Monday, July 16, 2018

Free Trade, Putin, and Other Takes on the Geopolitical Scene

Some of the right criticizes President Trump for the tariffs in favor of what has been termed, "free trade."  If you are a true conservative, you support free trade, and if you don't, this marks you as not quite a conservative.  I'm sure I haven't arrived at a conclusion on this, but I have some thoughts.

Free trade, as I see it, is an ideal for which everyone should strive -- a level playing field.  Eliminate all tariffs.  Products from any country go to any and every other country with complete freedom.  The seller sets his price and the consumer decides -- if it could all be so simple.  It isn't, of course.

So that trade will be free, I want to reject our tariffs on imports.  I think about them as a tax on the consumer.  I think about the new tariffs on our exports to other countries in a trade war.  While one particular commodity, like steel, profits, others, like soybeans, suffer.  Steel people are happy and soybean people are unhappy.  The government picks winners and losers.

When I hear or read the free trade arguments, they seem to leave out certain key factors.  This is a big, complicated subject in a world that isn't really free.  If you are going to be working across borders with other nations, you face a lot of inequities or potential ones.  Each country has different sets of regulations and standards of living.  It isn't free if two sides are competing with different rules on them that give an advantage to one side.

You read of trade imbalances.  I couldn't judge on my own what the imbalance is.  You read of trade deficits of varying degrees with many different nations, sometimes a mention of something up to or over 500 billion dollars.  A country won't accept our cars, and yet we accept theirs.  This isn't free trade.

It doesn't sound free or right for the government to pick winners and losers.  However, if trade is to be free, freedom must be enforced.  Sometimes punitive measures must be taken.  That might mean slapping a tariff on a commodity that will target a country in the most harmful way to send a message that we want freedom.  Its restrictions are taking away from our freedom and we won't have it.

Instead of buying as much of that commodity from our country, the other nation may try to buy it from other countries.  The people in our country producing that commodity suffer.  We read cries of "free trade," "this isn't free trade."  So what should be done?  The tariffs on the commodity are removed to please those producing the commodity.  Meanwhile, trade isn't free.  The competing country isn't accepting some of our products still.  Should nothing be done about that?  Are trade wars necessary to have free trade?  Is a trade war a moral war?

If a country with whom we trade hacks and steals our technology in corporate espionage, should we do nothing to punish that country?  Is freedom something like the wild, wild West?  In time of war, we need steel.  If none of our steel companies can compete with foreign countries to make steel for whatever reason, should we allow steel to die in the country?  When it comes time to make steel weapons in a time of war, might this harm our national security?  Another country would do well to put our steel manufacturing out of business in anticipation of future war.

There is more.  A trade partner pollutes more.  The partner is not bound by the same minimum wage or child labor policies.  It's employees labor 80 hour work weeks instead of 40.  It's women don't get the same pay during a pregnancy.  The partner is not likewise required to pay for medical to its workers.  It outlaws unions, so groups in that partner's country cannot negotiate through a union for higher pay like is required in the United States.  Is everyone free?

Free trade sounds great.  I like it.  I want it.  The imposition of tariffs without other considerations sounds like a bad thing to do.  However, there are many more considerations, and if those aren't included in the discussion, the free trade arguments don't work.  They are arguing in a fictional, even fantasy world, a kind of blissful utopia, not the real world where trade today actually exists.

*********

How many foreign elections has the United States government interfered with?  In the last few weeks, I heard 81.  That might be low.  Up until the 2016 election, I never heard so much hatred from the left on Russia.  President Obama mocked Romney in the 2012 election for ranking the Russians as an important adversary to the United States.  When the Russians were "hacking" our election, he did nothing about it.  He did not see it as important enough.  The United States worked hard to see the opponent of Benjamin Netanyahu elected.  No one cared in the media.  Everyone knew it.

Why was the American media not outraged in 2012 when a hot mic caught President Obama telling Russian President Dmitri Medvedev he would have more flexibility to negotiate on issues like missile defense after the election?  The Russians annexed Crimea under President Obama.  Why wasn't he required to do something about that?  Are the Chinese doing more against the United States than the Russians, and if so, why are we not hearing about that from the media?  Why did the hacking of the RNC not appear in the Russian indictment?  Why isn't the media and the left not upset with Germany's energy deal with Russia?  If Putin is clever for charming Trump, why isn't Trump clever for charming Putin?  

We know from insider election accounts, that as soon as Hillary Clinton lost her election, her campaign started choosing how to spin it, and the Russian collusion became the best choice.  No one was hearing about it until after the election.  During the campaign, Hillary mocked the idea of the election being rigged.  We know that the primary was rigged against Bernie Sanders, and we would not have known that if it weren't for what's now called "Russian hacking."  Questions for a debate were passed on to Hillary Clinton in advance.

Everyone knows that the primary agent in the investigation of classified Clinton emails on the one hand and Russian collusion on the other was Peter Strzok.  He was biased.  With the bias, Clinton was exonerated and Trump was investigated.  Based on the bias, a phony dossier produced by a foreign agent was used by United States intelligence to spy on its own citizens and in particular the political campaign of the other party.  If everyone wasn't so sure that Hillary Clinton was going to win, more would have been done, and since she lost, more has been done.

I would just be getting started at this point at mentioning everything that could be mentioned.

The Russian story still reads like a political maneuver to hold down the popularity of Trump, to keep his polling lower to frighten support.  It seems like it's working to me.  It's a kind of cold, civil war in the United States.  It's a culture war that relates to the intolerance of the left.  A leftist axis exists between media, Hollywood, state education, and multiple special interests that revolves around an anti-God mainly cultural agenda.  It is very influential and the nation is at a tipping point.

You can see the bias just by making historical comparisons.  FDR sat down with Stalin.  That was fine for the leftist axis.  The axis dispensed all of Eastern Europe to the Soviets and gave the nuclear secrets to them.  John F. Kennedy pulled the rug on freedom fighters at the Bay of Pigs, started a secret war in Vietnam, and then had assassinated the leader of South Vietnam.  Ted Kennedy killed a woman at Chappaquiddick.  On the other hand, the United States didn't join World War 2 until after Pearl Harbor.  The invasion of France or the Battle of Britain didn't force FDR to get involved.  That didn't mean he supported Hitler any more than the Russian take-over of Crimea means the United States supports Putin.  The left was against the invasion of Iraq even though Hussein gassed his own people and threw political enemies into shredders.  Something closer to present events, the media lie-o-meter disbelieves Putin's denial of Russian meddling, yet believes that Putin does not deny the existence of compromising material against Trump.  With Putin being the brutal murderer he is, why does beloved Europe stand for a Russian World Cup propaganda coup for Putin?  Again, someone could go on and on with this.

One of the storylines of the left is that Trump's admiration for Putin is his impulse for like authoritarian rule.  In other words, Trump would like to rule like Putin does.  The reality on the ground is false.  Trump supports the shrinking of government as seen in his anti-regulatory policies.  They choose the worst possible narrative to tell the story of Trump.  My read of Trump is that he wishes to end the type of hyper intervention of the previous few decades to focus on America.  Trump picks judges, who support limitation on the federal government.  That belies this media story, that is the true Putin-like propaganda.  The left is where authoritarianism rests today.  They want to end free speech and they control the American universities in politburo fashion.  Only their ideas can be taught.  If you attempt to bring anything anti-left in the university system, you are threatened with firing.  If you are a student, there is a chilling effect on any opposing opinion you take.  This has the consequence of forcing everyone into a one party line, just like the Communist party.

So what about Russian meddling?  Did they meddle?  Of course, they meddled.  However, it does matter how you define meddling.  This is not exceptional meddling.  This is exaggerated meddling for political effect.  Trump denies meddling as a push-back.  Of course, they meddled.  Many nations meddle.  We eavesdropped on the phone conversations of other European nations.  We meddle.  This is what foreign intelligence tries to do.  It seems that Republicans, to cow-tow to the media, part of the leftist axis, must now trot out to agree to Russian meddling.  They become useful idiots to the leftist axis.  It is required political speech to say the Russians meddled.  They did meddle, but this isn't anything unique as is necessary to continue the narrative to distract from Trump's victory in 2016.

If there wasn't such a sinister spin put on everything leading up to the Trump-Putin summit, it would seem like an attempt by an American president to do his best to get along with an adversary.  The values of the United States differ with more than half of the nations of the world.  The United States has very often not intervened in horrific situations, because it can't and shouldn't be expected to police the world.  The left, including the media, rattles its sabers with Putin, but the inconsistency looks like its just discrediting Trump for completely different purposes.  It's political and the focus isn't even Russia, but American electoral politics, a leftist axis, and the culture war.

[I rarely to never listen to Rush, but sometimes I read him when he's posted at RCP and I think his take (here) of what happened in the Trump/Putin press conference was the same as mine.  I wasn't laughing though.  It's also worth it to see what a Russia expert from NYU, Stephen Cohen, says to Tucker Carlson about this here.]

