up and waited by their vehicles. Finally the call came in that it was a confirmed IED, so off we went to go neutralize it. Pictured here from left to right is PFC Jason Landfald, SGT Joe Kolosci, SPC Brian Farlie, SPC Jay Cochran, SPC David Stone, SSG Marlin Wunder, SPC David Sendejas, and SPC Shaun Casto.
Picture #8 is another stop we made to hand out candy to the kids in Mosul.
Picture #9 is of an Iraqi Army soldier in Mosul guard in a combat outpost. By the date on it (Feb) it still could get a little chilly in the early morning.
Picture #10 is of us neutralizing an IED we found on the side of the road. Terrorists would lay these bags of bombs next to the road and wait for US troops to roll by and then they would detonate them. US troops have been doing a great job in spotting them before they get up to them which is saving numerous lives.

Well, I'll try to get some more put together to send out. God bless!

For God and Country, Jared

 

Rhetoric Too Strong?

This post from Adrian Warnock saddened me. Not because of what Adrian had to say, but because he felt he had to offer an apologetic for the source he used.

Adrain is drawing a lesson from a book by Bill Hybels, the Willow Creeek megachurch master. As a strong critic of the megachurch movement, I am forced to wonder if my rhetoric and the rhetoric of others with similar veiws is so strong that Adrian felt compelled to offer the apologetic prior to making some good points?

When it comes to politics, there are people I refuse to read. They are simply so consitently wrong that it becomes a waste of time. But when it comes to my Christian related reading, I will read anybody, and have yet to find a book from which I cannot pull something valuable.

If there is any lesson I have learned in trying to be a "thinking" Christian, it is that it is very possible to be too dogmatic. I am confident, I am even stubborn, but I work very hard to avoid going all the way over into dogmatic -- for down that path comes idolatry. When we hold what we think we know about God as more important than other people, our thoughts of God have risen to the level of idol.

Every now and then I wish some of my commenters understood that, but such is blogging life. I hereby invite you to tell me if I am ever being dogmatic -- bear in mind I reserve the right to be stubborn, but if dogmatic, sing out.

 

Bad Judgment

Sometimes, I do not exercise the best blogging judgment. Last Monday when I read David Kennedy's NYTimes op-ed I found it so idiotic as to not deserve refutation. Kennedy dismisses our volunteer military as mercenaries.

There is an old cliche, "When arguing with a fool, make sure he is not similarly occupied." I figured that particular op-ed qualified.

But the creme-de-la-creme of the milblogoshpere, felt it necessary to defend themselves (Citizen Smash -- Greyhawk -- Blackfive) and then blogging mil-buddy, (and also part of the cream on the top of the milblogosphere) Dadmanly, decided to chime in yesterday. Far be it from me to question their judgement on such matters.

Dadmanly makes one of the great statements about what it means to be an American every written
It is the height of hypocrisy -- and perhaps reflective of an inner cowardice -- to assume that one can live in total liberty and freedom without ever making any sacrifice towards its preservation.
I am somewhat shamed by that statement -- I do what I can to support those that serve, but I have personally never served, now I'm too old. Shame on me.

This begs the question -- What have you done to preserve your liberty and freedom today?

 

Only In Kentucky

DATELINE: FRANKFORT, KY The liquid had an "unusual odor," and the supervisor triggered a standard procedure for reacting to spills or other foreign substances at the lab, Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Steve Davis said.
But what may you ask was the mystery substance which required closure of the lab? -- Animal urine

Dear friends, obviously lab personnel in Kentucky have skills similar to their basketball players (all Hoosiers will undertsand what I am talking about) While animal urine is disgusting -- I would be too ashamed ever to appear in public again if, as a laboratory person, I misidentified it as a grossly hazardous substance requiring the implementation of full emergency protocol.

What an enormous waste of resources! And what a way to kill a wonderful practical joke, which is no doubt what really happened.

 

Soda Of My Dreams

Coca-Cola is planning to launch Enviga, a soda that is said to burn 50 to 100 calories just by drinking a 12-oz. serving, next year, per one executive.
There's a catch -- trust me, there's always a catch.

 

Comic Art

Continuing my series on the "Honorable Mention" artists from my Expert Witness post at Evangelical Outpost, I want to look today at Bill Sienkiewicz.

Elektra is far and away Sien's best known character. He more or less changed the comic book landscape by being the first "fine art" artist with an Elektra miniseries.

It was the first painted comic I remember, but don't hold me to that. His art in that series was also somewhat abstract.

He has also done some more normal stuff like Batman. Probably everybody has that has ever done comic art has done Batman at some point. I really like the look of the cape in this particular piece. Batman's cape is one of the more stunning visual elements in all of comics, and this is a particularly good use of it.

Sien has made a specialty of some of the more obscure and scary characters. Moon Knight is one that few but diehard comic fans have ever heard of. He has essentially been a mediocre character with an incredible look. He has had numerous incarnations, tweaking the legend and the story each time trying to get him to really catch on.

He has drifted from a typical crime fighter as shown here on the left to a more mystical and magical character as depicted below.

Sien, admittedly, is not my favorite artist, but his style is unique and his impact is undeniable. If you want to know anything about how comic books came to look like they look today you have to pay attention to this man's work.

 

Look, Up In The Sky...

...it's a newly discovered planet in our solar system?

...it's a meteor shower. If you have never been very far from civilization for the Perseid meteor shower, do it -- now! It is a spectacular show and it is best appreciated without any ambient light. There are few things that can get me up late at night, but this is one of them.

 

While We Are In Space...

...this is way cool. They have found a lake of water ice on Mars. Which mean of course, that we now know what a martian will look like.

For the uninitiated, that's Bobby Drake, Ice Man of the X-Men. You know me -- always the comic book angle.

 

They'll Import It From Mars

Las Vegas is world-renowned as a city of fantasy, flaunting its reputation for excess.

It appears a green oasis of refrigerated plenty, set in a blazing desert.

But environmentalists warn water supplies could run dry within the next 50 years; while urban sprawl is out of control and development is encroaching on protected areas.
And I could get hit by a car tomorrow -- so what?

Some day an "environmentalist" is going to wake up, smile, and not feel compelled to warn me about something. They have got to be the unhappiest people on the planet.

 

This Is Attractive

Super Magnet 420,000 Times Stronger than Earth

That has got to be the worst pun I have ever written.

 

Living The Dream

Man goes on rampage in tax office

Never was there a more deserving place.

 

Poor Denny's

Woman sues Denny's over toilet burns

When I saw the headline, I thought it was about the food....

Anyway, she claims exposure to the chemicals they use to clean their toilets. This is a heck of a catch-22 -- if they did not use harsh chemicals, she'd have gotten some sort of staph or fungal infection. Denny's loses either way.

Friday, July 29, 2005

 

Who (or What) Do You Follow?

Pyromaniac has been on a tear these past few weeks -- great post after great post in his dicussion of the fads that drive modern evangelicalism. His latest post is no exception. In this one he examines the question of why fad follwing is not a good thing.

I will never forget, years ago when PromiseKeepers was at its stadium filling zenith, being chastised by my then pastor for not joining the 200 men from our church that were going to fill the LA Coliseum. I asked him sincerely why I needed to join the latest fad? I predicted that within a few years PKers would fade into the obsurity from which it came, likely under a cloud of corruption. PKers was smarter than most and aborted the big time before it got completely out of control, but not without a scandal or two.

The pastor at that time remarkably admitted I was probably right, but that God was moving now - why worry about tomorrow? I told him I had serious doubts that God really was moving now. He never gave me the opportunity to defend the statement as he walked away in disgust, but I shall take the opportunity now. It seems most appropriate based on Pyro's post; Phil quotes Rick Warren, and he is seeing the first inklings of his own scandal.

