Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Check These Out

I've taught history for over 20 years, and government and economics as well. Here are two columnists I've enjoyed reading during that time and two of their recent columns that are very interesting and representative of what they have written. Enjoy.
Thomas Sowell

Friday, May 27, 2011

What About Logic and King James Onlyism?

On a fundamentalist blog comment thread, someone wrote this:

On a side note, I am curious about the "logic" of taking "logic" lessons from anyone in the KJV only camp. Seems a little "illogical" don't you think?

Nobody answered his question, so I will. A King James Only position is the only logical position to take on the English Bible today. Yes. Any other position is illogical. Of course, I'll explain. I decided to write on this, because it is a thought I had not explored on this issue on my blog. I thought the irony here was too good to pass up. I spent some time of thought while doing other things trying to find a way for some other position to be logical, but I couldn't, which is the irony here.

First, one observation about the comment. There is no "KJV only camp." There are KJV only Presbyterians, KJV only Charismatics, KJV only Baptists, KJV only fundamentalists, KJV only Calvinists, KJV only revivalists, KJV only independents, KJV only denominationalists, and then numbers of different type of KJV onlyists. I think that many fundamentalists and evangelicals do think there is a KJV only camp, that somehow you can lump all KJV onlyists into its own separate group, as if this is the defining theological point of those who are KJV only. Not even close. KJV only is a position, but it is not a camp or a group.

I'm pretty sure that the guy who wrote the comment thought he was making a funny, providing some entertainment to the cronies, which is a common type of attitude that I've seen for multiple version people. Mockery is one of their favorite tactics or arguments. But in this case, he really is gnawing on his own foot as he tries to ridicule as a form of criticism.

Before I go to the logic here, I took logic in college and then taught it twice. That does not make me some expert, but it does mean that I know what I'm talking about. Now to the analysis.

Consider the following statement.

One set of words in one set order is the Bible.

This is to say that God inspired only one Bible. God did not inspire two Bibles. And yes, I recognize that the one Bible was Hebrew and Greek, not English. The English Bible is a translation (I say that for a preemptive strike against doofus comments) from the Hebrew and Greek (KJVO people know that!). It is also to say that Scripture is Words, the very ones that God inspired. Different Words in a different order are not the same Words in the same order. When the order is changed from what God inspired, it is not what God inspired.

Let me give you an example from the English that we can all understand.

Sentence 1.

In the morning, the boy ran to the park.

Sentence 2.

Early a boy ran to the playground.

Those two sentences are similar, but they are not the same. You may say that 'you know that.' Good. Because that's how simple this all is. Again, to help you understand, let's say that God inspired "sentence 1." Sentence 2 could not be God's inspired Word no matter how close it is to the original. Inspiration relates to the words, not to concepts or ideas.

Now consider the next statement.

Only one book is one set of words in one set order.

Two different books will have a different set of words and in a different set order. They cannot be the same. I think you understand.

OK. So let's put this together now into a logical syllogism with the two statements.

One set of words in one set order is the Bible.
Only one book is one set of words in one set order.
Therefore, the Bible is only one book.

If you put letters in, it reads like this:

All M is P,
All S is M,
Therefore, All S is P.

Both premise must be true for the conclusion to be true. Is the Bible one set of words in one set order? Yes. Is one set of words in one set order only one book? Yes. So the conclusion is true. Let's put it to the test.

All men are mortal.
All Greeks are men.
Therefore, all Greeks are mortal.

So multiple version people are saying that KJVO is illogical. A big laugh about that one too. I mean, it's so obvious. Right? Wrong. All KJVO people are saying is that the Bible is one book, not two. It has to be one book. So a multiple book idea is not true. That's mainly what this is all about. Multiple version people require people to believe that different words in a different order are still the same book. And we have to believe that, why?

