Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Clarity As to What This Election Is About

Sometime after the two party conventions later this year, I'll write a post to give a full analysis of this year's presidential election, the strangest one in my lifetime.   The 92 Clinton-Bush-Perot was an odd one, as was Bush-Gore 2000 by the time it was settled by the Supreme Court.  This election is already more bizarre and with perhaps the greatest weirdness to come.

Almost everyone in America now knows Donald Trump's campaign slogan, imprinted in white, mediocre, plain, block font on the front of a tricycle red baseball cap, "Make America Great Again." Trump represents nationalism.  The left, either Hillary or Bernie, might contend, "When was America ever great?  America isn't great."  They represent globalism.

Trump says, "Someone's right and it is the United States."  Hillary and Bernie say, "No one's wrong and everyone is right in his or her or his/her own way."  Trump says, "Build the wall."  Hillary and Bernie say, "Open the borders."

I don't think the election is only about nationalism versus globalism, but that contrast reduces it, I believe, to its most essential quality.  More than anyone Trump touched that nerve with his message, one that resonates with many people.  Many other Trump issues are a corollary to the nationalism. We should trade in a way that benefits our nation first and use our military in a way that benefits America first.

This election is way more basic than whether someone is a constitutional conservative, Ted Cruz's calling card.  The United States was the United States before its constitution was written.  I love our constitution, so don't get me wrong.  I'm saying that there are issues more basic or fundamental than the constitution.  You could take our constitution to many other countries, which has actually happened all over, and give it to them, and it won't make them a great nation.  We have seen this again and again.  We can take our system of government to other countries and they don't become great.

Here's how fundamental this election is.  It's not about what will make America great.  I understand that Trump thinks he knows.  It is about whether America should be great.  One side says, no.  The other side says, yes.  

Trump says, we're better than everyone else.  The other side says, no culture could be greater than any other culture.  America was never great.  It said it was, and for a time thought that it was, but it wasn't.  Trump may not understand greatness, but he does know that we had it and have about lost it.

Where there is no absolute truth, you can't be better.  If no one is greater than anyone else, then borders don't matter.  You have no culture to protect.  It doesn't make any difference.  The future won't be very bright for a country that doesn't see a reason for its own existence.

This election is about two stark differences in worldview.  Only one is compatible with biblical Christianity and it isn't globalism.  Some remind us that conservatism isn't the same as nationalism.  That's true, but you can't be a conservative without being a nationalist.  If you don't have a nation, then there's nothing left to conserve.  If nothing can be better, than why conserve anything anyway?

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Malleability of Old Testament Narratives

Last week I wrote about a sermon I heard on audio from the Old Testament, one influenced by Keswick theology.  That message also reminded me of many I have heard from the Old Testament through the years that left me scratching my head. "Where did he get that?" I ask.  "I don't see that in the text."  "The cloud Elijah saw was the size of a man's fist.  A man's fist has five fingers.  The number five represents such and such, so the cloud is this."  All of that, versus, "The cloud was very small."

What doctrine and practice does someone cull from Old Testament narratives?  By narratives, I'm talking about the stories in the Old Testament.   A large percentage stories make up Genesis, some in Exodus, a little in the rest of the Pentateuch, gigantic amounts in the historical books, and some in the prophets.  A big chunk of the Old Testament is narrative.

When you read an Old Testament narrative, it isn't hard to figure out what is happening.  The actual story is easy to understand.   People will largely agree on what the narratives mean.  However, a lot of divergence, I've noticed, comes in the message people take from those narratives or how they apply.

Reading some deeper meaning into a narrative, making facets of the story mean something in a symbolic or figurative way, when figurative language isn't being used, allows for unlimited possibilities to spin out of a passage.  The Old Testament narratives beccome quite malleable in the hands of such allegorical interpretation -- gumby-like.  Out goes the point of the narrative and in comes convenient and desired personal opinion.

What occurs, when someone takes an Old Testament story into his own hands to form it into a unique, hidden or mysterious meaning, is that the clear impression that the preacher possesses a power above the listeners.  They can't ascertain that same meaning, because they just don't see it there.  Apparently he has tapped into an elevated condition of Holy Spirit involvement not readily or ordinarily available to the average Christian.  In Keswick thinking, he arrived at this superior spiritual state through above average desire.  He wanted it more and he paid the price.  Now he can do these things unwilling others cannot.  I like to say that he's breathing a kind of pure spiritual air.

The listeners must be conditioned to accept that such experiences occur.  Their preacher has advanced abilities, not because of study or preparation or application of the ordinary means of grammar and syntax, but because God tells him things -- not out loud, but in the "still small voice."  The same impressions also inform to build a new auditorium.  Part of why he can do this is because he's been "called," which was to him another subjective ecstatic-like experience.

Because scripture is being referenced, the sermon arrives with divine authority.  God gave him this message, even as he and others may have prayed that "God would give him the words to say."  Those applications are as good as God's Word because they came from a testimony of the Holy Spirit.  Whatever he is saying must be true because it is attached to scripture and declared as if it is in the Bible.  If the listener disobeys the preaching, he's as good as disobeying God.

IF someone can't treat the Old Testament narratives in the Keswick style, what's he supposed to do?  It seems that the preacher is limited in what he might preach. When Joshua's sun stands still, that testifies of God's faithfulness to His covenant with His people.  The world is not a closed system without supernatural, divine intervention. God works according to His will for certain eras using miracles as a confirmation of His Word.  This means, however, is not normative.  One should not expect the sun to stand still for himself.  No doubt God has power to remove mountains, but He functions for most of time according to the ordinary means of His providence.  This is not a lesser exhibition of God's work.  It brings Him equal glory to any sign or wonder performed in an age of miracles.

An important mindset for individual Old Testament narratives is to see them within the overarching biblical metanarrative, the whole story of the Bible, from creation to fall to redemption to consummation.  Also crucial are God's covenants:  Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and New.  Preaching must report what God says and only what He says.  We confine ourselves to only what is in the text.  We should not make doctrinal and practical conclusions not found in the passage.

