Thursday, August 31, 2006


Very soon, myself and two online amigos will launch a teamblog by the name of JackHammer. I'll let you know the details as soon as they become available. Why aren't they ready now? Well, of course, they are being held under tight security in Brussels, Belgium, so stop asking ridiculous questions. Yes, I will continue What Is Truth. Some things here will be just too gentle to include on such a site named JackHammer.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Blog Topic in Newspaper Article

Tom Lochner wrote about this subject of my previous blog here. He was very fair and perhaps couldn't have written it better for us if I had written it myself. I thought we had a very good 30-60 minute conversation with him seeing things much more my way at the end, but you never know what someone might do. This was initiated by the head of the Sikh temple. So you can read for yourself how it turned out. (Interestingly enough, he downloaded the entire tract. Here is a good reason for editing as well :) . No real mistakes in the tract, but I've stylistically improved since writing it. )

Friday, August 25, 2006

Intolerance of Belief

My internet service was down for a little while yesterday, but when I got back on, I had received three emails concerning a "peace march" and "hate speech" in our town of El Sobrante (location of our church building). Let me fill you in some details. Over a month ago, toward the end of our morning service, we began hearing extremely loud chants on a microphone in a foreign language, obviously something close to Middle Eastern or Indian, with accompanying drums. I didn't like what I heard, but then I remembered that the Sikhs (pronounced "sicks") were having a march/parade right by our church property. I wasn't angry. I thought it was a great opportunity to run down to Appian Way (we're pretty far up a hill, with the road in a valley) to pass out tracts. We have a Sikh temple in our town, one of the few in the Bay Area and I would venture one of the few in the whole United States. Five to ten years ago, I had written a gospel presentation customized for Sikhs. We have handed out hundreds and hundreds of them. I was the first person in our church to reach the streaming crowd in festive Punjab apparrel, many men with ceremonial turban. I smiled and complimented and handed out about 40 of them myself before walking back up the hill to take my family home for lunch. As I walked up hill, other men came down to peacefully walk the public sidewalks passing out dozens of these gospel presentations.

Then yesterday, I get a protest. Talk about a late echo. This was not a laser quick reaction. It simmered for awhile in crock pot before I got my spoon full. One letter was from the temple leader, J. P. Singh. Another was from our neighbor at Bianco's deli, and the third was a reporter from the West County Times, asking me to call him.

The Sikh's projected this march/parade right downtown El Sobrante on Appian Way as a multicultural, multi-religion peace event. Part of the Sikh religion is that they respect all religion and that someone can end up in heaven taking numbers of different spiritual paths. This parade included a gigantic picture of one of their gurus that was proceeded by a crew to wash down with a hose, the road right before this truck and trailer. There were the loud chants on microphone in Panjabi and the pounding drum beats. All of this, of course, was to proclaim the equality of all religions, the peace between them all, and the definite non-supremacy of Sikhism.

Contrast this with about seven or eight men in Sunday dress, walking quietly on public sidewalks, handing out literature, speaking in our national language. The letter I received from Mr. Singh said:

We do not preach hate of "religious supremacy". . . . . By the way in Sikhism we respect all religions the same - none is inferior or superior. I respect Lord Christ and Prophet Mohamed as much as I respect my own Gurus.

Then I get the letter from Mr. Bianco, who wrote to Mr. Singh and sent me a copy:

Am I to understand that the only booth where "hate-speech" pamphlets were put out against you is in my parking lot? I want you to know I STRONGLY CONDEMN such attitudes, and I'm embarrassed and disappointed that my neighbors would treat you, (also my neighbor) in such a manner.

Mr. Singh is as well, as you might understand, doing all of this letter writing in the name of peace. He wants to protect everyone's constitutional rights and welcomes a parade with loud Bible preaching about the Prince of Peace right in front of the Sikh Temple. Well, hate speech was preaching what Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." That's exclusive, yes. It is also something that has been preached here in this country since the first Pilgrims got off the Mayflower. It was Jonathan Edwards, one of the early presidents of Yale, who preached the famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

I talked an hour with the reporter and he seemed to agree with me at the end. Here was my rant. We can't be intellectually honest and not judge important things like what we believe about eternity. We can't relegate judgment to only movies and restaurants. Jesus told believers to warn about Hell in his kingdom parables in Matthew 13. If rejection of Christ results in Hell, we can't be loving by saying nothing. If we love health, we must hate disease. Truth is antithetical. We can't be against things and for them simultaneously.