Virtually all of these fads end in corruption. Think about it, as they grow, the money simply becomes too much and some sort of scandal emerges. Many of the movements are founded on very sincere and successful leaders who may avoid the scandal, but it is almost certain with the second generation. If we will indeed "know them by their fruits," can we really state that something that ends in scandal is where God is working now?

Now don't get me wrong, the more traditional and less faddish has had more than its fair share of scandal as well, but there is a qualitative difference. Those scandals do not result in a burn out of the ministry -- rather, they work to glorify God in the handling of it. This happens for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the lack of size among the less faddish, keeps the scandal from the headlines, which gives more manuevering room in addressing it. (Sheep's Crib had a post yesterday that supports this to some extent) Secondly, because the less faddish is more focused on glorifying God to begin with (than merely with growth and success) it is not so stultifyingly crippled by the appearance of the scandal. This is reflected the theological drift that Phil Johnson is addressing in his post linked above. The bottom line is this -- when God is really at work in a ministry, scandal is a sideline, not a ministry-busting disaster.

The other issue when it comes to deciding where God is moving now, lies precisely in the fruit that is being shown now. I am not aware of anywhere in scripture where "rapid growth," "large attendance," or "financial blessing" are linked as fruits of the Spirit. The movement of God is not measured in the number participating, but in the quality of lives leaving. While I have heard lots of men say really nice things about participating in PKers, and I have no doubt that some have had their lives much improved, I have not heard anyone tell me about the genuine encounter they had with the God of creation.

I am really grateful to Phil for this series, and while we are on the topic of this stuff, I have to present this link as an example of this stuff gone so, so wrong. It links to a web site that adds little or nothing to the glory of God, and gives my most passionate hobby a horrible black eye to boot. It is certainly the best reason to avoid the fad-driven church I have ever seen.

 

Doctors In Britain Retain Right To Play God

Back in June, on my birthday, we looked at the case of Leslie Burke. Burke is a gentleman in Britain suffering from a degenerative brain condition that will one day end his life. He has brought suit. He does not, under any circumstances, wish to have nutrition removed when he is no longer able to feed himself, or to speak his mind. Under British law, doctors, not patients, have the right to make the decisions in those circumstances.

Sadly, yesterday, Mister Burke lost an appeal. The story is remarkably free of details, but I found some things about it quite chilling.
But during the appeal hearing, Philip Havers, QC, representing the GMC, said the original ruling had fundamentally altered the nature of doctor/patient relationships and was not in the best interests of the patient.
In other words, the doctor best knows the patient's interests, not the patient himself.

And while we are being chilled, Al Mohler quotes a family planning executive in Britain on the news that abortion is on the rise in that country:
"Motherhood is just one among many options open to women and it is not surprising that younger women want to prioritise other things. We should stop seeing abortion as a problem and start seeing it as a legitimate and sensible solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancy."
"Legitimate and sensible?" Brrrr...I need a jacket.

 

Hope In An Unusual Place

Mark Steyn was his usual eloquent and direct self in July 30 issue of the Spectator. He takes on all those that say terrorism is a crimnal matter and does not rise to the level of war. He takes a swipe at "the dole" while he is at it.

But this passage is the one I found most interesting.
You can laugh at that if you wish, but the Islamists? most often-stated goal is not infidel withdrawal from Iraq but the re-establishment of a Muslim caliphate living under Sharia that extends to Europe; and there?s a lot to be said for taking these chaps at their word and then seeing whether their behaviour is consistent.

Furthermore, there?s a lot more of the world that lives under Sharia than there was, say, 30 years ago: Pakistan adopted it in 1977, Iran in 1979, Sudan in 1984.... Fifty years ago, Nigeria lived under English common law; now, half of it?s in the grip of Islamic law. So, as a political project, radical Islam has made some headway, and continues to do so almost every day of the week: since the beginning of the year, for example, some 10 per cent of southern Thailand?s Buddhist population have abandoned their homes ? a far bigger disruption than the tsunami, yet all but unreported in the Western press. And whatever one?s opinion of the various local conflicts around the world ? Muslims vs Buddhists in Thailand, Muslims vs Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims vs Jews in the Holy Land, Muslims vs Russians in Chechnya, Muslims vs Christians in Africa ? the fact is that the jihad has held out a long time against very tough enemies. If you?re not shy about taking on the Israelis and Russians, why wouldn?t you fancy your chances against the Belgians and Spaniards?
I love that passage because it puts things in a perspective with which I am most familiar. Do you see the Cold War pattern in that? Do you recognize the echoes of the "domino theory?"

This gives me great hope -- we won the cold war and we will win this war. But more, this war can and will be won faster and more easily than the Cold War was. "Why?" you may ask. Because this is a Cold War absent mutually assured destruction. This is a Cold War where military action can play an important, perhaps decisive role. This puts Iraq into a great perspective -- I'll trade Sudan for Iraq any day when it comes to winning on the global scale. I haven't felt hopeful in a while.

 

Ramifications

Gadfly's Muse had a wonderful piece yesterday addressing some of the arguements offered concerning same-sex marriage. Specficially, he addresses the argument that the prohibition of same-sex marriage causes undue suffering and victimizatiom.

He rightly argues that such suffering is also placed on those who find fulfillment and satisfaction in sexual practices more generally recognized as "wrong" - things like polygamy, incest, and beastiality. This is now a standard arguement in this debate, though GM does a better job with it than most.
Nothing we have said about the pain of homosexual relationships is any different than the pain that may and often is present in those dealing with the other immoral activities I mentioned. Who is to deny the real desire that an adult may have for a child? Who is to say that an individual cannot find sexual release with an animal more satisfying than with a human? Who is to say that a person cannot truly love multiple partners? Who is to say that denying these individuals a legitimatized access to these pleasures does not cause them pain and suffering in exactly the same sense as that experienced by homosexuals who are denied theirs?

If you pride yourself on being liberal and governed by a rationally grounded principles and you are willing to classify others who disagree with you as bigots and narrow-minded fools - then apply your liberal and rationally grounded principles to the real pain and real suffering experienced by people who are motivated to do these things also. If pain and suffering are to be the criteria for moral decision making then expand it and apply it to every area where it fits. As I have repeatedly asked - if you distinguish between these activities - classifying some as immoral and therefore not to be recognized and others as not - then tell me why. The presence of pain and anguish in the life of the individual will not suffice to do so.
He also argues that the legalization of same-sex marriage sets up the same suffering for those opposed to it as those now prohibited experience.
If homosexuality is socially instituted (formally speaking) then the victims become those who disagree that it is morally correct to do so. It is not a neutral act.
What I find fascinating in all of this is how legal thought has begun to interact with moral thought. Let me explain what I mean.

The idea of a "victim class" is an entirely legal concept. It springs from the civil rights movement -- which correctly identified blacks as just such a class. Legally, with things like Affirmative Action, we went on to assign extra rights and benefits to memebers of that class. This legal concept was born out of the moral wrong that we did to blacks during the days of slavery and Jim Crow.

Since that time, much of the legal and social action in our nation has been spent trying to assign that same blessed legal designation to other groups - women, hispanics, the handicapped,....As the groups that sought this legal designation grew more and more morally neutral in terms of whether they "deserved" the designation, they begin to "gin up" specious moral arguments to justify themselves.

In light of such a process, it was inevitiable that the legal would begin to operate not just in the area of moral neutrality, but try to change the very boundaries of morality.

To my way of thinking, the root problem here lies in the initial legal definition of anyone as a "victim class." Blacks certainly deserved, morally, such a designation, but by attaching to that designation special legal rights and priviledges, it changed from being a form of societal repentance to just another incentive.

Prejudice still exists in some, but institutional prejudice is all but gone from this country. It is time to do away with the concept of a victim class. Rather than fight over expansion of the concept, let's fight to reduce it.