The original authors of Keswick were Protestants, who were greatly influenced by spiritualized teaching, parallel to the allegorization of their covenant theology. Adding the dimension of an extra-scriptural work of the Holy Spirit expanded the possibilities of brand new meanings and new applications.  Roman Catholicism read in amillennialism that was systematized by the Protestants, justifying their state church.  Keswick became that approach on steroids.

Unaffiliated Baptists, who take up the Protestant tradition of the Keswicks, do not embrace their heritage.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Keswick's History: Keswick Theology's Rise and Development in an Analysis and Critique of So Great Salvation by Stephen Barabas, part 5 of 5

Consequently, despite the withdrawal of Robert and Hannah Smith and other expected speakers,[1] the first Keswick Convention took place, “acknowledging the debt [the speakers] owed to Mr. Pearsall Smith,”[2] and propagating the Higher Life theology of sanctification Mr. Smith had learned from his wife.  Despite “violent criticism and opposition . . . [such that to] identify oneself with the . . . Keswick Convention . . . [and] Higher Life teaching meant to be willing to be separated from the leaders of the Evangelical Church,”[3] including opposition by men such as Charles Spurgeon, Horatius Bonar,[4] and J. C. Ryle.[5]  For example, Dr. Bonar wrote:
One thing has struck me sadly in the authorized reports of the Brighton Conference—the number of perverted passages of Scripture; and this is really the root of the whole evil.  The speakers first disclaim, I might say, derived theology, and then they proceed to distort the Word of God. . . . I was grieved beyond measure . . . these perversions are part of the system.  It cannot stand without them. . . . One of my chief objections to the Perfectionst [Keswick] Doctrine is that it subverts the whole argument and scope of the epistles to the Romans and the Hebrews. . . . Have I written too strongly?  I don’t think so.  Years are now upon me, and I may claim to be entitled to speak; and . . . have this as my testimony before God and the Churches, that I know few errors more subversive of what the Bible really teaches, and of what our fathers of the Reformation died for, than this modern Perfectionism.  The thing now called holiness is not that which we find in Scripture, and the method of reaching holiness, by an instantaneous leap, called an act of faith, is nowhere taught us by the Holy Ghost.[6]
Mr. Battersby and Mr. Wilson decided to hold another convention.  “After that there was never any doubt that it should be held yearly.”[7]  Wilson and Battersby would not heed the warnings of the body of godly Bible-believing Christians in their day and reject Keswick; “the greatest Leaders and Teachers of Evangelical Truth thought it their duty to oppose to the utmost what they considered ‘very dangerous Heresy’” taught at Keswick and its antecedent Holiness Conventions, “a false doctrine of ‘Perfection in man,’”[8] but the Conventions were to continue, nevertheless.  Since that time “the Keswick message . . . [has been] carried . . . to almost every corner of the world”[9] and “its influence is seen to-day in every quarter of the globe.”[10]  In modern times, Keswick Conventions are held in many cities throughout countries such as England, the United States, Australia, Canada, Romania, New Zealand, India, Jamaica, South Africa, Japan, Kenya, and other parts of Africa, Asia, and South America—indeed, there are “numerous conventions around the world on every continent which are modelled on Keswick.”[11]  Likewise, Keswick theology appears in devotional compositions by men such as Andrew Murray,[12] F. B. Meyer,[13] J. Oswald Sanders,[14] and Hudson Taylor.[15]  Keswick’s teachings also impacted the Welsh holiness revival of 1904-1905,[16] “the German holiness movement, Foreign Missions, Conventions Abroad, the American holiness movement, the American Pentecostal movement . . . the Christian and Missionary Alliance . . . American fundamentalism . . . [and] English fundamentalism or conservative evangelicalism,”[17] as well as offshoots of Pentecostalism like the Health and Wealth or Word-Faith movement which “arose out of the classic Higher Life, Keswick, and Pentecostal movements.”[18]  Keswick has indubitably become extremely influential:
Keswick-like views of sanctification [were] promoted by A. B. Simpson, Moody Bible Institute[19] (D. L. Moody, R. A. Torrey, James M. Gray), Pentecostalism, and Dallas Theological Seminary (Lewis S. Chafer, John F. Walvoord, Charles C. Ryrie). Simpson founded the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Moody founded Moody Bible Institute, and Chafer cofounded Dallas Theological Seminary. Pentecostalism, which subsequently dwarfed Keswick in size and evangelical influence, is the product of Wesleyan perfectionism, the holiness movement, the early Keswick movement, Simpson, Moody, and Torrey. Dallas Theological Seminary, the bastion of the Chaferian view of sanctification, is probably the most influential factor for the [strong influence] of a Keswick-like view of sanctification in modern fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism.[20]
The tremendous influence of Hannah W. and Robert P. Smith continues to this day.  Not only are their teachings being spread worldwide through the continuing widespread propagation of Keswick theology, but their message is the root of other forms of error and apostasy in Christendom, such as, most notably, the Pentecostal, charismatic, and Word of Faith movements.