So who is illogical?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Evangelical or Fundamentalist Pharisaism part two

The Pharisees were religious liars. We live in a world of lies. Satan is a liar and he also happens to be the prince of this world, so we can expect there to be lies everywhere. That's why none of us can be naive. Recently we watched the Harold Camping fiasco in which he told dangerous, damaging, and destructive religious lies about people's future. They trusted him and made bad decisions based on his false information. Most of the world is stuck in some kind of lie.

The United States right now is opting to believe a lie about its future, about most of their entitlement programs. I believe that the banks want Americans to think that they are better off than they really are, when half or more of its home-owners still may owe more than their houses are worth. Banks don't want people to think about that. And the housing market should be flooded with foreclosures, but that would kill the banks. They are hoping the economy will get better so that people will get jobs and be able to pay on their mortgages again. But the President of the U.S. wants to be reelected and he wants you to think that the country is fine, and the mainstream media is invested in him and they also want Americans to believe he's doing a great job. Lies are everywhere.

There is no more damaging lie, however, than a religious lie. It relates to eternity. And the Pharisees were holding together a house of cards with as many well-placed lies as they could manage in order to keep fooling their constituents. Unfortunately, we are living with similar kind of conditions in evangelicalism and fundamentalism today.

The Bible is the truth. God's Word is truth. God tells the truth. But people can take what God said and tweak it and spin it into something that it isn't. Churches and religious organizations are trying to keep their supporters just like the banks are attempting to keep receiving mortgage payments. They want to succeed and they know that people might say they want to hear the truth, but they actually like some mixture of truth and error that is more palatable to them.

For instance, the law wasn't altogether acceptable to a Jew. It was too strict. It was too harsh. It was too onerous. It was too weighty. They thought they had to be righteous by their own deeds, but they couldn't accomplish that. It was impossible. So they altered the law into something they could keep on their own. It was a new law system that wasn't even the law. They were told religious lies that would make them think they would be fine with that.

Evangelicalism and fundamentalism does the same thing today. They do it the same way as the Pharisees did. They minimize and reduce God's standards, His will, to something that people are more comfortable with. God's will is complete sacrifice, but evangelicalism and fundamentalism is something far short of that. Evangelicalism and fundamentalism want to give all the supposed benefits of Scriptural obedience without the responsibilities. This is not a dependence upon the grace of God. It is a form of legalism, a left-wing kind of legalism, that makes grace a garbage can that receives worldly lust.

Today so much of professing Christianity is about convenience and feelings and a warm experience, and this is fostered by evangelicalism and fundamentalism, because it is what people want Christianity to be. And so evangelicalism and fundamentalism has understood what people like and have altered Christianity to different degrees to make it more palatable to people. It is a strategy. But it is a lie too. God still wants a certain behavior. He still wants certain lifestyle. He still wants a certain liberty. But those are inconvenient to people, so evangelicalism and fundamentalism has made those practices non-essentials. You don't have to believe or practice those things in order to be a good Christian. As a matter of fact, if you do them or say that they are necessary, when they are "non-essentials," you are actually a worse Christian. The Pharisees of Jesus' day used the same type of strategy in order to sell their religion to the people.

However, when we stand before God, we will give an account for what the Bible actually does say, not the watered down, compromised version that is offered by evangelicalism and fundamentalism. God is not winking at the violations of what He mandated in His Word, of the applications of His truths in the Bible. Those lies might be acceptable now, but they will be manifest later for the lies that they are.

What is as offensive as anything about the lies is that today they are part of what evangelicalism and fundamentalism uses to argue for their own success. Whatever popularity they still have in a world that is becoming increasingly disinterested in anything of the truth of the Bible very often comes from the success of evangelical and fundamentalist compromise. The constituents don't have to do everything the Bible says, and it is called grace. And if someone points that out, he is marginalized, called a legalist, or is labeled as someone who doesn't understand the grace of God. This defense of themselves, which is part of the lie, gives people a basis to keep believing and living those lies that they do. And it is enough to cobble together a coalition that keeps evangelicalism and fundamentalism afloat.

