Monday, May 25, 2009

Two Obvious Contemporary Theological Contradictions and their Meaning part one

Taxing cigarettes and taxing income. Do you see the contradiction? Government taxes cigarettes to what? Stop smoking. And then they tax income to what? Stop income. No, not for the second one. You can see how a progressive tax is actually a regressive tax. This is simple. We can understand it. But I'm not dealing with government and politics. I've got two other obvious contradictions in the realm of theology. These seem to appear again and again.

Contradiction Number One: The Eruption over the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship Sermon

I need to give some back story for those who are not aware of this. The Fundamental Baptist Fellowship (FBF) is a fellowship of independent Baptist pastors who claim to be a part of fundamentalist Christianity too. On April 6-7 the FBF held a meeting of the South Regional Fellowship at Wilds Christian Camp. At this meeting, Pastor Danny Sweatt was invited to preach.

I knew nothing about this meeting until I read about it on a blog that I visit to read from time to time to gather the thoughts of a younger fundamentalist, Pastor Bob Bixby, in Rockford, IL. His post is actually what started the firestorm. He wrote several other follow up posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

What Pastor Sweatt (whom I met a couple of times when I was in college---at that time he was the music director of an independent Baptist church in the Chicago area) did in his sermon was attempt to deal with what he saw as the biggest problem in fundamentalism today. It was mainly a speech in which he attempted to defend big name fundamentalists from the recent past and then to criticize the new heroes of today's young fundamentalists, which happen to be new-evangelical and Calvinist. As part of his diatribe, he spent a few moments dealing with Calvinism.

That I know of, Pastor Bixby said something first. If it was he alone, there would probably not be any kind of significant conflict that would have ensued. But then the dean of the Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Kevin Bauder, wrote about it in his weekly column, called In the Nick of Time, along with a follow-up. This ratcheted up the rhetoric with numerous posts being written on blogs all over fundamentalism, as well as a few well-known evangelicals.

Since Kevin Bauder entered the frey, the FBF has posted a statement on the controversy on the front page of its website. Many forum threads broke out at the fundamentalist forum, SharperIron, on the subject, including one polling its members as to whether they believe the FBF statement was strong enough. Danny Sweatt hasn't said anything publically that I've heard, although at his church website, he has linked on the front page to a downloadable book against Calvinism, called Deconstructing Calvinism.

The Theological Contradiction

That's the back story, but what I see as a theological contradiction is found in the second of the two essays written by Bauder. In his third to fifth paragraphs, he writes:

If we did not challenge leadership such as that of Rice, then we were too complacent. If we did challenge it, however, and a fight ensued, then Carpenter was ready to spank us for being schismatic. I suggested that this was a no-win situation.

Carpenter’s response was that there are plenty of intermediate steps between tolerance of an evil and outright separation. For instance, he said, you can admonish a brother but not withdraw fellowship from him. What Carpenter found distressing was the unwillingness of fundamentalists to attempt these intermediate measures.

I think that Carpenter was not entirely correct. Fundamentalists have indeed attempted intermediate measures.

It is here where I see the major flaw in fundamentalism. For some reason, fundamentalists don't see the contradiction. Or they see it and choose to ignore it. Bauder calls it a no-win situation. Well, I didn't know there were any no-win situations for Christians. Of course, there are not, but a fundamentalist error brings one. No-win is another word for contradiction. It is a contradiction that appears again and again and again and again, which produces the incessant fighting in fundamentalism.

"Intermediate Measures"

The problem is the one of "intermediate measures." The solution is found, according to the man Carpenter, the provost of Calvin Seminary in Bauder's story, and according to Bauder, in something between tolerance of evil and outright separation. Let's get this right---we don't choose tolerance of evil and we don't choose separation. Bauder and fundamentalism, I have noticed, says that there is some kind of relationship that isn't toleration but also isn't separation. Do you understand that it isn't possible scripturally to tolerate unrepentant evil without separating? So why do that?

We have a rub here. There is a contradiction between tolerance of evil and choosing separation. If we don't choose separation, we tolerate evil. We're talking about unrepentant sin or false doctrine. But Bauder expresses what he sees as his problem and the problem of fundamentalism and why it is that evangelicals like Carpenter say they can't get along with fundamentalism. It is in this section of Bauder's piece:

If we did not challenge leadership such as that of Rice, then we were too complacent. If we did challenge it, however, and a fight ensued, then Carpenter was ready to spank us for being schismatic. I suggested that this was a no-win situation.

We can't be schismatic and we can't be complacent. No-win. It seems that the politics are actually being played right here. We've got to get along so that we're not schismatic. Schismatic with what? What are we dividing if we don't tolerate evil? Bauder doesn't say. He assumes we understand. He means we are splitting the "body of Christ." Of course, the body of Christ to fundamentalists is fundamentalism, which it isn't, but for intents of keeping together something in the realm of evangelicalism, they draw the line at fundamentalism.

Fundamentalists in the past have thought that they had good reason to keep together and exclude evangelicals from this hypothetical "body of Christ." The evangelicals were too bad, too evil. They messed up too much. But the FBF-types look over at who they see as their ugly cousin revivalists or easy-believism-ers or KJV-onlyists or, as Bauder says, the "bellicose," and wag their heads and whisper, "These guys are worse than John Piper and Mark Dever and at least John MacArthur, and probably D. A. Carson. We're more comfortable with those conservative evangelicals than we are with these theological inbreeds." I see the wheels turning among fundamentalists, who still believe in separation, explaining how that these conservative evangelicals are enough separatist that they will tolerate fellowship with them. They would contend that these conservative evangelicals are the militant fundamentalists of the early twentieth century. That's not true, but that's the elephant in the room now.

They hear the Sweatt message at an official FBF function and the buzzers start going off. "We've got to do something about this. At least FBF was a safe haven. We can give the fundamentlist ugly cousins the cold shoulder, but we're not going to be able to do that with an FBF. That we can't tolerate." Hence the feud in the fellowship. If the FBF can't monitor the inmates, well, we'll just have to see what happens. The threat is out there.

John Piper and Phil Johnson have their ear to the rail. They foresee the prospects of additions to their gospel coalitions. Together for the Gospel and the Shepherd's Conference are already a fundamentalist reunion. They have the proverbial fundamentalist track in their workshops. Accepted fence straddlers like Andy Naselli have the heat on and the car waiting.

