Tuesday, May 23, 2017

God Has To Be God, pt. 3

part one     part two

God wants to be believed, but it has to be belief in the actual one and true God to be belief in God.
Genesis 15:6, "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."
It is not an uncommon statement, "I believe in God," but if the god the person believes in isn't actually God, then he doesn't believe in God.  There is only one God, Who isn't a made-up one in a person's mind.  It's got to be Him, the actual, only God.  A way not to believe in God is to believe in another, more convenient god.

Perhaps you can relate to the following situation.  Two different people or two different groups both say they believe in God and even in the same God.  I'm talking about both believing in the God of Christianity.  Both worship the so-called same God, the one both say they believe in, and yet what they both call "worship" is exactly opposite of the other.  The same God could not approve of both. So do they both believe in the same God?

God doesn't get to be who we want Him to be.  He is Who He is.  He doesn't become what we want in our imaginations.  We should think rather that we get to be what He wants us to be.  With God there is "no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17).   We're the ones who conform to God, not He to us.  We get to conform to Him, if He allows us to.

People shape God to their imaginations with their worship.  They offer God what they want and the god of their imaginations accepts it.  It isn't God.  They believe in him and he isn't God.  He is the god of their imaginations, shaped by their offerings to him.  They give him what they want.  The children growing up in their churches also develop a wrong view of God.  It's no wonder that He also tolerates many various manners of lust from His so-called worshipers.  This is how various forms of Christianity exist.  When you judge one not to be true or orthodox or right, its adherents might show you a doctrinal statement, but they still have a different god in their imaginations, who isn't God.

Their god is the same god who allows for bikinis, short shorts, strapless dresses where the top comes right down to the top of their breasts, for their women.  Their god approves, applauds that.  He obviously isn't a holy God. They are very casual about their god and their god is casual with them.  In their minds, this god saves them and saves them by his grace, because that's what he does.  However, when they believe on this god, are they really believing in the true God?  I can't wish them into heaven by agreeing that he is God.  I don't think He is, because the God I worship and the one they do coudn't be so different.  Somebody's got to be wrong.  I know it's them.

God has to be God for you to believe in Him.  You are not believing in Him when He is who you want him to be.  How far does He need to dip below Who He is for Him not to be him any more?  Is that worth it?  Only Christianity plays this game, it plays this game with God.  Tiddly-winks isn't tackle football.  Madagascar isn't the United States of America.  The god of their imaginations isn't God.  He is a different god, more the god of their lust, and He doesn't save.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Andrew Murray, Mystical Quietist and Higher Life / Keswick Writer, part 4 of 7