Baptists gave the country the first amendment freedom of religion. We cannot coerce someone to believe something. And we don't want to, but neither do we want to be coerced to believe in nothing. Alan Bloom over 25 years ago now wrote The Closing of the American Mind. His thesis was that if we tolerate all and believe nothing, we will close our minds to everything. Religions that contradict cannot both be true. We cannot be intellectually honest and not recognize this. If not, then all we will tolerate is not believing. Anyone who believes something is rejected for intolerance. These are things that are important and should be discussed and then believed, not muted because of politically or theologically incorrect positions.

People who won't tolerate belief have a belief---they believe in not believing and reject everything except tolerance. They love ecumenism. Ecumenism many times doesn't take Scripture grammatically and historically. Ecumenists often allegorize Scripture, an approach to the Bible that arose a few hundred years after God's Word was written. This method of interpretation is extremely subjective. The meaning of Scripture depends much on personal feelings. In this case, getting along with each other becomes more important than finding out and then obeying what God said. Men in this perverted system, of course, are more important than God and what He said. Getting along with one another becomes the only acceptable belief.

Hate speech becomes anything that disagrees with toleration. Toleration is agreement not to disagree. Everyone gets along as long as no one believes anything. And they can believe nothing except toleration because they have made Scripture totally subjective. You may say that Jesus is Lord; you may say He was a good man; you think He was just a prophet; you say he was a revolutionary; and you say He didn't even exist. And you're all right! Anyone who says differently has done hate speech and is an opponent of peace and unity.

Here's the thing. We didn't try to stop the Sikh parade, but they want to stop us from handing out tracts. Why? Our quiet tract distribution was about our supremacy. Their loud, bombastic peace demonstration was about equality and inferiority. But if you say it wasn't, then you are judging and that's not good for unity. But who said anything was hate speech? Aaaah. Yes. Is calling something "hate speech, " well, "hate speech." We will defend their right to call it "hate speech" as long as we have the right to keep preaching faith alone in Christ alone for salvation, as intolerant as that might seem.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Conversation Boggles

Yes, I can at times get myself into trouble with things that I say. I probably can even do that enough to keep myself busy and, without trying, actually authenticate what James wrote in 3:2 of his epistle: "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man." I'm not a perfect man. That's not an excuse; it's just true. We cannot always bridle that bucking bronco called the tongue. If you get it accomplished, write a book and share it with all. I've had my mouth fitted for my foot size before without the help of anyone. On the other hand, sometimes I say something fine and get verbally cuffed for it. I boggle at these conversations. My head bobbles with boggle. These dialogues qualify as unbridled hearing. Ears that buck out-of-control and then thoughts that go out of their proper orbit.

Usually these incidents come in a chex party mix of emotion, controversy, and prejudice. I'm not paranoid about it; I just think everyone's out to get me. I got more than a beep in traffic yesterday. And I don't think every siren has my name on it. This is essentially how the email exchange of private messages went:

Other Person: I think it is true that people who take a TR or KJV position are lemmings.

Me: I don't think what you are saying is true. People who take a TR and KJV position are not necessarily lemmings. You just can't conclude that just because they don't take the same position as you. (for my readers explanation: Lemmings are rodents and their reputation is one of following each other mindlessly off a cliff.)

Other Person: I don't get what you are saying.

Me: I am calmly saying that saying that people who take a TR and KJV position are lemmings is garbage.

Other Person: I don't like your rhetoric (speaking generally), and if you think that what I believe is garbage, then goodbye forever.

I hope you notice that I didn't say that he was garbage. I also did not say that what he believed was garbage. I was saying only that this idea that he stated---that these certain people were lemmings---was garbage. How could he have missed that? The above is not all the words, just the essence of how the conversation went. A key to his judgment of me can be seen when he generalized, coming to his conclusion of disassociating himself with me, "I don't like your rhetoric." First, that was the first time I had heard that he didn't like my rhetoric. Second, he didn't say that my rhetoric was sin, just that he didn't like it. His previous judgment of me, already having determined what he thought about me before ever confronting me one time, seems to be the cause of his distorted understanding of what I said was garbage.