Sweatt brought frightening recollection of a former time. Abusive leaders who kept power over the constituency with harsh platform rhetoric. Or in the destructive whispers of the backroom corridors. Almost all power coalesced within the human derived organization on the few flamboyant, who wielded it for maximum self-service. No matter how embarrassing they may be, their privileges remained untouched. In this present age, we insist that we spread the faux authority thinner, cobbling together the coalition with diplomacy. The pendulum has swung to cerebral heroes who are multi-syllabic. Someone with the right mix of popularity, likeability, success, and education could harness the reins of power once again.

What's Missing

What seems to be missing in all this? I don't think it is a what. It's a Who. God. God is missing in the equation. What does He want? Does He really want intermediate measures? Does He want a hybrid toleration-separation?

If the body of Christ is all believers, then any division is schismatic. Yet scripture teaches to separate. How can unity not coexist with evil? This is the contradiction that manifests a flaw in doctrine. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul talks about the communion of the body of Christ. Communion exists in the church. We don't have a universal, invisible communion. We're held together by the ordinances, baptism and the Lord's Table, by church discipline, and by the offices of pastor and deacons, a one-mindedness that is found only in the Lord's assembly.

We don't have to tolerate any sin or false doctrine. We're not supposed to. But we will if we look to intermediate measures and something bigger than a church for unity. Any other way will keep presenting the incessant contradictions that we see in fundamentalism and evangelicalism today. You don't have to sacrifice unity for separation or separation for unity if your ecclesiology is scriptural.

The church is a place of independence and protection. We can believe and practice scripture and proclaim it. The church just isn't big enough for most. It hasn't been big enough through much of the last two millennia. It was big enough for Jesus. Still is. If we could be happy with the church, we could have the confidence to resist these clubs of compromise that minimize doctrine to a lowest common denominator. We should always keep the right spirit, but we'll be less concerned about hurting someone's feelings. We're thinking about pleasing God. We break fellowship over doctrine and practice. Why? To honor God. To please Him. To walk by faith. We unify over doctrine and practice. We don't tolerate evil. We don't look for intermediate measures.

POST UPDATE: Sometimes I read my posts to my wife. I just did that. She commented that when she thought of "intermediate measures" she thought of Matthew 18:15-17 with the steps for church discipline. Wow. That's how simple this is. But that isn't what Bauder means by "intermediate measures." He means something that is entirely unscriptural that will keep unity while showing that the FBF isn't tolerant. And that's what the FBF did with their statement. They took on an intermediate measure. My wife then asked, "What gives the FBF authority to post that article?" Good question, huh? And it shows how easy this is. No one gave the FBF authority. I told her that the FBF didn't really tell Sweatt that they weren't tolerant. They wrote something that was ambivalent enough to retain deniability. They could deal with Sweatt without actually dealing with Sweatt. Doesn't this sound like politics to you?

One other thing. When you look at the context of Bauder's usage of "intermediate measures," language taken from Carpenter, a new-evangelical, this is not saying that this is something temporary and more will come later. This is saying that this is how we operate in fundamentalism. We take intermediate measures to deal with men so that we don't tolerate and neither do we separate. We find some middle ground, some unscriptural middle ground. Dan Sweatt doesn't use exposition. The FBF and Bauder don't use it either. There isn't a passage that explains "intermediate measures." None. For those who are saying that "intermediate measures" means "more is coming later," you are misreading what Bauder wrote. "Intermediate doesn't relate to time, but to position. It is a position between two other positions, not a time that is between two other times.

By the way, why is it that "intermediate measures" are so good? They make a no-win situation a win-win situation. It's like President Obama with his supreme court nominee. He chose a female Latina who likes to make policy with her court decisions. Republicans won't want to oppose the nomination because they're afraid they'll lose Latino votes. Plus she has a rags to riches story that will be hard to resist. Republicans can latch on to her story to tell their own story to their own supporters. I'm just using that as an illustration, but what am I talking about? The FBF has done enough to hold together their coalition. That's what matters most to them. But what about to God?

Bauder goes to a new-evangelical to find out how fundamentalists are to operate. Why would he do that? Shouldn't the new-evangelicals be coming to fundamentalists how to function? Aren't we the ones with the scriptural position? Why is it that it is so important to make Carpenter happy? Again, shouldn't we just always do what scripture says?

In the next post, I'll deal with number 2.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Maybe the Two Biggest Recent Economic Lies

We should vote on facts and not impassioned rhetoric. For that reason among others, I want to clear up what are perhaps the two biggest lies repeated by politicians and the media. Why do I care? Righteousness exalts a nation. These lies damage our country. They enable injustice in our land.

Lie One: Government Deregulation Caused the Mortgage and Housing Industry Crisis

The Truth: Government Regulation Caused the Mortgage and Housing Industry Crisis

The people telling this lie want more government regulation. They say that the mortgage and housing industry crisis could have been averted with tighter and closer government regulation. They say, "See what happens with deregulation? This theory of Reagan has been disproved. Say goodbye to Reagan." And then they proceed to grow government by enacting more and more regulations on as many sectors of the economy as possible.

How did the government supposedly not regulate enough? When all the bad loans were being made by unscrupulous bankers and loan brokers, lawmakers should have stepped in and written stiffer regulations to protect consumers. When the mortgage and housing industry were veering off the tracks, George W. Bush and the rich Republicans were asleep at the switch. And why? They could have stepped in to stop the debacle, but they were loyal to their Reagan principle of government deregulation and look what it caused.

Blaming deregulation for the mortgage crisis is like Hitler blaming the Communists for the burning of the German Reichstag. Of course, Hitler started the fire. The event gave the Nazis credibility and influenced his ultimate dictatorship and command economy. The blame for the fire stuck on the, in this case, innocent Communists.

The mortgage and housing industry crisis was caused by bad government regulation. In 1977 banks would not give loans to people in certain neighborhoods---it wasn't very safe banking practice to do so. President Carter changed this by signing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). This law made banks give loans to people who lived in bad loan areas. CRA encouraged home loans through two government sponsored enterprises: one was The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the other was The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac). With this new law, to go unpunished by the federal government, banks had to find buyers who could qualify for loans under the old, reliable standards. They often could not find any so out of the lack of qualified buyers hatched the concept of the sub-prime mortgage. CRA also created hundreds of unregulated housing "agencies," who would lobby banks for more money for their agencies. If they couldn't get the money, these agencies would cause great difficulties for banks with nasty lawsuits. One of these agencies, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) bragged that because of their influence, over one trillion dollars worth of these CRA sub-prime mortgages were written. President Barack Obama was a community organizer heavily involved in ACORN.