See here for this entire study

[1]              Pg. 26, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[2]              Pg. 26, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[3]              Pg. 27, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  “Indeed, it was within the ranks of the Evangelicals that the hostility was most pronounced” (pg. 81, Evan Harry Hopkins:  A Memoir, Alexander Smellie), for “the whole holiness movement was subjected to violent criticism and opposition amongst evangelical Christians” (pgs. 31-32, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall).
[4]              Pg. 87, “The Brighton Convention and Its Opponents.” London Quarterly Review, October 1875. 
[5]              Pg. 87, “The Brighton Convention and Its Opponents.” London Quarterly Review, October 1875. Ryle had a blessed and credible testimony to a genuine new birth:
In 1837 Ryle experienced his own conversion. First, Algernon Coote, a friend from Eton, urged him to “think, repent and pray”; then he heard the epistle one Sunday afternoon in church: “By grace are ye saved (pause) through faith (pause) and that not of yourselves (pause) it is the gift of God.” The succession of phrases brought full conviction to Ryle. “Nothing,” he said, “to this day appeared to me so clear and distinct as my own sinfulness, Christ’s presence, the value of the Bible, the absolute necessity of coming out of the world, and the need of being born again, and the enormous folly of the whole doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration” (pg. 573, Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, ed. Larsen).
Some Keswick apologists affirm that Ryle changed his mind about his criticisms of Keswick; however, all that actually happened is that Ryle, in 1892, led in prayer the Sunday after a Convention ended on the platform where the Keswick Convention had been in session the week before.  Ryle prayed during a meeting in which D. L. Moody, whose work Ryle commended, was speaking.  Ryle supported Moody, while he did not support the Keswick Convention.  The fact that Bishop Ryle would lead in prayer in a service where Moody was preaching by no means proves that he had become amenable to the Keswick theology, any more than the fact that he had preached at St. John’s Anglican congregation in 1879 before the Keswick Convention proves his endorsement of Keswick, whose meetings in the Keswick Tent he never frequented.  Consequently, affirmations such as that of Polluck that Ryle was a “foremost past critic” and his actions indicated that by “1892 . . . Keswick stood accepted by British evangelicals” is not supported by the evidence, at least in the case of Bishop Ryle (cf. pgs. 77-78, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck).
[6]              Pgs. 88, 90, 93, “The Brighton Convention and Its Opponents.” London Quarterly Review, October 1875.
[7]              Pg. 27, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[8]              Pg. 38, The Keswick Convention, ed. Harford. Cf. pg. 40.
[9]              Pg. 28, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[10]             Pg. 30, Forward Movements, Pierson.
[11]             Pgs. 11-12, 37, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall.
[12]             Murray gave “testimony to the . . . Lord, and what He has done for me at Keswick . . . [and] was in close fellowship with . . . the great Holiness movement . . . [and] what took place at Oxford and Brighton, and it all helped me” (pg. 177, 180, So Great Salvation, Barabas; pg. 448, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis).  Murray spoke “at Keswick . . . [in] 1895 . . . [and] for many years he led a similar Convention in South Africa,” where he was a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church (pgs. 177, 182, So Great Salvation, Barabas). Note the discussion of Murray’s theology in the chapter on him below.
[13]             Note the chapter on Meyer below.
[14]             Sanders acted as a “Keswick speaker” and “Chairman of the Upway ‘Keswick’ Convention, Australia”  (pg. 143, So Great Salvation, Barabas), advocating the second-blessing doctrine of “Wesleyan Perfectionism” (pg. 110, Keep In Step With The Spirit, Packer).  “Chambers used the language of Wesleyan entire sanctification,” having adopted “Keswick teaching . . . through F. B. Meyer” (pg. 49, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall).
[15]             Pgs. 150-152, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  Hudson Taylor, who spoke at the Keswick Convention of 1883 (pg. 81, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck) after discovering “the Exchanged Life,” held a partial-Rapture view, following the lead of Edward Irving and Robert Govett, as did D. M. Panton, Evan Roberts, Jessie Penn-Lewis, Otto Stockmayer, Watchman Nee, and many other advocates of Keswick theology and the Pentecostalism that developed from it.
[16]             Evan Roberts, co-laborer with Jessie Penn-Lewis and the center and leader of the Welsh holiness revival, was strongly impacted by the Keswick theology, as was Mrs. Penn-Lewis.  Note the discussion of Roberts and Penn-Lewis in the respective chapter below.
[17]             Pg. 341, Review by Ian S. Rennie of Keswick: A Bibliographic Introduction to the Higher Life Movements by D. D. Bundy. Wilmore, Kentucky: Asbury Theological Seminary, 1975, in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 19:4 (Fall 1976) 340-343.  Barabas even records that “Mrs. William Booth,” the cofounder of the Salvation Army and leading woman preacher, second blessing perfectionist and continuationist, “remarked that Keswick had been one of the principal means of establishing the Salvation Army” (pg. 151, So Great Salvation, Barabas; cf. pg. 151, The Keswick Convention:  Its Message, its Method, and Its Men, ed. Charles Harford; pg. 20, Forward Movements, Pierson).
[18]             Pg. 64, Only Believe:  Examining the Origin and Development of Classic and Contemporary Word of Faith Theologies, Paul L. King.  Note also the trajectory from the Keswick movement to Pentecostalism and the Health and Wealth heresy in the discussion of A. B. Simpson and John A. MacMillan in the respective chapters below.
[19]             “From Northfield,” Moody’s annual conference, “Keswick speakers, with Moody’s backing, were able to penetrate further into American evangelicalism,” so that “in the 1890s Keswick was a significant force molding sections of the evangelical constituency in North America” (pgs. 56-59, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall).  Moody’s “old friend F. B. Meyer” was key in bringing Moody’s ministry to the side of Keswick; “a Keswick speaker [was] . . . at every summer conference” at Northfield (pgs. 116-117, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck).  Moody, with thousands before him, at the time Robert P. Smith was leading the Brighton Convention, asked the crowds to pray for a special blessing “on the great Convention that is now being held at Brighton, perhaps the most important meeting ever gathered together,” a public endorsement of Brighton that Moody pronounced on both the first and last day of the Convention (pgs. 47, 319, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875).
[20]             Pg. 255, Keswick Theology:  A Historical and Theological Survey and Analysis of the Doctrine of Sanctification in the Early Keswick Movement, 1875-1920, by Andrew Naselli.  Ph. D. Dissertation, Bob Jones University, 2006.  Abbreviations employed in the source text for institutions have been expanded to give their full names.  In addition to Dallas seminary, the influence of Moody and Scofield on the spread of Keswick theology in fundamentalism is very significant:  “The return of the holiness teaching to America . . . i[n] [its] Keswick form, was . . . related to the work of D. L. Moody. . . . Moody . . . taught very similar views . . . [to] Keswick . . . and made them central in his work. . . . C. I. Scofield . . . eventually more or less canonized Keswick teachings in his Reference Bible” (pgs. 78-79, Fundamentalism and American Culture, Marsden).  D. L. Moody not only prayed for blessing upon the Higher Life meetings at Brighton during his evangelistic campaign in Convent Garden in 1875 (pgs. 23-24, So Great Salvation, Barabas) but also brought many Keswick speakers in who propagated Keswick theology at Moody’s conferences at Northfield:  “The visits of Rev. F. B. Meyer, and notably of Prebendary H. W. Webb-Peploe, of London, and Andrew Murray, of Wellington, S. Africa (who were at Northfield in 1895), and the late G. H. C. McGregor introduced into Northfield conferences the grand teaching of Keswick” (pg. 164, Forward Movements of the Last Half Century, A. T. Pierson.  New York, NY:  Funk & Wagnalls, 1900; cf. pg. 163, So Great Salvation, Barabas; pg. 6, Out of His Fulness: Addresses Delivered in America, Andrew Murray.  London:  J. Nisbet & Co, 1897).  The Keswick theology of Moody, Scofield, and their associates were in turn very influential in Pentecostalism (cf. pgs. 111-113, Vision of the Disinherited:  The Making of American Pentecostalism, Robert Anderson).

