Monday, March 27, 2017

Muslim Covering of Women Isn't a Good Argument against Islam

The United States has become a cesspool as it relates to the covering of women.  However, the nakedness of women seems also to be a symbol of Americanism today as much as apple pie, kind of like the following, "Our women take their clothes off, and we're proud of it."  As this relates to Islam, we're not like those nasty Moslem countries that force their women to cover themselves either with the burqa or the hijab.  The hijab brings an American gag reflex and the burqa induces all out vomiting.  On the other hand, flag waving and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue now parallel one another.  The patriotism of this goes back to wartime pinups of women, I guess, to motivate these men to sacrifice themselves or at least to provide distraction from their fears or anxieties.

The hijab and burqa are distinguishing garments in Islam.  They reflect Moslem teaching on modesty for women.  They don't have identical rules for men, because they distinguish between men and women.  Is this good?  It's not wrong for sure.  You could argue from the Bible that it is right to do so.

As I think about what scripture says about female dress, the following is how I see these two articles of clothing.  One, the Bible doesn't require the hijab or the burqa.  Two, the Bible doesn't say that a woman would be superior or a better person or more moral because she wore a hijab or a burqa. Three, the Bible doesn't forbid the hijab or the burqa.  Four, there are similar principles in the Bible for the hijab or the burqa as there are in Islam.  Five, the biblical principles themselves don't require a hijab or burqa, but they do require something for women similar to the hijab or burqa.

I'm saying here that the hijab or burqa are not a good argument against Islam by Americans, either liberal or conservative.  Neither of these are forbidden in the United States.  Women can wear them if they want.  Men can't force women to wear them in the United States.  However, in European countries, those bastions of freedom and expression, that's what they want to outlaw.  They don't want the burqa or the burqini, the Moslem beachwear.

Permit me to digress for a moment.  I don't like the burqa as apparel.  It reflects a perverted belief and culture.  As a result, I attach the hijab to the burqa, because they both come from the same source.  I get a feeling of repulsion, looking at them, because I know from which they come.  If I can separate myself from the religious aspect, the hijab can look nice, feminine and modest.  As I tamp down the religious repulsion, as an item, I see it in a good way, because of the distinguishing nature of it.  The hijab looks attractive to me when I get past what I see it represent.  On the other hand, the burqa looks like something Cousin It would wear in the Addams Family.  It would look stylish maybe on a weeble.  I'm not for a hazmat suit as regular apparel.

I don't think that Muslim covering on women should enter the argument against Islam.  Why is it used?  There's nothing wrong with it.  You shouldn't use what's not wrong as an argument.  It presents a weak argument.  There is something right about it's underlying philosophy, distinction and modesty. I believe it is used as an argument because it's emotional.  Women will feel emotional about it.  Men want to look at women's bodies, so it works for them too.  If the burqa took off as a fashion, men wouldn't see anything except in the bedroom, and they don't want to wait for that.

The burqa argument also works in the matter of men and women's roles.  What makes America great is that our women are free and equal to men -- sure, after 1920.  Before that, women couldn't vote. Read the federalist and anti-federalist papers.  Women's vote didn't come up once in those books.  It wasn't even up for debate.  Big laughter from Jefferson, Adams, and Hamilton on the woman's vote. Are. you. kidding. me?

The cultural degradation of America follows a trajectory that matches the dress of women.  The more they dress like men and the more they take their clothes off, the more that things fall apart.  We're not better off from those activities.  This is the slouch or slide toward Gomorrah.

Masculine and immodest dress on women are not better for intimacy.  They are not better for solid marriages. They are not better for family cohesiveness. They are not better for family solidity.  They are not better for role accomplishment.  They are not better for protection for women from all sorts of crimes.  Women are not better off because they can dress like men and take more clothes off.

People feel more American for opposing the burqa and allowing for the shredding fad, allowing for big rips in clothing to see through.  Lingerie used to be bedroom wear alone, and now it is a regular feature of outer wear.  If we replaced all of the masculine, immodest dress on women with the burqa, we wouldn't be worse off.  I'm not arguing for either. If we're going to point the finger at one, we should be able to point the finger at the other, except that the burqa in and of itself isn't wrong.  Only women wear it and it is modest.  Obviously modest.  The only thing more modest are those moving blankets at UHaul, but not wrong.  What I'm saying is that we're wrong, and they're not wrong.  I'm not saying they're right, but they are at least not wrong.  We are wrong, and wrong in a big way.

The burqa isn't what destroys Moslem society.  They suffer for many other reasons.  We are not helping them by using lame and hypocritical arguments against their covering of women.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Use Tax, Sales Tax, the Bible, and Other Financial Matters

As tax day--April 15--is quickly coming upon us, I thought it was appropriate to remind readers of their specific Biblical obligation to pay all the tax (although not a penny more) that the government legally requires, even if, as in the Roman Empire, many of the things the government does with the money are wicked and foolish:

 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. 8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

 "Pay ye tribute also" and "Render . . . tribute" are not options, but commands.  This includes use tax.  Only c. 1.6% or so of Americans pay use tax, but probably close to 100% are supposed to.  If you buy anything online and are not charged sales tax, you are required to keep track of that purchase and report it on your state tax return.  (NOTE:  I am NOT a tax advisor and the information below is NOT official tax advice.  It has absolutely no official legal standing whatsoever but is an exhortation to obey Romans 13 and is thus speech protected by the First Amendment, rather than official tax advice.)

Examples Where You Need to Pay Use Tax

You go to an online retailer that does not have a branch in your state and you buy a book for $20.  You pay no sales tax on that book.  You are supposed to pay use tax on that book.  Let's say the use tax rate in your state is 5%.  Then you need to report $20 x 5% = $1 in use tax on your tax return.

You buy a large base package from Logos Bible Software for $4,000.  You pay no sales tax because Logos is not in your state.  If your use tax rate is 5%, you need to report $4,000 x 5% = $200 in use tax on your tax return.

Examples Where You Do Not Need to Pay Use Tax

You go to (or, better, so you can pay exactly the same price and give 0.5% to a good Baptist charitable organization).  You buy household supplies that cost $100.  You are charged sales tax on your purchase because has a facility in your state.  Since you were charged sales tax, you do not need to pay use tax.

You go to and buy a bike for your son.  You have the bike shipped to your local store and pay sales tax on the purchase because the store is in your state.  You do not need to pay use tax on this purchase because you paid sales tax.

What Should You Do?

Many readers of this post have probably never heard of use tax in their life.  Whether you have heard of it or not, Romans 13 teaches you should pay it.  You should keep track of everything you need to pay use tax on and pay it.  If you did not pay it in previous years you should amend your tax return and give extra money to the government, not so that it can waste your hard-earned money (which it will certainly do), but because God commands you to do this in Romans 13.  Find out what your use tax rate is online, with tax software, or with a tax advisor.  Start paying use tax yourself and also encourage other people you know to obey the law and pay use tax.  Not paying your taxes is a sin, and sin is what put the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.  Stop sinning and start paying use tax.