We're not done yet. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter signed The Deregulation and Monetary Control Act. In 1982 President Ronald Reagan signed The Alternative Mortgage Transactions Parity Act. These two laws created some modern mortage products with which we have now all become familiar: adjustable rate mortgages (ARM), balloon payment mortgages, interest only mortgages, etc. In 1986 the IRS tax code was changed to give a deduction for only the interest on a home loan. Financial advisors started encouraging customers to pay off mortgage debt only and to pay off other forms of debt with the equity in their homes. In 1993 President Bill Clinton made changes to the CRA that made it even more difficult for banks to deny loans to under qualified and gave banks points for giving out the more exotic loans.

Home loans became a major business. Many made incredible amounts of money as loan brokers. Amazing numbers of loans and bad ones, deceptive ones, were given to unqualified buyers. These mortgage brokers were just swimming in the waters created by new government regulations of the industry, designed by Democrats for the purpose of social architecture in poor neighborhoods. The government regulated the loaning institutions, forcing them to give loans to unqualified buyers. So it wasn't government deregulation that caused the crisis. It was regulation.

Lie Two: The Rich Didn't Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes During the Bush Years Because He Gave Tax Cuts to the Rich

The Truth: The Rich Paid a Greater Share of Taxes Under Bush Than They Ever Had Before

I think most people in America believe that President Bush gave unfair tax advantages to his rich buddies at the expense of the poor. Is that true? What really happened?

This isn't even going to be political. It's just the truth. I did not get my statistics from the Republican Party office. I took my figures from the non-partisan, completely neutral Congressional Budget Office (CBO). In order for you to see what really happened in the Bush years, I'm going to ask a few questions.

What Happened to the Share of Tax Liability for the Rich and the Poor during the Bush Years?

Again, I'm looking at the statistics available through the CBO, which presently ends in 2005. So I will give the figures in 2000 and then the ones in 2005 with which to compare. We will define the rich as those in the highest quintile (1/5, 20%) of wage earners and the poor as those in the lowest twenty percentile. The rich earned pretax on average $231,300 per year. The poor earned on average $15,900.

In 2000, the top 20% of wage earners paid 81.2% of all the individual income taxes paid in the United States. In 2005, after six years of President Bush, the top quintile in income paid 86.3% of those taxes paid in the U.S. So you can see that the rich actually paid a higher share of the taxes with George W. Bush as president. Under Bush, the rich paid a 5.1% higher share of the individual income taxes in the United States.

What about the poor? In 2000 the bottom 20% of the wage earners paid -1.6% of the individual income taxes in the United States. You may wonder how someone could pay a negative or minus income tax. Well, that means that the poor received 1.6% of the taxes from those paying taxes. They not only did not pay income tax, but they got money from the payers. Surely that number went down as the cruel presidency of the cruel George W. Bush progressed. No, by 2005 the poor were paying -2.9% of the individual income taxes. They made out like bandits under Bush, taking more than ever from the tax coffers from other Americans.

What Happened to the Incomes of the Poor and the Rich During the Bush Years?

What you heard was that during the Bush years that the rich got richer. We know they had more tax liability under him, but some would submit that they deserved it because of all the advantages they had. In 2000 the top 20% of earners in the U. S. took in a 51.4% share of the total individual income in the United States. In 2005 the top 20% took in 51.6% share of the total. So the rich grew in their percentage of the income in the United States by .2%. How is that for the rich making out like bandits?

You can believe that those top twenty percent and those bottom twenty percent fluctuate. Some of the rich drop out of the top category and some of the poor move up to another quintile in share of income. For instance, a whole lot of mortgage and housing people were in the top twenty percent five years ago, but they aren't any more. New people moved up into the top twenty when they dropped out. That is the nature of the free enterprise. Who earns money depends on the choices people make in the market. They aren't buying houses right now and the ones they're buying are much cheaper.

When you hear that the rich aren't paying their fair share of the taxes, don't believe it. When you hear that the rich got richer during the Bush years, don't believe it. That's just propaganda used to get votes. In other words, it's a lie.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Blind Spots of www.Christian part one

Did you hear that Chicken Little got it wrong? He did. But we'll allow him that. For one, he's not Humpty Dumpty. Not even Al Gore.

His obsession---the sky. He had a paranoia about it, probably stemming from something that occurred in his mother's egg. So let's take a deep, cleansing breath and recognize that the sky is not falling. Falling, no. Rolling up like a scroll, yes. Just not yet. A few things will happen first.

Some technophobic believe we've already opened up Pandora's box with robots, genetics, and highly complex machinery. Someone is going to invent something that he can't control, a modern day Frankenstein's monster (except a real one), and we'll be running for our lives like Japanese in a bad lizard movie. All of those fears make good fiction and some scary stories, but the real problems with technology lie elsewhere. My global positioning satellite is zooming in on the world wide web and then focusing on one small part of it: the Christian www.

The world wide web and modern Christianity are a perfect match. I don't know about a match made in heaven, but they do come together based on the unique interests and needs of Christianity. Matt Drudge was created by the web. And all he did was provide black hyperlinks on a white background that looked like they were plunked out on an old manual smith-corona. Christianity wants more visibility and attention. The web allows for that and at a very low cost. On the relative cheap, a church can build a fortress of a website that likely dwarfs what's really happening.

You've heard of the big fish in the small pond. The web can make the small pond an ocean and big doesn't describe the fish anymore. Immense fish in the Great Lakes. The world isn't meant to make Christians feel significant, and most of them don't feel that way. The web can produce a stronger sense of a missing significance. Even if not many are attending, the crowd grows because of a new, larger web audience. Even part of the status of an organization in the minds of its constituency ties into its online presence.

Some great opportunities have arisen from the web---easy access to a wealth of teaching, print, audio, and video, new avenues of gospel presentation into homes, a place to visit to find the distinctives of a particular institution. There are also some harmful traps on the web distinctly in the realm of professing Christianity---more false teaching, bad examples spread, and something of a replacement for actual, tangible church life.

What I want to talk about are just a few of the damaging blindspots that I see today online. We need to take the biblical commands and principles and apply them to the web for our own spiritual discernment and the honor of God. We still need to be scriptural even with the anonymous feel of the internet. The Lord still sees everything. There are many more, but I'm going to list four of them.