 

Begging To Be Shared

Jollyblogger is quoting Gary Thomas. It's just really good stuff, can't pick a money quote. Go and read it all.

 

A Triumph Of Politics Over Engineering

It is very possible the much vaunted US Space Shuttle is dead.

NASA Pessimistic About Solving Debris Woes

NASA's desire to do whatever it can to preserve the life of those it hurls into space is quite laudable, but this may be taking a things a bit too far. First of all, how many missions were flown prior to the last disaster with foam falling off that were completely successful and without incident? A lot, the odds are definitely in our favor here.

Secondly, consider what is involved in space flight as it is currently constituted. People are strapped to what is for all practical purposes, a very large bomb. The explosion of that bomb is controlled and channeled in such a way as to hurl those people into outer space at enormous velocity. Those people then proceed to exist in a near-complete vacuum for days on end, and eventually are allowed to fall back to earth, generating enough heat to melt most metals and deaccelerating in the process with forces that cannot really be duplicated by man, only harnessed. When you think about it, it is nothing but credit to NASA that more people have not died over the years.

What concerns me most is not losing the shuttle -- it's old, really old -- what concerns me is that politics will bring an end to any sort of manned space program. If I was NASA, I start laying out the statistics for what they have accomplished instead of focusing on the problems. the scale is not even close to balanced.

 

Friday Humor

King Ozymndias of Assyria was running low on cash after years of war with the Hittites. His last great possession was the Star of the Euphrates, the most valuable diamond in the ancient world.

Desperate, he went to Crosus, the pawnbroker, to get a loan. Crosus said, "I'll give you 100,000 dinars for it."

"But I paid a million dinars for it," the King protested. "Don't you know who I am? I am the king!"

Crosus replied, "When you wish to pawn a Star, makes no difference who you are."

 

Proof Of My Scots Blood...

...their weird, I'm weird.

They live in a pretty cold place, but use virtually the same amout of heating fuels as people in the more temperate England. My wife accuses me of keeping the house at a level where we could do away with the 'frig. But I don't have open air clothing on the lower part of my body, either.


This scotsman has nothing better to do than declare himself a "mulletologist" (for the nasty haircut) and visit places with the word in its name. I have a statue of Superman dating back to the 1980's...well, you get the idea.

 

More Bad Science Reporting

Experiments are currently being conducted to detect and measure radiacitve decay that is believed to supply at least half of the heating that goes on at the earth's core. The NYTimes reports on it in a fashion that creates more questions than answers.
The baby oil and benzene detector lies two-thirds of a mile below the Japanese island of Honshu in the Kamioka zinc mine. It recorded flashes caused by ghostly particles called neutrinos, which were produced by the radioactive decay of uranium and thorium deep in the heart of the Earth as they shot up through the ground and the detector.
Fair enough -- it's a glorifed cloud chamber. But later in the article they say this
Neutrinos, which travel almost at the speed of light and can pass gracefully through miles of lead or the entire Earth without interacting with it, were first detected streaming from a nuclear reactor in 1956.
Which says, essentially, that the detector is going to detect neutrinos from every source everwhere. Think about this -- if neutrinos do not interact with earth or lead, then all the neutrinos emitted by the nuclear power plants around the globe will also be detected -- likely those of extraterristial origin as well. So how did they tell which ones came from reactions in the planet's core as opposed to somewhere else?

My guess is they did it based on trajectory, but don't you just hate it when a story leaves such gapping holes, and doesn't even acknolwedge them.

 

The Worst Job In The World

Dairy Air: Scientists Measure Cow Gas

Trust me, I know about this, in college I participated in a study to determine the fertilizer value in cow effluents.

 

Unbelievably Stupid

The Ohio man was nabbed yesterday morning for "abusing harmful intoxicants" as he attempted to make a purchase at Bellaire's Dollar General Store. The 41-year-old Tribett, it seems, had been huffing spray paint and needed a refill.
How do you think they caught him? Anbody?...Buehler?...Buehler?

 

Mutual Exclusivity

Researchers at Imperial College London developed a mathematical formula and modeled courtship as a sequential game to find the best way to impress the ladies.
Trust me on this -- "mathematical formula" and "impress the ladies" cannot exist in the same sentence compatably.

 

If Only I Had Known...

...I'd have entered -- I'd be a shoe-in.

N.D. Man Wins Annual Bad-Writing Contest

Thursday, July 28, 2005

 

Justice And The Law

Eternal Perspectives had what I consider to be a remarkable post yesterday. He takes on the age old question of the place of the Law in New Testament life. If you have studied much, nothing he says is revelatory, but how he says it may be the clearest and most concise I have read in a very long time. This post is mandatory reading for anyone that acts like God's grace is license to "kill."

I want to focus on one specific paragraph from that post. Something that Mike almost throws away.
It is obvious throughout the Bible that God's ultimate priorities are not always what we would have them to be. Whereas we might question the justice of such a practice, God is not chiefly concerned with social reform. This is not to suggest that social justice and equality are not priorities, only that they do not appear to be His highest priorities.
First of all, and just to take a poke at Mike -- for a man that claims to be an Arminian, that is one of the most Calvinist statements I have ever read.

I agree with Mike that the Bible makes this point obvious, but I am not sure many people today would agree. That paragraph deserves a strong Biblical justification. Would that my trip prep permitted me the opportunity to do it, but alas. Therefore, I want to throw that out there as a challenge to the blogosphere.

Needless to say, the ramifications of the statement are manifold. For starters what does that statement say about your church's ministry and mission priorities and goals? Or those of your personal life? How do we keep social reform in the proper perspective in our mission and ministry?

Then we need to stack that statement up against the recent writings of Ron Sider and Jim Wallis, and their ilk.

I would love to see this be a major discussion, because I think it is very important. Due to my travels(which begin this weekend), my blog reading will be highly curtailed, if you choose to tackle any of this -- please send me an email When I get back, I'll try and post links to all of it.

 

Blogging History

The Wall Street Journal's, OpinionJournal daily post called "Best Of The Web Today" does not define itself as a blog, but the distinction it makes is minor -- for all intents and purposes it is a blog, it's the uberblog. It is five-years-old today.

To celebrate, Taranto is looking back at the those five years. I think it a very important read to understand this medium, even for those not in the political end of the medium where BOTW is squarely planted.

While my content is quite different, in my short time blogging, if there is anything I emulate, it is BOTW. The consistency, the mix of links and original content is all stuff I really admire.

Happy Birthday BOTW!

 

Some One Needs To Teach Politicians How To Apologize!

How many times have we heard non-apology apologies out of public figures? Don't you long to hear, "You know, I screwed up -- I'll do better next time." I'd probabaly vote for that soul every time.

We reported on the highly distasteful and problematic appearance of the Pennsylvania Lt. Governor at a sodlier's funeral earlier this week. Well, according to Blackfive, she has now given an insiffucient apology.

I still think an apology, even one far better than the one she gave, is insufficient. Her behavior shows such a lack of understanding of her role and the role of the military as to disqualify her from office.

 

Illuminated Scripture


 

This Just Honks Me Off

Apparently the Russians have magnanimously agreed to work to destroy their arsenal of chemical weapons.
Russia says it will fund on its own a program to destroy the country's chemical weapons stockpile, amid complaints that the United States has not provided sufficient help to carry out the task....

...Moscow has previously argued that it would need $5-6 billion for the liquidation of its chemical arsenal and has asked the West to provide money for seven facilities to dispose of the weapons.
They built the things - threatening the entire world - and they want us to pay them to destroy them? We are already paying to destroy our own. The border to blackmail is a fine line....

 

The Christian Carnival Rides Again

And you can read it all right here at Daddypundit! Looks good to me.