A few other financial things you should also consider doing:

1.) Make sure you don't just deduct your charitable donations but also other things you give to your church for the glory of God.  If you drive your car to go soulwinning, deduct the miles.  If you make food for a church fellowship meal, deduct the cost of the meal.  You are donating the food.  Don't give the government a penny more than you need to.

2.) If you don't have a Roth IRA, open one.  The government will pay you to save money in a Roth IRA depending on your income bracket, so you can get up to $1,000 simply for saving your money. Find out more on my website in the appropriate article on Biblical financial stewardship here. Furthermore, a poor person making a small salary can become a millionaire simply by investing in a Roth IRA.  How?  Illustration:  If an 18 year old invests $5,000 in a Roth IRA, and never touches the money again until he is 65, and makes about the average stock market rate of return (c. 9%) in that time, the $5,000 will have become more than $287,000.  Try plugging in some more numbers in the Roth IRA calculator on my website to get more information.  That is just $5,000 and some time.  The Christian mutual fund called the Eventide Gilead Fund has made an average rate of return of 13.58% since it was started in 2008, as of the time this post was written.  That same 18 year old who put his $5,000 in a Roth IRA at age 18 and made 13.58% until he was 65 would have over $1,986,000.  While past performance does not guarantee future results, do you see how a poor person can become a millionaire?

3.) Lay up more treasure in heaven by making sure that you are tithing (or, since we are under grace, not under the law, maybe giving double the tithe--20%--or more of your income) not just on your gross income, but also on your investment gains (and you can deduct investment losses).  If your 401k went from $100,000 to $150,000 this year, you have gained $50,000 that you should tithe on.  You should also tithe on the value of your health insurance premiums, etc. if those things are covered by your employer.  How much? The equivalent amount of what it would cost you if you had to pay for it out of pocket.

If you owe a lot of use tax (or do not tithe on your investments), whether you will obey God is a good test of whether you really believe Matthew 6:19-21:

 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

If you invest in a Roth IRA and become a millionaire, that will also test whether you believe Matthew 6:19-21.  God is blessing you financially as you make wise decisions for His glory so that you can be generous with what you have and lay up treasure in heaven.  Do not set your heart upon the money in your IRA, but set your affections on things above, not the things on this perishing earth.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Church Membership and the Marriage Covenant

Marriage is a covenant that cannot be dissolved by any human authority.  Jesus said in Matthew 19:6, "Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."  The condition of a marriage might not be good.  He or she or both might neglect, disobey, or fail, but the covenant of marriage is not broken by these.

Marriage isn't a contract.  Contracts are broken when one or more parties fails to keep its promise. Scripture compares a covenant to the ties between a parent and a child.  Isaiah 49:15-16 reads:
Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
Parents are committed unconditionally to their children, even when children misbehave.  In a marriage covenant, vows are exchanged "for better or worse."  In a contract, if one side doesn't follow through the obligation ends -- not in marriage, because marriage is a covenant.

Scripture compares church membership to the marriage covenant.  I'm writing this because I don't think most people think that way about the church.  Joining a church is not like joining a gym or a golf club.  Ephesians 5:23 says, "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church."  In Ephesians 5, you read how Christ sees that covenant from His end.  Verses 25 through 27 read:
Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
The covenant into which Christ entered results in His giving Himself and sanctifying and cleansing for the good of His bride.  Jesus isn't in it for Himself.  He's in it for us.  As the bride, we've entered into that covenant freely and voluntarily.  I'm sure that people don't often get what that means and don't see it as the same.

As you've read this so far, I'm guessing that some of you have a hard time with this idea, that is, that your church membership is like a marriage covenant.  When you read the New Testament epistles, that's how it reads.  This is why love of the brethren is such a big deal in 1 John.  It's why Jesus commands His disciples to love one another in John 15.

The marriage covenant changes the identity of two people.  There are now one flesh.  Everything they see, they now see through the perspective of the other.  In a church covenant, a member looks at His life through His church.  Covenantal commitment is the norm through all of scripture.  There is an in and an out to it.  You are either in or you are out.  Noah and his family were in and everyone else was out.  In 1 John 2:19, John writes:
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
This is obviously church membership.  When someone takes off, it just proves that he was never there in the first place.

When people take off from a church, they are not taking their covenant seriously.  They are not looking at the church like Jesus describes it (her).  It's very common today, that people decide they are going to go, and then they expect the church to approve.  They are treating their relationship to the church as something worse than a contractual relationship, but closer to a contract than a covenant.  I say closer to a contract, because when the church isn't everything they want it to be, they think they are permitted to leave the contract.  Those terms are set by them and they can stay or leave however they want.  Scripture takes this covenant way more seriously.

I say that people take it less serious than a contract, because the people very often do not obligate themselves almost at all.  They don't see there being that kind of authority in a church.  I think that most people treat their credit card contracts more serious than they do church membership, which is a stronger relationship, because the one in and with the church is a covenant.  People don't take the church seriously, like Jesus takes it, because they are not taking Jesus Himself seriously.  They don't take what He says seriously.  They are very superficial in their relationship to the church and much more serious about other temporal and less meaningful relationships.  This shows their disrespect to the church and the church covenant.  This also reflects on their salvation as seen in 1 John 2:19 above.

In Matthew 18:18 talks about church membership like being bound and church discipline as being loosed.  It's very serious.  Someone loosed by a church is someone not regarded as saved.  It's like the person was never a member in the first place.  He's not viewed any longer in the covenant community.

The church possesses the ordinances, baptism and the Lord's Supper.  Christ gave those to the church. Neither of these save someone, but they do show the strength of this covenant.  Someone doesn't get baptized unless he is saved.  He gets baptized to say he is saved.  In so doing, he joins the church. The Lord's Table is communion with the Lord's body, as pictured by the elements.  At the point of communion, everything is to be aligned with Jesus Christ and His body.

Baptism and the Lord's Supper are not just rituals.  They are symbolic of the covenant that someone has.  They have entered into the church and are continuing in the church, in its communion. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are signs of the covenant.  Baptism is a sign of a death of the old life and a new life.  At His Table, when Jesus said, "This is my body," He wasn't saying it was literally His body, but symbolically, His body as a sign.  These are both signs of this covenant that we have.  They are not the covenant, but they symbolize the covenant.  Baptism brings someone into the church and the Lord's Table keeps someone in communion in and with it.

The covenant is so serious that when someone takes of the symbol unworthily, he is guilty of the body of Christ, and he could die because of it.  That's what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11.  People should take church membership seriously.  Leaving a church should not be an easy thing to do.

Monday, March 20, 2017

En Protois and 1 Corinthians 15:3: First of All, First In Order

Having received John MacArthur's new book on the Gospel, The Gospel According to Paul, I opened and leafed through to see what he would cover in his 217 pages.  One could write 1000 pages on that subject, so he had to make choices.  His first chapter after his introduction he titled, "Things of First Importance."  This terminology seems to be almost sacramental to evangelicals, taking a major point, and in this case his first chapter, from a modern translation of Greek words that appear only once in the New Testament.