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Keswick Preaching and then Practical Perversion: the Unaffiliated

Because I'm leaving town here Wednesday until next Monday, while getting my classes and other responsibilities ready for when I'm gone, I listened to the audio from a recent unaffiliated Baptist conference.  At this juncture, I don't want to go into what  or where the conference was or its characters.  This is not supposed to be a guess'em game either.  I listened to four sermons.  Three of them were very good.  Very.  Those three, I have to admit, I picked out because I thought they would be good, so that's not a very scientific sample (not to the level of quackery though).  I talked to someone who attended the conference, and he said the preaching was good at the conference.  Good doesn't mean, "every sermon good," but "higher percentage good than normal for one of these conferences."

A fourth sermon was laced with Keswick.  I don't know if this preacher even knows it.  I'm guessing the Keswick theology he believes, right now he's sold on it, and thinks it's the answer or solution for everyone to hear.  Of great interest to me was that one of the four sermons, preached before the fourth, dealt head-on, smack-dab, bullseye with the Keswick sermon.  If it had followed the Keswick sermon, it could have been pulverizing it with its content.  It was so right on that it looked planned, purposeful, like someone who was dealing with something he knew was coming in advance.  I know it wasn't, but it was greatly needed, and I appreciated it.

Someone preached a sermon that was smashing Keswick before someone came along and preached just the opposite.  What I'm saying is that two different theologies were being preached in two of the four sermons I heard.  From the sounds of the crowd, both were being given big "amens," even while they contradicted one another.  Some, I'm sure, did not know they were listening to sermons that were diametrically opposed to one another.  If there was hearty, audible support for the first one, the second one should have received crickets.  It didn't.

The man crushing Keswick even mentioned Keswick theology.  I haven't talked to anyone about a particular sermon at the conference.  All I heard was that in a very general way that the sermons were overall very good.  However, I know this man, just from hearing the preaching, is concerned about the perverse Keswick teaching, and was eviscerating it.  Then came along a man later and preached just the opposite.

That the man preached against Keswick theology -- that should happen.  That two men could contradict each other in the same conference on something so vital -- that should be very rare.  It's something unaffiliated men need to talk about.  They need to get settled what is their thinking about these doctrines.

I'm going to call the fourth man, Keswick Man.  The other I'm calling Sufficient Man.

The style of Keswick Man was a Keswick style.  I can handle yelling.  I can even enjoy some, if it is within the context of an authentic communication of the text of scripture.  This was a lot of yelling of the nature of performance art.  It's actually a kind of "art of preaching," that I've written about, that people think is endued in some way because of the style of delivery.

The sermon of Keswick Man drew from the passage to which he referred.  He didn't preach the passage.  He launched from the passage into some practice, some of which he read into the text. One of the other four sermons was a sermon from Nehemiah on preaching from the Bible, moving into a biblical theology of preaching.  It was a terrific short presentation.  That sermon came ahead of Keswick Man, and exposed his preaching as well.  Part of Keswick preaching is a dependence on the Holy Spirit for the sermon that circumvents the authority of scripture.  You are hearing the effects of a mystical experience, understood as being key to the process of preparation.

I will not divulge the theme of Keswick Man's message or even what Testament to which he referred. However, Keswick Men bring a tension that comes from not having arrived at sufficiency in Christ. They do not rest in the grace of God.  I'm not endorsing quietism, but I'm referring to a pursuit of greater blessing that takes the form of non-stop pressure.  This is revivalism.  They push and push to get there, and that desperation displayed itself throughout the message.  They've got to make it happen, producing the tension in many aspects of sanctification.

Keswick Man spoke of a person in his life that he's been working and working on.  This is what it takes with Keswick -- lots of work.  It's you working.  This is not to say that you don't work.  However, Sufficient Man stressed it was God that was working.  We work out, because God is working in.

Sufficient Man preached on a theme again I won't say, but is the antidote for Keswick thinking and belief.  He emphasized that the justified person was already complete.  This person has all that he needs.  He knows it is all grace, so he enjoys obedience and whatever results it brings, because He depends on God -- actually depends on God.  Keswick is faux dependence on God.

One of Keswick Man's points was, "Don't be afraid to ask for miracles."  Some might think that's a rather innocuous or innocent point.  Should believers be praying for miracles?  He followed with "I've got to see God do stuff."  There were many "amens."  Maybe he was joking, but he said, "I even had a miracle this morning," before telling a story of avoiding a traffic ticket.  He reiterated, "Don't be afraid to ask for miracles."  For the third time, he said, "Don't be afraid to ask for miracles."  That was the central point of the sermon.  He related the reception of the miracles to a "secret place" and "power."  He said that they're miracles, and because they are, you won't see them all the time, or they wouldn't be miracles.  Actually, Jesus saw them all the time.  During eras of miracles, they occurred all the time.  That's actually what we should expect if were to expect them.

I'm sure Keswick Man believes that he'll receive miracles.  He was probably taught that.   He might think he's received them and that others should too.  Believers are not to pray for miracles. The Greek word for "miracles" is semeion, also translated "signs."  It's the same word.  "Signs" and "wonders" are "miracles."  This is sheer continuationism.  Jesus said in Matthew 16:4 among other occasions, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it."

Jesus said, "Don't seek miracles," so don't pray for miracles.  Someone shouldn't ask for miracles. Who would ask for miracles?  The religious leaders did.  People who ask for miracles are wicked and adulterous.  Why?  God has done enough.  If Jesus says you are wicked and adulterous for seeking after miracles, then you should be afraid to ask for miracles.  Was this challenged by the unaffiliated Baptist preachers?  Or are they really fine with continuationism?  It should be shocking for them to hear what he said.