Medieval Roman Catholic mysticism and quietism had a very influential and lifelong influence on Murray.  The devout Mary worshipper, receiver of allegedly inspired oracles,[1] and Roman Catholic monk “Bernard of Clairvaux,” who taught that “it is necessary for the seeker to lose himself in God and merge his own individuality in that of the Eternal One,” and who also gave “a mighty stimulus to asceticism,” was “a favourite historical character with Andrew Murray, who called his home at Wellington after the famous abbey which Bernard founded.”[2]  Throughout his life Murray was also greatly influenced by Madame Guyon.  While not endorsing every heresy of the Catholic mystic,[3] Murray stated:  “I approve of [the] books [of] . . .  Madame Guyon . . . and recommend them,” so that it was a great compliment for one in his family to recognize a fellow minister as “an exemplification of the doctrines of Quietism in action[.] . . . All those expressions of being dead to self and lost in God which one finds in Madame Guyon seem to be exemplified in his experience and life.”[4]  Murray rated “Madame Guyon” and the Catholic monk “Rysbroeck” as “among his chief friends,” while also admiring the Roman Catholics Catherine of Siena and Santa Teresa, with their false gospel, idolatrous worship—whether of images, allegedly transubstantiated bread, or Mary—and demonic visions, mysticism, and continuationism.[5]  It is perhaps not surprising that Murray’s “books of devotion . . . met with the highest commendation at the hands of the most High Church Anglican Bishops[.]”[6]
Murray was amenable to the Keswick continuationist theology because of “his inadequate theological training . . . [he was] a minister by the time he was twenty”[7] (cf. 1 Timothy 3:6), and the limited training he did receive was within a hotbed of rationalism and theological liberalism, under professors with strong antipathy to evangelical piety and among unconverted denominational fellow-students with “scandalous morals.”  Even the “orthodox and respectable” ones “profaned . . . the name of God,” and many were “intoxicated” on various occasions.[8]  “Conversion was an antiquated word.”[9]  It is perhaps not surprising that Murray’s view of conversion and advice to the unconverted contain serious confusion.  Denying total depravity for the doctrine that the lost can truly love Jesus Christ, Murray wrote to the unconverted:  I write to you as those of whom I hope that it is in truth their earnest desire to find the Saviour, and of whom I really trust that they have truly declared before the Lord:  Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee.”[10]  Those unconverted persons who somehow truly love Christ are not to consciously and instantly repent, believe the gospel, and be justified by repentant faith alone, but are to confess that they accept Christian doctrine, worship Christ, and so insensibly and gradually become believers.[11]  It is most unfortunate that Murray’s theologically liberal seminary education left him with such a confused view of evangelical conversion.
  Indeed, Murray confessed that his seminary education was essentially useless,[12] although his interaction with religious apostasy likely contributed to Murray’s ecumenicalism, his “broad . . . charity” and “generous welcome” to men such as the Keswick leader, international Keswick spokesman, and annihilationist George Grubb, and the Higher Life and ecumenical leader John R. Mott, who became “one of the principal architects of the World Council of Churches,” was that body’s “honorary president,” and who received “the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to the ecumenical movement.”[13]  Murray was “among the first to bid them welcome, and to lend the weight of his influence and authority to their undertaking[s] . . . there can be no doubt that the sympathy [and] constant interest . . . of Mr. Murray formed . . . a large element in any success which may have attended their mission.”[14]
            Thankfully, despite his corrupt seminary education, Murray did not become a modernist.  He retained much of what was both good and bad from the conservative Dutch Reformed paedobaptist tradition in which he had been raised.  For example, his teaching about what the children of believers possess by virtue of their parentage evidences clear dependence upon the Reformed paedobaptist covenantalism:
The word holy is the promise of a divine life-power.  Let us beware of emptying the word holy of its divine truth and power.  If God calls our children holy, it is because they are born from a believing parent who is holy in Christ; therefore, they are holy, too.  The child of true believers inherits from his parents, not only the sinful nature, but habits and tendencies which the child of the unbeliever does not share.  These are the true seeds of holiness, the working of the Holy Spirit from the mother’s womb.  Even where it cannot be seen, there is a secret heritage of the seed of holiness implanted in the child of the believer.  There is secured to him the Holy Spirit in whom the holiness of God has reached its full manifestation. . . . In promising the Holy Spirit to His disciples, our Lord said He would be a river of living water flowing from them to others.  The believer has power to influence those with whom he comes in contact.  The child born of him inherits a blessing in the very life he receives from the parent who is sanctified by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  In the mother’s womb the child can receive the Holy Spirit.  Oh, let us be sure of it, when God gives our child the name holy, that is the beginning of the work of His own Holy Spirit.  Let nothing less than this be what our heart reads in God’s words:  your children are holy.[15]
Murray’s affirmations might find support in the Reformed paedobaptist tradition, but they certainly are not found in the Bible.  The book of Ephesians clearly states that Christian families with children present in the congregation (Ephesians 6:1).  Nevertheless, all who had been regenerated had first been spiritually dead, and were unholy children of wrath and of the devil without any inherent goodness in them, until they came to a point when, after some time living, having a walk, and fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and of the mind, they were consciously converted at the moment of saving faith (Ephesians 2:1-10).  The church of Ephesus, including the converted children of Christian parents in the congregation, would not have recognized Murray’s statements as Christian doctrine had Murray’s teaching, or the covenantal paedobaptism it is based upon, existed at the time.  Thus, Murray retained, both for better and for worse, much of the Reformed paedobaptist tradition in which he had been raised.
            Despite his lack of a genuinely Christian seminary education, Murray went on to influence many other important Keswick continuationist leaders, such as Jessie Penn-Lewis and Watchman Nee.  He corresponded with Mrs. Penn-Lewis, contributed to her Overcomer magazine, and commended her writings.  He even wrote an introduction to one of her works, which he was glad to have translated into Dutch, and he arranged to have it distributed to all the ministers and elders of his denomination in South Africa for free.[16]  “For twenty years he was president of the Holiness movement in South Africa,”[17] the country where he ministered.  Among other theological errors,[18] Murray taught the classic Keswick form of Quietism, affirming that the Christian “soul becomes utterly passive, looking and resting on what Christ is to do,”[19] yielding to be “a passive instrument possessed by God,”[20] for “Scripture . . . speaks of our being still and doing nothing . . . [the Christian] yields himself a truly passive instrument in the hand of God . . . [to] perfect passivity.”[21]  The believer is to be passive, rather than to actively use his mind or will, since these are functions of his allegedly unregenerate soul, rather than his regenerate spirit, and “[t]he greatest danger the religion of the Church or the individual has to dread is the inordinate activity of the soul, with its power of mind and will.”[22]  The “intellect . . . is . . . impotent and even dangerous” without a quietistic extra-Biblical and extra-mental revelation from God, a “wait[ing] for His teaching” within, “deeper than the soul, with all its life of feeling, and thought, and will.”[23]  Murray also altered the previous practice of his church to permit women to lead the congregation, including the men, in prayer.[24]  He further averred:  “Perfection . . . is a Bible truth . . . and Perfectionism . . . may . . . be . . . truth.”[25]  He “frequently deplored the fact that . . . Christians in general were ‘terribly afraid of perfectionism.’”[26]

See here for this entire study.