 

Character Tells The Tail

Still believe OJ SImpson's not a murderer? We now know he's a theif.
A federal judge has ordered former football star O.J. Simpson to pay $25,000 in damages for pirating satellite television signals from DirecTV.
I honestly did not think this guy's image could get any more tarnish on it and yet he found a way. Like he cannot afford the $50/month -- that's just low, not as low as murdering your ex-wife, but low, and completely class-less.

 

IMPOSSIBLE

Gamma rays the likely cause of mass extinctions

Everybody knows what happens with gamma ray exposure, and it's not mass extinction.

(All the science I learned, I learned from comics -- it's true, I'm the first person in history to pass physical chemistry using "The Incredible Hulk" as a text)

 

News Of The Weird

The world is full of the strange and the bizarre

There is a swearing parrot...


...a crab that is ugly even by crab standards...


...and a scotsman swearing off of his kilt.

Next thing you know and germasn will quite drinking beer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

 

Theology Matters

Adrian Warnock is wondering with Pyromaniac if evangelicalism is dying, but Adrian is wondering if it is at the hands of friends. (Look at that! - both linked in one post again.)

Phil is looking at cultural stuff while Adrian is looking at some theological stuff, which is where I am going first. Adrian performs this examination by linking to papers recently presented at a symposium sponsored by the Evangelical Alliance on penal substitution. I really wish my schedule permitted me to go through these papers in the depth that I would like, but alas, I am preparing for a European tour and must comment only briefly.

Adrain says in his post:
Suddenly, it seems that we are all one big happy family willing to work alongside each other for the sake of the gospel. The trouble is without a penal substitution I cannot see how there is much of a gospel to work together for.
Based on my run through of the material, I have to agree that there is so little commonality in approach that attempting familial relations is little more than wishful thinking.

It is clear from reviewing the material that the differing sides on the issue play by entirely different sets of rules regarding hermeneutics and exegesis. Both sides arguing that the other is bending the rules to get the results they want. The only problem with that is that the pro-penal substitution side is using the rules that have been applied for centuries -- so if anyone is to be charged with making it up as they go it has to be the anti-penal substitution side.

Maybe it's my own bias' poking through, but I find the anti-penal substitution arguments completely unconvincing. I've heard them all before, and because they use hermeneutical rules that I do not agree with, they sound desperate to me. In essence they all use extra-biblical materials as a part of the hermeneutic -- they also make assumptions about the character of God with which I cannot agree.

At the heart of all the anti-penal substitution agreements lies one assertion that baffles me -- that love and punishment are somehow mutually exclusive. This causes them to, in large part, reject virtually all of the Old Testament. I have a very hard time thinking that the character of God would be subject to such radical shifts in nature -- were it true it would reduce God to something akin to a god of mythology -- more superhero than omniscient. omnipresent, omnipotent creator and ruler of the universe.

But here is the real question -- Theology is, after all, a fairly esoteric undertaking. I know a pastor that preached his anti-penal substitution views recently and left his congregation napping. Does theology matter? The answer is unequivocally - YES! While the average congregant my not read or even care about these questions, the answers adopted by the church matter because of what then happens in the church.

This is where Pyromaniacs cultural examinations are so important. The faddishness that he has been pointing out and piercing these last couple of weeks is precisely what results when these things happen. When you start permitting extra-biblical materials in your hermeneutics then all kinds of things come into play in the church that were previously unconsidered -- marketing being a prime example. All the questions surrounding homosexuality in the church flow from this same issue.

We cross a dangerous line when we stop asking what the Bible is telling us and start "interpreting" the Bible. All that said, the other question is, "Is it worth arguing over?"

I am very ambivalent about that question. I think the answer depends on context. As Phil has been discussing, the term "evangelical" has come to be virtually meaningless -- so I not sure it is worth arguing over whether evangelicals are pro- or anti- penal substitution. As I said a while ago, in a culture that permits religious pluralism, there will always be groups that operate out in the nether regions of a religion. Within the context of a given institution, it may well be worth arguing because the ramifications for the future course of that institution are staggering.

 

Serious, Ugly Business

Heidi Metcalf at Commpon Grounds Online is doing a five-parter on human traffiking -- read slavery. This pracitce most of us thought long extinguished, is alive and well, and has horrible as ever, if not more so.

Here is part one and here is part two. This is important stuff -- sounds like a genuine mission field to me.

 

What Some People Won't Do

This is a pretty typical anti-war screed. So why am I linking to it? This paragraph
While there hasn't been much information forthcoming so far, the Army has also launched a criminal investigation into the deaths of Captain Phillip Esposito and 1st Lieutenant Louis Allen, who were assigned to the 42nd Infantry Division, New York Army National Guard, as company commander and executive officer respectively. In this case, the assailant is not clear-cut. The killings happened, however, in Forward Operating Base Danger, near Tikrit, where command errors and missions beyond the wire in general are sure to be fraught with danger - even as support for the war among the troops, National Guard troops in this case, is falling.
Let me summarize that paragraph in a sentence for you, "I don't know anything about the situation, but I am going to assert that it was a bad morale fragging just because I can."

Well, this blog has followed the story surrounding the killing of CAPT Espisito and LT Allen pretty closely and regular readers will remember that we too speculated on what was going on. The difference is that our speculation is based in actual available information and not simply an assertion designed to suit our needs.

Simply put, there is no evidence whatsoever that the murder of Esposito and Allen was anything other than your good old garden variety murder for profit and it had nothing to do with bad officers or morale problems.

Geez I'm tired of this stuff. It's one thing to disagree with the war, but to cite reasons fabricated from whole cloth is just galling.

 

Greenpeace Fails At Math

But then that is not terribly surprising, is it? The idjits of environmental activism are suggesting we buy our copies of Harry Potter from Canada, because they use recycled paper. Tech Central Station is showing how completely idiotic the suggestion truly is. For example
Bulk transport is undoubtedly more fuel efficient than piecemeal. So our bearded loons are actually suggesting that instead of buying a book from the mountain inside every bookshop in the country, it would be better for a three pound brick of paper to be sent individually from another nation. Genius, eh?
Those multi-variant ecological models are so complex -- it's better just to hug the trees.

Thsi, ny the way, is the classic example of why I oppose any sort of Christian environmental movement. The questions one must deal with in environmental matters are questions that the church simply does not have the tools to answer.

 

And You Thought I Was Kidding...

...yesterday when I said I wanted to take the role of the Anti-Christ in Left Behind Games. Well, guess again
Another major factor is the unveiling of the first PC release from Left Behind Games, which will translate content from a 13-volume book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins that has sold more than 63 million copies.

"Left Behind: Eternal Forces" is a real-time strategy game set in New York during the End of Days, which will allow gamers to choose between the angelic Tribulation Forces and the demonic Global Community Peacekeepers in a multiplayer online mode. The game is set to ship before Easter.

Left Behind CEO Troy Lyndon said the books have a diverse loyal reader base of more than 10 million parents, single adults, teens and kids. He said the company, which was founded in October 2001, will invest more money and resources into its first game than any Christian game has ever seen. Lyndon also said his games will be sold at Wal-Mart, which accounts for about 25% of all game sales.
I need a shower!

 

Don't Ask -- Don't Tell

Seems that, according to Al Mohler, is the policy of the Anglican church when it comes to "civil partnerships" and it's ordained clergy.
The Church of England is trying its best to avoid achieving a clear position on the issue of homosexuality, even for clergy. Yesterday, the church's House of Bishops found itself publicly embarrassed by its own statements, even as it attempted to clarify whether ordained ministers of the Church of England could enter into homosexual "civil partnerships."