Believers don't need miracles.  They have all the power they will ever get at the moment they are justified.  They have every spiritual blessing.  They fall behind in no gift.  They need to submit to God, obey the Word of God.  The just shall live by faith.  Miracles were signs for unbelievers before the completion of scripture.   I'm not saying that God doesn't intervene.  We know He does, because God's Word says He does.  We don't pray for miracles.  We don't depend on miracles.  Miracles had their place.  We depend on the Word of God, the grace of God, the gospel, the means God intends for us in this age.

Sufficient Man didn't say anything about miracles, but he preached about the sufficiency of Christ and the ordinary means that God uses to accomplish His work in this age.  Believers need to understand how the work of God is accomplished.  They need to understand a proper view of sanctification.

Are unaffiliated Baptist churches fine with Keswick theology?  Are they fine with revivalism?  Do they have a biblical view (which is historic Baptist too) of sanctification?  Judgment must begin in the house of God.


I'm at the airport in Oakland right now, and I reread this post to see what I thought of it.  That's important sometime in writing -- go back and read what you wrote to see if you still like it.  Edit it after some time has allowed you to come at it with a slightly different perspective.  I didn't change anything.  However, I'm going to add something.

From a positive standpoint, people can grow.  They must be humble, but they can grow, if they are willing to change.  Many men are into Keswick, are deceived, don't know it in other words, but they can change.  I encourage that.  I am leaving out names and places with hopes that will make it easier for someone.

Keswick Man, as I wrote above, said, "I've got to see God do stuff."  This discontent fuels Keswick.  It is covetousness, which is why it is for a wicked and adulterous generation.  God is "doing stuff" all over, about a trillion at any given moment.  He's doing so much stuff that we couldn't keep up thanking Him if we had a thousand tongues.  I see God do stuff.  What Keswick Man means, however, is that he needs to see signs and wonders.  What occurs is that people then manufacture those wonders, and then say God did them.  This is all over the place.  What is manufactured is a fraud.  I'm saying it's a lie.  It is a pernicious lie that is as bad as any lie told by the worst politician.

Unaffiliated Baptists need to be training their people to enjoy the stuff that God already gave them.  I'm not saying that Keswick Man wouldn't say that.  He'd agree, and probably feel like this post is misrepresenting him, because "he's not saying what I'm saying -- he's not saying that!"  They have the gospel.  They have the Holy Spirit.  They have a complete, authoritative, perfect Word of God.  They need to just use the stuff God gave.  Instead, they invent new stuff, because the old stuff isn't good enough.  Because they need stuff so much, they make up stuff.  This is rampant everywhere, but it is also all over with unaffiliated men.  If you criticize it, they pull the autonomy card.  Or they just attack back, or become political, I've noticed.  What do you think?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

John 10:35, the Scripture Cannot Be Broken, and Perfect Preservation of Scripture

The Lord Jesus Christ makes one last visit to Jerusalem before His final trip back for His crucifixion beginning in John 10:22 in the winter at the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah.  He immediately picks up on the conversation he had two months earlier at the Feast of Tabernacles, declaring Himself the True Shepherd of Israel, in fulfillment of Ezekiel 34.  The false shepherds of Israel pounce on His presence, confronting Him about His identity with a motive to trap Him in blasphemy.  Based upon Jesus' answer, they pick up stones in verse 31, they say (v. 33) "because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God."

Jesus answers the religious leaders with an argument from Psalm 82.  Verses 34-36:
34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?  35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;  36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
Jesus says, in the Old Testament corrupt judges were called gods, probably ironically, but the word "gods" was used for them because they received the Word of God, and they were the agents of God.  If the term “gods” could be applied to corrupt leaders, it’s not a stretch for the incorruptible, perfect, sinless, righteous, Son of God to be called God.  Jesus debunks their charge of blasphemy due to His words, putting back in play what should have been the criteria of their evaluation of Him as Messiah, His works (vv. 37-38).

In the middle of Jesus' argument, almost as an aside, He says, "unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken."  Here we get an astonishing revelation by the Lord Jesus Christ of His own bibliology.  First, He affirms that scripture is the Word of God and that the Word of God is scripture.  The writings (graphe) to which He referred were the Word of God, speaking of the inspiration and authority of the Old Testament, and especially Psalms.

To whom did the word of God come?  Jesus is referring to God's Old Testament institution, the nation Israel.  God deposited His Words with Israel for their keeping.  One of the words in particular was elohim, "gods," in Psalm 82:1 (which the NASV translates in a way that Jesus would not have approved, "rulers").  The Word of God, Scripture, says, "gods."  God inspired that word and now Jesus was making an entire argument from one word.  That one word was given to Israel in Psalm 82 and continued in a line from there to when Jesus used that chapter and that verse and that word to make an argument.  So, second, the line of inspiration and teaching began with God's deliverance of the word "gods" (elohim) to Israel.

Third, scripture cannot be changed, not one word.  Scripture remained a seamless chain that could not be broken.  God would not allow even one word to be lost.  It is axiomatic.  The written scripture cannot be broken.  In perhaps the most serious claim Jesus could ever make, He makes His argument on the basis of one word.  This isn't the first or only time He had done that.  This was His view of scripture.

When Jesus says that scripture cannot be broken, and He is speaking of just one word.  God would not allow the uninterrupted chain of inspiration and then perfect preservation to be broken.  It cannot be broken.

Fourth, by saying that scripture cannot be broken, He is saying that every Word of Scripture would also be available.  Preservation implies availability.  If it is not available to you, then it isn't preserved for you.  Every Word would always be available to the institution to which God ordained.  By the time we get past the long, hand-copy phase of preservation, scripture is still not broken.  It cannot be broken.  Every Word of God is available for whatever argument is necessary to defend the teaching of Scripture.

God gave the Words of the New Testament to the church and He continued to use the church has His means of continuity of the Words of God.  Just like His Old Testament Words, God's New Testament Words would remain available in God's New Testament institution, the church, for the purposes of proclamation and practice.  The use of "scripture cannot be broken" in its context reinforces the powerful argument of God's perfect preservation of scripture.