[1]           E. g., his false prophecy of the success of the Second Crusade; cf. pg. 315, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, McClintock & Strong.
[2]           Pg. 451, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis. For Bernard, “conversion [was] enter[ing] the monastery,” and “uncoerced humility justifies and . . . merits the grace of God[.] . . . Bernard does not represent a purely forensic form of justification” (pgs. 41, 48, 58, Sweet Communion:  Trajectories of Spirituality from the Middle Ages through the Further Reformation, Arie de Reuver, trans. James De Jong).  “Bernard was not . . . a forerunner of the Reformation.  He was a devout child of the twelfth century, completely involved in the contemporary developments of the Roman papal establishment” (pg. 57, Ibid).
[3]           Murray affirmed:  “I cannot say that I agree in everything with . . . Madame Guyon,” since Mr. Murray was not a medieval Roman Catholic like Guyon.  Murray would nonetheless have done well to warn against Guyon instead of commending her very dangerous writings with a few words of warning.  See pgs. 237-239, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis. 
[4]           Pgs. 237-239, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[5]           Pgs. 480-481, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[6]           Pg. 511, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[7]           Pg. 113, The Pentecostals, Hollenweger.
[8]           Pgs. 60-63, 68-69, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[9]           Pg. 58, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[10]         Pg. 10, Why Do You Not Believe?: Words of Instruction and Encouragement for All Who Are Seeking the Lord,  Andrew Murray.  Chicago, IL:  Fleming H. Revell, 1894.
[11]         Murray wrote:
This at least you know that, although you cannot yet say, He is my Saviour, your whole soul believes that He was sent by God to be a Saviour, and that He has proved Himself to be a Saviour for others. Well, then, go with this confession to Jesus, utter it before Him in prayer, look to Him and adore Him as the Saviour of the world. Speak out what you do believe, and by this means will faith in your heart be confirmed and increased. Say: “Lord Jesus, how unbelieving I am; this, however, I do believe that Thou art the Saviour, full of love and grace, and mighty to redeem.” Forget yourselves and worship Jesus, although you dare not as yet say, that He is yours. In the midst of those exercises your faith will increase, and by and by you will insensibly come to the confidence that He is also yours. (pgs. 36-37, Why Do You Not Believe?  Words of Instruction and Encouragement for All Who Are Seeking the Lord)
[12]         Murray stated:  “[T]he lectures here [in seminary] are such that it is almost impossible to get any good from them.”  A fellow student averred:  “One learnt nothing from [the professors’] lectures” (pgs. 62, 67, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis); the sole exception was the lectures of “Opzoomer,” whose lectures bred “an enthusiasm which was wholly lacking in his older colleagues,” but this enthusiasm was for apostasy from Christianity, as he was “a rationalist . . . an empiricist . . . [and] one of the fathers of . . . Liberalism or Modernism . . . in Holland” (pg. 63, Ibid).  Because the seminary education he had received was useless, Murray wanted to go to Germany to get a real education, but his father told him to return to South Africa and begin his service as a minister instead, and he did so (pgs. 67ff., Ibid).
[13]         Pgs. 451-453, Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, ed. Larsen.  The Dictionary notes: “Mott’s appeal seemed to be ‘entirely to the moral nature and there is no theology in it’ (Hopkins, Mott, p. 385). His relative indifference to theology and broad ecumenical sympathies were characteristic of the holiness evangelicalism of the late nineteenth century.”
[14]         Pg. 440, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.  Of course, Murray also welcomed more orthodox men; he did not confine his welcome to the heterodox.
[15]         Pgs. 267-268, Raising Your Children for Christ, Andrew Murray.  New Kensington, PA:  Whitaker House, 1984.
[16]         Pg. 2, The Overcomer, January 1910.
[17]         Pg. 113, The Pentecostals, Hollenweger.
[18]         For example, in addition to paedobaptism and the confusion on conversion so closely associated with it, Murray believed that alcoholic “[w]ine is a good gift of God, to be received with gratitude and to be used to His glory,” so that he could not agree with those who argued that “the Bible not merely permits but enjoins abstinence from the use of wine,” although he was himself, commendably, a practitioner of total abstinence (cf. pgs. 361-365, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis; for a good presentation of the Biblical requirement, not option, of total abstinence, see The Use of Wine in the Old Testament, Robert Teachout).
[19]         Pg. 30, Abide in Christ:  Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God, Andrew Murray. Philadelphia, PA:  Henry Altemus, 1895.  Out of this utter passivity, Murray goes on to explain, activity flows—in the Keswick theology, quietism is not an end to itself, but leads to a sort of activity.
[20]         Pg. 7, Waiting on God! Daily Messages for a Month, Andrew Murray.  New York, NY:  Fleming H. Revell, 1896.  Murray is quoting a poem by Freda Hanbury.
[21]         Pgs. 136-137, Abide in Christ: Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God, Murray.  Here again, Murray goes on to explain that by means of “perfect passivity” one becomes the “active instrument” of God.
[22]         Pg. 335, The Spirit of Christ:  Thoughts on the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Believer and the Church, Andrew Murray. New York, NY: Anson D. F. Randolph & Company, 1888.
[23]         Pg. 338, The Spirit of Christ:  Thoughts on the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Believer and the Church, Andrew Murray.
[24]         Pgs. 194-199, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[25]         Pg. 311, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.  Murray also stated that some forms of perfectionism are “a human perversion of that truth” of “Perfection” and of true “Perfectionism.”
[26]         Pg. 313, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trump Rumors