So not only do lies buttress the evangelical and fundamentalist world, but they are called special and important truths that are a vital part of Christianity. Everyone is better off because of them. Those who do not follow these compromises of the truth are actually the Pharisees and the liars. Know this. These lies are not acceptable to God. They are wood, hay, and stubble, posing as gold, silver, and precious stones. And in the end, they will burn. You don't want to believe lies and base your eternity upon them, including evangelical and fundamentalist ones.

What occurred when anyone criticized the Pharisees, exposing their fraudulence? They got treated in an unscriptural manner. There was no Biblical, Godly way that they handled their critics. In the case of Jesus, they wanted to kill, just to shut Him up. I've seen the same type of behavior from evangelical and fundamentalist Pharisees as well. You point out a particular disobedience that they see as a non-essential, actually something they don't like to do and they don't want to hear about, and they mock and marginalize. In the online world, they don't let you comment, shut you out, and then spend comment after comment ridiculing you, lying about you, slandering you, and offering the cold shoulder treatment. This is what Pharisees do to protect their lie.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Evangelical or Fundamentalist Pharisaism

Evangelicals like to label who is a Pharisee. Not them, of course. Usually it's someone who has different standards than they do. I ask you to consider the following with this regard.

In Luke 11, Jesus was invited to lunch with a Pharisee. He went and sat himself down without the ceremonial hand-washing required by Pharisaical tradition. When in his mind the Pharisee judged Jesus wrong, the Lord could read the thought and then rebuked it (vv. 39-44). He made several points, ending with three "woes," that is, three pronouncements of God's judgment upon this Pharisee and all the Pharisees in general. So Jesus was confronting Pharisaism for sure with this first of the woes in v. 42:

But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

If you read this whole section, you will find an example of Jesus' dealing with a religious person. If this was a contemporary situation, and they didn't know it was Jesus, almost every evangelical and many fundamentalists would condemn Jesus' technique or strategy. It isn't seeker sensitive or "loving" or even smart. He was turning off His audience and losing an opportunity, according to a typical evaluation from those sources. As interesting as that observation might be, I am thinking about something different from that in consideration of a point evangelicals and many fundamentalists attempt to draw out from v. 42.

Evangelicals, including conservative ones, say, based upon this verse and others like it from other contexts, that Jesus is addressing a particular issue of the Pharisees. They say that the Pharisees emphasized secondary doctrines over primary ones, or tertiary doctrines over major ones. This specific issue is ironically a major one for both evangelicals and fundamentalists, so they "find it" here. And then evangelicals will point to certain fundamentalists and say that they are Pharisees because they make major doctrines out of minor ones or essentials out of non-essentials.

Problem. Jesus isn't talking about primary versus secondary doctrines. That isn't His point at all. Nowhere does the Bible say something like 'feel free to disobey the minor teachings as long as you keep those major ones.' It doesn't. It teaches just the opposite over and over.

What the Pharisees were doing, these legalists, was obeying the easier requirements of the law, while disregarding the difficult or even impossible ones. It was easy to tithe of the little herbs and vegetables and spices that you harvested from your garden. It could also be very impressive. Someone might say, "Wow, those Pharisees sure do pay attention to details! They even tithe of the smallest bits of produce!" And those could be accomplished in the flesh.

On the other hand, right judgment of others and the love of God were impossible in the flesh. And they didn't fit into the Pharisees' agenda. The Pharisees weren't about God or others---they were about themselves.

Rather than admit that they were failures at keeping God's law and repent, they did what Pharisees do, that is, reduce or minimalize the law to something they could keep. That's why one of the Pharisees favorite questions was: what is the greatest of God's commandments? If they could reduce the law to a few they could keep, then they could be righteous through their own ability or in their own strength.