No one can prove that what Jesus was saying was true.  We don't possess the original manuscripts of the Old Testament.  How could one trust that every Word of Scripture was preserved?  Jesus said so.  That's how.  If He said so, then it is a matter of faith, a matter of faith that is rejected by those who correct the Hebrew Masoretic text with either the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Septuagint, either of which is to say that Scripture can be broken and it was instead lost for awhile in contradiction to what Jesus said.

If the New Testament Scripture could not be broken, which it can't, then the seamless chain of preservation must exist between 1500 and 1881 and then beyond.  We can trust what Jesus said.

The Pharisees did not contend with the argument of Jesus.  They did not say, "Oh yes, scripture was too broken."  They didn't believe that.  Jesus affirmed scripture cannot be broken.  If the New Testament is scripture, which it is, then it cannot be broken either.  If the New Testament cannot be broken, then the church unto which God gave the New Testament could not and would not lose any of the Words of God.  If any were lost, like modern textual critics and most evangelicals and many fundamentalists assert, then what Jesus said was not true.  What Jesus said was true as what Jesus said would always be true.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Oasis of Hope in Tijuana, Mexico: Scamming Desperate Cancer Patients with Quackery

People who get cancer are often very desperate.  They are in a very difficult situation.  Furthermore, medical science does not make promises it cannot keep.  Our currently limited state of medical knowledge means that significant numbers of people with cancer will die from the disease.  While, by the grace of God and through the practice of scientific medicine in accordance with the Dominion Mandate of Genesis 1, rates of death from cancer are gradually declining, it is still a horrible disease.  (By the way, you can invest in Eventide's Healthcare and Life Sciences Mutual Fund if you want to own companies that are developing cures for horrible diseases like cancer and also, probably, earn a great rate of return!)  Sadly, there are people who are willing to prey on and take advantage of those who are in desperate need with cancer.  Instead of showing genuine compassion to them, praying for them, and comforting them with the Scriptures, they take advantage of their physical need to rip them off, take their money away, and lower both their length and quality of life with false promises of cures.  There are many clinics in Tijuana, Mexico run by quacks and scam artists that prey on cancer patients.  The clinics are across the U. S. border so that they are free from the legal consequences they would fall under for scamming people in the U. S. A.  People with cancer would do well to seek reliable information on cancer, learn how to detect the lies and misinformation spread by cancer quacks, and get reliable information  on unconventional therapies from organizations such as the American Cancer Society.  When evaluating cure-claims by advocates of unconventional or alternative medicine, one should ask if the "treatment" is based on pagan or New Age ideas at war with Scripture, such as Reiki, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Reflexology, Iridology, Acupuncture, Macrobiotics, Naturopathy, Rolfing, Applied Kinesiology, Neuro-Emotional Techniques, and the vast majority of Chiropractic.  The following questions from the National Cancer Institute are also very worthwhile:

Many proponents of unconventional methods of cancer treatment make claims that are not or cannot be scientifically confirmed. They commonly present a treatment that has a very high degree of activity against cancers that are considered incurable; a treatment with few, if any, side effects; a treatment whose nature and exact contents are kept secret for fear of sabotage by the medical establishment. However, practitioners of unconventional treatments are held to the same research standards as those of any scientist: that a discovery be evaluated scientifically and reported in a timely and thorough fashion in the scientific literature so that others may learn of, evaluate, and critique the research results.

When scientific research shows that a new treatment method has promise, the method is evaluated in clinical trials with cancer patients. These studies are designed to answer scientific questions and to find out whether the new treatment is safe for patients and effective against the disease. The NCI booklet "What Are Clinical Trials All About?" provides further information about such studies. Patients interested in investigational treatment should ask their physicians to determine whether they are eligible for a clinical trial.
Patients and their families may wish to consider the following questions when making decisions about cancer treatment:
  • Has the treatment been evaluated in clinical trials? A reference librarian can help patients interested in a particular treatment find out whether it has been reported in reputable scientific journals
  • Do the practitioners of an approach claim that the medical community is trying to keep their cure from the public? No one genuinely committed to finding better ways to treat a disease would knowingly keep an effective treatment a secret or try to suppress such a treatment
  • Does the treatment rely on nutritional or diet therapy as its main focus? At this time, there is no known dietary cure for cancer. In other words, there is no evidence that diet alone can get rid of cancerous cells in the body
  • Do those who endorse the treatment claim that it is harmless and painless and that it produces no unpleasant side effects? Because treatments for cancer must be very powerful, they frequently have unpleasant side effects
  • Does the treatment have a "secret formula" that only a small group of practitioners can use? Scientists who believe they have developed an effective treatment routinely publish their results in reputable journals so they can be evaluated by other researchers.
The use of unconventional methods may result in the loss of valuable time and the opportunity to receive potentially effective therapy and consequently reduce a patient's chances for cure or control of cancer. For this reason, NCI strongly urges cancer patients to remain in the care of qualified, board- certified physicians who use accepted methods of treatment or who are participating in scientifically designed clinical trials. (Board certification is one way a practitioner demonstrates that he or she has had training in treating patients with cancer.) Often, it is appropriate for patients to consider investigational therapy. For such patients, clinical trials are a treatment option.

Oasis of Hope in Tijuana, Mexico is a classic example of a clinic that scams desperate cancer patients with quack remedies in order to make vast sums of money.  It is currently run by Francisco Contreras, son of Ernesto Contreras, who started the business in 1963.  As of the date when this blog post was written, the Oasis of Hope website prominently displays the following tables:






Oasis of Hope even claims to have "better survival rates than any other cancer treatment center in the world."  Sounds good, no?  Too good?  Do you notice anything suspicious about the statistics above?  What questions would you ask about them?  (Think it through--think about the warning from the National Cancer Institute above--and then go to the next paragraph.)

The first thing one ought to notice is that there is no way to verify the statistics.  There is no way to know whether each claimed cure represents one person who happened to live a long time or an average of 1,000 people's lifespans.  There is no way to know whether or not the statistics are entirely made up and represent nothing at all.  I consequently wrote to the Oasis of Hope business and asked the following questions:

In terms of the cancer survival statistics on your website, please let me know precisely how your follow-up system is organized.  How and how often do you communicate with patients after they leave?  What percent of patients let you know how they are doing?  Is the stage of cancer independently verified and the outcomes independently verified, or does your clinic assess the stage of cancer and conclude the outcomes without any independent verification? 