I'm actually on the road right now, and I've got a lot on the platter.  I'm writing this at an airport in the middle of the country.  This is easier to write, but I'm giving my take on latest about President Trump. I want to continue a couple of series I've started, but I don't have the time to put into them in order to finish, so here goes.

Very often today, the media is pushing the narrative that Donald Trump is on the road to impeachment.  You also hear from the same that Republicans are scared, troubled, and losing faith in Trump.  Here's what I think, and I've basically been right start to finish so far about Trump.  I think I'm right again, but here is what I think is really happening.

The media drives the Democrat Party.  Who feeds the media?  First, the media is an entity to itself and it feeds the Democrat Party.  Second, the media receives distracting talking points from leftover establishment and liberal types in the federal bureaucracy, including the intelligence gathering components domestic and foreign.  Third, a few very influential Democrats tied to the Clintons and the Obamas formulate stories for the media to tell.  Almost all of the stories, as I see it, are lies, at least lies in their basic premise.

We know from the account of the Clinton campaign, the book, Shattered, that as soon as Hillary lost, Podesta and crew came up with the Russian story as an excuse for losing.  The media has run with it.  There is very little, as is said, there, there.  If you scoured what every Trump associate or supporter did, you might find something inappropriate that might possibly be vaguely construed as violating some either law or ethic.  Mainly I'm talking about anyone who even talked to a Russian that could be used to place someone on the grassy knoll.

The greatest violations of law and national security and liberty have come from Democrats, primarily three:  illegal surveillance or eavesdropping on Republicans, including Trump team, for political purposes, the illegal and traitorous leaking to the media, and then the continued pile of evidence that the Clintons exposed tons of classified information, including that on the computer of Anthony Weiner, and profited from pay to play corruption in their foundation.  What I just stated is the real issue and the media is essentially covering it up, and establishment Republicans like John McCain are useful idiots to the media.

Every other story, that is a fake story, totally contrived, is the Russian collusion story.  It's just being used to hurt Trump, his leadership, his presidency, and agenda.  First, none of us has still received the evidence that the Russians affected the election.  People say it, but we don't know it.  We don't know that information wasn't leaked by Democrats themselves.  The media isn't taking that pathway because it conflicts with its agenda.  Second, we don't know what the worst possible of the Trump people has even done that is illegal.  Even if it is inappropriate, it pales next to Obama and Clinton in anything akin to it.  Flynn is already fired.  He can't be fired again.

I have seen no evidence of Russian collusion.  Some of the stories written are outright lies.  Those are the bigger concern.  Part of it now is this idea that Trump gave the Russians classified information hurtful to an American ally.  This is still unproven even if illegal.  McMaster is a favorite among even Democrats and establishment, and he is defending Trump.  Then there is Trump firing Comey to protect himself against an investigation, which continues unimpeded even by the testimony of the acting FBI chief.  I see Trump as firing Comey, because Comey is being too political, including in how he is treating this Russian situation, which is a nothing.  It seems to me that Comey has used it as leverage.  It obviously didn't work.

The last part of this is the new story that Trump asked Comey if he wouldn't investigate Flynn, because Flynn is a good man.  I think Trump believes Flynn is a good man, who has suffered more than what he should have.   He also wants this fake story to end, because it is a distraction to his administration.  Asking if the FBI would be lenient with Flynn isn't a crime.  They have spun it into obstruction of justice, and as impeachable.