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Trip to Europe Continued (Ninth Post In Total)

Earlier Posts:   One  Two  Three  Four  Five     Latest Wrap-Ups:  One   Two   Three

On Monday night of our second week, I parked a block away from our flat in London near a local park.  When you get into the outskirts of London, the parks are ill kept.  It reminds me of certain inner-city parks where we live.  You look like you could be in two different countries.  We left our flat together Tuesday morning, the four of us, and I was relieved the car was still there.  We took off to Oxford, which was going a different direction from London.  It would take us a little less than an hour to drive to a car park outside of Oxford, and then ride a bus into the city center.  It's hard to park and drive in Oxford.

If any place is a university town, it is Oxford, a sort of university with a town wrapped around it.  The architecture of the city’s medieval center, essentially the 38 colleges that make up the University, led poet Matthew Arnold to nickname it the "City of Dreaming Spires."  Oxford is the oldest English University in the world, dating back to 1096.  It is also the location of many important historical events in England.  Because Oxford itself is so old, it feels like you are arriving at a medieval city, which is not something you could experience in the United States.  I've been on the Harvard campus in Cambridge Massachusetts, but it seems to try to copy Oxford in miniature.  The closest to looking like Oxford though, that I have seen in the United States, is the United States Military Academy in West Point, related to style and immensity.  West Point is amazing if you have never visited.  It is the oldest scientific college, certainly the oldest engineering school, in America.

We arrived in town with the idea that we would first find something to eat, and we stopped at a British pie shop, called Pieminster.  By pie, I mean a hot meat pie.  It was the perfect combination of English, satisfying, and fast before we would start a tour of Oxford, and it checked that off our list of food items to have tasted in England.  The hot savory pie, when done as such in the English way, is a highlight of English food, worth the buying and eating.

At different locations on our trip, we took tours.  Even when we didn't pay for a tour, we often used the Rick Steves travel app for the various tours he had of places, which will save you money on a tour.  I'll talk more about that later, because we used him in Italy and France.  Oxford has numerous tours you can use, and it's difficult to know which one to use.  I read the reviews and weighed them against the cost.  If you're going to get all the way to the location, you want to take full advantage and a tour can help -- we paid for some of these tours all through the trip to Europe.

We used Footprints for our Oxford tour and paid for the walking one -- there was also a free one where they assume you'll pay anyway with a tip to the guide at the end, a totally different business model -- but I wouldn't take the one we took again, if I could choose.  The young man, who gave it, someone who had grown up in Oxford, the town, and did not attend the University, gave it in an interesting manner as related to his delivery.  He didn't, however, know much and so he was weak on the information, which is what I would have wanted.  He played to the popular material that, I guess, would have satisfied more people.  It also gave me nothing on the city and I was wanting more about the city of Oxford in addition, because I knew that Bloody Mary executed famous Protestants right there in Oxford.  We weren't brought there.  It was a 100% university tour against what was advertised.

Our tour guide kicked off our tour by taking us to Balliol, one of the oldest of the Oxford colleges.  He was good at explaining how college worked at Oxford.  One would think, even as I had, that each of the colleges focused on a certain subject matter, but that's not what each college is about.  Each college is based on a social arrangement.  You join a college, because it has its own unique niche or view or take.  Today, if you are a lesbian, you know to prefer to join such-and-such college, and that kind of thing.  It would be something like the idea of fraternities or societies in the United States.  J. K. Rowling, it is said, modeled the four houses of Hogwarts after the varied colleges.  A lot of Harry Potter matches up with aspects of Oxford, and it was used heavily for the films.

A student may apply to go to a particular college at Oxford with the plan that he will reside with that college, so as to develop camaraderie, connection, stability, and the unique traits of that college, a particular imprint.  Each college has its own dining hall, chapel, residence, coat of arms, and scarf color.  All of the dining halls and chapels look about the same, all ancient and traditional.  The dining halls have the paintings of notable graduates of that college on every wall, in many cases including a prime minister or some important head of state.

When we left Balliol, I asked our guide if he knew of John Wycliffe.  He didn't.  This tells you the state of education at least in the town of Oxford, but also the condition of the tour.  A house in Balliol College is named Wycliffe Hall after the one time dean, John Wycliffe, also the morning star of the English Reformation.  Balliol grads make up a who's who list of prime ministers and significant thinkers, including Adam Smith.

Physically attached to the Bodleian library is the oldest building still remaining at Oxford, the divinity school, which was the first full student assembly building and the oldest surviving.  It was an armory for the cavaliers, the side supporting the crown, in the English civil war.

The last stop of the tour was at a special door opposite the entrance to the University Church, where C. S. Lewis spoke in chapel at Oxford (you can read about here).  It was this door and the lamp in close proximity that are said to have inspired the Narnia tales by Lewis.  Lewis would have walked by this place about every day.

After our tour, we took in a tea, which includes scones and small sandwiches, in a cafe in a fourteenth century building next to what's called, Radcliffe Camera, which is a famous part of the Oxford library, a circular building.  It was a nice break to get off our feet after a lot of walking.  Across the street is the actual Bodleian library and we had a ticket to the Tolkien exhibition there.  There were many first edition and handwritten and hand drawn items of Tolkien, telling the story of his life and books.  Tolkien and Lewis both taught at Oxford, both lived in town, and were friends.  Tolkien taught Middle English and Middle English literature at Oxford, something that would have paralleled the unique language he created for Middle Earth..  He not only wrote The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, but also translated Beowulf into modern English and wrote a commentary.

We also had a ticket to see the Christ Church College chapel and dining hall.  Christ Church is one of the largest and most well-known colleges at Oxford, begun by Henry VIII.  Among its buildings are Tom Tower, designed by Christopher Wren, also the architect of many famous buildings in London, including St. Paul's Cathedral.  Parliament met in its dining hall during the reign of King Charles I, which was during the English Civil War.  In the floor of the chapel is a memorial to John and Charles Wesley, who attended Christ Church and also met George Whitefield, studying at Oxford at the same time.

There was much more to see at Oxford, but we didn't have the time.  Most Americans wouldn't know that Blenheim Palace is just a few minutes away from Oxford, the birthplace and childhood home of Winston Churchill.  We did a lot of Churchill on this trip, so we couldn't fit in Blenheim.  Some reading here perhaps knew that President Trump just dined with the present Duke of Marlborough at Blenheim Palace with Prime Minister Theresa May.

While we were at Chartwell, the day before, a guide there explained why Churchill didn't inherit the title Duke of Marlborough or Blenheim Palace.  One of the guides at Chartwell, we were told, was a secretary for Churchill, and typed his letters.  She would have been old enough to have been one of those.  John Churchill, the son of an earlier Winston Churchill, was a war hero of various battles in England, so received Blenheim and the title from various English monarchs.  Winston was not the oldest heir, so he didn't receive the inheritance.  Blenheim though was his house and the place he was engaged to his wife.

We took the bus back to our car and then took a quick trip, very nearby to the Kilns, which was the home of C. S. Lewis.  Maybe it was in the country at one time, but now it is in a residential area on the fringe of Oxford, and you wouldn't really know that you had arrived to it, if you weren't looking for it.  We had tried to get a tour of the house, which was by appointment only.  We were not able, but we did get a look on the outside, since it was so close to where our car was parked.  After a little look and some pictures, we drove back to London.

We would get packed that night, because we were leaving the area the next morning and for the first time in a week.  We would drop off our rental car and take the underground to the King's Cross Station to head northward by train to the area of York.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Evan Roberts & the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905: The Opposite of Jonathan Edwards, Part 10 of 22