1 Corinthians 15:3 in the King James Version reads:
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.
You can read here "first of all," which translates two Greek words, en protois.  Some new late 20th century translations and their translators have changed that to "of first importance," also changing the meaning of the verse at that point.  En is the often used Greek preposition and protois is the dative of a very often used Greek adjective, protos.  You can see proto in a lot of English words, like "prototype," "prototypical," and "protocol."  The understanding of "proto" within each of those English words, is "first in order."  A "prototype" is a first model of something, the first to come along of something.  "Protocol" is the original draft of a diplomatic document.  Something "prototypical" denotes the first, original, or typical form of something.

En protois is found only here in the New Testament.  Both words are used a lot, but only here together, so this is what is termed hapax legomena, once said.  With a hapax legomena, you can't discern it's meaning by looking at other usage in the New Testament.  You must go outside of the New Testament to get a larger sample size.  It is also quite helpful to go back in history to see how others have used this phrase.

When you go back to the fourth century, you have John Chrysostom commenting on this phrase in his Homilies, and he says:
But what is this, "For I delivered unto you first of all?" for that is his word. "In the beginning, not now." And thus saying he brings the time for a witness, and that it were the greatest disgrace for those who had so long time been persuaded now to change their minds: and not this only, but also that the doctrine is necessary. Wherefore also it was "delivered" among "the first," and from the beginning straightway.
Chrysostom says en protois is about time or chronology, as in first in order.  That's how the text reads to me too, but that's how he viewed it way back, probably late fourth century.  He doesn't understand en protois as "of first importance."

Plato used en protois in his Republic (7:522c):
“What?” “Why, for example, this common thing that all arts and forms of thought and all sciences employ, and which is among the first things that everybody must learn.”
"Among the first things" translates en protois and Plato saw that exact phrase as first in order, that is, subject matter that was "among the first things that everybody must learn."  The death, burial, and resurrection was "among the first things" that the Apostle preached when he was in Corinth, because it was foundational to everything else that he would teach them in Corinth.  You've got to hear the gospel first for obvious reasons.  Plato predates the Apostle Paul by around 400 years.

Aesthenes in Against Timarchus uses en protois (speech one, section four):
I am aware, fellow citizens, that the statement which I am about to make first is something that you will undoubtedly have heard from other men on other occasions.
Here is another ancient Greek usage and it the meaning is first in order again.  This was around the same time as Plato.

Aristotle in Metaphysics (book 3, section 997b) uses en tois protois with the addition of the definite article tois:
In what sense we Platonists hold the Forms to be both causes and independent substances has been stated in our original discussion on this subject.
Aristotle uses en tois protois twice in his Nicomachean Ethics (bekker page 1125b):
It appears however that honor also, as was said in the first part of this work . . . . as we said in the first part of this work.
He also uses en tois protois in his Rhetoric (book 2, chapter 25):
Signs and enthymemes based upon signs, even if true, may be refuted in the manner previously stated.
Aristotle came after Plato, so he was a little closer to New Testament times.  In all of these usages, we see the understanding of first in order.

You can find twenty more usages of en protois in the Septuagint (Rahlfs edition, 1935).  The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old Testament Hebrew, but the way that en protois is seen to be used there is helpful.  The Brenton English translation of the Septuagint (1844) translates the first usage of en protois in the Old Testament in Genesis 33:2:
And he put the two handmaidens and their children with the first, and Lea and her children behind, and Rachel and Joseph last.
It's obvious that the handmaidens and their children were not first in importance to Jacob, but first in order in the welcoming committee of Esau.

The following usages are all the Brenton translation of the Septuagint, a standard translation, the next usage in Deuteronomy 13:9 (the translation of en protois underlined):
Thou shalt surely report concerning him, and thy hands shall be upon him among the first to slay him, and the hands of all the people at the last.
Again, this can't be understood as any other way than, "first in order."  The next usage, Deuteronomy 17:7, is an identical situation as Deuteronomy 13:9 with the first people stepping up to execute someone who has broken God's law.

As you work your way through the usages of en protois, it could be used in the way of prominence. That is a usage of protos in the New Testament as well.  Since the most common usage by far of protos is order, one should expect an obvious usage of prominence.  You get that in just two of the twenty usages of en protois (1 Sam 9:22, 1 Chron 11:6) in the Greek Septuagint.  Brenton translates both, "among the chief."  The only two usages of prominence in the Old Testament are identical usages that are not at all like the reading in 1 Corinthians 15:3.  They speak of the most prominent place for chief men to be sitting together.

If someone is looking for the clues for meaning, he starts with what I have done above.  He looks for the usage of language like the Septuagint.  He looks at ancient usage.  He moves forward from there, but usage in actual language buttresses meaning.  Then you start looking at commentaries.  You can look at Chrysostom with special favor because he doesn't have centuries of commentaries to bend his thinking.  If you are going to take a meaning that is an exceptional meaning, based on the usage, you better have a clear, plain, persuasive basis.  It should stick out of a usage that is typical of that specific usage.  "Of first importance" doesn't fit what we see in the way of evidence.

Thomas Edwards adds in 1886 in his commentary on 1 Corinthians concerning en protois, "among the things to be stated first."  H. L. Goudge in 1915 writes, "these facts formed the foreground of my gospel."  James Morison in 1841 writes, "Amongst the very 'first' things that the Apostle delivered to the heathen Corinthians , after he entered their city was this -- 'Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.'"

When I read commentators on en protois, they rarely give their reasoning behind the decision.  They just give an opinion.  It's so infrequent that they give any explanation that you could say that they don't explain.  Above, I've given you evidence.  This is how someone should deal with a hapax legomena.  In the few instances in history with a "first importance" understanding of that Greek phrase, it is very clear.  I saw one historical usage, and it referred to the ranking of people, identical to the two examples in the Septuagint.  This forms a precedent.  You would look for en protois to mean "foremost" or "of first importance," when it relates to the ranking of people, such as chief men or kings in their chief places.

The King James says, "I delivered unto you first of all."  The Bishops, Great, Tyndale, Geneva, and Coverdale Bibles all five read, "For first of all I delivered unto you." John Wycliffe in the fourteenth century translated, "For I betook to you at the beginning."  Young's Literal Translation (1886) reads, "For I delivered to you first."  This is how God's people took the meaning of en protois.

A gigantic new doctrine comes out of the "first importance" translation, that is, ranking doctrines and a modern evangelical and fundamentalist reductionism.  I see it as a basis of fake and unbiblical unity in disobedience of biblical teaching on separation over these doctrines that they say are not "of first importance."  The basis of the gospel coalition is this new translation and new understanding.  It's such a big deal to John MacArthur, this one phrase, that he gives it as the title to the first chapter of his new book.  His explanation is the following:
Verse 3 would be better translated, "I conveyed to you the principle matters."  That's the true sense of what he [Paul] is telling them.  Both the English Standard Version and the New American Standard Bible say, "I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received."  What Paul clearly has in mind here are the elements of the gospel truth that come first in order of importance.
That's all the explanation for that particular point.  It is zero exegesis.  It in no way gives any hint that he's basing this entire point on one phrase that he does not prove.  It is classic reading into the text. He places his meaning in so that he can get it out. He uses buzz words like "true sense" and "clearly has in mind."  He also relies on translators who have departed from the historic understanding of this terminology and without explanation.  When you look at the Greek works, it isn't better translated, "I conveyed to you the principle matters."  It is literally, "I delivered unto you among the first things." Paradidomi doesn't mean "to convey."  It's much stronger than that.