A natural reduction was for the Pharisees to opt out of the hard, weighty, or difficult parts of God's law and then emphasize the parts that they could keep on their own, the aspects of the law that were convenient for them. So instead of being the major versus the minor, this was the difficult or impossible versus the easy or convenient. If a Pharisee could get maximum credit for minimum effort, that would be the ideal choice.

The text of Luke 11:42 backs up the above understanding. Jesus didn't tell the Pharisees to stop tithing. He said "do tithe." However, don't tithe and then leave judgment and love undone. Why would they do something they were supposed to do, tithe of their miniature garden produce, and then not do other laws they were also supposed to do, do judgment and love God? The latter were more difficult, really impossible. The former were easy and convenient. The former would give them credit for obeying the law while they were busy disregarding other parts of the law, the ones that they didn't want to do. The latter were only possible by the grace of God, which the Pharisees did not have.

Evangelicals and even fundamentalists read into, that is, eisegete Luke 11:42 by saying that it regards essentials versus non-essentials. That way they can choose what the essentials and non-essentials are. And what I've noticed that they happen to choose as non-essentials are the ones that they don't like to do, because they are more difficult or more embarrassing in the world. They don't want to clash with the world. That hurts church growth. That doesn't feel good. And so those activities become the non-essentials.

This fictional essential/non-essential, major/minor, primary/secondary doctrine also is a major factor in keeping the fake unity that allows evangelicalism and fundamentalism to be big. Small again is embarrassing and unsuccessful. Big gets attention. Big looks like a winner. Big is popular. Big can even look like "God's hand is upon you." A coalition can be cobbled together when doctrine is reduced to a lower common denominator. And so evangelicalism and fundamentalism chooses what the essentials of unity are going to be, and that list is getting smaller and smaller. Not based upon biblical exegesis, but based upon some popular evangelical or fundamentalist norm. And then this is called unity. This is also what you will hear evangelicals and fundamentalists arguing about, debating, what things that the Bible teaches that someone should expect, since it isn't going to be everything that Scripture says.

The Pharisees practiced their legalism by reducing doctrine and practice. Evangelicals and fundamentalists do the same. And they twist or pervert verses like this one in order to get it done. That's also what Pharisees would do. They would read into the Old Testament what they wanted it to say in order to believe and practice like they wanted to. Evangelicals and fundamentalists do the same. And in so doing evangelicals and fundamentalists pervert the grace of God. God's grace enables us to practice the convenient and the difficult of God's Word. It's all by God's grace. If it is by grace, it is possible. If it is by your flesh, then you must reduce and minimalize, and that's exactly what almost all evangelicals and most fundamentalists call upon you to do.

Now the evangelicals and the fundamentalists call it grace. They call this reduction and minimalization grace. They say they have a superior kind of freedom that is God's grace. However, we don't have grace to disobey Scripture. It really isn't grace at all. It is a container of bondage with a grace label on it. People suck up what's in the container and think they have grace. They are fooled all over evangelicalism and fundamentalism into this kind of thinking just like Israel was by the Pharisees.

So evangelicals and fundamentalists create a non-existent essential and non-essential doctrine. This is a Pharisaic type of practice---man-made doctrines equated as those of God. They corrupt God's grace, by making it a garbage can into which you can pour all of your disobedience to the inconvenient requirements of God. They twist biblical unity. And they encourage disobedience to God's Word. Reader, beware of the leaven of today's evangelical and fundamentalist Pharisees.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Family Radio: Non Prophet, But Plenty of Profit

We can't believe everything we see or hear from the mainstream news media, but CBS reported that in 2002, Harold Camping and Family Radio were worth $22,695,306. This non-profit organization, in 2008 was now worth $117,634,384. And then you read that they spent only one million dollars on advertising for the end of the world on May 21, 2011. If you have 117 million dollars, how much of that are you going to need after you are gone on May 21? None. If you have 117 million dollars, how do you spend only one million dollars to announce that the world is going to end? If the world is going to end and you know the very day, then you spend 117 million of your 117 million. If you spend only one million dollars, you didn't believe the world was going to end anyway. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. I contend that Harold Camping himself didn't believe the world would end. How does he keep all that money if he knows the day he is leaving this world for the next?