            While in Scripture people are not converted because they see visions telling them they have been saved, and in previous works of genuine revival concluding one was converted because of visions of such a kind was plainly warned against as soul-damning error, under Evan Roberts such work was set forth as evidence that the spirit world was accomplishing its ends and many were being truly born again.  The error of Evan Roberts’s acceptance of “conversion” by vision was proleptically identified with powerful and pinpoint accuracy by the great theologian of the American First Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards:
Persons having religious affections of many kinds, accompanying one another, is not sufficient to determine whether they have any gracious affections or no. . . . It is evident that there are counterfeits of all kinds of gracious affections; as of love to God, and love to the brethren, as just now observed; so of godly sorrow for sin, as in Pharaoh, Saul, Ahab, and the children of Israel in the wilderness; [Exod 9:27; 1 Sam 24:16-17 and 1 Sam 26:21; 1 Kings 21:27; Num 14:39-40] and of the fear of God, as in the Samaritans, who feared the Lord, and served their own gods at the same time, (2 Kings 17:32-33) and those enemies of God we read of, Ps 66:3, who through the greatness of God’s power, submit themselves to him, or, as it is in the Hebrew, lie unto him, i.e. yield a counterfeit reverence and submission: so of gracious gratitude, as in the children of Israel, who sang God’s praise at the Red Sea, (Ps 106:12) and Naaman, the Syrian, after his miraculous cure of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:15, etc.). So of spiritual joy, as in the stony-ground hearers, (Matt 13:20) and particularly many of John the Baptist’s hearers, (John 5:35). So of zeal, as in Jehu, (2 Kings 10:6) and in Paul before his conversion, (Gal 1:14; Phil 3:6) and the unbelieving Jews, (Acts 22:3; Rom 10:2). So graceless persons may have earnest religious desires, which may be like Balaam’s desires, which he expresses under an extraordinary view of the happy state of God’s people, as distinguished from all the rest of the world, (Num 23:9-10). They may also have a strong hope of eternal life, as the Pharisees had.
        And as men, while in a state of nature, are capable of a resemblance of all kinds of religious affection, so nothing hinders but that they may have many of them together. And what appears in fact, abundantly evinces that it is thus very often. Commonly, when false affections are raised high, many of them attend each other. The multitude that attended Christ into Jerusalem, after that great miracle of raising Lazarus, seem to be moved with many religious affections at once, and all in a high degree. They seem to be filled with admiration; and there was a show of high affection of love; also a great degree of reverence, in their laying their garments on the ground for Christ to tread upon. They express great gratitude to him, for the great and good works he had wrought, praising him with loud voices for his salvation; and earnest desires of the coming of God’s kingdom, which they supposed Jesus was now about to set up; and they showed great hopes and raised expectations of it, expecting it would immediately appear. Hence they were filled with joy, by which they were so animated in their acclamations, as to make the whole city ring again with the noise of them; and they appeared great in their zeal and forwardness to attend Jesus, and assist him without further delay, now in the time of the great feast of the passover, to set up his kingdom.
        It is easy from the nature of the affections, to give an account why, when one affection is raised very high, that it should excite others; especially if the affection which is raised high, be that of counterfeit love, as it was in the multitude who cried Hosanna. This will naturally draw many other affections after it. For, as was observed before, love is the chief of the affections, and as it were, the fountain of them. Let us suppose a person, who has been for some time in great exercise and terror through fear of hell; his heart weakened with distress and dreadful apprehensions, upon the brink of despair; and who is all at once delivered, by being firmly made to believe, through some delusion of Satan, that God has pardoned him, and accepts him as the object of his dear love, and promises him eternal life. Suppose also, that this is done through some vision, or strong imagination suddenly excited in him, of a person with a beautiful countenance smiling on him—with arms open, and with blood dropping down—which the person conceives to be Christ, without any other enlightening of the understanding to give a view of the spiritual, divine excellency of Christ and his fulness, and of the way of salvation revealed in the gospel. Or, suppose some voice or words coming as if they were spoken to him, such as these, “Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee;” or, “Fear not, it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” which he takes to be immediately spoken by God to him, though there was no preceding acceptance of Christ, or closing of the heart with him: I say, if we should suppose such a case, what various passions would naturally crowd at once, or one after another, into such a person’s mind! It is easy to be accounted for, from the mere principles of nature, that a person’s heart, on such an occasion, should be raised up to the skies with transports of joy, and be filled with fervent affection to that imaginary God or Redeemer, who, he supposes, has thus rescued him from the jaws of such dreadful destruction, and received him with such endearment, as a peculiar favourite. Is it any wonder that now he should be filled with admiration and gratitude, his mouth should be opened, and be full of talk about what he has experienced? That, for a while, he should think and speak of scarce any thing else, should seem to magnify that God who has done so much for him, call upon others to rejoice with him, appear with a cheerful countenance, and talk with a loud voice? That however, before his deliverance, he was full of quarrellings against the justice of God, now it should be easy for him to submit to God, own his unworthiness, cry out against himself, appear to be very humble before God, and be at his feet as tame as a lamb; now confessing his unworthiness, and crying out, Why me? Why me? Thus Saul, who, when Samuel told him that God had appointed him to be king, makes answer, “Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Wherefore then speakest thou so to me?” [1 Sam 9:21]. Much in the language of David, the true saint, 2 Sam 7:18, “Who am I, and what is my father’s house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” Is it to be wondered at, that now he should delight to be with them who acknowledge and applaud his happy circumstances, and that he should love all such as esteem and admire him and what he has experienced? That he should have violent zeal against all who make nothing of such things, be disposed openly to separate, and as it were to proclaim war with all who are not of his party? That he should now glory in his sufferings, and be very much for condemning and censuring all who seem to doubt, or make any difficulty of these things? And, while the warmth of his affections last, that he should be mighty forward to take pains, and to deny himself, and to promote the interest of a party favouring such things? Or that he should seem earnestly desirous to increase the number of them, as the Pharisees compassed sea and land to make one proselyte? [Matthew 23:15]. I might mention many other things, which will naturally arise in such circumstances. He must have but slightly considered human nature, who thinks that such things as these cannot arise in this manner, without any supernatural interposition of divine power.[1]
Truly, the gospel of the First Great Awakening and that of Evan Roberts were in radical discontinuity.
      



[1]              Pgs. 250-251, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards.  Italics in original.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Are You Woke? The Truth Behind the Evangelical Woke Movement

PART ONE

People read here, as evidenced in the statistics on my dashboard.  Just because I may not get comments or compelling ones, ones that indicate people with understanding, doesn't mean that I'm not hitting target or that those people aren't reading.  Maybe they don't care.  Maybe they have something to hide.  On July 2, eight days ago, I wrote a significant post on a major rift in evangelicalism.  In my opinion, it's not repairable, because it is foundational or structural.  That shouldn't be ignored, but it's what I see happening.

Everyone who claims to be an evangelical Christian has skin in the game with and for evangelicalism.  You want it to do as well as it could do.  It's better for everyone if it does.  The worse it is, the worse everything is.

My analysis of the rift said it was systemic.  The assessments I'm reading from the few evangelicals who care, conservative ones, are missing the point, I believe (read this article by Phil Johnson, and I'd predict there are many more to come).  They are picking at the fruit or even the foliage of the issue.  I hope they aren't doing it on purpose, but I'm writing this to explore the cause of the rift a little further and help make it understood.  The real problem, the underlying one, relates to all history, major systems of interpretation of scripture, apostasy, the truth, and even reality -- actually more than all those, but I tell you those for you to gauge the magnitude.

Only one thing has happened in the world, not two.  God is one.  The Bible only means one thing.  Allowing for two isn't generous.  It is a lie.  If you allow for two, you're aren't helping.  Conservative evangelicals have acted like they're helping, but they are pandering, which is ironic here.  Evangelicals pander to the left and in this case some further left than others, but all of them are pandering.  Let's just say that I would be happy if I could help the parties involved to become "woke" to this occurrence.

The concern of Phil Johnson and others is posed as "shifting the evangelical focus away from true gospel issues."  That's about as light a criticism as Phil could have given.  He's not saying they are corrupting the gospel.  His accusation is that they are just not putting the focus where it needs to be, which is "dividing evangelicals over something other than the gospel."  Does that really represent what's going on?  If those Phil addresses would just move the focus back on the gospel, which would stop the division, is that the solution?  Is the leftist ideology acceptable as long as it's not the focus?

What I wrote was that two contradictory systems of interpretation, which are really two different views of the world, cannot coexist.  Truth is not protected and preserved by ignoring these doctrinal and practical variations in order to get along with one another.  The "thought leaders" Phil Johnson now addresses have been invited to keynote.  They have been elevated by Grace Community Church, John MacArthur, and Phil.  I would call this the chickens coming home to roost.

A major manifestation of postmillennialism is liberation theology.  Mark Dever has said,
For us to conclude that we must agree upon . . .  a certain view of the millennium in order to have fellowship together is, I think, not only unnecessary for the body of Christ, but it is therefore both unwarranted and therefore condemned by scripture. So if you’re a pastor and you’re listening to me, you understand me correctly if you think I’m saying you are in sin if you lead your congregation to have a statement of faith that requires a particular millennial view.
"A particular millennial view" is at the bottom of the rise of leftist evangelicalism.  "Woke" evangelicalism, is a system of interpretation.  Postmillennialism, versus premillennialism, parallels a rise of leftist or woke evangelicalism.  Progressivism, built upon Darwinian optimism for a utopian society, mirrors postmillennialism.  The foundations of this I explain in part one, and I won't want to repeat myself too much.  I'm drawing attention to this once again.

"Together for the Gospel" isn't just together for the gospel and "the Gospel Coalition" doesn't just coalesce around the gospel.  Both have in them the destruction of the gospel.  They are together for and they coalesce around postmillennialism as well.  That's why Dever says that "you are in sin if you lead your congregation to have a statement of faith that requires a particular millennial view."  Conservatives like Phil Johnson and John MacArthur have taken and take Dever to heart.  Liberation theology is a millennial viewpoint.

There will continue to be confusion, division, and departure from the acceptance of more than one system of interpretation of scripture.  You aren't free to take scripture how you want.  That acceptance undermines and destroys the truth, including the gospel.  This we are seeing happening in evangelicalism right before our eyes.