What was Oasis of Hope's reply?  "[R]egarding your inquries about how we calculate our cure statistics and our follow up department processes, . . . that . . . is not public information[.]"  Instead of explaining why anyone should believe their statistics of "cures" are not fake, I was asked to fill out a survey and get the process going of having Mr. Contreras evaluate me.  I asked a second time:

I do not understand why Oasis of Hope would not make the facts underlying the charts on [its] website available so that people could validate that the material is legitimate.  I could in no way justify recommending that anyone trust [his] life to your institution without any way to verify that the cure rate tables published and promoted on your website are real.  I do not understand why your follw up procedures would need to remain hidden if they are quality and reputable ones.  I can't imagine going to a hospital that advertised that they had the best rates of cancer-cures of any place . . . but then kept hidden and secret the evidence upon which they made those claims rather than submitting them to the rigorous analysis and validation that justifiable claims can undergo.

They never provided any evidence in response to repeated inquiries.  Never.  Why?  Because what they do does not cure cancer.  Their home page claims to be carrying on "the healing legacy of Dr. Ernesto Contreras, Sr."  However, an evaluation of the senior Contreras found most patients unaware of the stage of cancer they had, medical records unavailable for review, and an average survival time of only 7 months (pg. 463, Herb-drug interactions in Oncology, Barry R. Cassileth, K. Simon Yeung; accessible free online at Google Books). The conclusion that "Contreras therapy is ineffective in treating late-stage cancer recipients" was reached. Furthermore, "By 1974, Dr. Contreras stated that he was seeing 100-120 new patients per month, with many more patients returning to obtain additional Laetrile. . . . [His] statistics may not be reliable. In 1979, he claimed to have treated 26,000 cancer cases in 16 years. Yet when asked by the FDA to provide his most dramatic examples of success, Contreras submitted only 12 case histories. Six of the patients had died of cancer, one had used conventional cancer therapy, one had died of another disease after the cancer had been removed surgically, one still had cancer, and the other three could not be located" (source).  The Cancer Journal for Clinicians reviewed the Contreras program and concluded that there was no evidence at all that it worked (source).  Cancer centers nationally also warn that his therapies don't work (e. g., source #1 and source #2.)  If the clinic really has the rates of cure it advertises on its website, why don’t they get someone independent to verify them? Contreras would get a Nobel Prize if he really developed cures in the way he claimed. The clinic does not get independent verification because it cannot, and the people that run the place know it.  Any objective validation of what they do demonstrates that what they do does not work. So why do they continue?  Are they sincere, but deluded?  No--they are money hungry, ripping people off to enrich themselves.  Consider the following testimony by someone who is totally convinced that what they does works and has gone to the Oasis of Hope business for several years:

I have paid over 300 thousand dollars US so far. The 25,000 [initial payment] is just an introductory. If you have a severe case, you will pay a lot of money. I am fortunate to have some money from my aerospace company I founded, but my honest opinion is that this hospital will help you the most and get you better if you have a lot of money. They are in a figurative sense, milking me of my money but, I really have no other choice, while it is costing me a lot of money, they are keeping me alive. So I am grateful for that. They do ozone iv, uv iv, perftec, vitamin c iv, laetrile iv, vit k iv and nurtracuticals. [Quack stuff that does not cure cancer.] Also they do light chemo too [which only makes cancer more resistant and does not cure it.] . . . . At Oasis, they will keep me alive until I run out of money i guess. The treatment is very expenisive [sic] at Oasis. The rates for medicines, surgeries are more expensive than in England. For example, an antibiotic in England cost me about say $30 US. The same at Oasis, they charged me $250 US. To remove a cyst in England I was quoted about $500 US. I paid almost $3000 US at the Oasis of Hope Hospital. That is a much higher rate. A bone scan in England cost me about $400 US through a private company, at Oasis I paid . . . $1000 US. . . .

The owner is Dr. Contreras Jr,, He is a very intelligent guy, first, his intelligence is in the form of being a clever businessman first. He really presents himself as a religious man, but I will say that after 3.5 years of getting acquainted with him, the man's first priority is money.

He uses religion to hide his somewhat money hungry side. He lives in San Diego in a large estate, just across the border. He also has a large property with maids and expensive furniture and antiques in Tijuana and a house in Vienna, as well as many houses throughout resort cities in Mexico and Europe. Most who work with him, think he is very humble person, who lives a meager lifestyle and is deeply involved in religion. Yet, he lives the life of a wealthy aristocrat. He keeps a very low profile on monetary matters. He does very little there in terms of actual medical practice at Oasis, mainly he just checks on the business and make sure thing are in order. He comes in a few times a week to check up on things. He does meet once a week with his team of doctors and he does evaluate some patients.

But, his role is mostly a PR role and he mostly does question and answer interviews in the Oasis cafeteria and on the third floor in their meeting room. He is very charismatic guy, dressed in expensive Armani suits with slightly grayed hair and skin that has been treated and pampered with facials.

His nephew is named Daniel Kennedy and he is the CEO. I met him many times too. He also presents himself as a religious guy, with a degree in divinity.

He would also tell me stories about how he was working on a doctorate in psychology and that was his passion. He by training has an MBA and is the main person that took Oasis of Hope Hospital . . . to a more business run place with the first priority of making money first then helping.

Having talk to Daniel Kennedy many times, the financial side to Daniel Kennedy came out numerous times.

Actually under the leadership of Daniel Kennedy, Oasis Hospital shifted its business plan . . . to charging far more expensive rates, well more than I would pay in the UK. Daniel Kennedy changed the pricing scheme to address the psychological impression that people have on price. His idea was to charge more money, as this would be associated with having better medical care.

Daniel Kennedy also developed a revenue sharing model that allows doctors to acquire a commission of all charges incurred. So, doctors that perform extra tests and extra scans and procedures will get a percentage of these profits. This is perhaps the wors[t] thing that happened to Oasis of Hope Hospital.