1. A Skewed Promotion of Men Who Haven't Earned this Veneration in the Real World

2. A Muddying of the Distinctions between Male and Female Roles

3. A Replacement for Actual Church Involvement

4. A Loss of Respect for Age and Authority

A Skewed Promotion of Men Who Haven't Earned this Veneration in the Real World

My Story

A recent trend is former fundamentalists coming out and telling "the" story of what led them to leave fundamentalism for evangelicalism or new-evangelicalism. Their story makes them the hero and the separatists or fundamentalists or independent fundamental Baptists are the villains. The entire authority for the point they are making is their own personal experience told not only from their own perspective, but their own slant.

In their stories, they often "profile" their villains with stereotypical descriptions. The villains must be villains. That is what vindicates their story and their move. Normally the former fundamentalist was a deep student yearning for more, but the separatist villain was shallow and couldn't or didn't answer questions. The story-teller has a great memory for mistreatment. He often has deep, really mystical insight into the villain's motives.

These "stories" either do or try to do several things. First, they are getting sympathy from people like them and the ones who already dislike fundamentalists or separatists. They are carving out their new niche here. They could secretly be a Nazi prison guard, but it doesn't matter as long as they are not a fundamentalist and an evangelical, or just a rabid Calvinist. They could have serial killed youngsters at recess, but as long as they're a Calvinist and a big tent evangelical, welcome.

Second, they not only get sympathy, but they are martyrs who have been abused. They have moved into the very popular American class: the victim. They are victims, which, of course, deserves our sympathy, but not just any sympathy. They have gone through the terrible ordeal of being in churches with standards higher than their own.

Third, fundamentalists are abusive (evangelicals are not). Fundamentalists abuse. They were under tremendous pressure because of these fundamentalists. They were threatened with the extreme persecution of having to leave a church that they don't like being a part of, but having the further embarrassment of having people now know that they don't like being a part of that kind of church. On top of that, these abusers treat them like they think they should stay, that it's wrong to leave (and other similar types of heavy-duty suffering).

Fourth, it's everyone else's fault. They have flown with turkeys so long. These eagles have been now set free. Down with turkeys.

Fifth, they want to "help" others like them. This validates their own experience when they can find others. This is all therapeutic, you know. You find others, bash the worst examples of what you left and smear the whole group. My how grand we've been. We are so wonderful. They are so bad. We must warn. Others could be abused like we were. Let's help rescue these others before they chew off three legs and still remain in the trap.

Sixth, they want to show how they've matured. Now they can drink, go to movies, listen to Christian rock or punk, mix swim, dance, date, touch, go to the prom, get tattooed, use whatever Bible version they want and other important Christian growth. What is all of this that's happened to them? Transforming grace, that's what (not worldliness because that's only in the heart). Oh and they just want unity (unity = reduce doctrine down to a few "important" ones and then even water those down for the sake of staying together).

I have a unique opportunity here, because one of the young former fundies with a story was once a member of our church. He's actually a real prominent one. In his story, he, of course, is the hero, and he marches through former churches like Sherman at the end of the Civil War, leaving them pummeled in his path. He could have just left fundamentalism and went about living the new kind of Christian life that he would say he loves so well. He has a whole new group of friends and he could just spend time with them. However, he couldn't do that. He's not that kind of person.

This new evangelical has to start blog upon blog in which he can be the very young hero with many elderly villains trampled over. They were wrong. He was right. He's an extremely young person and instead of forging ahead into his new life, he starts by trashing the places he had been before. However, I know the real story, and I'm going to tell it. I will change his name in this case to protect the guilty, but this is what happened. For everything that I write, I could present witnesses. We'll call him Bill. Bill is not his real name.

I met Bill when he attended school in Indiana (not Hammond). We were looking for a couple of teachers for our school and we considered him and the young lady he was going to marry as teachers. When we talked to the school faculty, they couldn't recommend him and his wife to us. Why? He had been looking at pornography. What they did know was that he had been assisting in a church in the summer and the pastor caught him watching pornography on the church computer. He was immediately removed from his position and sent away from the church.

I thought that maybe we could help Bill if he was willing to be under accountability and discipleship at our church, and that we would work with him in our church. I took him and his new wife in part because I knew that we he was intelligent, said he wanted to serve the Lord, and that he was willing to submit to discipleship. Doesn't that sound like grace, even like a doctrine of grace? Doesn't sound too mean, you know, unforgiving like "fundamentalists are"? He had skills. I wanted to help the young man. Later I found out that he had not been up front with his wife about his pornography issue until after he was engaged to be married. By the time everything was planned and invitations sent and more, he told her about what had taken place. I also learned that he had been addicted to pornography and looking at it since he was a boy. While at his college (one that he trashes), Bill broke through the filter of the college computer to support his internet habit.

After he and his wife got to our church, I found that he was often a proud, know-it-all. He wasn't much of a help with other people (selfless ministry) because all he wanted to do was talk about theological matters with just a few people in the church. He took up a tremendous amount of time, which I patiently gave to him, often spending an hour after church services speaking with him. On the other hand, his wife was a jewel---hard worker, very helpful, and a good teacher.

So he started teaching elementary in our school, along with his wife. Part way through the year, Bill mentally snapped. He temporarily went insane. I had never seen anything like it in my life. One school day our principal received word from one of the students in his class that Bill was just sitting straight up, almost comatose at his desk, saying nothing. When the principal went down to check, that's what he found too. The class was talking, messing around, doing whatever they wanted. He wasn't teaching. He wasn't doing anything except sitting there in some other zip code. It was about half way through the day. What we found out is that he had lost his mind. He was delusional and incoherent.

We had to dismiss him as a teacher in the middle of the year, which was quite a hardship to us. But that was perhaps the least of it. We spent many hours in counseling, helping him through this episode. For at least a week, we always had somebody watching him to be sure that he wouldn't do something harmful to himself or someone else. He would sit staring straight forward, eyes vacant. When I would go to run an errand, I would take him with me so that he wouldn't be left alone. We were paying him during that time too, despite the fact that he wasn't working. We've always been stretched to the limit financially. We don't operate with debt, but we can't afford to pay two teachers for one class. We had to do that. This all was an embarrassment to the school, trying to explain how we happened to hire someone so mentally fragile.