Since then, he won't communicate with me. Signed, sealed, and delivered. Accused, indicted, guilty, condemned. This would all fit into the true meaning of judgmentalism. I like to think of it as condemnatory. No due process. No attempt to understand. No mediation. No forgiveness.

Are you familiar with these types of proceedings? Do they boggle you too? I am sincerely hopeful that I don't do this, and if I do, that I immediately get settled upon finding out that I've done it. I don't know of anyone right now that I have treated this way that I have not apologized and gotten it right.

Why does this happen? Sometimes it is hard to explain, but the trying of your faith worketh patience (James 1:2). Count it all joy. I can't say I like being misunderstood and judged like this, but I am content, which counts for joy. So what I'm saying is that God trys us so that we learn patience and contentment in whatsoever state we are. We are supposed to learn from it. I'm learning.

They do happen because gossip gone wild. Unfortunately, even in Christian circles lots of talk goes on about other people. That is not a reason to give up on God or to flush Christianity down the toilet. I refer you to the tongue verse above. It can occur in a church, but even more happens outside of a church situation where no kind of accountability exists. No church discipline will be had. People will verbally tar-and-feather someone. It's just what they do and how they are, especially toward people with whom they disagree theologically or politically or even personally. They are not willing to do the more difficult thing of hashing out the issue, listening to another side, and sharpening iron.

Pride is a major reason. Some people just think more highly of themselves than they ought to think. They think they are elite and won't condescend to fly with turkeys when they soar like eagles.

You've seen the bobble-head doll. That's me just this moment.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Strange Symptoms

My son had a game this morning in his summer basketball league. It was the first game of the morning and we were there fifteen minutes early. Neither coach showed up on time, and my son's coach didn't show up at all. And that isn't even what this blog is about. The not-showing-up isn't strange, sadly; I wish it was. That's the reason this blog isn't about that, because as you have noticed, this must be strange, at least in my opinion. This is neither here nor there, but we tweaked my son's free throw, changed it a little during basketball day camp last week, and it paid dividends today. His team did win, but, alas, I digress. During this game, the official warned one particular player to "pull his shorts up."

Now, before I talk about this event, I should define "shorts." "Shorts" aren't really that short any more. I am not advocating the circa 1970-85 length of basketball trunks. Those seem grotesque in a completely different way. Shorts have been long since the U of Michigan fab five and then Michael Jordan took on that style. (I thought shorts were supposed to be, well, short.)They were long and loose. They are even longer and more loose today, more culotte like. Yes, culottes. And I mean the standard American understanding of culotte, not the one in Quebec and the Maritime provinces, where the culotte is something entirely different. Culottes have been an exclusively female garment, but again, I digress. Shorts are are an article of clothing worn on the legs and hips that are shorter than pants.

When I played basketball, and we surrounded the center circle for the opening tip, we were making sure our pants were pulled up. I've recently noticed that many modern players, especially the younger ones, are concerned with their pants being pulled down. That would distract me, but I digress. During the game, the referee made the above mentioned warning to a player who, upon entering the basketball court, tugged his already very low-riding shorts, a little lower. These culotte-like shorts were almost hanging to mid-calf. In my opinion, he was drawing some unfavorable attention his way from many of the spectators with his fastidious lowering of the waistband. My thoughts were, among others: "If he would only put as much effort into his actual basketball play." He was on the other team, so this distraction did not hurt our cause, but I digress. He did brick quite a few free-throws perhaps bothered by some subconscious thought of a sudden gravitational shift.

Mr. Low Rider did not just get warned once. After the first public warning, he disregarded the referees instruction. The second warning was a private conversation with his coach, who then instructed some upward lifting of the waistband. The player did pull his shorts up around one inch. I'm not kidding, and then as he ran down the court, perhaps bothered that they were still five inches below normal, he pulled them back to their original low position. I laughed in a sort-of incredulous fashion.