Monday, July 09, 2018

A Few (Now More than a Few) Wrap-Ups of Our Trip to Europe -- number three

Part One and Part Two (just posted, so you can read these two, two and three, like one longer post)

The first two weeks of our Europe trip were spent in the UK.  I rented a car in London on the second Monday for two, day trips, the first to Chartwell, the home of Winston Churchill.  For Americans, Churchill is high on name recognition and a very colorful figure.  However, many rank him as the most significant person of the twentieth century.  It's difficult to make up those lists, especially in a day of political correctness.  Without the leadership of Winston Churchill, how would the West have done against Adolf Hitler's Germany?  It seems very likely that England would have capitulated.  It's hard to imagine.

Chartwell is in the English countryside in the county of Kent, after which I was named.  Churchill's place sits on a beautiful piece of property.  From the back of his house, you can look down into an idyllic meadow with rock fences and ponds.  It is a fairly large house depending on your standard, but by no means extravagant.  Now it's a kind of museum.  You get the walk up the path from the parking lot, the trees and foliage and green grass all around, dotted by small ponds.  You pass through a stone wall and gate, his small koi pond with little concrete squares as a bridge in the middle, and the side of his home.  Churchill would cross that walkway to sit and feed his fish.

All of the rooms breath Winston and his wife Clementine.  Photographs and paintings hang all over, reminding you of his life, his deeds, his family, and his personality.  You walk into his study, a large painting of Blenheim Palace, his birthplace, childhood home, and where he was engaged to Clementine.  You are looking at the location where he did much of his planning and wrote many of his books.  Down the hill from the house is his painting studio and inside are a number of his paintings.  There was no television or internet and men developed hobbies as a diversion and painting was one of his.  I don't think he was very good.

In the very last room of the house before you walk out is a small store and then some items of historical value like a museum.  The house is his house.  The museum to Churchill is in the war room in London.  On the wall is a screen that will play various videos from his life, whatever you choose, and I picked his funeral.  Churchill had an elaborate funeral, and tears filled my eyes at the respect the English people showed this man at his death that very often disrespected in his lifetime.

Churchill, like Thatcher, was a Reagan type of figure.  One is given the impression that they are hated by the countries, even though they win elections and in Reagan's case, a landslide.  Thatcher was one of the longest serving Prime Ministers.  The hatred in my opinion is real, but the size is a media fabrication.  It's a small number of harmful individuals who show and then publish their opposition through forms of discrediting.  These historical figures were loved by the rank and file Englishmen and Americans, which is why Chartwell as a national trust property is one of the most popular.  Americans love visiting the Reagan library.  I hear it all the time.

I remember weeping as I watched the funeral procession of cars, driving out to Reagan's burial place.  I've been there myself and it is a wonderful location, similar in its own way to Chartwell for Churchill.  The ranch and the English countryside parallel well for the two men.  As I watched the footage at Chartwell of Churchill's funeral, I also teared up.  It was one of two places on our trip that I could have sobbed out loud, the other being at the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy France.  Several times I cried, identifying myself with families of deceased young men, who had given their lives for their country.

We drove back to our flat in London and found someplace we could park for free nearby.  We took the 207 bus to Shepherd's Bush station and then the underground to the neighborhood of Notting Hill.  This is very different in kind than Chartwell.  At one time, Notting Hill was poor, but now it is fashionable and posh with its Victorian townhouses and colorful and eclectic small shops.  It's a destination for foodies, who want to sample varied cuisine in West London.  I have two daughters.  They went to Chartwell and I went to Notting Hill.

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I continue riffing.  I had talked a little about coffee in Europe, but I must admit that England is a little different because of the existence of Costa, a coffee shop like an England version of Starbucks or Peets.  We drank coffee once there and you can get a large coffee, not just the miniature cups characteristic of Italy and France.  We visited there near Windsor Castle in the little shopping area of the queen.  We also stopped in Caffe Nero in Edinburgh, Scotland, which looks like a competition for Costa.  There's nothing in Europe like Dunkin Donuts.  We don't have Dunkin really in California either, but I'm a big Dunkin fan against the instincts of what Colin Maxwell rightfully called the coffee snobs.

Water.  When you visit Europe, you say, I want water.  They ask, still or sparkling.  Still?  Isn't all water still?  I want mine flowing and moving, please.  No.  What they mean, in my opinion, is, do you want to pay 6 to 8 euros for water in a fancy bottle that allows us to charge you for water instead of giving it to you free, like restaurants do in the United States?  I have noticed U.S. restaurants are starting to pick up on this too and it's the kind of trend Californians would accept, because they want to be Europe in most instances.

One bottle of still water in Europe will fill four small glasses about two-thirds full, and you will find yourself taking very tiny sips, so that you don't run out.  That is aggravating.  But then you get to the subject of ice in your drink.  Europe serves you tepid water.  It's not cold and it's not hot.  I didn't spew it out of my mouth, a la the Laodicean church of Revelation 3, but I'm informing you of the absence of ice overseas. If you wanted ice, you would have to ask for it and most places don't have it.  McDonalds has ice in its beverages in Europe, but it's about 6 small cubes huddled at the bottom, that melt within a few moments of arrival.  I went to McDonalds?

According to my observation, McDonalds is "American food" in Europe.  McDonalds is making it very big all over Europe.  It looks like Europeans love McDonalds.  You can be downtown Rome and McDonalds is advertised all over.  McDonalds is everywhere.  While my wife and daughters were shopping in Rome at one juncture, I went into McDonalds for the distinct purpose of getting a beverage with ice, or just seeing what it was like.

The other two American fast food restaurants I noticed were Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken, the latter mostly in England.  I talked to a man at the first church we visited in England and he said KFC isn't good in England, because the chicken tastes like fish.  He thinks they feed fish to the chicken in England, making their KFC chicken taste like fish.  He said it was nasty.

You order your food on computer touchscreens at McDonalds in Europe.   You touch what you want, pay, and then turn around and walk to the front counter, where they get your food to you very fast.  This is a major difference than European restaurants, fast food, with the emphasis on fast.  Fast isn't an outlier in the U. S., but it is in Europe, so it is a uniqueness that is itself an interesting quality to the Europeans.  I had the fries while I sat and read and those are identical to American fries.  McDonalds is booming in at least Rome and Paris.

I understand the value of the baguette in Paris at least.  They do great with it.  They have actual competitions for the best baguette.  Food is expensive in Paris, discouraging its purchase, but you can get a baguette, an excellent one, an award winning one for one euro.  That's a great deal there, so you buy the baguette and then some kind of cheese.  The cheese shop in France is the fromagerie.  The French get their baguette at the boulangerie, which is their name for bakery, and then some type of cheese at the fromagerie.  That can be lunch for them at a reasonable cost.

The next to last day in France in the morning we went to the Palace of Versaille.  I'll talk more about that later, but we had to take a train out to that, like going to Windsor Castle outside of London.  There are similarities.   I wanted to buy transportation to Versaille, but it wasn't on the screen, so I got the regular transit ticket for everyone.  We went underground to where the train leaves for Versailles, and our ticket got us all the way through to Versailles, not stopping us from passing through turnstyles.  I wasn't sure still if it was the right ticket, so as soon as I arrived, I walked up to a French train authority, showed the ticket, and asked if this should have worked, communicating that I wanted to make sure we paid for our ticket.  This person didn't know English very well, and just exclaimed loudly that it was not the right ticket.  Duh.

She took me to an English speaker and an higher authority and they said they would fine me only 35 euros for the wrong ticket.  I was very surprised.  I asked if that applied to the total for the trip and our return.  She said, no, these 35 euros was out of good will, not charging us 35 euros for all four of us, just for one of us.  This was unacceptable to me.  Totally.  It would not happen in the United States. I told them.  This is a cultural difference in France.  A socialist country wants to fine people.  It's not attempting service.  My assessment is that France is not a service oriented country with people who want to help.  It's an entitlement country that wants to milk you of what it can.

We took a train from York to Alnmouth in our second week.  When we arrived at our destination, all four of us were standing at the door, and first I waited to see if the door would open.  It wasn't opening, so I was getting nervous.  I started searching the door, wondering how it opened.  All public transportation I had ever seen at the worst had a button to push, but the door normally just opened automatically at a stop.  I looked around wondering what was happening and then the train started.  Wow.  We were moving on to somewhere else.  I left my luggage and found a conductor.  He was ver apologetic about not being there to help and not seeing us.  He assured us we could get off the next stop and catch a train back to Alnmouth for no charge.  He said we were required to open the door manually.

You opened the door to this older train by lowering the window and unlatching it on the outside with your hand.  Who would have figured that out?  I don't know.  I had never opened a train door by hand like that.  My first instinct is don't break the train door.  I would not have thought of lowering a window as a means of opening the door, but this was, it seemed, standard fare in England.  It took us about forty five minutes round trip because of this mistake.  We stopped in the next village, which was interesting, and then I talked with a Scottish train employee while we waited for the return train.

Trump is a conversation everywhere.  People talk about him in the United States.  I'm saying they do, but in California only in hushed tones.  The word Trump triggers leftists.  They can't hear his name without explosions occurring.  In Europe a regular conversation could be had, because Europe doesn't understand Trump.  Europe generally doesn't understand the United States.  I understood Europe.  It's sad, but I understood it.  I'll write more about that, but he said that the Scots complain about Trump and his new golf course.