During channel surfing, I've listened to Family Radio and heard their all day fundraising efforts. I think it would have been good for its listeners to know that the money would just be added to its overall net profit. And whoever was giving that money should have known that of the 117 million dollars in reserve, only 1 million dollars was going to be used for what anyone would have used it who knew the last day for earth was May 21, 2011. And doesn't Camping's no-church belief work conveniently for his fundraising? Money, of course, should not be "wasted" on his local church, but saved for the "ministry" of Family Radio.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Use Camping's Prediction as a Great Evangelistic Opportunity

My Baptist brethren, Harold Camping's prediction of the end of the world is a great opportunity to evangelize his followers, many of whom are unconverted. If brethren in Baptist churches all over the country go to events where his people will be in the next couple of days, when Sunday rolls around and Mr. Camping has been proven (again) to be a false prophet, there will be a lot of disappointed people who will be looking for answers. We might be able to see some of the poor deceived people following Mr. Camping converted and baptized into solid churches after their prophet proves himself false again. You can typically find out what is going on with one's local radio station without too much work on the Internet; find out what Camping's people are doing in your area, go preach to them, and, within a few days, when their entire theological system is destroyed, they will be more likely to listen then perhaps they will be as a group at any other time for years (if the Lord tarries, as we certainly do recognize that He can come at any moment.)


Monday, May 16, 2011

Transcendence, Immanence, and Culture part one

Everyone in the realm of biblical thinking affirms both the transcendence and immanence of God. Both are true. The latter, however, is dependent on the former. For one, God does not condescend without being both separate and distinct from His creation. The place from which He descends is higher and outside the realm of His creation or else He wouldn't be condescending, a place that is different than the world that He created and that hasn't been ruined by sin. His separateness is the hope of man's salvation. He offers man rescue from his place of wickedness and discord to God's of righteousness and order. There is no immanence without transcendence.

God created man. Everything started with and will end with God. God is the source of all meaning because everything begins and finishes with God. We derive our definitions from Him. We may believe a meaning that differs from God, but that doesn't conclude that meaning as correct. For instance, we may believe that God is a jar of peanut butter, but that doesn't make it so. Truth and meaning are objective because God is unaffected by His creation. He is the "I am." He is not becoming anything. Nothing occurs to or changes Him. He isn't adjusting His character to outside forces to Himself. This is a truth of His Word in James 1:17, that is, with Him "is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." Meaning relates to God, not God to meaning. God is not subject to either the limitations or the distortions of life.

Our understanding of God's immanence comes from His transcendence. We see because God revealed. Light came from Him. Man didn't come to understand. He was enabled by God's grace, which comes from other than where he is. God was there before the foundations of the world and the world came into existence only by and through Him. Transcendent thought considers everything in relations to God.

Perfection lies outside of man. For man to be perfect, perfection must come from the realm of God. God sent the perfect God man. That perfection must needs come from outside of man for man to be perfect.

For immanence to be protected, transcendence must be prioritized. God must be God. God existed before and continues apart from His creation. The One who comes must be the One. And we cannot go to Him without His coming to us. He must come from there to come to here. And there is one and only One that is there. Only a God powerful enough to create this world could save it from itself.

God is different than this world. Keeping Him apart in thought is the only sure defense against false experience and the allure of culture. Immanence must remain tethered to transcendence or corrupt the right conception of God. A correct understanding of what God created comes from a true understanding of Who God is. God must remain separate in thought from what He created for His character and will to define the substance of every day life. Without God continuing apart from what He created, there is no place to appeal as authority. The meaning of life is diminished to opinion and societal norm. Order disintegrates to lawlessness and finally totalitarian power.