As the next few days passed, he was finally able to come out of his shell. And then we found out why he had snapped. For years he had been faking it. He had been looking at pornography for at least a decade. At the same time, he had been trying to impress people around him with how righteous he was. His parents had been in a kind of Christian service and they had not prevented him from getting involved in this type of lifestyle. He had learned how to put on a show. Being noticed for his spirituality was very important to him, despite the fact that he knew that he was looking at these things. He confessed that his brother had done the same thing. They had both been involved. Part of his eagerness to impress other people was a kind of means by which he could prove that he really did belong and fit into the standards of holiness that were around him.

This battle within Bill for so long had so stressed his mind, body, and emotions, violating the carefully set up scruples that he had himself set up. A big part of his break-up at our church in particular was the preaching. He had never been under consistent, thorough expositional preaching, verse by verse. He had never been somewhere like our church where the gospel was preached with precision. One specific point that contributed to the apex of this struggle in his heart and mind was an emphasis in our church on the believer not living in a continual state of carnality. In particular he said that he was penetrated by a dealing with 1 John 2:19. His soul was confronted with the realities of the gospel, the scriptural expectations of a genuine conversion. This unsettled him greatly.

When some of his mind returned to him, he confessed a continued battle with pornography. He had gone so far as to go to a convenience store a few blocks from his apartment to purchase hard copies to look at. He had continued to feed his mind on the images but at the same time try to keep up the facade that he loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him.

Bill confessed his need for salvation. He had examined his heart whether he was in the faith and he did not think so. He had just been going through the motions. During this very weak time, a few weeks after the worst of it, he professed that he made a profession of faith. I asked him what happened. He still found it difficult to communicate coherently. He would make meaningless, imbecilic statements like someone who was talking in his sleep. When you heard it, you would just smile and nod your head, knowing that he didn't have everything together. At that time, he said that one night he had been saved. What had happened was that he had a pillow with a heart on it. He said that at night when he went to sleep, he saw the heart on the pillow and he knew that Jesus loved him. It was at that moment of realization, he said, that he knew that he had been saved. He stuck with this conversion experience.

We knew that Bill knew the facts of salvation. He had a brilliant sort of mind. This was part of the battle for him. His thoughts bounced around all over the place in his head like a pin ball. He insisted that this night time pillow prayer was when he was converted. We nodded our heads in approval, not wanting to cause any problems in his head, and continued to watch him. He said that he wanted to be baptized, and since we believed that obeying the Lord was important for his fragile psyche, we went ahead with the baptism.

Bill couldn't keep cogent thoughts enough to be counted on for any kind of contributory task in the church. We wouldn't assign him anything. However, he liked reading. He read and read and read. His wife would come home from teaching all day and he hadn't done anything at home. He would just sit and read. So she was the breadwinner and she would come home to cook for him and care for him. He would read. He still wanted to discuss theology like playing with truth in a test tube. He liked figuring doctrines out like a brain teaser, a puzzle. When you talked to him, even though his eyes were somewhat distant, and you could tell he wasn't all there, he would tell you something very deep that he had gotten in reading a book.

Most of the time, these doctrinal finds of Bill's had nothing to do with what was important to him for living the Christian life. They weren't devotional in nature. They were in the way of arguing about theological issues. After months, we told him that if he wasn't going to work, he had to do some chores at home. We had to make him accountable and check on him to get this accomplished.

About that time, Bill got a visit from his parents. They came from another continent to get to our church in California. We were not of the same belief and practice as his parents. Close, but not in fellowship enough to have his father preach. When they came with some relatives as well, they were very cynical about our church, very critical. You could tell that they were blaming us for what had happened to Bill. That was the furthest from the truth. They were very excusing of his behavior and very defensive. They communicated to Bill that they didn't like us. While staying with Bill and his family, they decided that what he needed more than anything was a television. So they went out and bought him one. I was disappointed. Knowing Bill's big problem, and that the negligence of his parents was part of the problem, I thought a television was a bad move in light of the amount of skin that showed up on today's programs.

So now Bill could sit at home and watch television while he wasn't working and we were taking the duties that he was supposed to take during the year. Bill still came to church. He would sit in services and then afterward pepper me with questions about issues that he wanted to talk about, essentially ignoring everyone else. I regularly encouraged him to work on relationships with people that weren't necessarily offering him all the things that he wanted, which was about books and theological issues. I desired for him to be more concerned about his own character out of love for God and his wife.

In addition to weekly prayer meeting, we had men's prayer time one Saturday morning a month. The men's prayer time is at 7am, which in California is very early since people get up so very early for commute during the week. Men rise often at 4 and 5 am to start their long treks to places of employment in some of the busiest traffic in America. Bill wasn't working, but he still couldn't get to some of the men's prayer times. He would complain about us not praying enough. I told him that this was just public prayer. Also, I was doubtful about his complaints, seeing that he didn't get up half the time for the scheduled prayer meetings. What he wanted to do was "lead" a prayer time on Sunday mornings before services. I was all for prayer, of course, so had a hard time resisting this. It just seemed like this was something else that was disingenuous in light of how I knew Bill was in his basic character. It looked like another show to me.

Bill actually had a lot of time on his hands for prayer, since he didn't have a job. When he was finally able perhaps to get a job, he was offered one by a business man in our church. This man was a very weak Christian if a Christian at all. I had taken him through a thirty week discipleship, which he fought all the way. I didn't like the idea of Bill with this man. The man wanted a Christian to hire though. I went out of my way to tell him that I thought it was possible that Bill could fail. Bill did fail. The man had to fire him because he couldn't get the job done. The man had immigrants who knew very little English that were his best workers and Bill could not accomplish the job up to their standards.

Bill couldn't get a job for months. He was always looking for a kind of job that fit his personality and desires. I told him to get a job anywhere, but because he had to have one that fit him, he took a long time. When he finally did get one that suited his fancy, it didn't last. He didn't make it there either.

The ladies of our church during this time really showed friendship to Bill's wife. She didn't know what she was bargaining for when she married Bill. Her family was sure they were getting a solid man. He was good at acting that way in front of them. They thought they were getting someone just like them---a separatist, independent Baptist with strong standards of holiness. Ladies really helped her through this time. She was the strong one, carrying her husband along.

While Bill was with us, he received letters from his brother, arguing with him about Calvinism and about the text issue. His brother would recommend books for him to read that would push Calvinism and the critical text. His brother, a fellow pornography man himself in their boyhood, wanted him to believe like him. I really didn't know the extent of this communication. Bill would suggest some of these books to me and I was hopeful that his brother could suggest books that would help him be a better man and better husband, instead of being a Calvinist.