The stuff against Trump is a fake story, fake news, a total house of cards.  That is my point of view.  We'll see how it comes out.

There is much more than this, but my flight just got called.

Monday, May 15, 2017

God Has to Be God, pt. 2

Part One

"I believe in God," you insist.  Sure, and the god to whom you refer both expects and allows you to live pretty close to how you want.  That's the god you believe in.  Actual God doesn't count that belief as believing in God, because it isn't Him, actual Him, Whom you are believing in.

What I'm writing about, the Apostle Paul describes in Romans 1:25, 26, and 28, which together read:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections. . . . 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.
People change the truth of God into a lie.  The idea of "the truth of God" in this context is "the truth about God."  They reject the truth about God for a lie about God.  They call their god, God, but in fact they serve the creature.  Their god functions within their own parameters.

Verse 28 expands upon verse 25 by explaining that they "did not like to retain God in their knowledge."  "Did not like to retain" is literally that "they approved not to have God in their knowledge."  The second half of 25 is a play on words.  "Approved not" is ouk dokimazo and "reprobate" is adokimos, both the same root words.  Their minds trash God, and their minds become the judgment of God itself.  Men can't think straight when the one and true God isn't accepted in their thoughts.  Their minds become what their minds do.  Their minds trash God and their minds become trash.  The judgment is a built-in consequence.

The chief alternative god to actual God, that I see today in the world, is what I call the goodymeister.  He's a kind of living vending machine.  He's perfect for men walking after their own lusts, who don't want a boss.  Knowing he is who men want as god, churches offer him as god to their people.  He does not form in their imagination mainly through a doctrinal statement, but by the style and substance of the preaching and the worship.  They give him, this goodymeister god, what they like, what they would want if they were him.  His adherents would gladly serve him, because he wants the same things they do.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Atheist Compliments on Daniel

As many readers of this blog may know, I have written an apologetic work entitled The Book of Daniel:  Proof that the Bible is the Word of God.  I used the arguments in this work in my debate last year with Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, "The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, Not Fact," and it came up again in my most recent debate with him, "Prophecy and Archaeology Validate the Bible as the Word of God."  Mr. Barker did not have a good explanation for the overwhelming evidence of plain, specific predictive prophecies in Daniel, nor did he have an explanation for the powerful evidences that Daniel wrote the book in the 6th century, far before the time that the predictions in the book were fulfilled.

I am pleased that two significant anti-Christian skeptical writers (both of whom do a better job than Mr. Barker trying to attack the Bible, although they are unsuccessful), have given my work on Daniel very notable compliments.  One said:  "Tom . . . has compiled the most thorough and reasonable defense for the traditional view of Daniel that I have ever encountered.  I commend him for the time and effort."  Another said: "I agree . . . that Tom's efforts at defending the traditional dating of Daniel were the best I'd seen." I am thankful for this praise from these anti-Biblical skeptics, although they were not willing, at least as of now, to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  (Please note that I am absolutely NOT recommending their blogs or their writings by posting this information, although the objections to Scripture are the typical sort one encounters in works of theological liberalism.  Young Christians and/or unsaved people could definitely be harmed by the misinformation and attacks on God's Word in their blogs.)

Both skeptics argued that Ezekiel's reference to Daniel was actually not to the man Daniel, but to a pagan Baal worshipper named Dan'el who is found in the Legend of Aqhat.  The response to such a highly problematic argument is contained below (reproduced from a footnote in The Book of Daniel:  Proof that the Bible is the Word of God):