Of course, when transcendence does not reign in thought, all is relative. Man only discovers and meaning is at best shallow and in reality futile---no revelation, no true or false, and, therefore, no right or wrong. Without a God that is there, separate from us, we are cut off from anything greater than what psychology or philosophy has to offer. We are never lifted above ourselves. No thing is superior to another. Bach is no better than Bon Jovi, lawn gnomes no less significant than Michelangelo, and Milton or Wordsworth of no greater value than Eminem or LL Cool J.

Friday, May 13, 2011


First, tomorrow night (May 14, Saturday) at 6:30pm the Young People's Symphony Orchestra, including two of my daughters on violin, will be joined by the renowned mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade in Berkeley, California. You can purchase tickets here. Among others, you will hear this.


Second, P90x. Day 60 was yesterday. The first three weeks are the same. Then a rest week (it isn't, because two of the days are what I consider the hardest workout, Core Synergistics). The second three weeks are different than the first three weeks. All of it is brutal, very intense. Then another rest week, which is the same as the first one of those. Now we are in a four week session that interchanges every week the workout from the first three weeks and then the second section of three weeks. P90x calls this muscle confusion. There are 12 overall workouts, none any shorter than an hour. Every strength workout is joined by 16 minutes of ab ripper X.

P90x works muscles and body parts that you wouldn't get from a normal workout, especially your core. It concentrates on the core, which is an important, but often ignored part of the body. Certain workouts get easier, but others are always difficult.

What are the results? Your body will change. I started at about 238 pounds and am now at about 224. I'll likely end somewhere around 215-218 at this pace. I'm working out with two other guys and it is doing good stuff for them. It isn't a big weight loss plan. I'm not doing the diet, but I am cutting down a little on the intake. Everything will firm up and shape up. I'll let you know when it gets to the end.


Paul Ryan refutes President Obama's criticism of his budget plan, exposing the demagoguery. And on the subject of demagoguery, Charles Krauthammer points out some more in the President's recent endeavor with Hispanics in Texas. We'll see if it works.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

When I Left Fundamentalism part nine

The Lord Jesus Christ will not come and remove His candlestick from fundamentalism. Fundamentalism holds no candlestick. And fundamentalism carries no guarantee that the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.

God designed the church to operate without help from outside and inferior movements or institutions. However, churches have become addicted to or dependent upon these. If scripture is sufficient, and it is, then we don't need them. But how do we cope without them?

I understand the thought process behind sending children to Christian college or university. Christian parents don't want their children learning the way of the heathen (Jeremiah 10:2). It is why pastors organize church schools or encourage home schooling for their church members. But what should the high school graduates do?

Churches have colleges too. And a church college doesn't need fundamentalism. If your church fellowships with that church, your high school graduates could attend that college. The church itself is judged based upon its belief and practice.

What I have concluded from the Bible is that parents in cooperation with their church are responsible for raising children until adulthood. There are three necessities for Christian parents---character, marriage, and fulfilling the role. Character assumes salvation. Parents can network with churches of like faith and practice for a pool of possible marriage candidates for their children. And then we have the fulfillment of role. I say fulfillment of role, because our girls shouldn't be the ones responsible for breadwinning. That should be our boys. The girls should at least learn to be homemakers. We are serious about training our girls in that.

So as parents we've got to take responsibility for equipping our boys to earn a living. I'm not talking about character on that. Do they have some skill that will enable them to provide for a family? I see that is what college is for. In certain cases, I understand that eighteen year olds finish high school and still don't have character. A church college looks very attractive for the young person who doesn't have the character to make it any way else. I'm afraid this is often most of the boys and girls that reach eighteen years of age in our churches. They are too immature for anything but a church college. So college may be a continuation of character training, training suitable to help insure that a boy or girl will live right.