One of the books I remember him receiving that Bill passed along to me was one by John Piper on the death of Christ, right about the time that Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ came out. I read it and even though there was some good doctrine in it, I thought it was overall weak and afraid to differentiate what Scripture said with what the Catholics believed about the passion. That should have been a major concern, I thought, for Piper because he had marketed the book to look just like the advertised materials for the movie. There was nothing in the book that would have been offensive to the typical Catholic. Of course, my point was not to try to be purposefully offensive, but to use the truth as a sword that cut through the false doctrine and pulled down that stronghold. Gibson's movie was Catholic, so what Piper wrote should have differentiated with Catholicism. I noticed that Bill was very defensive of Piper.

Bill wasn't getting a lot of respect at our church. He wasn't earning it. We treated him very well, but not giving him the status that he would think he deserved. That always bothered me. He was very proud. Everyone around noticed this. When someone tried to talk to me, he was right there attempting to take my time. If you didn't give him your time, he would suggest that you didn't want to answer his question (or that you couldn't). If he did do anything in the way of service, he would make sure that he mentioned it to others. Often his testimonies during testimony time were an opportunity to parade some of his accomplishments.

Then one day Bill told me that he was in deep financial trouble. I understood that. He didn't hold a job and his wife was earning the living, paying the bills. You couldn't live in California especially with one small income from one spouse, in this case the woman of the family. He had a child now. His brother had called him and told him that there was job in another state in the midwest and that he would have it. This was Bill's type of job, one that he would like. He came to me and said that he needed to move because of his conviction to support his family. I knew that where he was moving there was a giant new-evangelical church, pastored by a Calvinist that he was presently really into. I saw this as him going there to be in that church.

Bill seemed to me to be drifting. He wasn't the cat's meow. He wasn't looked at really highly. He wasn't at the top of the heap. If he went somewhere else, he could start over. The people there wouldn't know about his despicable behavior and he could be a big shot again. This looked like running from problems. However, I looked at his wife. His child. I talked to our other pastor and some other men in the church. We agreed grudgingly that we would let him go with certain criteria. There was a certain church he should join when he went. I told him that I was afraid that he was going to go there and within a year join the new evangelical church. He insisted that he believed like us and that he was going to do that. So we sent him. A lot of people helped them.

They left and went to that midwest state. They joined that church I recommended. Upon getting there, Bill started questioning the pastor on everything, challenging him. And this lasted about a year before he joined the Calvinist, new-evangelical church. He dropped dozens of his beliefs and on things that I never ever heard him ask about. I told our church that Bill had left the church. I told them what our criteria had been and that Bill had broken them, even though he said that he would not.

When Bill was with us, I answered every possible question he asked. I taught him part of a year in third year Greek for free. After they moved to another state, the day that one of our benefits for Christian school teachers, a certain amount of money for dental that we allotted to be a blessing and help, would run out, we received from them a dental bill for the top amount that we allowed. We sent them the check. That was my only communication that I received from Bill, was that dental bill. He never checked in at all to discuss theology and all the multiple questions he had about his beliefs. Right now, as far as I know, he still hasn't paid his college tuition.

But what does Bill do now? Very soon after he left the church we sent him to, he began a blog bashing fundamentalism, blaming his problems on all the churches he had been in. There was nothing against him or his parents in these blogs. He was good at this. This was his type of activity, something very theological and very argument oriented. He was able to cobble together a lot of support from Calvinists. Men link to him all over the nation. In my opinion, he's got people fooled.

I told one person about him at the evangelical blog, Pyromaniacs, who was giving him big time kudos. He too was a former "fundamentalist" and he had a website bashing them called the Texas Underground. For the most part, I would have agreed with his opinion of that branch of revivalism. I thought he was pushing this young man, a neophyte, way too much. I wrote him privately and he essentially told me off. He could care less about the porno problem that Bill had recently had. Then one day I noticed that this man's name just disappeared off of the Pyromaniac roll along with all his posts. He dropped off the face of the earth. He had a problem that was akin to Bill's, and he had it when I wrote him about Bill. This man was one of the most popular men on the evangelical internet at the time.

Bill is still going about bashing fundamentalism, blaming his own problems on them. I know that his problems have zero to do with fundamentalism. He has told "his story," and none of this is in there. None of it. Instead, he goes after fundamentalism and the people from his past. And people validate him for it. They accredit it. They are doing that because what he says makes them feel good in some way. He doesn't go through the biblical basis of gaining that kind of credibility spiritually. He says the things that many, many want to hear.

Of course, by giving people those credentials, they also feed a major problem for Bill, his pride. He is able to move up to what he really wants to attain without having to do the real things that it is supposed to take to get there. He need only talk a particular talk, say what it is that people really want to hear. He is skilled at that. That is where his talent set is at. He can get it done there. And so he can be that big fish in an even bigger pond. This also justifies the decisions he has made, despite what a church has done for him. And in the end, the church that has done so much for him is the villain in the story. Those church people get to read him and see him all the time and really know the truth. Others are associating with that and they don't even know it.

Some may wonder why I tell this story. For one, it is the story. It is my story about his story. His story leaves out most of the important details. I tell it because of the credentials that are gained on the internet without anything that resembles anything scriptural in the real world. A person can gain a following because he knows the right buttons to push. He doesn't have to earn it with years of faithfulness, not sinless perfection. None of us are claiming that, especially not me. However, a young man shouldn't be put up into such a place of honor without proving himself in a local church, just because he can find a niche among other disgruntleds that are out there. This is one of the major blind spots on the Christian www.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Erroneous Epistemology of Multiple Version Onlyism part six

Recently I preached for 3-4 years on Sunday mornings through the book of Isaiah. As I went through that monumental book of all human history, I got a feel for the problems that men have with God. What we read there can serve as a microcosm for men of all eras. A major issue for Israel in the book and for all mankind before and after has been the lengthy periods of divine silence. Israel had been surrounded by enemy nations seeming intent on her destruction. And she was not hearing from God. During those times, she looked around for another means to assure her. Of course, God wasn't silent. He was speaking. They weren't listening.