The desperate anti-supernaturalist argument that the Daniel referenced by Ezekiel is not the righteous and wise servant of Jehovah who authored the book of Daniel and who is compared to Noah and Job as comparable righteous worshippers of Jehovah, all three of whom are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, but is an ungodly worshipper of the god Baal called Dan’el who is referenced in a ancient legend, is surely an argument made out of desperation in order to avoid the obvious implications of Ezekiel’s validation of the Jewish prophet Daniel and his inspired Book.  Archer comments:
[The anti-supernaturalist theory that] the Daniel referred to in Ezekiel must have been the ancient hero named Dan’el, whose life story is narrated in the Ugaritic legend of Aqhat (dating from about the fifteenth century B.C.) . . . [has extremely] serious difficulties[.] . . [T]he Lord’s declaration quoted in Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and 28:3 amounts to this: Even though such godly leaders as Noah (at the dawn of history), and Job (in the time of Moses or a little before), and Daniel (from the contemporary scene in Ezekiel’s own generation) should all unite in interceding for apostate Judah, God could not hear their prayers on behalf of that rebellious nation. . . . The . . . difficulty with identifying the Daniel of Ezekiel 14 with the Dan’el of the Ugaritic epic is found in the character and spiritual condition of Dan’el himself. When the legend of Aqhat is studied in its full context, which relates the story of Dan’el, the father of young Aqhat, it is found that he is praised as being a faithful idol-worshiper, principally occupied with seven-day periods of sacrifices to the various gods of the Canaanite pantheon, such as Baal and El. His relationship to Baal was especially close, and he made bold to petition him for a son, so that when Dan’el became so drunk at a wild party that he could not walk by himself, his son might assist him back to his home and bed, to sleep off his drunken stupor. Later on, after the promised son (Aqhat) is born, and is later killed at the behest of the spiteful goddess Anath, Dan’el lifts up his voice in a terrible curse against the vulture (Samal) which had taken his son’s life. He prevails on Baal to break the wings of all the vultures that fly overhead, so that he can slit open their stomachs and see whether any of them contains the remains of his dead son. At last he discovers the grisly evidence in the belly of Samal, queen of the vultures. He then kills her and puts a curse on Abelim, the city of the vultures. The next seven years he spends in weeping and wailing for his dead son, and finally contrives to have his own daughter (Paghat) assassinate the warrior Yatpan, who was also involved in Aqhat’s murder seven years before.
         From this portrayal of Dan’el it is quite apparent that he could never have been associated with Noah and Job as a paragon of righteousness and purity of life. Nothing could be more unlikely than that a strict and zealous monotheist like Ezekiel would have regarded with appreciation a Baal-worshiper, a polytheistic pagan given to violent rage and unremitting vengefulness, a drunken carouser who needed assistance to find his way home to his own bed. Apart from a passing mention of Dan’el’s faithful fulfillment of his duties as a judge at the city gate—a requirement expected of all judges according to the Torah—there is no suggestion in the Ugaritic poem that he is any outstanding hero of the faith, eligible for inclusion with Noah and Job. It is therefore quite hopeless to maintain this identification of Ezekiel’s “Daniel” with the Dan’el of Ugaritic legend. (Ibid).

Thus, the Legend of Aqhat frequently mentions Dan’el’s worship of Baal, frequently connects Dan’el and drunkenness, emphasizes Dan’el’s son Aquat disobeying the goddess Anath, who kills Aqhat for his impiety, and speaks of a plot with Dan’el and his daughter to deceive and commit murder.  The Legend of Aqhat never even once uses the adjectives “righteous” or “wise” for Dan’el.  A simple reading of Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3 and the pagan Legend makes any identification of the person spoken of by Ezekiel and the person specified in the Legend an instance of insanity.  Only the extreme difficulty for anti-supernaturalism contained in Ezekiel’s reference to the man Daniel, author of the inspired book of Daniel, explains anyone’s affirming what is so obviously false.  The fact that such extreme measures must be pursued in order to attempt to eliminate Ezekiel’s testimony illustrates how powerful an evidence it is in favor of Daniel’s sixth century authorship of the book bearing his name, and thus of the reality of predictive prophecy.

I should also note that attempts to make Daniel's fourth empire Greece instead of Rome, and to make the 70 weeks prophecy end in the Maccabean period instead of in the time of Christ's ministry, require one to torture the plain meaning of the text of the book.  The obvious sense of Daniel must be changed if one is to attempt to get out of its predictive prophetic content, its plain evidence of the miraculous at work in the composition of the Bible.

Copies of this apologetic work on Daniel can be downloaded as MS Word files here and personalized for use in your Bible-believing Baptist church.  I have added in pictures to the second half of the work dealing with Daniel's authorship, and am planning, Lord willing, to update the first half as well, and then make the book available for both electronic and print acquisition.


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

God Has to Be God

If you don't like the only God there is, you can always make up your own and believe in him or her. What do you think?  I mean, you can do that, just like you can wait in line for an invisible ride at the amusement park, hoping to ride it.   You say, "No one does that."  Most people do that with God. They shape a god in their minds to fit their desires.  Religions or churches encourage this too.  People fill up buildings to and for a god that doesn't exist.  There is a point when actual God dips below His actual identity in people's imagination, so that He isn't God anymore.

Let's say a very strong, large, tough man in an official uniform, because he's in authority, tells you that you've got to eat two fried eggs and two slices of whole wheat, buttered toast every morning, or he'll plaster you in the nose with his fist.  In your mind, he doesn't exist, so you eat oatmeal instead.  I guess he was real, as seen in your broken, bleeding nose.  The next morning you try two pieces of fruit and then welcome his fist again.  It doesn't seem you can just wish him away.  He's real.  The next morning it is two fried eggs and two slices of whole wheat, buttered toast, no fist in your nose either.