The statement instructs ministers who enter into such partnerships to inform their bishop, and warns that they may be asked questions. The Church of England's standing policy ? often ignored by church authorities, according to conservatives ? is that homosexual ministers must be sexually celibate.
Of course, two men would choose to live together in such a parttnership because they weren't having sex. I should have known -- how silly of me.

I need another shower.

 

Willard Lives!

"Monster mice" are eating three-foot-high albatross chicks alive, threatening rare bird species on a remote south Atlantic island seen as the world's most important seabird colony.
All we need on that island is a creepy guy with no friends -- and Michael Jackson can sing the song!

Double Whammy -- Back to the Showers.

 

The Best of Pravda

AH, THE GOOD 'OL DAYS

The ideological alibi of the bourgeois economists

I honestly thought such rhetoric was completely dead, it's quaint to see it in print. Warms this proletariat heart. (snicker, smirk)

WHAT WILL THEY THINK OF NEXT

Man avoids criminal penalty with the help of sex change operation

I'd rather do the time, a lesser penalty. I just hope is crime was more significant than this.

THERE'S BRAGGING AND THEN THERE IS PRAVDA

Another perpetual motor built in Russia

Oh no, it's not enough that they built a perpetual motion machine -- something that has illuded mankind for it's entire existence -- no, they had to build another one.

You know, when I get there in a few weeks, I am going to ask everyone I see on the street reading Pravda if they believe what they read. I'm thinking that in a few short days, continuing just with those answering in the positive, I can make a fortune selling Flordia swamp land.

 

Busted

Roy Williams, 46, from East Grinstead, Sussex, was captured by hidden cameras urinating into a vase and pouring it into the water tank at a Surrey house.
If you're going to scam your customers, you best not get caught on tape.

 

For What?

Canadian lab to test "sasquatch" hair

Why and what for? Tensile strength? -- see if it's a good building material. No that's not it, they are going to test for tangles and see if they need to distribute conditioner in the woods.

 

Bow Before The Supreme One

I am nerdier than 91% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

My score probabaly rose by posting this -- God help me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

 

Why?

Tim Challies has done some amazing research indicating that Rick Warren has used his influence in the publishing industry to kill a a book about marketing that used PDL as an example. It's quite the read and it asks the essential question -- Why? Tim's conclusion:
But why does Warren fear this book? From all I could find, Stielstra has never written anything negative about Rick Warren or The Purpose Driven Life. If anything, he has praised both the book and the author and appears to respect Rick Warren as a pastor and as a church leader. After two rounds of changes that were subsequently approved by Warren's agent it seems clear that the book will be likewise positive in tone. What would cause a person to knowingly risk interfering with a contract made between two other parties? Based on the comments made by his representatives, it would seem that the explanation lies in Warren's fear that his critics will misinterpret the book and twist Stielstra's words to prove that Warren is not a pastor, but a marketer. He feels that people will come to view The Purpose Driven Life as a marketing success rather than a ministry success.
Warren has been working pretty hard lately to specifically state that the success of Saddleback does not lie in marketing, but in ministry. The fundamental question I have is why would Warren have this fear? Is he really a huckster and revelations to that effect are against his best interest?

Alternately, he may believe that what he is doing and has done is genuine ministry and such revelation will hurt the ministry. But to my way of thinking genuine ministry will win out regardless. If what he is doing is absolutely genuine ministry, what is there to fear?

Not knowing Warren or his organization, I lack the information to really know the motivations behind the actions -- but the actions are damning. It is clear that the success of PDL lays in marketing, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and frankly this level of success demands intention, if not on Warren's part, then on the part of those in his organization. Further, efforts to guard the revelation of the role marketing has played in that success, whether intentional or unintentional, points even more to to the importance placed by the organization on image -- a close relative and key component of marketing -- which really gives me pause.

If they believe in what they are doing, then they should not fear revelation, which leaves only the huckster option. Now, I doubt anyone set out to be a huckster, but they seem to have ended up there, not out of evil intent, but because success breeds the fear of failure.

Let me explain what I mean by that. If the Saddleback and PDL ministries fail somehow, there is much at risk. The faithful will be disillusioned, and people, in this case many people, will be put out of work. Herein lies the ultimate trap of the mega-movement. It's very size forces ethical considerations on it's practioners that I am not sure Jesus ever intented His church to confront.

As Paul point out in I Corinithians
But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.
At this point, virtually anything that happens in this issue will "hinder the gospel." Either because PDL will be shown as hucksterish or because sincere peope will be hurt in an effort to straighten the mess out.

I don't think God ever meant His institutions to get too monolithic and those whose visions are such are generally looking in the wrong places for inspiration. Such monolithic power leads to too many problems that hinder the gospel.

 

"Support The Soldiers, But Not The War" -- It's A Lie!

Here's some examples.

First there is this, courtesy of Captain's Quarter's
American flags, lining the lawn of the mother- and father-in-law of fallen U.S. Army Pfc. Timothy Hines Jr., were heaped in a pile early Saturday and burned under a car parked in front of the home - less than 24 hours after Hines was buried in Cincinnati's Spring Grove Cemetery
I am not sure what punishment these "vandals" deserve, but the usual fine and restitution for vandalism just is not going to cover it.

ThenHoly Coast turned me on to this little goody:
When the family of Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich gathered in Pittsburgh for the fallen Marine's funeral, they expected a large crowd ? after all, they've lived in the area for generations and Joseph had been a police officer before becoming a leatherneck ? but they didn't expect to see Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor show up, hand out her business card and tell them "our government" opposes the war.
The first story could at least be attributed to youthful indescretion, but this, coming from a reasonably high elected official may be oneof the more disgusting things I have ever read -- worthy of my "Edge Of Taste" feature.

Apparently, the Lt Gov.'s boss is going to apologize on her behalf. Blackfive, who led me to the apology story, also point, to Michelle Malkin, who states plainly
This is not enough. Where the hell is Knoll to apologize publicly to the family and explain her noxious behavior?
Malkin is right that it is not enough, but I am not sure a personal appearance with appropriate crow-consumption by the Pennsylvania governor light is enough. Behavior this aggregious, and with this lack of understanding of what it means to serve one's country, should be sufficient as to disqualify one for elected service.

An elected office carries with it many responsibilites -- among them is the responsibility to recognize the sacrifice of those that serve the state and the nation in position of far less glory and far less renumeration. The glory of elected office rests wholly on the work of the civil servant -- most especially the military civil servant. This woman was more than tasteless -- she fails to have a fundamental grasp of the responsibilities and duties of her office, and as such is not qualified to hold it.

I don't know, but I doubt the Pensylvania state constitution provides for recall, though I have never met a better reason for one. The woman has committed no crime so impeachment is not an option. Any other ideas?

Clearly the opposition to our military efforts in Iraq are becoming more desparate and more shrill. That, in the final analysis is a good thing, but in the end, as we are treated to these increasingly tasteless and infantile demonstrations, I have a hard time holding down my meals.

 

Chimeras - A Serious Look

I made a lame joke a couple of weeks ago about recent investigation into putting human brain cells into monkeys. Evangelical Outpost is taking a serious look with two posts -- here and here.

In his concluding paragrpah, Joe offers the most stunning arguement against the "humans and animals are the same" nonesense I have ever read.
If it is considered morally acceptable to experiment on monkeys then why should we not also experiment on human infants? If all animals are equal and some animals (i.e., a 3-year old ape) are more equal than others (i.e., a 3-day old human) then the definition of ?animal experimentation? could be broadly expanded. And this is where the true danger lies. In a Christian worldview our biggest concern would be for the care and dignity of using primates for research. Under the secular (Singerian?) worldview we must safeguard against experimenting on our own children.
People who argue for radical equality in any field disregard that such efforts do not raise up the lowly without also knocking down the high. I, for one, do not wish to give up my perch high atop creation.

 

How Come This Has Not Generated More Discussion?