God has proven His faithfulness in the past, spanning two millennia. He formed Israel, grew her, and protected her. She was the apple of His eye. To do so, God often did what no one but He could do. He acted in a way that connected the past with the present, the present with the future, and the future with the past. God showed that He was working all things together for His glory.

After the contents of most of the first half of Isaiah, hearing and reading God's destruction of Israel's enemies, especially Assyria, Israel could find satisfaction that God had indeed done what she desired for her protection. She could feel safe. But at the end of the first half of the book, God introduces a new problem for Israel---Babylon. The second half of Isaiah answers the question posed by the presentation of this new enemy and her thoughts of a precarious future.

The Evidence of God

To comfort the hearts of His people, so that they would wait on Him, God presented evidence of His care and concern to them. This evidence would indicate that God was working during these periods they thought were silent. Sometimes men want more than what God has to offer, even though God gives men far more than what they deserve. God wants men to take Him into serious consideration in His credentials as God, even to make comparison with other potential gods that might be deserving of equal credit with Him. In Isaiah 41:17-20 God describes what He does that sets Him apart from all others:

17 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. 18 I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. 19 I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: 20 That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.

You may have skipped the text itself to get here. Go back and read it. The Lord does things about the needs of men. He alone can break into man's box of space and time and rescue, because He alone stands non-contingent from the frailty and futility of an unredeemed universe. But God does invade this dimension to save. In doing so, He wants me to see His goodness and uniqueness, that there is none like Him and that He did create earth and men. This obviously wasn't enough for many, if not most. They needed God to do more. God out of His mercy puts Himself to other possible gods in a contest, beginning in v. 21:

21 Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. 22 Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. 23 Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.

Again, make sure you read the verses. God asks for evidence and if He gets it, He will know that they are gods. He would give them credit if they could produce God-like proof. The evidence He asks for is prophetic. He wants these to show what will happen and how the things in the past relate to those things that will take place in the future. He wants that from them, because this is something God can do. Surely if one is god, it could do the same. Of course, these predictions would be about things that a god itself would be able to then follow through and make happen. God asks for something good or evil (in essence, nasty), that will blow everyone away, something that no one could miss. God not only predicts, but predicts events that are beyond human comprehension. He can do those types of acts. The assumption in v. 24 is that they could not produce such evidence:

Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you.

They couldn't fulfill such criteria and win this contest, because they were nothing. They were not gods at all. Because of that, God says that those who choose them are an abomination. However, God could produce evidence, and at the end of chapter 41, beginning in v. 25, He makes a prophecy Himself to show that He had that ability. You can read the prophecy there to the end of the chapter.

God's Words Are Evidence

So what God is saying is that He backs up what He says by fulfilling what He says that He will do. He can do that because He is God. That is a basis for believing in Him. If He says He will do something, He will do it. He providentially works. We look for Him working, even if He hasn't announced how it is He is accomplishing what He promised.

Now sometimes God will say He is doing something or that He will do something and the evidence is not quite so evident. God still wants to be believed. Why? Because His Words themselves are evidence. If God says it, it counts as though it has already happened. This is the way that we place faith in Him. It doesn't please God when we don't believe what He said. We can see in several places in scripture that He is angered by those who need signs or some other tangible means to indicate the reality of what He has promised.

The history of God's people is a chronicle that is peppered with men who acted on God's promises and believed based upon Who He said He was and upon what He said He would do. He is pleased by that faith. He is not pleased when men require something more than that. This is not how He has chosen to operate, that is, where men keep requiring external evidence, over and above God's promises.

Many of the truths that God expects us to believe, we have no means of believing except what He said. I've never seen resurrection. I've never seen ascension. I don't know what God's justification looks like. I don't have the original manuscripts as a basis for checking on the copies to see if He actually did preserve the Words like He said He would.

Going door-to-door last week, I had a Roman Catholic who told me that he would take my King James Version and throw it in the fire. It wasn't the Bible. Why? It didn't have all of the books. It should include the apocrypha. He believed the Douay-Rheims Version, which was translated from the Latin Vulgate, was the only acceptable Bible. So why only sixty-six books? Because those are what the church handed down to us. Believers accepted only those sixty-six, no more, no less, even though God didn't tell us what their names were. They received those books, therefore, they were His Words. God's people receive His Words. That's how they come to a knowledge of which ones are God's.

God said He would guide His children into all truth. We assume that they would have accepted and then made copies of the apocrypha if those were legitimate books of scripture. Instead we think that those are imposters based upon the testimony of believers. Those books, besides containing error, maybe not enough to reject the gospel or Christ (but error nonetheless), also were not recognized by God's people as the books of Scripture. Only sixty-six were recognized as such.

God Fulfills His Promises

The Holy Spirit works through righteous men for agreement upon what His Words are. They unify around truth. They believe He has preserved every Word. They believe that all the Words are accessible so that none that are not accessible could be His Words. They know of copying errors. They know of variants between manuscripts. But they believe that God's promises override those issues---that what mistake may be made in one copy is corrected by another. This was established and settled in the sixteenth century. This is what men of God believed.

During the nineteenth century men left this standard based upon scripture. As part of the new enlightenment thinking, they were convinced that those promises weren't good enough. The text received by the churches, led by the Spirit of God, based upon the promises of God, needed to be exposed to the correction of man's reasoning. What God said, connecting the past with the present and the present with the future, that wasn't good enough. And so rather than bow to the Bible as found in those promises, men submitted the Bible their own reasoning. Responding to promises was not good enough any more.

Are God's promises evidence? Can we count on His providential working in history? When Israel couldn't see what God was doing, she went out looking for her own solutions to give herself her own assurance. It was during those times especially that God wanted her to understand that He was working, accomplishing His will just as He said. And especially as it applies to His Holy Word, we should not question it or determine it based on man's reasoning bereft of scriptural doctrine. We should trust that God would do what He said He would do. He did it in the past, so He can do it in the future too.

Does God do what He says He will do? Yes He does. And the just shall live by faith.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Big Talk with Little to Show at Evangelical Textual Criticism

The blog called Evangelical Textual Criticism referenced my epistemology series and some discussion ensued in the comment section. Imagine a 50 gallon aquarium with several fish swimming around in it, thinking that they represent the whole ocean. Things that are said are credible in the fish tank. That doesn't mean they actually do stand up anywhere else in the world.

These are some of the devices that I noticed. I can point out where if you ask. Ad homenim. Appeal to ridicule. Circumstantial Ad hominem. Sarcastic questions. Smug dismissal. Argumentum ad populum. False dichotomy.