Your thoughts and the acknowledgement and belief about God must portend with reality.  You can't imagine Him to be who you want Him to be and then count a response to Him as God to count as one.  God has to be God.

People worship the God of their imagination.  For Him to be God, the imagination must be shaped by and then conform to the truth.  If not, He isn't Him.  You can say you are worshiping Him, but you are not.  You can say He will save you, and He won't.  You can say that you are safe from God's judgment, but you are not.  You can say that you are waiting for a ride at the amusement park, but it must exist for you to do that.

The nation Israel started off with God, or what we could call the One, True God.  There is only One, so someone can just call Him God.  God revealed Himself. After awhile, in general Israel didn't like their God, Who was the only God.  Even though there isn't another one, they wanted another one, or at least the One they had, the true One, to be different than Who He actually was.  They began worshiping their God like one of the other ones, which were gods of their roundabout neighbors.

By the time we get to Jesus in the gospels, the Samaritans, who were partly Jewish, were worshiping a god about which Jesus said in John 4:22, "Ye worship ye know not what."  Later, when the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, you could say that they were in a similar circumstance, when he told the Jews there in the audience in Romans 10:2, "For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge."  At Corinth, the imagination of Jesus had been so distorted, that Paul wrote professing believers there in 1 Corinthians 12:3, claiming to be "speaking by the Spirit of God," "calleth Jesus accursed."  In their ecstatic state, they thought that true about Jesus, and accused the Holy Spirit of revealing that lie to them about Jesus as well.

The nation Israel started with the right knowledge, but that knowledge became distorted as Israelites, Jews, began to conform God in their minds to their own desires.  They would match up to God in their own righteousness, so His righteousness must be something where theirs could do that.  They diminished God's righteousness with the thought that He would see theirs as acceptable.  They wouldn't have to submit to the righteousness of the new god of their imagination.  They could establish their own righteousness as good enough and be saved by works.  God wasn't God anymore in their imagination.  The god that replaces God is an idol.  They are worshiping an idol, an idol that accepts their behavior, which is less than what actual God accepts.

Most people have a different god today with whom they are satisfied with.  They serve him in their own way.  They obey him like they like to obey.  He saves them like they want to be saved.  He's not real.  In the end, the one, only True God will give them the equivalent of the metaphorical fist in the nose of the above illustration in paragraph two.  They'll know Who He is right at that moment, but it will be too late.

If we can't take the only God at His Word, we won't believe in Him.  When we won't or can't believe, we won't or can't be saved.  God has to be God.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Julia and Derek: The Engagement

On April 14, Derek Wilhite asked my eldest daughter, Julia, to marry him.  She said yes.  Here's the story.

Back in the day, when I became a Freshman in college the Fall of 1980, I joined a college society, Euangelistes, because it was Jerry Wilhite's.  He was a Senior. I attended high school at the same institution, so I knew who Jerry was and I chose it because he was in it.  Later Jerry and I were in graduate school together for a year or two.   We took many of our classes from Thomas Strouse, who had an influence on both of us.  I remember going to Jerry and Debbie Wilhite's apartment for a meal during that time. There are many, many other ties I could tell -- many.  If we fast forward a few years, our church in California took the Wilhites for support to South Africa. They were one of our missionaries.  We have kept track of them for decades.  My assessment had been we believe and practice the same.

About four or five years ago, a beloved young man in our church, who had been saved and discipled here, David Warner, initiated a courtship, agreed upon by Jerry, with his third daughter, Julianna.  My family went out for their wedding three years ago at Lehigh Valley Baptist Church.  There my wife and I met all of the Wilhite children, including Derek.  We spent one day with him and others down in Philadelphia at that time.

I don't believe the woman initiates marriage, but the man as seen in Genesis 2.  Women sometimes do, but it's just not the scriptural model.  I do think that the Dad can make others aware he's got daughters and inquire if anyone knows of any interest.  I remember asking Jerry if he knew of any young men in his circles, who he might think would be interested in Julia.  Some of that day in Philadelphia, I spent walking around with Derek, and I liked him.  I had noticed his hard work around the church property.  Later Derek told me that Julia made a good impression to him, but Derek also did to us.

Even though I had preached on the obtaining of a life's partner several times and written a series about it over at the old Jackhammer blog, this was my first personal episode as a father, to see what how it might turn out on the ground.  It wasn't as though my efforts were just starting.  My wife and I raised children.  That's part of the process -- their character, their beliefs, and their honed abilities.  I'll get back to that later, because getting ready for marriage is the most important part for two people. These two really, really did that.