Yes, all of this is a strange symptom of the culture in which we live. My father, sitting next to me, asked me what this style was all about. I attempted to provide history. At juvenile hall, the one-size-fits-all could be sued for false advertising, so the baggy jump pants sag around the waist. A trip to juvi-hall is a badge of honor making the clothing worn there fashionable. Things have devolved from that point, including the boxer short accessory. I can't keep talking about this, but hopefully this blog will help lead to the demise of this particular fad by way of ridicule, even if it won't heal the heart that wears it, but I digress.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Negotiate This

On September 30, 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich, Germany after having agreed to the so-called Munich Pact the day before with Adolf Hitler. He arrived home a hero, as most of the nation believed that he had singlehandedly averted a European war with his deft diplomacy; in fact, Chamberlain got off the plane at Heathrow Airport waving a piece of paper containing the text of the pact and the crowd responded with massive cheering.

Later that day, standing before the Prime Minister’s house at 10 Downing Street in London, Neville Chamberlain read the agreement and made a short remark in a speech that would go down in history. Here is what Chamberlain said on that day:

(reading from the paper) We, the German Fuhrer and Chancellor and the British Prime Minister have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for our two countries and for Europe.We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again. We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe. (looking up at the assembled crowd) My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.

The rest, as they say, is ruins and carnage.

Yesterday I read an interview of former president Jimmy Carter with a German magazine, and then I caught myself thinking about it again today during my daughter's soccer practice. Between reading a thick biography of Joseph Stalin, sitting on a lawn chair on the grass in the breezy shade, stretching out, moving in and out between sleep, and watching soccer drills, the whole problem with our former president fleshed itself out behind my eyelids. In this interview with Spiegel, the German magazine, President Carter took advantage of the low favorability ratings of President Bush to rip him to the foreign media. My memory of Mr. Carter is a high school one. But that prep school memory is not a good one. I never felt more unsafe than when he was president. I felt the most threatened in my entire lifetime. His presidency was one misstep and blunder after another. And yet he was the great negotiator, Mr. Camp David, and anyone can see what good it's done. Of course, his one term in office was marked especially by the hostage crisis in Iran, which went on and on until Ronald Reagan became president and the hostages were freed. President Carter could negotiate the shirt right off his own back. But this is what he said to Spiegel:

The fundamentalists believe they have a unique relationship with God, and that they and their ideas are God's ideas and God's premises on the particular issue. Therefore, by definition since they are speaking for God anyone who disagrees with them is inherently wrong. And the next step is: Those who disagree with them are inherently inferior, and in extreme cases -- as is the case with some fundamentalists around the world -- it makes your opponents sub-humans, so that their lives are not significant. Another thing is that a fundamentalist can't bring himself or herself to negotiate with people who disagree with them because the negotiating process itself is an indication of implied equality.

What is the problem that manifested itself on the practice soccer field? He doesn't recognize the sin nature in man. That was the downfall with Mr. Chamberlain and it is the ignorance of Mr. Carter. Jimmy Carter goes into every negotiation thinking his enemies are inherently good. On the other hand, these fundamentalists he talks about---he would probably categorize me as one and he means it, of course, in a derogatory fashion---do see the enemies, their foes as not able to tell the truth. They have some discernment Mr. Carter missed with his liberal theology about the nature of man. Men are sinners. They are depraved. Without regeneration, they can't get it done. Jimmy Carter thinks they can all pull themselves up by the bootstraps and get something talked out. They don't understand talk. They don't understand anything except the end of a rifle barrel or the under side of a bomber.

All men were created equal, but all cultures are not equal. The ones who have been blessed from reading and listening to the Word of God have something greater about them. They are superior. They are not really inherently better than other people, but they are better because of the impact that the Bible has had on their minds and hearts. You can negotiate and negotiate with other societies who do not respect God's Word and you can't count on them negotiating in good faith. They don't have the capacity. Until Mr. Carter and others of his ilk, like a Mr. Chamberlain, for instance, come to some kind realization of this truth, that all men are sinners by nature, they will keep blundering and bumbling along history's path, ruining many, many things for everyone else with their good intentions.