The first thing Paul entrusted them with was a gospel that included bodily resurrection. They were saved based upon that preaching and teaching that he gave to them right away and foundational to everything else he had taught them.  How could they eject from that now? They are betraying the gospel when they do that.  Paul is not saying, "This is the most important thing that I conveyed to you."  No.  It's important, no doubt, but Paul isn't introducing a new and monumental teaching of ranking doctrines.

This first importance teaching has done much damage to the faith and work of God.  It has resulted in widespread acceptance of false doctrine and greater disobedience to God's Word.  All of that is justified by many by this one little phrase that doesn't mean what they say it does.  Don't believe it.

You can read a few other posts I've written on this text are here, here, and here.  This post is a one stop shop on the fallacy of ranking doctrines.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Weekend Observations: Musical Meaning and Geert Wilders and Racism

Thomas Ross posts on Fridays here, as another reminder to you.  I appreciate what he does.  You would be hard pressed to name another independent Baptist or unaffiliated that has done the work and the kind of work that he has done.  I'm happy if you commend him for it.  If you want to know the sheer magnitude of what he's done at such a young age, look over at his Faithsaves.Net.  Use his resources.  They're good.

Sometimes I want to post something here at my own blog, but I don't want to stomp on or preempt something else either Thomas or I have written.  I want them to get two days of consideration before moving to something else.  There are seven days in a week, as you know (because God created the seven day week -- see Genesis 1), so three posts doesn't divide up evenly at two days a post.  For that reason, on late Saturday night, I have used and will use to offer something I've seen that I want others to consider.  It might not rise to a full post, but it is a kind of partial post (I wonder if you can send a partial post through the mail -- probably using the Partial Post division).  Some of the time, I believe I will start calling these posts, Weekend Observations.  They might be one observation or more.  Today it is two, and I start with Musical Meaning and then I go to Geert Wilders and Racism.

Musical Meaning

Sentient beings, those who breath and interact with what's happening outside of them, know that music has meaning.  History doesn't show a "music doesn't have meaning" position.  In general, no one attempts to prove music has meaning through history, because something above a butterfly larvae knows that already.  It would appear next to "insult to the intelligence" in the dictionary.  Now we have to insult the intelligence, because now appearing for the first time in history, music doesn't have meaning.  It was considered first by the people who are supposed to have the most discernment on planet earth, Christians, as being amoral.  Music is amoral, music itself can't be judged, according to Christians. Paper or plastic, yes, music, no.  This is the world we live in today, so I'm going to talk about it.

People have moved even further than music doesn't have meaning to "if you says it does, then you are a racist" (which dovetails actually with my second observation).  People do become very angry when you say that music means something and it means something bad, that is, when you judge their music.  They don't want activity that might result in their music being taken away.  I've seen fisticuffs break out in a gym over the choice of music, grown men wrestling and punching over musical choice, at the same time, of course, everyone all around denying that music has meaning.

Of course, music has meaning.  People like music because it has meaning.  People are attracted to music because it has meaning.  It has meaning regardless of the words.  Of course, it does.  Pillbugs (rollie pollies) would be nodding in agreement right now if they could nod.

CNN recently did a big news piece against Vladimir Putin, not because of some special dislike of Putin, even though they are posing like they hate Putin.  They are showing the Putin story because they want to keep the Trump-Russia narrative alive to discredit his presidency.  It's not news.  It's propaganda.  To combat that, RT, a Russian news agency mocked the CNN report.  RT shows how that CNN uses music.  You tell me what you think, starting at about :15 and ending at 1:15.

The change in music totally changes the meaning of the documentary.  The music changes what you think of Putin.  What do you think music does to God?  People get a different view of God and lyrics from the music.  It influences their view of God and perverts their affections.  They have a god in their imaginations that doesn't match the God of the Bible.  Music does that.  Everyone again knows what I'm writing here, but I thought the clip above would at least offer an illustration.  I wish I could say things are going to change, but churches are addicted to their tunes.

Geert Wilders and Racism

Every time I heard Geert Wilders it was something negative from the media.  The United States media wanted him to lose.  He was pictured like a flaming radical, right winged fascist type.   Anymore you can't trust the media when it says that, but right before the Dutch election, Wilders debated Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister.  Watch this clip to get a taste of Wilders.

He is different than the way the U.S. media pictures him.  This is why people are using the terminology, "fake news," and for all the "lies" people claim for Trump, the lies come from the media like one big lie, the equivalent of water from a hydrant in sorting through them.  Wilders speaks in a reasonable way.  He makes sense with his points.  He proves what he's talking about with facts.  The Prime Minister doesn't treat him in a disrespectful way.  When the camera roams into the audience, you see people who are listening in a careful, unemotional way, even while Wilders speaks.

What you hear from Wilders is the truth about Islam, the Quran, and its effect on the Netherlands. He's just telling the truth.  Listen closely to the stats he uses.  It is his goal to protect his country, to keep his country Dutch actually.  By the time you call something an Islamic country, that means it's not going so well and people have died and are dying.  That's why people in Europe can sit there and listen soberly, because they know it too. Even the present Prime Minister, who has since won the election, could understand the point.

The U.S. and British media call Wilders a racist, as if a religion is a race.  This is a new development in race.  Transgender is a race now.  Hispanic is a race, even though there are black and white Hispanics.  Now religion is a race.  People don't blink at these kinds of designations.  They are lies or fake news. The militant Moslems in Northern Nigeria, Boko Haram, are black Moslems killing and kidnapping black Christians in the South.

I return you to the thought that Wilders is just telling the truth about a religion.  Based on media reports, you'd think Wilders was crazy, but what he says sounds like sound and defensible policy for his nation.  If you read his biography at Wikipedia, you don't get the impression that he is off-the-wall at all.  Case-in-point as to his validity, because of Wilders positions, his life is more threatened than almost any politician in Europe.  His life is so in danger, that his wife can't be with him, his office must be away from all other people and politicians, and he is under non-stop guard.  The message is that you are not free in the Netherlands to criticize Islam.  Wilders is who our media calls out and not the Moslems in the Netherlands.