When we got back to the U. S., I went to Turnberry online to see the course.  It's on the Western coast of Scotland, close to England.  It gave very positive reviews, glowing opinions, as one of the best place people had ever visited.  Again, this is a political, media creation, this widespread opposition.  Actual visitors love it.  I don't know how someplace gets close to 5 out of 5 with hundreds of opinions, and yet it is a disfavored destination.  This is just political opinion intended to damage Trump.

A Few Wrap-Ups of Our Trip to Europe -- number two

Number One

The first Sunday afternoon of our trip to Europe my wife, two youngest daughters (17 and 20), and I took the underground to Bunn Hill Fields Burial Ground, which is an old nonconformist cemetery.  We started at the Elephant and Castle Station, where Metropolitan Tabernacle is, and took the Northern line to the Old Street Station, then a few minute walk.  You couldn't be buried in the official boundaries of London for a long time, unless you were Church of England, hence a nonconformist cemetery then outside the city limits.  The people buried at Bunn Hill really are a who's who of true believers for true believers.

When you walk to the entrance, you would have trouble knowing Bunn Hill was of any kind of special historical significance.  It would look almost meaningless, a very old cemetery that almost no one cares about.  It is overgrown with grass and weeds, relatively without care, especially in contrast to the famous burial places in England that are kept in pristine condition.  There is one main path that goes right through the middle that serves more as a shortcut between two streets.  We came to the center, where there is a "T" and a very small run-down building, the only one in the burial ground, really a shack with a sign that says it's for the caretaker.

The little building also posts a map that indicates where significant gravestones and memorials are.  No one was there on a Sunday and gates blocked little paths that lead through most of the cemetery.  Out in the open were the tombs with large monuments to John Bunyan and Daniel Defoe.  Over one of the fences, you could easily see the large tomb of John Owen, someone who has edified my life greatly.  We knew where the graves of Isaac Watts and Susanna Wesley were, but we couldn't get to them without some extreme climbs over difficult fences in our dress clothes.  I was happy to have seen what I did.

We walked to the very end of the grounds to find any other avenue through, then headed back to where we entered, stopping a moment where we thought we might be able to glimpse the Susanna Wesley marker.   Right there at the same time was an older English lady, who asked what we were doing.  She was a Methodist, who attended Wesley's chapel, which we discovered was just across the street from Bun Hill.  They met there that day for the retirement of their minister.  She pointed toward the Susanna Wesley grave, which we really couldn't see from that distance, but we continued to talk with her.

She told us that Susanna Wesley never left the Church of England, even though her son started Methodism.  However, she requested burial in the nonconformist cemetery near her son, so he could see her grave from his house there every day.  Wesley's house is in direct alignment with the large tombstone of his mother and he could see it looking out of the front window of his house.  John Wesley himself is buried near the chapel across the street, not very far away.  He built his house in 1779 and lived there the last twelve years of his life.  It is now a museum to Methodism, which was closed on Sunday.

We talked to the elderly Methodist woman for awhile and she had a great sense of humor. Margaret Thatcher was a member of the same chapel as her.  Thatcher was married in that chapel.  I don't speak fondly of this, but this woman was present at the christening of Margaret Thatcher's twin children, Carol and Mark, at the same chapel.

A giant statue of John Wesley sits in front of his chapel.  We didn't see the grave site, because it was behind the chapel, which was also closed.  Wesley has historic significance to me, but not personal or theological significance.  In general, I view Methodism in a negative related to the faith of Christ.  However, I saw several memorials to Wesley on our trip.

Wesley had the statue in front of his chapel, but we also saw a statue outside of St. Paul's Cathedral, where he had attended.   About two blocks away from there North is a wall memorial to what is said to be Wesley's conversion experience, having been a priest in the Church of England.   We viewed a frieze in honor of Wesley in Westminster Abbey.  In the floor of Christchurch chapel at Oxford is a memorial to the Wesleys, students in that college, for starting Methodism.  The Wesleys and Methodism register in England as a major impact in English history.

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I'll call this a riff on various subjects I haven't yet covered in no particular order.  Restaurants in Europe function different than the United States related to time.  You sit down and wait.  You look around and it doesn't look that busy.  They aren't waiting on you because that's just how they roll.  Finally someone visits your table and you order.  Then you wait a long time again.  You eat.  You wait a long time for the check.  You really don't know if you're supposed to walk to the desk.  No.  They are coming.  Expect eating to be a much longer experience.

Italian pizza.  We ate several, once in Venice, a few times in Rome.  They don't taste like pizza in the United States.  Who is to complain about the origins of pizza?  I like U. S. pizza better.  The best I've ever had is under the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn, Julianas.  Amazing.  I can only speak for the four times I had pizza in Italy, but it is bland.  They didn't work with the spices like America.  They've got good thin crust due to their wood fired ovens.  I'm sure the sauce and cheese is legitimate.  It's top notch.  It just does not taste as good.  America wins on taste.  You'll get the authentic pizza in Italy, but it does not taste as good as the United States.

Gelato.  I loved all the gelato in Italy.  We ate it every day at least once and a few times twice. Gelaterias are everywhere there.  If you pass one, another will come along soon.  It was all good with some a little bitter than others.  However, the best gelato I ever had was hands down in Brunswick, Maine, which seems like a strange place to beat the gelato of Italy, but I really did like it better.  It is Gelato Fiasco in Maine, and they ship it all over the United States.  It started with some brothers in Maine, but their gelato is out of this world wonderful.  Maybe somewhere in Italy, the gelato is better, but I haven't tasted it.

Eating on the sidewalk.  Very common in Italy and France especially is eating on the street.  You sit at a table on the sidewalk very close to the street and people walk right by you.  This is a great experience that hasn't been matched by outdoor eating in the United States.  Our last meal in Europe was at a cafe in Paris.  They have cafes all over the place and these are very different than a cafe in the United States.  We sat at a table on the sidewalk for breakfast.  They brought a basket of bread, which included several baguettes and croissants with various toppings.  Then came freshly squeezed orange juice, coffee, and scrambled eggs.

When we came out of the underground in Paris, which, by the way, is the best public transportation of the major cities we visited.  It's very fast and convenient.  Every city is different with its tickets, but Paris gets you everywhere by train mostly underground.  We didn't need to take one bus there.  For London, you have to take the big red double decker buses for which it is famous, to get everywhere you might need.  When we stepped out on the Paris street, we turned and saw four different cafes.  I stood there and checked the numbers of the stars for each, and they really where all equal, so we picked the neatest looking and ate there.

Coffee is a different experience in Europe.  They don't do the bottomless cup, the American cup of joe, a mug and refills.  I love that about America.  I missed it.  Europe has its coffee benefits, but in my opinion it doesn't beat the carafe placed on your table or the waitress who walks by and asks to top you off.

Europe is the king of little cups.  Do they understand how small their cups are?  How do they get away with it?  I've read that Howard Shultz studied coffee in Europe and brought it to the United States.  I walked into the coffee shop that was his model in Rome.  It's right next to the Pantheon, same neighborhood or piazza as that ancient landmark.  It was very busy and it did look familiar, convincing as the Starbucks model.

They don't serve you coffee in Europe.  They don't have "coffee."  If you want coffee, you order "Americano," and they don't give you the little creamers or usually a cup of creamer.  They don't offer cream.  They offer milk.  You can ask for it hot.  They don't have glass containers of sugar.  Very often it is sugar cubes in a small bowl.  The cups are small.  You take one little sip and you are a third done with your cup.  You know how much you paid for it and you regret any haste. As I see it, coffee hasn't replaced tea in the UK.  Coffee is very popular in Italy and France.  I've got two little stories to end this installment of my tales of Europe.

We were walking to get on public transportation to the Vatican on the Rome side of the Tiber River.  It looked like a big storm was going to happen, with large raindrops slapping us in the face.  We ducked into a little Italian restaurant and asked if we could just get coffee.  It was almost empty at that moment and we were seated.  We ordered coffee and two desserts to share.  It immediately started storming, rain running through the streets like a river.  The restaurant was instantly packed.  We had chosen well.

Our four various coffees came.  Very small cups.  The desserts came and the Italians and the French are amazing with those.  A whole different level even in what might seem like an average restaurant.  I can't say the same for the English.  I nursed my coffee, knowing no refill, no top-off, no nothing was coming.  We ate every dessert to the final crumb.  Like I explained before, we waited and waited and waited for the check.  It had already stopped raining.  We had to get the waiters attention.

Let me take a break for a comment about Italian waiters.  Italian restaurants have more waiters than waitresses and they are masculine in general.  I didn't have one Italian waiter that gave me any effeminate impression.  Italy has the best table service as a whole I have ever seen.  The waiters seem like normal men with no lisp or female mannerisms.  Half of what I get in the United States is like this.  I can't say why this hasn't reached Italy, but I have my theories.