Churches have so depended on colleges to instill character to immature young people, that I believe this has become the primary purpose of college for them. They aren't really learning how to earn a living, except for perhaps earning a living by being a missionary, pastor, or Christian school teacher. I don't believe those are ways for our boys to foresee earning a living. This is one way we've got into trouble today with the Bible college movement. Our kids get out of college and they can't do anything to earn a living, so we have a generation of dependents that need to be taken care of by a church. And if they can't get a job in a church, they can't get a very good job, hardly one that will earn a living in the world. A man should not look at a church or churches as a means of earning a living.

Some will say, "God will take care of His own." That's true. He will. But how does He do that? He does that by parents taking the responsibility for teaching their boys how to earn a living.

I see college as the means for that third part, the fulfilling of the role. Sure, our boys and girls can go off to a church college. Or a church could start its own. There are other options. If college is a way to learn to earn a living, a boy can stay at a local junior college or college or university and do that. The key, I believe, is for him to attend where his church is or where there is a fellowshiping church, one just like his church.

I've talked to many men about what I'm writing about here. I know of some Christian kids who have gone to state college and have found out that their Christian school has not done a very good job of teaching them math and science. And when I say science, I don't mean evolution. I mean physics and chemistry. The church school grads find out that they are way behind in math and science in the state school and they can't cope with the work. They also might not do so well on the ACT test, and not just because of the multiculturalism that exists in the government testing. That's not the only criticism I believe we should have of much of Christian education, but it is enough for you to get my drift.

The above is a tough situation for us. We want our children to live for God, have Christian character and marry the right person. We might give them a good work ethic that will allow them to earn enough of a living without higher education. That would be better than losing them. But that also should lead us to consider what we're doing with our children in our home and church. Are we thoroughly training them in the true gospel so they are genuinely converted? Is it real Christianity that is being resembled in our churches? That is the real problem and not the absence of the church college. If our children understood their true reason for being on earth, they could function as a minister within the context of a local college while still operating as a member of our church or one just like ours. From what I hear, the church colleges are receiving more and more immature, with even greater immaturity, from the churches. The churches knew their kids would "go to Bible college." By the time they get through with college, they can't earn a living, but now they've got enough character perhaps to function in the real world.

Hopefully a boy who finishes college could make a decent enough living in secular society, that he would not be a dependent on other people or his church. I understand that some of you reading this might be thinking---but what about our girls? That's a longer discussion. And I have right now a 16 (17 in two weeks), a 13, and a 10 year old girl. The boy is finishing up his second year at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

But what about pastors and missionaries and Christian school teachers? Your church should be able to produce those, especially out of people who have a good education. I've found that a college can't produce a teacher. Learning to teach doesn't come from a college. Other important learning can come from a college, but not how to teach. To learn how to teach, you've got to teach. I believe you want your future pastors to be men who already know how to earn a living. We don't live in an age where every church can provide enough an income for its pastor. We need pastors who can do both, like we see in the very beginning of our country. The need for support is a motivation for many pastors to cut corners and compromise for church growth. A man who can already provide has a foundation for waiting on God in his ministry philosophy.

And is the biblical model for us to raise every last bit of monetary support for missionaries? Of course not. Not at all. We need to get our church members back to the mentality of tent making. We need men who can do both on a field, work and evangelize and make disciples, like the example of Paul. Paul held himself up as an example to the church of Thessalonica as that model.

Pastors themselves ought to be well enough trained that they could train their own new pastors. It ought to be the norm for the pastor to be the Bible scholar. That standard can be emulated. I tell our guys that we want to make our cake from scratch, not from mix. If you can do that, then you can train your own men. And that also is the biblical model.

Colleges have been one of the resources that have tied men into fundamentalism, unnecessarily so. You can use them, but you don't need them. If you have no need for the colleges, you won't need that part of fundamentalism either.