Daniel Kennedy's revenue based sharing has allowed the Oasis of hope hospital to substantially increase their profits. Patients may get extra tests and procedures in the process, depending on the doctor.

His fondness of wealth and business came out. Daniel Kennedy has expensive taste and he talked to me several times because they know I am successful, he talked to me about opening a clinic in England. He talked about the amount of money that could be made there if the proper people were involved. But, he did not mention about the people that could be helped.

He is a business guy who since his involvement with his uncle, has turned Oasis to a money making machine. Oasis profited over $20 million dollars US after expenses in 2006. That is how they can afford to be in Playas de Tijuana, basically on the beach in Tijuana, the most affluent part of Tijuana. It is actually across the street from the beach. There is an arena on the beach where they do bull fighting and other sports.

Considering the low gross domestic product per citizen in Mexico, $10,000 US is considered a good salary salary in Mexico. The low cost of labor, makes Dr. Contreras Jr. and Daniel Kennedy his nephew, very wealthy men.

Oasis Hospital by the way, does not engage in revenue sharing with other employees, from the lower tier rank and file. They earn the bare minimum, which is the a livable wage, but slightly above the poverty line there. As of today, I don't know their current financials now. But, I would assume that it is in the millions, that is profit too.

Dr. Contreras is a very wealthy man, most do not know this because he presents himself as a devout Christian. He hides this financial side of him through religion and charisma. But, if he indeed were pious, then try walking into his clinic with a little money and sick[.] [S]ervice will be refused.

Hence the dominant customer base are folks like myself from the UK. I don't want to say that Dr. Contreras Jr. is not religious, because he is, but money is his first priority above everything, then comes religion, kind of contradictory to the Christian faith. The money side to Dr. Contreras Jr. takes precedence over health care. . . . I guess this is the price to stay alive. I would rather spend $300,000 and be alive, then not be alive. I really thank Oasis for helping me, but don't go there thinking that you will only spend the bare minimum if you are very sick. Be prepared to pay a lot of money. . . . I figure that I will need to spend a total of 700,000 . . . to stay alive.

Consider these are the words from one who is so convinced that they are right that he is willing to trust them with his life and with $700,000.  Sadly, it is obvious that they are unprincipled con-artists who will milk needy people with cancer for all that they have.  If you have terminal cancer, do not go with quacks and con-men.  It is not true that "even if it doesn't cure me, it can't hurt," because every dollar you give such people funds more of their con-business and so contributes to the death of people who could have been cured by conventional medical science.  If you do not have terminal cancer, do not go with them.  If you do, expect your cancer to become terminal.  Furthermore, watch out for quack remedies that are not so immediately fatal as the Oasis of Hope.  The reason people are willing to trust their lives to such con-artists is that they have already bought into lower-level lies and misinformation by advocates of alternative medical misinformation.  Get educated, and evaluate such things Biblically and rationally.  Protect your family, your church, your community, and yourself from unconventional cancer "cures" promoted by thieves that come to steal, and to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10).

If you, or someone you know, has cancer and is considering Oasis of Hope or any other unconventional treatment, consider the following questions:

1.) Does the remedy have clear, properly tested and verified cure statistics?
2.) In creating these statistics, did they verify what stage of cancer a person had (e. g., I, 2A, 3B, etc.), and that the persons supposedly cured actually did have cancer?
3.) Did they follow up on their patients to verify that they were actually cured, or was follow up spotty or nonexistent?  Do they follow up on 100% of those they treat, or do they only publicize people who happen to still be alive while ignoring the rest?
4.) Do they utilize unsubstantiated testimonials about cures instead of objective testing?
5.) Have there been double-blind, placebo-controlled tests of the remedy, or only poorly designed tests, or no tests at all?
6.) Are their statistics independently verified, or are they only self-promulgated with no independent verification?
7.) Does the therapy require the rejection of basic laws of science or involve supposing New Age ideas?

If multiple double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, that were independently verified, have proven that the particular unconventional treatment you are considering works better than chemotherapy (and chemotherapy, when employed by science-based medicine, does work) for the particular type of cancer you or a loved one has, then perhaps it is worth taking a look at it.  After all, that is the sort of testing that real medicine undergoes--and passes.  However, if the particular unconventional remedy you are looking into cannot pass this sort of science-based test (and the reason unconventional therapies are not conventional, but alternative or unconventional, is because they cannot pass science-based tests--if they could, they would become conventional), by rejecting the Biblically-based scientific method for unconventional "medicine" that does not work you are violating the sixth commandment by rebelliously refusing to preserve life.  Start planning for a funeral, because the "medicine" you are going to spend vast sums to adopt will not work any better than a placebo.  You are the simple person who believes every word instead of the prudent man who looks well to his going (Proverbs 14:15), and you will pay for your foolishness with your life.

Sadly, I spent the time looking into the (falsely named) Oasis of Hope because of someone who I knew who had cancer and was going to go there.  This person had been a True Believer in unconventional medicine for some time--despite the evidence that it is unbiblical and unscientific--and so, in the time of extreme trial, the person went with what had already been believed in for lesser difficulties.  (When you reach for the homeopathic nostrum to cure your common cold, you are preparing the way for an early death, for in a future serious medicinal situation you are likely to opt for a quack placebo treatment instead of real medicine.) The person decided to go there despite the fact that the Oasis refused to give the evidence for their "cure" statistics.  The Oasis at one point told me that they only disclose the basis for their "cure" statistics to those who attend their clinic, but when this person went there and spent vast sums of money on the Oasis's false hope, Contreras and his fellow wealthy con-artists still refused to explain how they derived their "cure" rates.  After two trips to the Oasis and huge amounts of money wasted, the person died of cancer a few months later--the person lived no longer than if no treatments of any kind had been pursued at all, and almost surely less time than if real medicine had been employed, because placebos do not cure cancer.  The only major difference between doing absolutely nothing and going to the Oasis of Hope was that Contreras had the family's money instead of the person's heirs.

The Oasis of Hope is a scam, ripping off desperate and needy cancer patients with quackery.  It should be renamed--perhaps Oasis of Lies--perhaps Oasis of Bankrupcy--perhaps Oasis of Quackery--or, best, the Oasis of Death.