Our masculine Italian waiter came with the little credit card gizmo everyone uses everywhere in Europe.  They bring it right to the table.  They don't take your card and come back with something to sign and add a tip.  They don't even ask for a tip in Europe.  However, we paid to sit down in that restaurant, called a service fee.  I think they expect you to get a whole meal at a restaurant if you are going to sit down there.  We were charged 35 euros for what we consumed.  However, he punched in the wrong numbers, 95 instead of 35, and I paid 95 euros for four cups of coffee.  I told him it was the most expensive coffee in the world.  He laughed.  He gave me cash to make up the difference, which I needed anyway.

We were on the highway back from Normandy and we had to pay tolls both ways.  That was a surprise.  Sometimes their little automated booths took your card and sometimes they did not.  I found machines were very often not trustworthy in Europe.  It's a bummer in a foreign country to have a machine rip you off, because you just don't have the feeling of the same means of finding justice when you aren't on American soil.  You've got to learn to deal with the little things.  I knew I would need euros for these toll machines and I was out, so I looked for a place to get cash, and there was a stop with a gas station.  I pumped diesel into my rental car by the litre and went in to ask for an ATM.  They had one.

A good idea on foreign trips is to get a debit card with no foreign transaction fees.  I did that and it worked out very well as a consistent way to get cash when I needed it.  Credit goes to Thomas Ross for that one, no pun intended.  I got my cash but I needed coinage, so I ordered a coffee in this gas station to get it.  I looked at the menu and there was no Americano, so I said to these French only speakers, reading off the sign, 100% Arabica, small.  They came back with my small coffee.  I'm not kidding.  It was the size of a dixie cup.  I'm not exaggerating.  Think a dixie cup.  That's not all.  It was half full.  I ordered a half full dixie cup of coffee for 1.90 euros.  When I arrived at the car with that dixie cup of coffee, it was a big laugh in our car.  It was the price of getting coins for the toll.  I don't think someone can call what they do with that little liquid, drinking.  You can't even sip.  This is a true representation of wetting one's tongue.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Investing in Clean, Christian Investments: a "How To" Letter

A brother in Christ who is a missionary in Africa inquired from me concerning investing in Christian mutual funds, having found my post on the topic on my website.  He asked about both stock investments and about my article on how to do peer-to-peer lending in a Christian manner.

I thought that my response to him (somewhat adjusted) might be helpful to What is Truth? readers.

Dear Bro ------,

Thank you for reaching out to me; I am thankful that the information on Eventide was a blessing to you, and, I trust, other material at faithsaves.net has been as well.

I was very excited when I found out about Eventide, as I had been searching for something like them for a long time.

On a practical level, you can invest in the Eventide family of mutual funds in several ways.

1.) Open a brokerage account with a reputable broker such as schwab.com or fidelity.com, and then buy the Eventide funds through them.  Both of them will charge you no fee as long as you hold them for over 60 days (Fidelity) or 90 days (Schwab), and since you are not planning to buy and sell and buy and sell, that holding period really doesn't matter (and if you really need the funds, the fee to sell before then is small; 1% I think.)  One advantage with Schwab is that they also have a no-fee checking account that you can open that has no ATM fees or foreign transaction fees at any ATM worldwide.

I think the Schwab checking account works as long as you have a US address and the account is a US account.  They will also give you $100 for opening one if you use the link above (it is a hard pull on your credit report, but that has only a minor effect on your credit score for a short time).  Both Fidelity and Schwab have great customer service as well.  You can invest in class "N" shares of Eventide mutual funds with no fees with both Fidelity and Schwab.  If you have over $100,000 you can get class "I" shares, which have a 0.25% lower management fee--not a large amount, but worth doing if you can, as it adds up over the years.

2.) You could also open an account with Eventide directly through their agent, Gemini Funds.   There are fewer bells and whistles if you do it this way, but it would also work.  If you wanted to also buy some of the Timothy Plan products, though, it would be better to go with Fidelity or Schwab or, for the specific purpose mentioned below, Merrill Edge.

3.) If you want to diversify to the Timothy Plan, I would only recommend their bond funds, as their stock funds are not 100% clean like Eventide (although they are way, way better than secular funds) because they will still purchase distributors of alcohol (e. g., Walmart) while filtering out manufacturers (see the explanation in my article on Christian mutual funds, which I think you already read).   The Timothy Plan class A shares have a 5.25% fee to get into their fund.  However, if you purchase them through Merrill Edge, the 5.25% fee for the class A shares will be waved.  I do not like Merrill Edge as much as Schwab and Fidelity, but for the specific purpose of saving 5.25% on Timothy Plan bond funds I would go with Merrill Edge, while keeping Schwab/Fidelity for everything else.  Class "A" shares of Eventide through Merrill Edge also have a yearly fee that is 0.05% higher with Eventide than the class "N" shares one can get through Fidelity or Schwab.

How aggressive you want to be with your investments depends on your planned timeframe.  If you want the largest amount of long term growth, you probably are best (of course, the Bible speaks of "uncertain" riches) with the Eventide Gilead Fund and a smaller amount in the Eventide Healthcare and Life Sciences Fund. Income funds that include dividend stocks (e. g., Eventide Multi-Asset Fund) and bond funds (e. g., Timothy Plan High Yield Bond Fund) will not fluctuate as much as stocks, but they will probably grow less in the longer term.  So it depends upon whether you want something that will probably grow more in the long term but go up and down a bit more or something that will go up and down less but grow less in the long term.  Another factor is whether you will get scared and want to pull out of the market the next time there is a crash.  If you can go to sleep at night and not worry about short term losses, or at least not worry enough so that you sell after a crash, the worst time to get out, then mutual funds are for you.  If you would get scared and pull out, then you would be better off having less long-term growth and less volatility.

I would suggest opening an account with Fidelity or Schwab and then making an appointment with a financial advisor.  Perhaps if you tell them you are in Africa they will let you do it over the phone.  Tell the advisor you want to invest only in Eventide and/or in Timothy Plan bond funds. I would recommend not going with an actively managed account by Fidelity/Schwab, both because of the fees they charge and because they don't really understand clean investing like the people running Eventide/Timothy do, so they will say they are doing it but probably are not. I would then put the money in a mix of stock and bond funds (less volatile) or stock only (higher probable long-term growth, higher probable volatility) funds and forget about it, or at least forget about it until every few months or every year you look at your statement so you can tithe and give on whatever gain you have (or reduce a tithe on a loss if they go down) and rebalance (the financial advisor can help you understand what it is to rebalance). People who forget that they have accounts, or who are dead, get better rates of return than the living who know they have accounts because the living people tend to get scared about the short-term volatility while the dead and those who just leave the accounts alone because they forget that they have them get the long-term growth without getting scared by short-term swings (see, e. g., the article here on that subject).  Trying to "time the market" by guessing when one should get in and get out is also something that living people do, and it almost always works out worse than just getting in and staying in and not trying to guess the short-term future.

May the Lord help you to be a wise steward with what He has given you, that you might give Him the most honor and glory with it.

Grace and peace in Christ,

Bro TR

One more thing--I think that peer-to-peer lending in a Biblical way could be something you could do to diversify some, but I think it will probably somewhat underperform the Eventide stock funds in the long term (while possibly being less volatile) although it might outperform Timothy Plan bond funds and it might have volatility between the two.

Also, of course, I am not a licensed financial advisor, nor am I giving official financial advice. 

Something that was not part of my letter, but that I think is worth considering, that demonstrates the unadvisability of trying to "time" the market, is the game here.  If you think you know when to pull in and out of the market, try your hand here using the real historical data from the past and see if you outperform just leaving your money alone and not trying to predict what cannot be predicted.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

A Dust Storm of Evangelism, pt. 2

Part One

I've written on the motivation for evangelism already this year (here), but in light of the dust storm of evangelism, I want to revisit.   In part one, I wrote that evangelicals in our area have a goal of numerical growth, making their group get bigger.  They are motivated by getting bigger and all that goes along with that.  If they do get bigger, they claim that as evidence of God's working.

Someone who would seem on the other end of the spectrum from the evangelicals, Steven Anderson, also presents unfounded numerical success as a motivation to his adherents for "soulwinning," which isn't biblical evangelism.

In both above cases, little to no evangelism occurs.  Numerical success is the motive and different strategies are employed to reach that same goal.  Evangelism is difficult.  People don't want to evangelize.  In both examples, it really isn't being done, because both parties are missing the point.

A dust storm of evangelism arises from either no motivation, a lack of motivation, or the wrong motivation for evangelism, so evangelism isn't done, doesn't take place.  The impression is that it is getting done because people see numbers.  It isn't.  More damage is done than good because of this dust storm created, indicative of a lot of activity, leaving an impression that things are going great.

Evangelism is preaching the gospel. That's what the word means.  Evangelism is a compound word with the words "good news" and "proclaim" in it.  The good news is that people can be saved.  Evangelism is proclaiming to an individual or a group how that God can and will save them.  Evangelism occurs when a believer preaches the gospel to an unbeliever.  There are many unbelievers compared to much fewer believers.  Believers don't lack in recipients or targets for evangelism.  They are everywhere in every direction local, regional, statewide, throughout the country and the world.