Now go home and get a nice quiet sleep.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Body of Christ" Defined

One verse in the New Testament defines the "body of Christ." 1 Corinthians 12:27, "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." Paul says that the church at Corinth is the body of Christ. He says, "Ye," not "we." Paul was a believer, so by excluding himself, he surely defined the body of Christ as the assembly, the congregation, only local. If the body of Christ is all believers, then every saved person in the world was in Corinth. We know that isn't the case.

Let me deal with a couple of arguments brought against this understanding of 1 Corinthians 12:27. It probably seems pretty cut and dry to you. "Ye are the body of Christ," speaking to a church in a particular locale, then the body of Christ must be a congregation of believers. Well, men have developed their beliefs to include what they call a "universal, invisible church." Invisible church gives me a little chuckle. If you ever visit our church, and think there aren't enough people, well, you should just understand that you only see the visible church, not the invisible. H. G. Wells would be proud. They all have their Tolkien rings on and this renders them, yes, invisible. OK, enough chuckles. There isn't a universal church. Those two terms are mutually exclusive. Anything that congregates or assembles is not universal. Air is universal. We could say universal water. Universal wind. Universal space. But not universal church.

The first argument I get is this. By the way, many men blush when they give these arguments because they seem so lame. But here it is: The church at Corinth is the body of Christ, but there is also the universal body, the mystical one, so there are actually two bodies of Christ. It would go like this: You at Corinth are the body of Christ and then all believers are also the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:4 should ruin this argument, when it says, "There is one body." Ouch!!! Well, we do know for sure there is the body that is the congregation, only local (1 Corinthians 12:27). So if there is only one body, then the big one made up of believers that are dismembered all over the universe must not exist. I've never seen it. Maybe that's why they call it.....invisible.

You say, "Well, that pretty much settles that, doesn't it." No, they keep going after that seemingly clinching Ephesians 4:4 argument. They say, "The one true body is all believers and the local one is a visible manifestation of the one true one." Say again? (Scratching head) It must be convenient to make up new rules for interpretation as we go along. I can't seem to get by with that in any other venue of life. "That was traveling." "No, I just made that rule up, so it was legal!"

This whole "true in the invisible" concept comes from the pagan Greek philosopher Plato. He started the real in the realm of the Idea with physical items just being visible manifestations of them. Why listen to Plato? I don't, but why they do is because Augustine, the Roman Catholic "scholar" liked him. Augustine (pronounced O-gu-stin) lived 354-430 and he became extremely important to the state church in Europe. A group of people who believed the Bible, the Donatists, asked Augustine why so many unconverted were in the Catholic church. Augustine said there was the visible and the invisible Catholic (universal) church. He said that the invisible was the genuine church made up of all true converts and the visible was the one people could see that had some unconverted. The Protestant Reformers were all former Catholics and most of them were big Augustine fans, so they adopted his universal, invisible church idea. It isn't in the Bible.

You ask, "Why is the two body argument wrong?" Because the Bible has only one body (1 Cor. 12:27) and the other isn't in there anywhere. The universal body side will say that certain instances are talking about all believers; they just have to be. The ones they are talking about are when the singular nouns "body" or "church" are used generically, speaking of the "body" or the "church" institutionally. For instance, if I said, "I answered the phone," I wouldn't be talking about a particular phone, but "the phone" as an institution. If I say, "The church is important to God," I'm not talking about a particular church, but the church generic. There is no such thing as a Platonic, Augustinian use of the singular noun. That was made up to protect this doctrine that isn't in the Bible.

The other big argument against 1 Corinthians 12:27 defining the body of Christ as only local is the lack of a definite article before "body" in the Greek text. The English definite article does not translate a definite article in the Greek text behind that English translation. Without that article, universal church or body advocates say that 1 Corinthians 12:27 is saying that the church at Corinth ("ye") is "body material," that the absence of an article makes "body" qualitative---something like: "Ye are the body stuff or material of Christ." They have it all wrong.