As an aside, a President Obama appointed federal judge in Hawaii blocked President Trump's second attempt at the travel ban.  Judge Watson based his ruling on the first amendment, not on the law itself, but based upon campaign statements made by Donald Trump in order to judge motive.  Even if it were a "Moslem ban," the establishment clause doesn't apply to foreign citizens.  I bring this up because the religious liberty of Christians, who are citizens of the United States, is very often not protected by liberal U.S. judges, but Moslems from foreign countries are protected by them.  These activist judges do not become active in protecting rights of American Christians, but they protect what are not rights of foreign Moslems.  I'll write more about this perhaps in the future.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Applications from Keswick Theology--an Analysis and Critique of So Great Salvation by Stephen Barabas, part 1 of 2

                             Learn, by the example of the unhappy worldwide spread of the Keswick theology, the unmistakable fact that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9).  Keswick theology has profoundly influenced world-wide Christendom and corrupted the doctrine of sanctification confessed by countless churches of Christ, because of a failure to mark, reprove, and separate from unrepentant advocates of Keswick errors.  Whether deliberately or in ignorance, Barabas’s sugar-coating of the deadly poison propagated by the wolves that originated the Keswick theology is inexcusable.  Do not follow his example.  Carelessness by God’s pastors in protecting their flocks, and preachers’ unthinking appropriation and propagation of unbiblical ideas wrapped in the tinsel of high-sounding testimonies, have contributed tremendously to the spread of Keswick. Many sincere preachers have unknowingly adopted, are proclaiming, and are imparting Keswick ideas to the next generation of church leaders, because such ideas were passed on to them by their ministerial forefathers.  Now is the time to end this cycle of ignorance and error.  Exercise great discernment as you hear the preaching of others.  It is proper to exercise Biblical judgment when you hear the Word brought forth (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:29).  Furthermore, if Biblical passages on separation would be violated by attendance at a meeting, fellowship with some person, or in any other way whatsoever, follow Scripture and remain separate.  It does not matter if the speakers you will not hear are dynamic.  It does not matter if it appears (in the short term, which is all that finite men can effectively gage) that great results arise from their work.  The unscriptural work of Mr. and Mrs. Smith seemed to have glorious results in the short term; but in the long term the doctrine of sanctification in countless churches has been corrupted, hindering the holiness of vast numbers of God’s people.  Furthermore, entirely new heresies have arisen in Christendom, in large part because of the Smith family’s continuationism.  Ecumenicalism—and all other disobedience to Scripture—is never the right course, and never, in truth and in the long term, the most effective or even pragmatically the best course.  However, the world, the flesh, and the devil can make tremendous harm seem beneficial by pointing to the short-term benefits and pleasures of sin.  Oh man of God, have you failed to protect the people over whom the Holy Ghost has made you an overseer from unscriptural Higher Life theology, either by its promotion, its toleration, or by communion with its unrepentant propagators?  Today is the day to repent and to determine, by God’s grace, that you will no longer dishonor your Lord by such carelessness, but will allow only the uncorrupted truth on sanctification to be taught to the flock of God.
               Recognize that the simple fact that someone is non-Keswick in his theology of sanctification does not mean that his teaching is automatically reliable.  In addition to the errors on sanctification of non-Keswick perfectionisms, whether Roman Catholic, Quaker, Wesleyan, or Pentecostal, be on guard against the errors of Reformed, non-Baptist theology propagated by Puritanism.  Do not move from accepting everything that Hannah Whitall Smith believed to accepting everything that John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, B. B. Warfield, or J. I. Packer believed, simply because their writings obliterate the errors of Keswick.  Follow Scripture alone, and find refuge in the protection offered by the pastors and teachers of the sound, separated, historic Baptist church of which you are—or ought to be—a member.  The church is the place of the corporate manifestation on earth of the wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10).  How important it is to carefully exegete Scripture in the context of a true church, where the special presence and blessing of the Lord and the protection of church leadership is found!
               Rather than hoping that you will come to a point where you will be satisfied with your spiritual progress, recognize that the more Christ-like the Spirit makes you, the more dissatisfied with your indwelling sin and your remaining unlikeness to God you will become, and the more you will be dissatisfied with your spiritual progress.  Satisfaction with your spiritual state is not a sign of superior holiness or of the entrance into a Higher Life but of severe spiritual myopia.  God punishes those that are at ease and settled on their lees (Jeremiah 48:11; Zephaniah 1:12).  Do not seek for satisfaction in your spiritual attainments but for speedier progress in mortification and vivification, while finding sweet consolation and refreshment in communion with Jesus Christ.  Very frequently people turn to Keswick theology—and other errors and false teachings—because they have not themselves truly tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord in their Christian experience.  He who genuinely walks with God will see the shallow and trite writings of a Hannah Whitall Smith for what they truly are.   Do not look within for happiness through ease and quietistic rest, but look to Jesus for blessedness and true joy and run the quicker and with the greater endurance the race that it set before you.  Reject the Keswick siren song and false promise of perfect, undisturbed, perpetual, and carefree happiness, peace, and rest before heaven.  Yes, God calls you to “rejoice evermore” (1 Thessalonians 5:16) and wishes you to pray and cast your burdens on Him instead of being full of care, so that you can experientially know “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7; cf. Isaiah 26:3-4).  Nonetheless, indwelling sin will always be lusting against the Spirit as long as you are in this body of death.  Greater fellowship with the Triune God in Christ, greater degrees of His grace, greater experience of His transforming power, and deeper eyeing of His beauty and glory, are intimately conjoined with greater self-abhorrence and deeper repentance over sins of commission, omission, and of the pervasive corruption engendered by the sin of your nature itself.  Embrace and seek for, rather than rejecting, the “negative” side of Christian spirituality, for it is the necessary adjunct of the positive side.  The lower down you fall in humility before the Lord, the higher He will lift you up—and the higher He lifts you up, the more dissatisfied you will be with what you yet lack, and the deeper down you will abase yourself in shame.
               Finally, recognize that, while the battle will be prolonged, as a child of the living God, you are on the winning side.  Glorious growth in Christ-likeness is possible for you now, and perfect conformity to your Lord’s perfect standard is your coming and certain blessedness.  Enabled by the Spirit’s grace, and trusting in Christ alone, strive mightily against and mortify your indwelling sin and all its manifestations.  Diligently use the means God has appointed for your growth in grace.  Read, study, meditate on, talk of, hear the exposition of, and practice the Word.  Remember and hate the remaining coldness of your heart.  Be watchful, pray, and humbly eye Christ in faith and love, relying on His Spirit to transform you.  Rejoice that your loving Father has decreed that your progressive sanctification, while not automatic, is certain; and fight the harder, recognizing that you are indeed judicially dead to sin, and that He who works in you both to will and do of His good pleasure will continue His good work in you until the day of Jesus Christ.  Hallelujah!

See here for this entire study.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Nice House with Limited Income in the Most Expensive Housing Market in the United States

God has created a world where you very often do very well if you follow biblical principles.  He also intervenes in a direct way based upon His goodness and sovereignty, what we could call "providence." Some of what is described is obeying God and, therefore, subduing the earth.  It will work only if you follow what He says.  What He says is great.  When you follow what He says, things turn out great, and it was because of Him, so let Him be praised.  However, it is not, "I prayed for years for a great house and God finally gave it to me."  I prayed for daily bread.  God gave everything to me.  That's how the will of God works.  Does He sometimes give special favor to one of His children?  Yes.  Yet, I look at every little good thing as His favor too, and not just a house. Because He gives all good things, He should get the credit for the following.