To start, Tommy Wasserman, who is one of the blog contributors, seems to be a very nice, very fair guy. That doesn't mean we wouldn't disagree on this subject, but he seems like he might be more open-minded. Mike, who commented here on the series, commented over there with a fuller reprentation of himself. Mike Aubrey, full name. The first comment out of the box, was this, from a Dr. Rod Decker (that's how he refers to himself), who teaches at Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, PA. He writes:

I assume the link to the Brandenburg post was for entertainment purposes? :) You certainly wouldn't want to offend his fedeism (sic) with evidence.

I would go after it with Rod Decker any day. He is the doctor of the logical fallacy in the comment. He is wanting to equate presuppositional epistemology with fideism.

Then a "Ryan" writes this:

I had trouble getting very far into Brandenburg's writing. I think it's one of the sadder and less helpful features of fundamentalism that holding onto a doctrine in defiance of empirically proof to the contrary is somehow thought to be the more pious or faithful thing to do.

The second sentence takes some deciphering. At the word "empirically" it spun out of control. What I think he is saying though is that he's got empirical proof that I'm defying because I think it is more faithful, but that this defiance is an unhelpful quality to fundamentalism, assuming that I'm a fundamentalist. Moral of the story. It's bad because it is sad and unhelpful. So stop defying empirical evidence! What evidence? Textual criticism, of course.

Several of these comments help make my point for me about evangelical textual criticism as a kind of paradox. He writes:

To my mind they're sacrificing truth on the altar of doctrine.

"They're" (fundamentalists) sacrificing "truth" (conclusions from theories) on the "altar of doctrine" (notice doctrine and truth different to him). He thinks his empirical evidence is superior to the teachings of scripture.

And finally Ryan introduces a quote from Roman Catholicism:

They could learn from Catholicism, which learned from its mistake with Galileo and in Providentissimus Deus.

He's saying that we should learn a lesson from the Catholics, which got it right when they started looking at science and stopped looking at theology. Hmmmmm.

Then Dr. Rod Decker comes back and he comments, not quite in agreement with Ryan about fundamentalism:

Generalizing based on one (or even a few) glaring case(s) of obscurantism commits a fallacy similar to Brandenburg's.

I guess my fallacy is generalization. Ironically, Decker calls me an obscurantist. "Obscurantism" is "the practice of deliberately preventing the facts or full details of something from becoming known." He's a yellow backed dingo, so there! That would have had about the same effect. What's ironic about it is what facts these textual critics prevent from being known in doctrine and even in their "science."

Rod and Ryan go back and forth a little and Dr. Rod adds that I'm (and others like me) "anti-intellectual." Bubbles in the aquarium.

A Darrell comes on and writes to Dr. Rod:

I went to the same school as Brandenburg, but am a avid NT textual criticism fan. Go figure.

I is not a intellectual and is not an fan of textual criticism. Go figure.

A man with the handle, "The White Man," comes on and actually supports what I wrote. No one actually does deal with what he says. That's not something they seem to do at Evangelical Textual Criticism. Mike Aubrey (our Mike) answers him with this jewel:

Not everyone has time to spend hours discussing and arguing about Brandenburg's views just because "someone is wrong on the internet."

He does have a point, that is, if I'm wrong. Not every wrong on the internet must be discussed. Yes Mike!! Good point!!

There were then about four comments that were not derogatory, especially when Paul Ferguson comes in and makes a very well written comment to them. He even spurs Daniel Wallace to comment, and Wallace says:

One reviewer criticized my views as follows: "Wallace looked at evidence and then changed what he believed about Scripture." Actually, I don't take that as a criticism, because the evidence I looked at was what informed how I should understand the text. It was both exegetical and empirical in nature. But one thing I found curious about Brandenburg's four-part treatment of my views is that, in spite of claiming that he had dealt with my views exhaustively, point for point, he only interacted selectively with my article. To see why fundamentalists don't care for my non-doctrine of preservation, it's best to read the original essay for yourself. It's at

These kinds of things are humorous and I don't mean that in a disrespectful way to Dr. Wallace. Here's what's funny. First, he's commenting on the wrong series of blogs that I wrote. He thinks we're commenting on the four part series that I did about his article. Ooops. That gave me a chuckle. He's a little behind on that one. Then when he leaves me anonymous by calling me "one reviewer" and then cuts and pastes one sentence I wrote. He couldn't type my name. That's even a laugh-out-loud for me. Daniel Wallace does fit very nicely in the club though. He does nothing to deal with what I wrote....still. He says that I claim to deal with him exhaustively, but I really don't! (mad scientist laugh here). He said I interacted selectively with his article.

Let's review on the four part Wallace series. He sent me to it from his blog when he and I were discussing something there. He said that he dealt with the doctrine of preservation there. I read his whole article and found he only got into scripture in just a few paragraphs. I criticize those and find some amazing blooper-like mistakes there. Everyone should read my review of his article. It's supposed to be his definitive defeating of the doctrine of preservation and what incredible blunders! His first reaction to it was: "You cherry picked!" And now, "He was selective!" You'll find that I wasn't selective at all with the section on preservation. So do go look and read his article and read what I wrote about it. No one has come on to defend him. Someone started to defend him at a forum called CARM, and then stopped abruptly and suddenly once he got to the first argument. Then it was a deafening silence.

Then comes on another big named textual critic, Maurice Robinson. And he really does embarrass himself (of course in my opinion) with what he wrote. He makes a lot of extreme and inaccurate statements that go nowhere. His last sentence does sum it all up very nicely:

Our trust in the accuracy of the biblical text should rest upon a foundation more secure than the highly questionable theological claims of modern KJV/TR-only scholasticism which ultimately demand a response wholly based on blind faith apart from hard evidence.

Again, moral of his story: don't trust theology, but trust hard evidence. Which is what? Textual criticism. Especially his.

The comment section ends with something written by a Brazilian who is trying to say something in English, what seems not to be his native language. It was hard to understand what he wrote.

I'm giving this report, because I would rather deal with their comments here than there. I would love to discuss things with them, but they're not likely to interact, even as seen in what others wrote in their comment section and they ignored. Why do they ignore these almost every time? Robinson says it is because all of our arguments have been answered elsewhere. I've never read where our arguments are answered. Answers may be given, but they are similar to what I read in that comment section. They are so many bubbles rising to the surface. But that's the way it all looks inside the aquarium.