Actual evangelism is supposed to be the means of the numerical growth of the church.  Scripture at least implies church growth as a motivation in scripture, just not the most common or obvious one.  It is an indirect motivation. The Jerusalem church grew through evangelism.  The Apostle Paul said the edifying of the body of Christ occurs through the work of the ministry (Eph 4), and the primary work of the ministry is evangelism.

Even with numerical growth tied to evangelism, the evangelist can't take credit for it.  The Apostle Paul also wrote in 1 Corinthians 3 that God gives the increase, not the ones who sow or water in evangelism.  If evangelism is done according to scripture, God gives the increase, not men.  The two strategies I mentioned above and in the first post are not of God.  They aren't God giving the increase.  Whatever results are produced through the man-made methods implemented, God doesn't get the glory from those, even if actual conversion is produced, which is unlikely.

A church should grow through evangelism, not other means.  That is the way for churches to grow, but growth isn't presented as a motivation for evangelism.  It is presented as a reality, but not as a motivation, perhaps because very often churches are not growing to the extent the membership wants it to.  They can't give up on evangelism just because they aren't seeing the results they want to see.  Growth won't sustain someone as a motive for evangelism.  It is exciting when people get saved, but when they don't, that shouldn't stop church members from evangelizing.

What should motivate believers to evangelize is simple.  The first is obedience to the Lord's command, but this is also tied into love.  We love God by keeping His commandments.  He commanded us to evangelize, so by obeying that command, believers are obedient, but they are also loving.  In Romans 1, Paul says he worshiped God in the gospel, which I believe means that He was worshiping God by preaching the gospel.  This is how someone presents his body a living sacrifice unto God.  If I'm not evangelizing, I don't think I'm obedient and I don't think I'm loving God.  We love Him because He first loved us, which is to say that we will evangelize if we are saved.

God is seeking for true worshipers and I want Him to have more worshipers too.  Everyone should worship Him, but they won't without the gospel.  I have to preach the gospel to someone if I want him to become a true worshiper, so I do.  This still relates to obedience and love.  I want God to be worshiped because I love Him.  He deserves it.  He deserves all worship and praise.

You can't love your neighbor as yourself if he's not saved and you don't preach the gospel to him.  Loving others is another reason.  This is tied into corollaries, like people going to Hell.  Allowing someone to go to Hell without warning is not loving.  We're responsible for warning people, who are headed to destruction.

I don't have any other actual motives for evangelism than obeying God, and then loving God and others.  I have other motives for the obedience and the love, but not for evangelism.  God is good.  God's way is best.  Evangelism is success, because doing what God says is success.

I'm happier when I'm obedient, because I'm fulfilled.  Fulfillment comes from fellowship with Christ.  I fellowship with Christ by conforming to His image.  I fellowship with Him by being like Him.

All of my motivation starts in my imagination.  I have to think about it according to scripture.  The feelings proceed from the right thinking.  My feelings follow my actions.  I don't feel right until I'm doing it and God gives me that peace and joy as fruit of the Spirit.  I'm submitting to the Spirit, not quenching Him, and my attitude becomes what it should be.

A dust storm of evangelism arises from no motivation to a lack of motivation.  If people will not receive the right motive, salvation should be questioned.  This is an unfaithful person.  He's not faithful to God, because he's not faithful to God's Word, which is how someone is faithful.  This is the correct view of the gospel, that it changes lives.  It changes someone into the image of Christ.  He will evangelize like Christ.  If he doesn't, and he doesn't show that Christlikeness, I doubt whether he is a saved person.  I'm in Christ and He is in me and that produces His image in my life.  I expect that of every Christian.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Woke: Evangelical Rift Caused or Influenced by Seismic False System of Interpretation of Scripture

Progressives deconstruct authoritative documents into constituent parts for the purpose of reinterpreting them.  They assign a different meaning by reading into the words of the text.  This makes a document elastic or flexible.  By doing so, they can force the Constitution of the United States into what they want it to mean.  This takes away the authority of this founding document.  Instead of adhering, they do whatever they want to do and justify it with a progressive philosophy.  This strategy or technique, most might not be aware, traces to religious origins.

Scripture claims the highest authority, divine authority, so as much as any document, the Bible invites deconstruction, contortion, and misrepresentation as a means of Satanic attack.  You can't obey scripture and do what you want to do.  Upon completion of the New Testament, early false teachers used allegorization, spiritualization, or mysticism to read what they wanted in to God's Word (rather than out of) to warrant their false teaching.  A false system of interpretation revolved around a novel understanding of God's kingdom and the church.  The false teachers deconstructed church and then reinterpreted it as kingdom.  This justified the Roman Catholic church, joining the church and the Roman empire into a kingdom commensurate to the nation Israel.  Old Testament instruction to Israel could now be read to or applied to the church.

Now the true church was catholic instead of local.  This didn't just affect ecclesiology, but eschatology, and even soteriology.  It also contorted how someone might know and understand the will of God, because the system of interpretation allowed for continued revelation of scripture.  New and contradictory teachings could be added through deconstructing the meaning of apostleship. Requirements were added to the gospel through elevating church authority, which utilized spiritualization to read into scripture what church leaders wished.

Many churches did and still do celebrate Roman Catholicism.  Constantine legalized "Christianity."  Christians wouldn't have to suffer now.  Many bought in.  Then in the Protestant Reformation a break occurred, but it didn't repudiate the false system of interpretation and its view of the kingdom.  The breach was a narrow one that focused on the doctrine of salvation, still confusing.

Evangelicalism, a modern movement, was built on the acceptance of more than one system of interpretation of scripture, due to its ecclesiology, accepting a big tent philosophy of unity.  At best, it somewhat emended its doctrine of salvation as the stake claimed for its history.  Rampant doctrinal perversion persists.  Evangelicals embrace amillennialism, postmillennialism, and premillennialism, dispensationalism and covenant theology, that yields acceptance of massive, wholesale differences in meaning.  This savages the correct view of truth.  The attack on truth itself is anchored in this evangelical position.

Roman Catholicism has retained the most extreme false system of interpretation, which is why leftist ideology finds a home there.  You might remember during the Nicaraguan civil war, where we heard about the Sandinistas and Contras in the 1980s, that Catholic priests were being killed, making it sound like a religious war.  The left used their death as propaganda for their cause.  Conservatives were killing priests.  What was happening?  The priests were communists.  Amillennialism allows liberation theology, where leftist or Marxist social theory is read into the kingdom or the church, which are interchangeable in its ecclesiology.  Think also now of the present pope of the Catholic church.  The political leanings have moved into the mainstream based upon the same corrupt system.

A characteristic of evangelicalism in contradiction to fundamentalism has been its dialogue with liberalism over social concerns.  The bridge between evangelicals and liberals arises from shared aspects of a false interpretation of scripture.  Not only does a large segment of modern evangelicalism read into scripture a necessity of political social change through a false system of interpretation, but are also now fusing this teaching to the gospel.  Conversion is tied to political renewal.  In urban settings, these social positions serve as church growth technique.  Also modern suburbanites want their church with a side of social awareness -- food pantries, soup kitchens, clothing banks, orphanages, racial reconciliation, and third world infrastructure.  This results in numerous and varied new practices in evangelical churches that mirror progressivism, which represents a view of conversion translated into the slang of urbanity -- "woke."

Now you can be saved and vote or support political leftists, who deny a biblical, Christian worldview.  This impacts everything in the church, its view of spirituality, sanctification, and worship.  All of this stems from the acceptance and this acquisition of a false system of scripture.  For almost its entire existence, American evangelicalism has accommodated this conflicting divergence.  Now it results in consent to egalitarianism, continuationism, critical race theory, socialism, and even room for same sex marriage.  It's now difficult to put all of this back in the bottle for conservative evangelicals.

I see angry dissension right now in evangelicals, especially as witnessed between Thabiti Anyabwile and Phil Johnson, among others.  They attempt to keep a modicum of civility, but there is a simmering discord.  Like professors are compelled on state campuses to use gender neutral pronouns, evangelicals must confess their culpability to national racism.  If you do not repudiate any support of the present presidential administration, conversion is questioned.

The root of the rift in evangelicalism is caused or influenced by a seismic false system of interpretation of scripture.  The two have always been incongruent, but now their trajectories have widened to irreparable disagreement.  Something's got to give.  Someone needs to go back to the drawing board to see where the train left the track.

I'm glad I'm not an evangelical, and I'm talking about the movement.  I'm happy I'm saved and believe in a true gospel, but that I'm not hijacked by the history of evangelicalism and all the baggage it carries.  You can't be a movement evangelical and be obedient to scripture.  If your intention is to honor and glorify God, you've made that impossible for yourself.  Separation is necessary.   I call on evangelicals to examine their longtime attempt to reconcile two contradictory systems of interpretation of scripture.