The absence of an article does not mean that "body" (soma) is not definite. A. T. Robertson writes in his mammoth Greek Grammar (p. 790), "The word may be either definite or indefinite when the article is absent. The context and the history of the phrase in question must decide." On the next page, A. T. writes under "With Genitives.", "We have seen that the substantive may still be definite if anarthrous (without an article)." Much of the NT koine (common Greek of the NT) is Hebraic. A.T. Robertson writes in his grammar: 'Schaff said that the Greek spoken by the Grecian Jews "assumed a strongly Hebraizing character.' According to Hatch 'the great majority of NT in their biblical use the conceptions of a Semitic race' (p. 88). The genitive construction "body of Christ" fits into this Semitic pattern: the head, "body," the nomen regens; and the tail, "Christ," the nomen rectum.

Compare this with "the angel of the Lord" (angellos Kuriou) in the NT. "Angel," like "body," is treated definite, like a proper noun, so translated "the angel of the Lord," even though no article precedes either "angel" or "Lord." Proper nouns do not need an article to be definite. In John 1:1, the absence of an article with a proper noun does not make "Word" indefinite, i.e., "a god." This is called a Semitism in the New Testament, a word for a Hebrew language influence in the New Testament Greek. For instance, we don’t find the Hebrew definite article in the OT with "the congregation of the Lord," and yet it is called "the congregation of the Lord." This is why they (the KJV translators) translated it "the body of Christ" in 1 Corinthians 12:27.

I believe that uniquely the absence of the definite article occurs here because this is referring to "body" as a proper noun. The proper noun is definite. This makes a stronger argument for "the body" than if it had the article. Soma Christou ("the body of Christ") acts as a proper noun, the official title of God's governing institution in this NT era.

Let's put this in a logical syllogism.
Major Premise: The church at Corinth is the body of Christ.
Minor Premise: The church at Corinth is local only.
Conclusion: Therefore, the body of Christ is local only.

The body of Christ is local only.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Thoughts about What We Want and What We Deserve

A man visited our church a few times and then I saw him a few other places, and I would ask him the standard: "How ya doin'?" He answered, "Better than I deserve." The normal reply: "Good!" He remembered that no man is good, although I believe that a justified person can do good (proof text: Rom. 7:21). But "better than I deserve" is a good answer. And I've been thinking about these two concepts in contrast: What I want and what I deserve.

There's a lot we want. Burger King said, "Have it your way!" Of course, my way was free, but I didn't deserve that. I deserved to pay for my Whopper. What we want often clashes with what we deserve. I regularly ask people whether they deserve Hell. They normally say "no." Is that true? Of course not. James 2:10 and Galatians 3:6 say that one sin is enough to keep anyone from eternity in the presence of God (cf. Habakkuk 1:13). So that's what I deserve. I might want Heaven, but I deserve Hell. And I deserve Hell right now. Because I have sinned.

I think that we need to think more about what we deserve. We'd be happier, don't you think? Lot's of bad things happen to people and they think they deserve differently. I feel bad, very bad when other people have hard times. I might even feel worse sometimes when I go through difficult ones. But no, we really don't deserve better times; we deserve worse. We haven't merited any special consideration from God. It doesn't work that way. David wrote that at our best state we are altogether vanity. Paul said that his best was dung. Pilate tried to wash his hands of Jesus' death, but we can't scrub away our sins. We can't get rid of sins through our works. Titus 3:5 says it's not by works of righteousness that we have done. Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.

This is a sin-cursed world groaning for its day of redemption. The sins have cursed this world with disease, devastation, difficulties, destruction, discouragement, and death. It hits some harder than others, but hits everyone ultimately without the mercy of God. We deserve it. We deserve much worse. We can't really be happy until we live with a consciousness of what we deserve. When we do, we will understand how good we really have it. God has given us the opportunity to be saved. And then every time we think of what we should be getting, we can smile and exult in what we have gotten instead. As bad as it is, it could have been way, way worse.