SmartChristian had what I found to be a fanscinating post last Sauturday. -- ADDRESSING "I FOLLOW" CHRISTIAN BLOGGING. Dr. AJ is reflecting on I Cor 1:10-16 and says in part:
We all need to allow Paul's words to the Corinthians help us reevaluate how we blog. If we are not careful, it is very easy for Christian bloggers to become "identified" by which Christian leaders or preachers or teachers they declare their allegiance.

Does your blog loudly and publicly declare "I follow John Piper, Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, John MacArthur, or R.C. Sproul?" I could easily name others.
Dr. AJ then goes on to suggest 4 basic rules for blogging to avoid the kind of thing that I Corinthians addresses -- they all sound like good advice to me. This post is recommended reading.

Frankly, I am surprized this post has not generated more discussion. There are several comments I would have expected. For one, I will say that I have read all of the exampels he cites and blogged about something thay have all said. I resonate with Piper and Sproul pretty heavily, but I would never proclaim myself as "of" them, so I guess I am not guilty of the problem Dr. AJ discusses, or am I? Where is that line?

The second line of discussion I would expect would concerning "leading" bloggers. Most of the prevalent Christian bloggers have little mini-congregations -- daily commentors, regular readers, whatever you want to call them. At what point do those of us a little farther down the Blogdom list become synchophantic to the more prominent blogs?

What's the difference between being "of" and "inspiried by" a given leader/preacher/teacher? I have read more C.S. Lewis than any other author ever -- including in the technical field in which I am trained. Am I "of" Lewis? I would make no such claim, but when you have read as much of it as I have, you have to wonder.

Those questions laid out, there is one guideline I would add To Dr. AJ's original 4 -- Read Widely. If not blogs, then books. There is nothing wrong with having a favorite author, but read other authors. Whatever Christian author your read, read in light of Scripture. Bathe yourself in Scripture, make it so much a part of your being that weighing whatever you read against it is automatic. I am absolutely delighted whenever I read an author make a point and get to his/her supporting scripture before they do, or when I instantly think of scriptural refutation.

I think this is a very interesting discussion -- who influences you most? And how do you know it stops at influence?

 

Why Dick Gephardt Was A Non-Player In The Last Election

4 Major Unions Plan to Boycott A.F.L.-C.I.O. Event


The Democrat Party as we have known it is dying rapidly. Unions were one of the major constituencies -- and they are going the way of the dinosaur. Things are about to get very interesting.

 

Quick Thoughts...

...on some interesting scriptures that came up in church Sunday.
Matt 17:19-20 - Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you.
"Why isn't my church growing?" -- "Because of the littleness of your faith." Maybe when we ask questions about how to accomplish things like church growth, we should begin with self-examination -- not a strategic plan. Just a thought
I John 4:10 - In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Maybe all those praise choruses about how much we love God ought to be about how much God loves us? Just a thought.

 

From the Edge of Taste...

...literally.

This is about not such good things to eat.

This is about the aftermath.

Tasty!

 

Gotta Get Me One Of These

This is no special effect -- this is an elaborate and expensive toy -- yours, or more hopefully mine, for a mere $43,000. Unfortunately it only does about 1 mph -- so it'd be pointless for commuting -- but then I could rewire it!?

 

How Do They Know It's The Pigs?

Woman Convicted Because of Pet Pigs' Odor

 

Truly Insulting "Study"

Stressed-out worms die young, study finds

And what useful conclusion am I supposed to draw from this? Like what it takes to stress a worm has anything whatsoever to do with what it takes to stress me?! Call me after the worm has a job.

 

I Wanna Play!

Boar's Head Tavern, Left Behind Games Join Forces To Glorify God Through Christian Gaming

Can I adopt the role of the Anti-Christ? (If you're gonna play -- whay not have some fun!)

 

The Uncanny X-Cats

This silly story about the cat's tongue's inability to detect sweet has been all over the Internet. But FOXNews wins the headline contest:

Study: Mutant Gene Means Cats Can't Taste Sweets

I guess I'll have to send my cats to Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters.

 

Inside Science

This from the Beeb
An investigation is under way into the cause of a major fish kill in the River Roe near Limavady.
Back in my collegiate lab worker days, I participated in such a fish kill investigation. My role? -- Find out if there were any toxic materials present in the dead fish.

Know how it's done? Get yourself a bass-o-matic, make a dead fish smoothie and get busy testing. It was a hoot.

Monday, July 25, 2005

 

What A Great Insight

Michael Spencer, wrote a very interesting exegete of I Corithians 14 over the weekend. As is typical with the IMonk, he is quite direct and to his point.

Like Michael, I have spent a lot of time in that particular chapter and the ones surrounding it -- mostly in response to some very negative experiences I had with the phenomena of glossalia in my youth.

In the essay, Michael makes a parallel that has long itched at the back of my brain. That parallel is between the ecstatic, public glossalia utterances of the Corinthian church and the ecstatic nature of the music heavy, entertainment oriented, worship service practised by increasingly more churches today.

I think the heart of the parallel lies in this quote from IMonk's essay
Paul is, in fact, concerned that Christian worship will appear insane if ecstatic utterance, or chaotic individualism in general, were to prevail. This is an amazing statement. It says that the Corinthians were producing something that was unintelligible either as cultural religion or as Christian experience. It simply appeared insane.
The gospel will always appear as "foolish" to the world at large, but I think Michael is talking about something very different here. We live in a society, with its empahsis on religious freedom, that honors in some fashion the "genuine" faith of Muslim fanatics that kill innocents, but readily ridicules what is passing for Christian religiouslity these days. It's easy to say that such perception is rooted in the falleness of the world, but I also think it says a lot about the state of Christianity these days.

Think about the insanity defense in criminal cases -- it relies on one simple distinction -- did the accused understand the offense and the potential consequences thereof. Certainly in the case of the 9-11 perpetrators, they understood fully what they were doing and why -- it was a "sane," if abhorently evil, act. Signs are now that the London actors may have been duped, which is a sign of increasing weakness for the fanatics, but that is a side issue. Remember the views of Bill Maher.

Conversely, much of what is passing for Christian practice today, appears random and without understanding, or at a minimum appears to be motivated no differently than secular actions. If a religion claims the world is wrong, but acts just like it, does that not reveal a certain lack of understanding of ones actions? -- A certain insanity? In some ways, I think this is the point that Pyromaniac is making in his series on the "collapse" of evangelicalism.

So, we have the parallel of ecstacy. How do we fix it? The answer lies in the test IMonk examines:
1 Corinthians 14:3-4 - On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.
We need to emphasize the self-denial that is at the heart of true Christian faith. It is not about us. Here is where I begin to part company with Michael a little in this essay. He talks about the need for order and authority, and seems to vest that in the congregation and denomination. I would skip that and vest such order and authority directly in God.

While it is true that if everybody starts claiming direct heavenly authority, chaos might result, but I don't think so. I think that if we emphasize the essential gospel message of self-denial - confession, repentance, "holding others as more important than ourselves," seeking God's will - then the worldly authorities operating in God's name will fall into proper perspective, as instruments to achieve God's ends, not a repository of authority as they are generally viewed. The insistence on such authority created as many abuses as the current trends, and those abuses are largely responsible for the over-reaction and problems we see today.

Al Mohler posted part of AW Tozier's "Preachers Prayer" yesterday -- it just seems appropos to this discussion.

The heart of the gospel is that God makes us better, but He only does so when we realise how bad we really are. Proclaiming the good news must include the conviction of sinfulness. Herein lies the answer to the problems described.