My wife and I were married two weeks in August 1987 when we traveled cross country in a UHaul to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, the most expensive housing market in the country.  We had no debt, but we also had no furniture.  We had enough savings for our first and last to get into the cheapest one bedroom apartment and to print a brochure.  I got a job at a sporting goods store and my wife as a teller at a bank, both making about minimum wage.  The zestimate at Zillow for our present house is $550,000. I believe we could sell it for more than that, if we wanted to live somewhere else. Realtors have sold similar houses in our neighborhood for $600,000.  How could a pastor afford a $550,000 dollar house at what California calls poverty level income?

I remember when my wife and I first moved out here and started going door-to-door in evangelism in addition to working our two jobs. We truly believed that we were bound to buy the industrial sized bag of pinto beans and survive on a pinto bean diet.  We were ready to do that.  We bought all of our original furniture used for less than 500 dollars, which included no bed, but a used queen sized mattress that lay on the floor.  I had left a car in California after surveying the area, and we arrived to the Bay Area to the Dodge Omni having been broken down with someone having borrowed it.  They left it for us broken. I got under the car and fixed it with a wire coat hanger.  The rest of the time that car continued to operate, it did so held together in part with a coat hanger.

It sounds like we had it made, doesn't it?  There's really money in paying rent for a school multipurpose room and preaching a very unpopular message, much more unpopular than I even suspected.

In part, I write this post, because I know in fact that we are criticized by several for living in a nice house (not by anyone in our church -- our church people are happy for us).  People very often like to see pastors almost as poor as possible. You can see that in the criticisms of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians, where the false teachers at Corinth tried to make him look like a money grubber.  People intimate that about us with our having this home.  I'm serious.  Mainly, however, I have written this post, because it could help people know how to move to and then make it in ministry in a very expensive area.

I was completely naive when I moved to the big city.  Very early on I got a call from a man and woman, who said that their car was broken down and they needed help to get to the funeral of a relative.  I took our entire savings to help them out of their predicament and then never saw or heard of them again.  One man called and said that his daughter was sick and he needed food for his family.  I took him to the grocery store and bought him a basketful of groceries.  The next day I got a call from the same man, except he had a different name.  He accidentally had called the same number to try the same trick again.  He told me that he had sold the groceries for heroin.

The rent for our first apartment in 1987 in Pinole was $550 a month.  After a year, we moved to an even cheaper and very old apartment for $495 a month.  I moved our entire apartment in our car.  Our aforementioned mattress flew off the top of the car onto San Pablo Dam Road in El Sobrante, and I stopped traffic to put it back on the roof.  No one helped us move.  In that tiny apartment, by the way, I built the entire winning float for the fourth of July parade in 1988 in Hercules.  I dressed as Abraham Lincoln, and posed with many, many Filipinos at the city park in town.  50% of Hercules's population was Filipino-American.

When the Dodge Omni wouldn't move anymore, we bought a used Subaru wagon on a three year loan.  It lasted for about seven or so, and after we paid off the Subaru loan, we kept making payments to a savings account for the next car.  We would not touch that account.  When the Subaru breathed its last breath on highway 80, we paid cash for our next used car, and have paid cash in the same manner for every car since.

We never went on a vacation in our first three years of marriage.  We lived in California.  We figured that was like being on vacation.  Even though it really hurt, I paid for health insurance out of our own pocket, and it was a good thing, because it paid for a necessary minor surgery for me that would have really harmed us financially.  I know people who didn't want to pay for health insurance, and they paid for the pregnancy with a loan.  No one under my roof has a smart phone.  We don't have cable television.  We don't own a pet.  I have replaced the soles on my wingtips five times.  Usually I use shoe goo before I even get there.  Right now I have shoo goo on holes in the bottom of my shoes.  We believe giving over and above the tithe.  For the most part, 25% of our budget for many years went to pay for the instruments and music lessons of our children.  This has been a great blessing.

Going door-to-door our second year, I ran into a young couple, who told me that they had sold their mobile home, what some people call a "trailer," for the downpayment to their house.  I checked out the trailer parks in our area.  There weren't many, but in one of them, a man was selling the mobile home of his sister, who had died.  He needed to get rid of it, so he sold it to us for $12,000.  We also paid $350 space rent, but we dedicated my wife's paycheck to paying off the loan almost immediately.  In six months the park where we lived voted to become senior only, so my wife and I were the only residents in the park under the age of fifty-five, kind of everyone's adopted grandchildren.  About three years later, we sold the mobile home for $19,000.  We used that money and other savings for a downpayment on a $118,500 two bedroom, two bath condo.

The Bay Area housing market is a big roller coaster with very high highs and then major lows, worst hit by the mortgage crisis when the housing bubble popped.  The housing market was at a low four years after our buying the condo, and we decided to buy a three bedroom townhouse for $135,000 and rent out the condo.  That was an adventure, because we did go through one bad renter.  Our condo was valued at $85,000 when we bought the town home.  We were almost completely out of money when we sold the condo for $142,000.

While we lived in the mobile home, the big earthquake of 1989 hit.  That was very interesting.  Our son was born while we lived there.  A daughter was born while we lived in the condo.  Our last two daughters were born while we lived in the townhouse.  We lived in the townhouse for 15 years.  I laid tile in the dining room and bathrooms and remodeled the kitchen.  I turned the garage into a very nice garage.  We put in a gas fireplace insert and new windows.  I am not a carpenter.  I learned it in the midst of everything else.  Most of my studying, I did in my garage for all those years.  I wrote a few books in the garage.

When the housing market started to drop.  I could see it happening, we sold the townhouse for $250,000 and moved into a very small two bedroom apartment close to our church building.  It was an extremely cramped two happy years.  I loved being a renter again.  I loved my landlord.  We're still friends.  He's a believer.  He's also a contractor, who has given me some good advice.

After two years in the apartment, four years ago, when the housing was rock bottom, we bought our present three bedroom, two bath single family home in a good neighborhood in El Sobrante.  It was complete providence of God that we got it.  The owner died and the children needed to sell it to split up the proceeds.  In the house lived a Hells Angel.  I'm not kidding.  The other inhabitant was one of the sons, who was very, very bipolar.  The house stunk of smoke and drugs.  The police had greatly damaged the entrance in a drug raid a few years before.

Sounds like a privilege, huh?  We had sold our house for $250,000 and live very frugally and then paid $320,000 for the house.  I gutted both bathrooms down to the studs, we put another bedroom in the back of a very large garage.  We moved out two tons worth of mess.  Literally two tons.  I put in all new floor coverings, including nailing down hardwood floors in my living room and ceramic tile in the kitchen, entrance, and dining room.  I painted the outside and repaired the water sprinkling system for the dead lawn.  I bought a used door with a mortise lock like the one our front door needed.  There was no door knob or lock on our door, except for a surface bolt.  We turned the fireplace into a gas fireplace by getting the insert on craigslist.  We bought a used washer and dryer.

I learned how to do everything on youtube.  It was like having three full time jobs with pastoring, fixing the house, and teaching in our school. A very kind friend of ours did pay for a new roof, which it badly needed.  I repaired a cedar shake roof to get by the first three years before that roof job. Someone also gave us money for new windows, but I did the replacement myself.