I regret to tell you that it far more likely that evangelicals harden into a further left direction than to break from the past and admit the error.  Pride has fueled its present course and will discourage much change for the future.  The best attempts at change will come from angry tweets and posts or some type of compromise that helps preserve the coalition, safeguarding popularity, book sales, and relevance, which are more important than the truth.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Evan Roberts & the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905: False Conversions, Part 9 of 22


            It was important for Roberts to have supernatural abilities to discern true and false conversion, since the methodology he employed in the Welsh holiness revival to produce regeneration was not, as in the Bible, bold, powerful, and clear preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 1:23-25), but getting people to stand up.[1]  Those who stood up were assumed to have been converted.  Roberts would “walk up and down the isles,” look at specific people, and ask them, “Are you ready to stand up now and confess Christ?”[2]  People would think, “Why can’t I?  I am religious!” and then “stand up to confess” when Roberts asked them to.[3]  Roberts would, at times, call on “[a]ll who love Jesus to stand,” as well as “all church members” and “[a]ll who love Christ more than anything else,”[4] and was able to get great crowds to stand up in this way.[5]  In  an atmosphere charged with extreme emotion, but little careful preaching, Roberts called on unsaved people to stand,” and then “men [would] . . . rise up and confes[s] Christ.”[6]  “[A]midst prayers and exhortations in Welsh and English,” people “rose one by one” and were assumed to be converted because they did so, while the “press circulated stories about Evan Roberts’s irreverence, hysteria, mesmerism, and improper pressures upon impressionable females.”[7]
            Roberts’s coworkers described scenes of “feverish emotionalism” where “the air was electrical” as “young men, nerved by the sympathetic atmosphere . . . r[ose], from floor and gallery [of a chapel meeting house, and] followed the formula set by the first, ‘I get up to confess Christ.’”[8]  Large groups would go to the front of church buildings, and, in the words of one of Roberts’s converts, be “asked . . . to confess Jesus Christ as our Saviour. . . . I did not understand it . . . [t]he thing was entirely new to me . . . but I accepted everything from him because I looked up to him . . . [by this confession] we had an interest in heaven.”[9]  If not enough people stood up, Roberts would ask again.  For example, “at the meeting in Van Road, Caerphilly . . . Evan asked, ‘Will everyone who will confess Christ rise?’  When only forty responded, Evan professed to be astonished.  ‘What!  Is this the number?’ he cried. . . . So the people were challenged again. They realized that they had not come to be entertained but to ‘show their side.’”[10]  Sometimes, however, getting up one time would not work, and one would need to stand up more than once to go to heaven; for example, one man stood up twice because a spirit being told him in a vision that he had lost his salvation:
I could stand up to confess since I had been faithful to all the chapel meetings and was morally upright . . . I did stand up to confess Christ . . . [but a few days later] I saw . . . I felt Jesus coming to me and I was going to him . . . and as He came towards me—He was on the cross—He moved His hand and pushed me away.  “If God has deserted me,” [I thought], “only a lost state awaits me.”[11]
The man therefore stood up a second time and said, “Dear friends, God has departed from me; I have no hope; only total loss awaits me; pray for me.”  People responded, “[I]f you are lost, where are we others?”[12]
            At another meeting, Roberts exercised his supernatural powers to predict that “everybody present in that meeting was going to ‘come to Christ’ that day,”[13] indicating that all present, including ministers and Roberts himself, were unconverted and were going to be saved that day by standing up, or that equating standing up with conversion produces incredible confusion and many false professions—unless the prophecy was to be taken allegorically.  However, at the end of the day, “all . . . had stood up to declare themselves followers of Christ,”[14] so it appears that Roberts’s prophecy was not simply an allegory.  A very sympathetic eyewitness described Roberts’s procedure of producing conversions by putting pressure on people to stand up:
Mr. Evan Roberts, toward the close of the meeting, asks all who from their hearts believe and confess their Saviour to rise.  At the meetings at which I was present nearly everybody was standing.  Then for the sitting remnant the storm of prayer rises to the mercy seat.  When one after another rises to his feet, glad strains of jubilant song burst from the watching multitude.[15]
Getting people to stand up, repeating such calls to stand when not enough do so, putting pressure on the unconverted to stand up by having everyone watch them, and getting people to think that all who do not stand at Mr. Roberts’s call are at that instant claiming to be openly and actively against Christ is radically different from Biblical evangelistic methodology and a horrible recipe for producing spurious salvation decisions.  Indeed, it was even immediately apparent that often people would stand and “confess Chris[t] to escape notice” that would come on them were they to stay seated.[16]  Therefore, one must be a firm believer in Evan Roberts’s supernatural powers to accept the validity of such a procedure.  Only the authority of the marvels surrounding Roberts’s work could validate what would otherwise be a very clearly anti-supernatural, fleshly, and devilish rejection of truly supernatural regeneration for the natural work of arising from a chair.  For unless Roberts could do what no other man could, and see into everyone else’s heart, the overwhelming majority of people whom he deceived into thinking that standing up is a sure sign of supernatural conversion and the new birth were in fearful danger of remaining unconverted, being deceived, and being eternally damned, while churches would end up filled with religious but unregenerate people, to the destruction of Christianity and the glory of the devil.  Supernatural conversion by the miraculous power of the Spirit through the preached Word would be replaced with supernatural marvels performed by Evan Roberts and a merely natural outward response erroneously equated with regeneration. 
Roberts, however, was able to use his supernatural powers to detect when people stood up but were not born again on that account:
[On] one occasion Roberts refused to leave the building, when the service had been declared closed by the ministers, because he said that one man in an indicated gallery, a Welshman, he was certain had not confessed Christ as he ought to have done.  The minister in charge of that gallery “tested” the people and reported that every one had confessed Christ.  Roberts was not satisfied:  six times was the appeal made during the next 25 minutes and not until the sixth test did a man come forward and admit that he had not been sincere in professing as a convert with the rest.  Roberts directed the minister to speak to the man, and after a short talk he too gave in.[17]
In such a manner, false professions apparently could be avoided.  Furthermore, visions from the spirit world confirmed that people had indeed been truly saved through the ministry of Evan Roberts.  A man who became an evangelist after professing conversion through Roberts’s ministry recounted that he had felt “petrified . . . tossed about . . . puzzled . . . crushed . . . disturbed . . . and . . . mobbed,” but then saw “a panoramic vision of Jesus moving through a crowd and a blind, beseeching beggar, whom he recognized as himself, pleading, ‘Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.’”  The man related, “A sweet voice spoke within my spirit so clearly, unmistakably, [and] audibly, that the voices of all creation could never succeed in drowning its message:  ‘Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee.’  Heaven came into my heart that very moment.”[18]  Ministers also claimed to be converted because of visions.  For instance, an elder testified:  “I was led up to the great white throne, where the Father was seated in his eternal glory. The Holy Spirit came to me and dressed me in the Son’s righteousness.  When He had clothed me in white raiment He introduced me to the Father.  ‘Here he is for you,’ said He to the Father, ‘what do you think of him in the Son’s righteousness?’ . . . Thanks be to Him!”[19] 




[1]              Sometimes those who stood up would also come to a “big seat” at the front of a church building.  For example, one person who professed conversion “had a vision,” and consequently “went to the big seat to tell [the congregation] . . . [‘]Jesus Christ has forgiven my sin[.’]” (pg. 32, cf. 72-73, Voices from the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones).  Another example of the methodology of standing up to be born again is found on pg. 147, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
                The practice of equating standing up with conversion was present in Keswick and Higher Life circles from the origin of the movement; for example, at the Brighton Convention a Quaker leader reported that “manifest converting power” was present, evidenced by “some hundreds [who] rose to witness that they were recipients of salvation” (pg. 399, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875; pg. 462, The Friends’ Quarterly Examiner, 9:23-26.  London:  Barrett, Sons & Co, 1875).
[2]              Pg. 34, An Instrument of Revival, Jones; cf. pg. 182, “The Revival in Wales,” A. T. Fryer.
[3]              Pg. 30, Voices from the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[4]              Pg. 49, Voices from the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[5]              E. g., pgs. 60-61, Voices from the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[6]              Pg. 52, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.  Compare pg. 44, Voices from the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[7]              Pg. 81, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[8]              Pgs. 70-71, Voices from the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[9]              Pgs. 32-33, Voices from the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[10]            Pg. 60, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[11]            Pgs. 29-30, Voices from the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[12]            Pgs. 29-30, Voices from the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[13]            Pg. 121, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).
[14]            Pg. 122, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).
[15]            Pg. 32, Revival in the West, W. T. Stead.
[16]            Pg. 60, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[17]          Pgs. 90, 120-121, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).  “211 had already accepted Christ” by standing up or raising their hands that night, and the Welshman was number 212.
[18]            Pg. 185, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[19]            Pg. 189, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones. In the Apostle John’s vision, in Revelation 20:11-15, Jesus Christ, not the Father, is the One on the great white throne, and only the damned are going to be judged there, since the resurrection of the just is already past (20:4-5).  The Apostle’s vision contradicts the vision of this minister in the Welsh holiness revival.