By my record, March 24, 2015, Derek wrote me for the first time, and we began a correspondence then that continued over two years.  Two years.  This didn't happen fast.  His Dad and I had talked a few times before that in an exploratory way.  We support the Wilhites as missionaries. Even though he wasn't stating his purpose, I understood what was going on when Derek wrote. Awhile after that, he made his first phone call, and we very often called, increasingly so, as we moved along.

I appreciated Derek's tack on this process.  He didn't start at all, one bit, with my daughter.  He started with me.  Observe that, young men.  I've got two other daughters, and if you want to disqualify yourself, try starting this with one of them and not with me.  It had already been attempted with Julia by others.  A good test of manhood is the ability to talk to a man.  Boys like beginning with the daughter, but men are fine starting with the Father.  Men.

With the announcement of their engagement, many, several, said to us that they thought we were moving along, it seemed, too quickly.  I laughed.  For our family, it was slow.  I see the point as, people want to watch the process in the open, and if they don't get to see all of it, then it isn't happening.  What they see seems fast, but it wasn't fast.  It doesn't count as happening if people don't see, like a dating situation would.  I wouldn't want the process to look like that.  Nothing is really happening until someone makes a commitment.  Derek's commitment was to talking to me first and I really, really admire that.  He showed confidence, something I'd want to see in a man who would marry my daughter.  It wasn't always easy, but he was being patient and concentrated on what was important.  I also appreciate his parents and their support and leadership in all this.  They also raised a good son by the grace of God.

When there is no commitment yet, and there shouldn't be, the two not ready for the commitment, they are committed to the process, which occurs in private. However, it is occurring, and it wasn't fast. Both could relax to do what they needed to do at the time.  They could focus on their priorities. There was not pressure to keep a relationship going.  It was about what it needed to be about, and that is making sure that two would want to make a commitment, would be ready to do so, really ready.  The most important things to know can be learned without being around each other, and those can be learned in the courtship phase of this.  They are not emotionally involved.  If the two aren't committed, then they haven't given themselves to each other.  They need to know first.

Julia was positive and fine about Derek during the process.  She knew what was happening and was happy about it.  I did not convey that information to Derek.  What he knew was that we were happy about it.  I'm sure every guy wants to know how happy the lady is.  I was being honest with him.  If it wasn't going to work, I would tell him.  He knew that too.  Of course, he wanted to know whether she liked him.  Courtship started on February 2.  He asked if he could court.  Julia said, yes.  Her mom and I said, yes.  He knew she said, yes.  He had a "yes."

Both Julia and Derek gave testimony of salvation and showed the fruit of that in their lives.  That is foundational.  You can't know that without some long term testimony in a true church.  During the writing and phone conversation, Derek went to school at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, studying mechanical engineering.  He did an excellent as a student and graduated in December 2016 toward the top of his class and with a very high gpa.  He has no college debt.  He worked and saved.  He didn't make impulsive purchases.  He was a very active member of his church -- evangelism, attendance, physical labor, and music.  His friends are in the church.  He likes to talk about spiritual things.  He is a student of the Word.  He is a bold Christian.  He kept his pastor updated on the plans and checked in with all of it.

Julia will graduate from Cal State East Bay in kinesiology in June.  She will have no debt.  She too worked and saved.  She has a great job and in a leadership position at Skyhawks out here.  She too is an active and helpful member of our church here.

When courtship began, I told them they could text and talk.  When they were together in person, they needed a chaperone.  That was already Derek's standard.  They have been chaperoned and have enjoyed that. They haven't touched.  They have honored the Lord, each other, and their parents.  They both waited and saved themselves for each other.  They have been a great testimony in this whole process.

When Derek asked if he could marry, Julia, I had a few questions still, that he answered well.  That was by phone.  He told me some of the details about how he would ask.  He was coming out in the middle of April for a job interview and the company would pay for the flight.

Derek included us in his proposal part of it.  Julia and he went on a bike ride with my youngest daughter, Gabi, from Pier 39 in San Francisco to Sausalito across the Golden Gate bridge.  He asked for her hand under the bridge on the city side.  We met them in Sausalito for lunch.  They took the bikes via ferry back to the city.  They did a great job of informing certain key people first, so they would not find out through social media.  No one knew until they were told.  People were surprised, because we and they kept it quiet and safe.  Derek did a great job, paying great attention to detail.

The wedding, Lord-willing, will likely be sometime January to March next year. Derek is moving out to California later this month to live here.  The two will work with us in our church. We are very thankful for it all.  We are thankful for his church and pastor, and again for his parents. Because they did this right, they have made this a very wonderful situation.  You should remember that.  It's much better when you do things right.  I am glad to say that they are an example worth emulating by others.