We were able to pay for all the work on the house with extra on the loan because it was at least a quarter of the cost, since I did the work.  Must be nice.  I lost twenty pounds remodeling the house.

We have a nice house.  That's why.

I've noticed that many young couples are looking for something really nice right away and they ruin their lives because of a lack of contentment.  I've seen couple after couple make bad decisions to get the house they wanted.  It was never about us getting the house we wanted.  It was always about wise stewardship.  I never bought during a bubble.  Never.  Many people do.  I always bought after a bubble popped.  The bubble occurs because people are buying.  During those times, we are waiting. We don't need to keep up with the Joneses.

The key to living in a nice house at the age of 54 is not having to live in a nice house at the age of 54. To us, again it's good stewardship.  We saved money.  We bought low, sold high, bought low, sold high, bought low again, and sold high.  We lived in a tiny apartment for two years with a large family. We did the work ourselves.  We didn't borrow depreciating items.  We saved for them.

It has been a great blessing as we have entertained many, many people in this home.  Some of you reading have been a part of that entertainment.  We use it for the Lord.  We have someone in our home usually once or twice a week.  It's been a nice, safe comfortable place for my two college aged daughters to come back to every night from going to state universities.  It is one mile away from our church property.  I hope you are happy for us.  In addition, let it be a lesson.  To God be the glory.

Now that you've read this, you could say, Brandenburg is bragging on himself.  I am defending for sure.  I am explaining.  You could read Paul's epistles and say, Paul is bragging on himself.  He said that in 2 Corinthians, because that's what people will say.  People need to know how you did it, so they can reproduce what you did.  I think all the parts are important, but I'm not going to not tell the story just because I'll be then criticized for bragging on myself.  Paul talked about what he did, because he needed to do that.  It's a practical outworking of biblical principles.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Complicit: The World's Knowledge of and Hypocrisy In the Doctrine of Separation

Almost all of my news I read online at sites of my choosing.  Some I receive by video, almost entirely through clips at RCP.  RCP posted a SNL skit, a spoof of a fragrance ad to mock Ivanka Trump for her association with her father, entitled, "Complicit."  The ad was intended to shame the president's daughter for supporting her own dad as president and not standing against him. Opposition to Trump had already started this course with a boycott of products with Ivanka's brand.  The strategy has backfired so far, with Ivanka sales going through the roof.  I'm saying that "Complicit," the fragrance, would sell very well right now if it existed.

As a first aside, of interest to me is the current state of humor in the United States, its intersection with activism, entertainment, and commerce.  SNL sells itself to advertisers like these night time talk shows, so it must attract an audience to watch the ads. Unless you enjoy mockery, it isn't funny. Right now it targets a niche audience of bitter Hillary voters, who lap up ridicule of the winners, and alienates the people they hate.  It probably also draws a very thin slice of Trump voters for the sheer and smug spectacle of breathtaking and brazen bigotry, the equivalent of slowing down to gawk at a severe traffic accident.

"Complicit" right now is a talking point of the left.  A medium sized group of radical protesters crowded outside the San Francisco home of tech billionaire Peter Thiel to oppose his advocacy of Donald Trump.  Their goal was to make life more miserable for him until he acceded to their demands. One of the signs read, "You Are Complicit," capitals and double underlined.  People showing up for Thiel might hesitate because of what now looks like guaranteed violence in these situations.  Democrat leadership promotes violence in their rhetoric, signalling permission. Urban areas, blue on a political map, require their police to back away from protection of conservative activists, unless they retaliate.

"Complicit" is being used as a derogatory term to deride association or lack of separation.  Someone is complicit with bad if he associates with bad.  I agree.  A person is doing a bad thing by being complicit with a bad thing.  They get it. They really do get separation. The SNL skit was to shame Ivanka for complicity.  However, SNL and all its actors are complicit with the sewage pipe that is Hollywood.  To get ratings, women take their clothes off and are objectified.  Very tight clothing is worn to increase ratings.  Nudity sells. This is definitional misogyny.  Complicit.  No one drags women down more than Hollywood.  Hollywood is complicit with all sorts of human depravity that sells on the small and big screen.  SNL and the actress playing Ivanka are both complicit.

What heartens me about "Complicit" is that people know what complicity is.  That concept is known.  Someone remains complicit without disavowal or disassociation or separation.  You've got to separate or you are complicit.  I agree with that.

As a second aside, to participate in politics, you are by nature complicit.  A republican form of government brings people to the same page that do not agree on everything.  That does not in fact mean that they are complicit with everything someone stands for.  In politics, two people can be for the same thing that are divergent in numbers of other ways.  Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton were complicit in welfare reform.  Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are complicit in opposition to major trade deals.  Sometimes Supreme Court justices make unanimous decisions, both left and right agreeing on an interpretation of the United States Constitution.  I agree with Peter Thiel on political issues, even though he is a professing homosexual.  I hate the homosexual lifestyle.  It's an abomination.  My complicity with Thiel on politics doesn't make me complicit with Thiel's lifestyle, anymore than my complicity with Trump makes me complicit with everything about him.

I have explained to our church that a church is different than the government.  We must align in all our doctrine and practice except where we have liberty not to do so.  When someone sins, every believer has a responsibility to deal with that sin, or else be complicit with it.  As Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."  We are commanded to reprove the unfruitful works of darkness.  We should not be complicit with them.  Churches and believers are not to cooperate with groups or individuals that will not or do not submit to all that God said.  Churches that do not practice biblical separation are complicit with false doctrine and practice.

If the world understands complicity, despite its hypocrisy, believers surely should understand it.  We are most responsible for purity.  Governments should function like what the Bible teaches about government.  However, the New Testament requires separation of churches and believers.  If the world understands complicity, churches and believers should especially understand it, because God requires them to separate.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Eternal Security or Preservation / Perseverence of the Saints Debate: Kent Brandenburg vs. Larry Hafley

A number of years ago, Pastor Brandenburg debated Larry Hafley, a prominent debater of the Campbellite or so-called "Church of Christ" denomination on the subject of eternal security.  The debate was never posted on YouTube, but I have now uploaded all eight videos.  You can watch the Eternal Security or Preservation / Perseverance of the Saints debate between Kent Brandenburg and Larry Hafley on YouTube at the playlist on my YouTube channel (KJB1611) by clicking here.  The official topic for the first four videos was:  "The Scriptures teach that a child of God, once saved by the blood of Christ, may so sin as to be lost in hell," Larry Hafley (Church of Christ of Alexander Campbell, Affirm), Kent Brandenburg (Bethel Baptist Church, Deny), while for the second four it was "The Scriptures teach that a child of God, once saved by the blood of Christ, cannot so sin as to be lost in hell." Kent Brandenburg (Bethel Baptist Church, Affirm); Larry Hafley (Church of Christ of Alexander Campbell, Deny). I would encourage you to "like" the debate and also leave useful comments on the videos both here on this post and also below the respective videos.  There are many things that could be said about the debate; here are a few.