You might want more. More praise, better positions, better relationships, nicer things, greater belongings, bigger houses, more money, and even more. I can want more. I'm can be discontent. I still struggle against this every day. But I want to exult in God's mercy, in His grace, and His love. He spares us. He withholds wrath. He postpones judgment. And then He saves to the uttermost. I want Him to know I'm thankful for that by living for Him and loving Him and leading others to the same. When I think about what I deserve, that's what I want.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Critique


A few people have asked me what I thought about the article from the Evangelical Center for Faith Based Reasoning. Of course, they asked because my thoughts are in great demand on these matters. After I read the article, I thought it would be helpful to provide a brief critique of their analysis, helpful, of course, because I say it is and I am a doctor and celebrated everywhere for my ability, well, at least in my own mind. It sounds better, however, if I make it sound like people want to hear what I have to say. If anyone is interested (sound of echo..interested, terested, rested...) about how I have treated the biblical material related to scientific phenomena and the extra-terrestrial, I have dozens of articles in a publication that we say is good so they must be good, and it is a journal, and we do publish it because we think we're good, but anyway, I digress, even as these two that no in particular is asking for are titled: “A Restatement of What Other Very Astute Men Have Said About Creation,” Walla Walla Baptist Seminary Journal 5 (Autumn 2004): 43-47; and “A Rehash of What Everyone Else Has Already Said about Anything Scientific (Part 1 of 2),” WWBSJ 10 (2001): 10a-12b. We will soon have these available at a website where we self-promote our other work that does not leave the realm of theological correctness. As I evaluated the Evangelical Center for Faith Based Reasoning Article, hence called ECFBRA, I found some galaxy sized problems with it, but because there were several thousands in the one article, I will confine my comments to merely a tidy two. First, however, let me say something positive about the article. Let me tell you, before I reveal what I liked to fake being balanced, that me and the other five fellas, that have promised to quote each other extensively for our own credibility, got a big belly laugh out of this that in a few cases came from actual big bellies (and the accompanying double chins applauding).

Though I disagree with almost everything that ECFBRA said and with them in general (and we agree here in Walla Walla that we don't like anybody competing with us for about anything, except for Phil Johnson, who is welcome anytime to say anything he wants about us, oh, and Al Mohler, and anyone essentially left of us), I agree with ECRBRA that things actually do rise just like Scripture says, and besides that, two words: Pillsbury doughboy. Pillsbury Dough + an oven = puffy hot biscuits. So I like this Scriptural thingamajig that they do with all the Biblical quotes and so on and so forth, that presuppositional thing. Now that I'm done with my token concession with ECFBRA, for the sake of looking balanced (as I said before), let me get into my big-time criticisms.

First, ECFBRA does not make its point by using the theologically correct liberal sources. People in the business interact with sources with high-falutin names and titles. This is how we make it in theological circles and they are giving fake authority a bad name. For instance, I got out my Bible Works (computer program that does all the work for you) and read the verses used in multiple translations. I read them in the NASB, ESV, HCSB, NIV, and NET Bible. I also read the New Jerusalem Bible, the New Webster's Bible, the little known Inner City Ebonic Bible, and Mom's 365 Day Home Devotional Bible. Now that all took me exactly three minutes folks, but I interacted. Ask ECFBRA if they interact. Just ask them. You can't really know what something means until you find out what other people say something means. And that takes interaction. And then five minutes later I read the attached lexicons for "rise up" and "go up" and "ascend," and then the grammar part of my computer Hebrew scholar module, and I can tell you that no one should assume that "ascend" means "ascend." It's not that it doesn't mean that, but what is bad is that he didn't interact like good scholars do with what other scholars say is scholarly. I have, and my colleagues give me thumbs up on that. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, so I have carefully chosen this word, but what ECFBRA says is just nonsense. How's that for sensitive? And if you question me, you better have interacted, and even if so, you better show you are in good standing with Walla Walla and its club schools or we'll just ignore you.

Second, and this is a big one, and much different than number one, but ECFBRA doesn't read and interact with other scholarly articles on the same subject. Seem like the first point? If you think that, then you can put away your juvenile scholar badge buddy. That's important. Then they would have read my article and a few colleagues that I quoted in my article and then they would have surely agreed with me. Not many disagree with me when they do the very same thing that I do to come to a conclusion about a scholarly and scientific matter. Then you can also get a ton of footnotes that look like you have been all over the place researching and studying and googling. Magnifecentus Documentus. That is great documenting. They didn't. I do. Enough said.