 

Can't Win

The London Police acted decisively and now they are in the position of having to defend themselves.
London's police commissioner expressed regret Sunday for the slaying of a Brazilian electrician by officers who mistook him for a suspect in the recent terror bombings, but he defended a police shoot-to-kill policy as "the only way" to stop would-be suicide bombers.
The phrase "War on Terror" is being hotly debated, and has been for some time. There are two essential questions in the debate, one concerns the word "war" and the other concerns a proper identification of the enemy. I want to address the first question.

The word "war" carries with it a number of implications. Chief among them is that there may be ramifications for the "home front." In wars past, there was rationing, women having to take men's jobs, sons and husbands lost forever, adjustments to government expenditures forfeiting some domestic benefits, and collateral damage. How much would these ramifications be amplified if the war front and the home front are the same?

So, in my mind those that argue against the use of the term "war" argue that they do not want to bear the price. They say in essence, "I was not hurt by the terrorist action, why should I be forced to bear those ramifications?" Those who argue against the term war are, in the end, selfish, childish, spoiled little brats that want to play in their room and let the world revolve around them.

It is tragic, truly tragic that someone apparently unrelated to the recent incidents was killed in this war. It cannot; however, be claimed that he was an "innocent" for an "innocent" would have followed the police directions. And further, tragic though the death of this one man may be, it is 50 time less tragic than what happened on 7/7. At a minimum there should be 50 times the outcry at the bombers as there is at the London Police commissioner.

Here is all I ask -- if you are one of those that do not want to pay the price for this "war," then please stay out of our way. We have for years paid our taxes and supported programs at public expense to support people such as yourselves, and certainly without the vitriol and derisiveness that you seem so willing to banty about these days.

All we ask of you is the same. Disagree if you must, but be civil and honor the good intentions of your opposition. Debate, but do not hinder. Minimize your personal cost if you must, but please for the sake of the dead, give those of us willing to make the sacrifices the opportunity to do so in peace, and allow us to pursue our goals with earnestness.

It is simply perverse to turn the efforts of those that are doing their absolute best to save your life into some sort of crime. At this point, gratitude is not even necessary, simply staying out of the way is sufficient.

 

Pollution...

AHHH...SWEET REASON

People don't think much about environmental issues, really -- they are apple pie. It plays on fear of the unknown -- many environmental "issues" are simply about scaring people, and then profiting from the fear. Most issues are not nearly as bad as people think, and are far more easily mitigated than most imagine. Here's an example.
The latest evidence that the government may be increasingly willing to pursue these lawyers comes in the bankruptcy of a company overwhelmed by asbestos claims. Recently filed court documents show that federal prosecutors in Manhattan may have begun to investigate the conduct of three law firms.

The documents - which surfaced in the bankruptcy case of G-1 Holdings, formerly the GAF Corporation, a manufacturer of roofing material - show that lawyers for G-1 have met with prosecutors from the United States attorney's office in Manhattan in recent months. The documents also show that the company's lawyers have turned over records of extensive interviews with former employees of the three plaintiffs' firms in which some employees described coaching potential claimants and noted efforts to influence doctors' diagnoses.
Lawyers using "environmental fears" to extort money from "deep pockets" -- whodda thunk?

NAW -- IT'S NOT ABOUT MONEY

The oil industry has agreed to contribute $2 billion to help clean up spills of a gasoline additive that is fouling groundwater in exchange for immunity protection against dozens of lawsuits, people close to the negotiations said.
Funny how these things always come down to a negotiation.

NOT THAT SMART

I am always amazed at how environmentalists can get so wrapped up in the issue that they put the issue ahead of the reality. Here is a couple of interesting examples from Cheat-Seeking Missles and CNS News.

HOW DARE YOU QUESTION A SCIENTIST

This just made me laugh
Top scientists have reacted angrily to a US Congressman who has demanded to see the full financial and research records of three climate experts.
It's a very legitimate question to ask if we are going to use their work to create policy on a global scale.

NOW WHY WOULD THEY DO THIS?

Engineers have developed the guts of a small-scale windmill that could one day help power individual homes.
Remember when cable TV did away with the great visual blight of antenna forests? Now we get to replace them with digital satellite dishes and windmills - lovely!

AND THE ENVIRONMENT IS GETTING WORSE


Americans have lower levels of lead, secondhand-smoke byproducts and other potentially dangerous substances in their bodies than they did a decade ago, according to perhaps the most extensive government study ever of exposure to environmental chemicals.
But still we must fight because I work for Greepeace and would not have a job if we didn't!

 

A Major Accomplishment

Armstrong Ends Career With 7th Tour Win

This is one of those records of human accomplishment that will stand for a very, very long time. It is an amazing feat. Congratulations are in order.

But why is it that everytime someone does something like this, I wonder about the rest of their lives?

 

The Sport Of Very Tiny Champions

Minature Golf I love the game -- it's a hoot. I wasted enormous hours at dollar night when I was in high school (we called ourselves the "Master Putters" - you figure it out) but people who take it as seriously as those in the story? Well, let's just say that it is proof that we live in a land of enormous plenty and leave it at that.

 

Creative Con

It's a crime, but it's original
An Italian couple stole 50,000 euros from a woman in the Sicilian city of Palermo after convincing her they were vampires who would impregnate her with the son of the Anti-Christ if she did not pay them.

The man, a cabaret singer, and his girlfriend took the money from their victim over four years by selling her pills at 3,000 euros each that they said would abort the Anti-Christ's son.
I am unsure what is more criminal, the con, or being dumb enough to fall for it. Everyone knows there is no pill to abort the Anti-Christ's baby -- you need a surgeon, a priest, a Mohel and garlic. Come one, get real.

 

Scarred For Life

If they took videos of this delivery, the kid will never live them down.
The couple, Leah and Richard Robles Jr., said they spent five hours at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital on July 9 but went home after they were told she was not ready to deliver. Fifty minutes after arriving home, Leah had the baby in the toilet after feeling the urge to use the restroom.

The baby, Richard Robles III, is healthy.
Imagine the nicknames! I won't repeat them here but I am laughing at them already and I feel sorry for the kid. Forget the videos -- all evidence of this story needs to be destroyed ASAP, save this poor child from a life of ridicule and harassment.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

 

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful...

...Not when you can hate me simply because I am not you. Now Al-Queada has killed near 100 in Egypt. I know, old news by now, but the analysis is just starting to roll in.

Sheep's Crib links to a couple of typically excellent Victor David Hansen pieces on the GWOT in general that lays out some of the serious concerns.

Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters points out that terrorism in Egypt is NOT because we invaded Iraq, putting the lie to that little bit of nonsense.

The Egypt thing just tells me this is beyond agendas -- it's just hatred. They're killing their own, for associating with "the other." What do they accomplish with this? In the end very little, save killing people.

Sometimes I wonder if it is not more than even hatred -- there is a perverse rationality to hatred -- sometimes I wonder if this is not just a pure love of killing. It cannot be pathology -- there are too many of them, and too many more that support them.

In the end, things like this cannot be analyzed, they simply must be made to act in a civil manner, or they must be destroyed. They are rapidly closing their options for the former, leaving only the later.

 

Great News From The Front Lines

Jack Army reports on encountering a souvenier stand in Iraq, and points out that nothing smells like freedom and prosperity than selling overpriced crap.

I am reminded of my trip to the Soviet Union in 1991. A kid on the corner was selling his brother air force officers cap, I'm betting the brother had a problem of some sort 'cause this was authentic - sweat stains, hand lettered name int eh top, all of it. Kid wanted $8 - "hard currency" meaning forget roubles, give me dollars. All I had was a ten, so I gave it to him, the kid kissed may hand and emptied his pockets of all the garbage he had -- rubber bands, toy compass, that kind of stuff. Apparently I'd tipped him a fortune. Jack's dead right on this one -- six months later the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

On another note, we have been following the story here at Blogotional of the murder of CAPT Phil Espisito in Iraq, apparently a craven act by an underling that was not hacking it. Anyway, I was heartened to come across this piece about a fund raiser in CAPT Espisito's hometown to raise money for his surviving wife and kids. Good people take care of their own -- obviously, this is a town of good people.