1.) In terms of the content, Pastor Brandenburg won in a devastating way.  For example, he argued from John 4:13-14: 

13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Pastor Brandenburg pointed out that with the physical water, one must keep drinking and drinking or one would get thirsty again.  By way of contrast, for the spiritual water that Christ gives, a person drinks one time and has the strongest possible guarantee (ou me in Greek) that he will never ever thirst again.  This contrast of a one-time drink with the need to continually drink is confirmed by the Greek tenses (aorist for the spiritual drink and present tense for the physical water).  Furthermore, Pastor Brandenburg pointed out that every single instance of the word "drink" in the aorist represents a point-in-time action.  Larry Hafley had no response to this argument; he just ignored it, put up a chart or two that did not deal at all with the exegetical realities, and yelled a lot.

As another example, Larry Hafley argued that people can be in the book of life and have their names blotted out when they allegedly lose salvation.  Pastor Brandenburg argued, against this, following the argument in the study "The Book of Life and Eternal Security," that the "part" in the book of life is only prospective, not possessive, because the "part" is also in the holy city, and nobody who is actually in the New Jerusalem loses his salvation and falls out.  This exegetical reality was also confirmed by other grammatical and contextual arguments.  Mr. Hafley simply ignored the fact that the "part" was not just in the book of life but also in the holy city, never dealt with that fact, and kept yelling a lot to make his case that the book of life refuted eternal security.

It was sadly interesting to see to what lengths Mr. Hafley went to support his position--he even denied the perfect foreknowledge of Christ, claiming that the Lord Jesus did not know that Judas would betray Him when He chose him, and likewise claimed that Christ's prayer in John 17:24 that all believers (John 17:8) would be with Him in heaven was not going to be answered but was just kind of a nice thing to ask.  Such horrible conclusions ought to be tell-tale to anyone who cares about what the Bible actually teaches.

2.) While Pastor Brandenburg clearly won the debate on content, for people who like a sort of "Southern" style and don't know the Bible very well, Larry Hafley used a lot of rhetoric, smoke-and-mirrors, and invalid plays on people's emotions that could convince people that he was correct.  He said over and over again things like "You didn't think that we would let you get away with that one, did you, Mr. Brandenburg?" or "We've got you programmed, Mr. Brandenburg" or "This audience can see my point, Mr. Brandenburg, even if you don't," accompanied by a lot of passion and yelling.  When someone sat back and actually listened to the content, Mr. Hafley didn't have much there, other than a lot of charts with verses taken out of context.  However, an unsaved person who does not know the Bible very well could come to the conclusion that Mr. Hafley must be correct because of his antics, which is probably what many people in the Campbellite religious organization concluded as, led by Satan, they shut out what Pastor Brandenburg was saying and soaked up all that Mr. Hafley was arguing.  As a response to Mr. Hafley's rhetoric, sometimes Pastor Brandenburg needed to "fight fire with fire," using more rhetorical devices himself than would be by any means characteristic of his regular preaching ministry in normal church services.

3.) I would also point out that it was the Campbellites who recorded the video, and at times that biased things towards them.  For example, they would put the camera for long periods on Pastor Brandenburg when he was reading from a chart, while they put the camera on the chart itself for Mr. Hafley for longer times on various occasions.  Furthermore and very frustratingly, they cut out what I said the first day where Bethel Baptist, its website, and its information was mentioned, while leaving in the video means through which their Campbellite website and Campbellite information could be obtained.  Also, the audience was in the majority hostile to eternal security because we had the debate at the Campbellite meeting house, as we did not want to give a false teacher equal time behind the pulpit of a true church like Bethel Baptist.  Nevertheless, I believe that the fact that Pastor Brandenburg's position was correct still clearly and decisively won out.

4.) I think that watching the debate could be very useful for saved people who are members of strong churches and know the Bible well, and who want to see what the best stuff is Campbellites have against eternal security, so that they can minister to people in that corrupt false religion.  I think it could also help an unsaved Campbellite or other unsaved person who really cares about what the Bible says and, enabled by God's grace, can fight through the rhetoric of Mr. Hafley to pay attention to the actual content.  I trust that making the debate available on YouTube will help such persons to seek out the truth, and also find out how false the Campbellite doctrine of salvation by baptism is by reading such works as Heaven Only for the Baptized? The Gospel of Christ vs. Baptismal Regeneration, a work I wrote in conjunction with a debate I had with Mr. Hafley on that crucial topic.

5.) I am also thankful for the length of the debate--it became more and more apparent over time that Pastor Brandenburg's position was Scriptural.  By video #8 there was a lot of blood in the streets for Mr. Hafley's case, while at the end of video #1 it was not as clear for someone who did not already know Scripture well that Mr. Hafley's position was false.

6.) Finally, I am thankful that Pastor Brandenburg was defending a Biblical position that eternal security means one is permanently saved from both the penalty and power of sin, so that one's life is changed and he will not continue in sin (Romans 6; 1 John 2:19; 2 Corinthians 5:17), rather than a position that one is just saved from the penalty of sin, after which one can do whatever he wants and still be saved.  Mr. Hafley, despite his biblical shallowness, had debated a "Free Grace" or anti-Lordship Ph. D. before and crushed the "Free Grace" or anti-Lordship guy by putting verses up on repentance when the "Free Grace" guy rejected Biblical repentance.  Had Pastor Brandenburg attempted to defend the position that eternal security means you are saved but you can still live for the devil as long as you say the magic prayer, he would have lost the debate instead of convincingly winning it.
8.) I heard that some time after the debate Mr. Hafley was removed from the Campbellite ministry for committing adultery.  So much for his anti-security position keeping one from sinning.  However, at some point afterwards he was restored again (I suppose after he got his salvation back) to become one of their religious leaders again.  However, it is hard to get firm documentation on this, as the Campbellites do not very boldly tell everyone when they remove one of their religious leaders for adultery.  If a Campbellite can provide me with proof that this never happened, I will remove this section of the post, as I believe accuracy and honesty are extremely important.

9.) Pastor Brandenburg wrote some posts on the debate shortly after it happened; they are below:

Special Annoucement
Debriefing on Debating
Verbal Pong
You Just Like to Argue
Seventh Inning Stretch
The Story of the Debate #1: An Empty Cup
The Story of the Debate #2: Winners and Losers
How the Arguments Hashed Out
What Was I Supposed to Do?
More on the Debate:  The Big "If"
Further Debate Fodder; Revelation 22:18-19 and the Holy City
Oh My, Mr. Hafley

I have embedded the videos below in case you wish to view them here instead of on YouTube.

Video #1:

Video #2:

Video #3:

Video #4:

Video #5:

Video #6:

Video #7:

Video #8:

10.) Finally, please feel free to post comments on the debate videos on Youtube.  Also, if you enjoyed the Dan Barker-Thomas Ross debate, "The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, not Fact," I would encourage you to put comments on that debate on YouTube as well, as I have recently opened the comment section up there, since, as far as I understand, allowing comments improves the search status of the debate.  Of course, that debate is still up on my website as well.