Lastly, I would take the time to debunk the actual exegesis of the particular texts, but who has time for that. I'm a doctor anyway, and I have interacted, so what more needs to be said. They're wrong. I'm right. Let any agreeable discussion begin, and if not, thread closed.

Monday, August 07, 2006


You've probably noticed how that so many Biblical phrases and concepts have become cultural colloquialisms. Ecclesiastes 10:20 originates "a little birdy told me." Unfortunately, this commonality of Biblical phraseology has profaned God's name in most instances. And then we have the attributes of God that pop up in everyday vocabulary: grace, goodness, holy, and mercy. They often get devalued severely in the process. I hope you'll agree, but even if you don't, I'm convinced of it myself at the halfway point.

One of these attributes, I would like to elevate for you, to help encourage you some. It is God's mercy. What is mercy? I think we can understand mercy by thinking about grace. Grace is getting what we don't deserve. Mercy is not getting what we do deserve. To understand the mercy of God, we need to understand how much we personally offend God. Many people turn away from God because they think that He has been hard on them. The truth is so opposite of that. God's mercy is great. Of course, Scripture teaches that. 2 Chronicles 7:3: "And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever." Psalm 57:10: "For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds." Psalm 100:5: "For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations." All 25 verses of Psalm 136 end with "His mercy endureth forever."

God is holy. God cannot look upon unrighteousness. God is just. We deserve the immediate destruction of God, but He "is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish" (2 Peter 3:9). God allows us space to repent. He doesn't immediately strike us down. Besides that great mercy that extends forgiveness and eternal life, God has provided so much. Consider Job 38:25-28:
Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder; To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man; To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth? Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?
God causes rain. He makes the plants to grow. He gives every good and perfect gift. Think of air supply. It doesn't get cut off. God protects the planet from unfathomable disaster and tragedy. All of it? No. But enough to see His love everywhere. Trees. Grass. Plenteous foods. Bodies that feel almost incalculable pleasure in so many different sensations, that about each one could write a book. He is a good God, and all of this out of His mercy. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, who suffered untold tragedies and loss in his life, of which each of us could not find comparable at our worst, wrote these words about God in Lamentations 3:22:
It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
I think most of us expect so much more than to be consumed, but we deserve it. Because of God, we have hope. Man brings despare and agony. Our sins bring reproach and distress. The curse of sin causes the creation to groan for its day of redemption. But God's mercy gives us hope and opportunity, a new day, a fresh start, and a bright tomorrow.

We should flee to God even if it is because of His mercies alone. In Romans 12:1 we are beseeched by the mercies of God to present our bodies a living sacrifice. God's mercies should motivate us, make us smile. God doesn't want to destroy. He wants to save. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Why? His mercy.

Please don't pass by the mercy of God. Look to it. Things may be hard for you right now, or you think they are. They should be worse. Look to the mercy of God. Warm at it. Smile at it. Feel it. I beg you to stop looking at the troubles and the hardships. They look rough. I'm not saying that they aren't. But God's mercies are greater. Bask in them today and then tomorrow, because you can.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Your Online Marriage Service On Hiatus

Hi. I started this series at the request of a single man in our church in California. He really, really wanted me to let others know what the Bible teaches on this. It was of no special interest to me at this time. Others had asked me about it and were curious. I will continue sometime in the future, but for the sake of variety, I will be postpoining the series for other articles. My goal is simply to sort out what the Bible says and then report it. We trust what He said is best because every good and perfect gift comes from above. In a sense, you can't blame the messenger; not even blame, but just consider what God says and trust He knows best. Just take the passages into consideration and go from there. The Bible has so much in it that is a help. I am looking forward to taking a break to talk about other subjects that can teach, admonish, instruct, challenge, and encourage. I like whatever is in it, and it can aid you in whatever situation you may be in. Most of our troubles come when we veer from its path. However, God also has a way to get back into good standing with Him because of His love and grace. I hope you remember that. I believe that you will.

I am on the road right now and will be in the boondocks for a few days out of reach of the internet, but know that I am thinking of you my audience and will be praying for you while I am gone. Perhaps at the earliest, Saturday night, and then I will posting regularly for awhile by His grace.