 

Sermons and Lessons

INTRODUCTION TO THE AUTHOR

John Wesley was one of nineteen children born to Samuel and Susanna Wesley. His father was an Anglican clergyman and his mother was devoted both to God and to her children. John attended Christ Church College at Oxford, was ordained an Anglican minister, and was made a Fellow of Lincoln College. While he was at Oxford, he and a group of friends banded together to encourage one another to live a holy life. Their methodical approach to holiness led others at the college to refer to them as ?Methodists.?

Although Wesley grew up a deeply religious man, something was lacking in his heart. On May 24, 1738, he attended a prayer meeting at which the leader read Luther?s preface to the book of Galatians. It was then, Wesley wrote, that he first understood that God loved him ? even him ? and the gospel became rooted in his heart. With his heart ?strangely warmed,? Wesley embarked on an unusual preaching ministry, especially to the common folk in the English countryside.

Historians have said that by evangelizing the common people of eighteenth-century England, Wesley saved the country from a bloody revolution. His impact upon England was dramatic during his lifetime, and even more dramatic on America after his death as many Methodist preachers crisscrossed the frontier with his message.

The following excerpts come from his famous work Christian Perfection. In that book, Wesley gives practical advice to those who want to move toward perfection, which for Wesley did not mean a state of sinlessness, but a desire to be fully in love with God with one?s whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.

EXCERPTS FROM CHRISTIAN PERFECTION

1. The Danger of Pride

The first advice I would give to those who have been saved from sin by grace is to watch and pray continually against pride. For it is pride not only to ascribe what we have to ourselves, but also to think we have what we do not. One man, for instance, ascribed his knowledge to God and was therefore humble. But then he thought he had more than everyone else which is dangerous pride.

We often think that we have no need of anyone else?s advice or reproof. Always remember - much grace does not imply much enlightenment. We may be wise but have little love, or we may have love with little wisdom. God has wisely joined us all together as the parts of a body so that we cannot say to another, ?1 have no need of you.?

Even to imagine that those who are not saved cannot teach you is a very great and serious mistake. Dominion is not found in grace. Not observing this has led some into many mistakes and certainly into pride. Beware even the appearance of pride! Let there be in you that lowly mind which was in Christ Jesus. Be clothed with humility. Let modesty appear in all your words and actions.

One way we do this is to own any fault we have. If you have at any time thought, spoken, or acted wrong, do not refrain from acknowledging it. Never dream that this will hurt the cause of God ? in fact, it will further it. Be open and honest when you are rebuked and do not seek to evade it or disguise it. Rather, let it appear just as it is and you will thereby not hinder but adorn the gospel.

2. The Danger of Enthusiasm

Also, beware of the daughter of pride: enthusiasm. By enthusiasm I mean the tendency to hastily ascribe everything to God, supposing dreams and voices and visions to be special revelations that God has given to you. While they may be from God, they may also be from the devil. Therefore, ?believe not every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they be of God.? Test all things by the written word of God, and let all bow down before it.

You are in danger of enthusiasm every time you depart even a little from the Scriptures. We must never depart from the plain meaning of Scripture, and we must always take it in the context in which it was written. But keep in mind that we must not despise reason, knowledge, or human learning, every one of which is a gift of God and was given to serve a purpose.

One general inlet to enthusiasm is expecting the end without the means: expecting knowledge, for instance, without searching the Scriptures and consulting with the people of God, or expecting spiritual strength without constant prayer and steady watchfulness, or expecting God to bless you without hearing the word of God at every opportunity.

Another inlet to enthusiasm may be the very desire to ?grow in grace.? For some people this will continually lead them to seek ?new? grace and thereby lead us to seek something other than new degrees of loving God and our neighbor. Some will think they have come upon a new grace when they have disĀ¬covered what it means to be ?one with Christ? or to ?die with Christ.? When we take a fresh teaching from the Scriptures to heart, we must not conclude that it is a ?new? gift. We have all of these things when we are justified; all that remains is that we experience them in higher degrees.

We should always remember that love is the highest gift of God. All of our revelations and gifts are little things compared to love. There is nothing higher in religion. If you are looking for anything else, you are looking wide of the mark. Settle in your heart that from this moment on you will aim at nothing more than that love described in the thirteenth chapter of I Corinthians. You can go no higher than this.

3. The Danger of Antinomianism, or Lawlessness

Third, I caution you to beware of antinomianism, which is the belief that there is no need for laws in the life of the believer. That great truth that ?Christ is the end of the law? may betray us into this belief if we do not consider that Christ himself adopted every point of the moral law! Beware of thinking, ?Because I have the love of God I do not need holiness,? or ?Since I pray all the time 1 have no need for set times of private prayer,? or ?Because I am spiritual I have no need for self-examination.?

Instead, let this be our thought: ?I prize thy commandments above gold or precious stones. 0, what love I have found in your laws! All the day long I will study in it.? We must beware of self-indulgence, or of mocking self-denial, fasting, or abstinence. We cannot cry out, ?Only believe, believe!? and call others ?legalists? who are trying to live as Scripture teaches. We must remember that ?by works our faith is made perfect.?

4. The Danger of Sins of Omission

Sins of omission are avoiding to do good of any kind when we have the opportunity. We must beware of these sins and, instead, be zealous of good works. Do all the good you possibly can to the bodies and souls of your neighbors. Be active. Give no place to laziness. Be always busy, losing no shred of time. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.

Also, be slow to speak. It is said, ?In a multitude of words sin abounds.? Try not to talk too much, or for a long period of time. Not many people can converse profitably beyond an hour?s time. Especially avoid pious ?chitchat? or religious gossip.

5. The Danger of Desiring Anything but God

Also, beware of desiring anything other than God. Jesus said, ?If your eye remains single your whole body shall be full of light.? Do not allow the desire for tasteful food or any other pleasure of the senses, the desire of pleasing the eye or the imagination, the desire for money or praise or power, to rule you. While you have the ability to feel these desires, you are not compelled to feel them. Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free!

Be an example to all of denying yourself and taking up your cross daily. Let others see that you are not interested in any pleasure that does not bring you nearer to God, nor regard any pain which does. Let them see that you simply aim at pleasing God in everything. Let the language of your heart sing out with regard to pleasure or pain, riches or poverty, honor or dishonor, ?All?s alike to me, so I in my Lord may live and die!?

6. The Danger of Schism

Beware of schism, of making a tear in the Church of Christ. Ceasing to have a reciprocal love ?for one another? (1 Cor. 12:25), is inner disunity which is at the very root of all outward separation. Beware of everything which leads to this separation. Beware of a dividing spirit.

Therefore, do not say, ?I am of Paul,? or ?I am of Apollos.? This is the very thing which caused the schism at Corinth. Do not say, ?This is my preacher, the best preacher in England. Give me him and you can have all the rest.? All this tends to breed division, to disunite those whom God has joined.

Do not despise or run down any preacher. Do not exalt anyone above the rest lest you hurt both him and the cause of God. Do not bear hard upon any preacher because of some inconsistency or inaccuracy of expression; no, not even for some mistake, even if you are right.

Do not even give a single thought of separating from your brethren, whether their opinions agree with yours or not. Just because someone does not agree with everything you say does not mean that they are sinning. Nor is this or that opinion essential to the work of God. Be patient with those who disagree with you. Do not condemn those who do not see things just as you do, or who think it is their duty to contradict you, whether in a great thing or a small.

0, beware of touchiness, of testiness, of an unwillingness to be corrected. Beware of being provoked to anger at the least criticism, and avoiding those who do not accept your word.

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