Monday, May 09, 2011

John MacArthur on Deuteronomy 22:5

John MacArthur, the Southern California, evangelical pastor, popular radio teacher, and favorite of many fundamentalists, on sheer interpretation of Deuteronomy 22:5 says that it means the same thing that I say it does. I include this here for those who treat what I have written like it is some kind of weird, corn-pone, back-of-the-turnip-truck, type of interpretation. Here's what he says in at least one location (in 1977):

It is an abomination to God for someone to wear the clothes of the opposite sex. It is abominable to God; but I wanna show you something very interesting here. "That which pertaineth to a man," and the term garments, as I looked those up in the Hebrew, I found some most interesting things. "That which pertaineth" is more than clothes in the Hebrew. The word means anything pertaining to the opposite sex, and the lexicon says such as clothes, implements, tools, weapons, utensils, ornaments, or jewelry. How interesting.

In other words, anything that tends to obliterate or rub out the distinction that is in the design of God is an abomination to Him. . . . God wants to keep a very visible, obvious distinction; because He knows that Satan will try to undo that distinction, because it's a part of abominating God. You see, when God made humanity, He made male and female. He created them and said, "They two are to become one flesh." And Satan will forever try to rub out the uniqueness of man and woman.

He's saying that it means the same thing that I do. He's saying that it is saying the same thing as commentators and preachers have said in the history of Christianity. He doesn't deny that it says what it says.

I left out the section where he says that it is acceptable for women to wear pants, because that wasn't my point. I don't agree with his argumentation for that application of Deuteronomy 22:5. His argumentation there, I believe, is poor. It shows the pressure in our society that he has to even bring in pants at that point in the argument in order to justify them for women. Here's the argument that he uses for that application, and it is an application, not the interpretation:

Now this is not trying to teach that women shouldn't wear pants...Women should wear pants meant for women...People say, "Well, women should never wear pants." No, no, you see, in this time, when this verse was written, the men wore skirts...That argument doesn't make it. The point here is, if you're gonna wear pants, wear women's pants. If you're gonna wear pants as a man, wear men's; and if you're gonna be a...if you're a man, then be a man in every way you manifest yourself; and if you're a woman, then be a woman, even to the point that you don't use the utensils, the implements, the tools, and the weapons, and the ornaments that pertain to a man.

His avoidance of the application to pants is weak. It's the single most obvious, the primary way that Deuteronomy 22:5 is actually obeyed. That distinction, the pant-skirt one, is the way our culture has applied Deuteronomy 22:5, and it never did change that distinction based upon any kind of biblical basis. When it did change, it was based upon disobedience to the distinction. But here's the problem with his application. First, anyone can make the argument that a particular item of clothing or an implement is made for men or women---"these earrings are men's earrings," "this necklace is a male necklace." At West Point (where my son is), they have military uniforms that are designed for women, that look just like men's camouflage, but men couldn't get them on---they are shaped different in the hips and the buttocks. A man couldn't wear a woman's camouflage---they are women's. There is no movement among professing Christian pant-wearers to enforce some standard of women's pants. No marks have been designed to make that distinction. The pants themselves were the distinction---they themselves were the male dress---not some item about pants that caused men's and women's pants to differ from one another. This is still the case.

Second, men didn't wear skirts at the time Deuteronomy 22:5 was written. They both wore robes, but saying that men wore skirts is a misrepresentation. I just wag my head on that one. And their robes had designed differences---the robes were not an attempt to erase distinction, like pants obviously did and have done. It was how they made clothing at that time---the robe was the extent of clothing making. However, only men would gird up their robes. God commanded Job on two different occasions (Job 38:3; 40:7) to gird up his loins "like a man." Only men gird their garments, not women. Pants permanently gird a garment. God designated only men to gird their garments. Women wearing girded garments are wearing male garments. This is not a cultural argument.

Third, he doesn't tell us what women's pants are. If this is such an important issue, that makes someone an abomination to God, if he or she were to violate the teaching, then we should hear what the distinction or distinctions are that make pants uniquely women's pants. The reason there are none is because they were never intended for distinction, but for sameness. And then when you get into the utensils and implements, why not be a help by telling people what are female ones and what are male ones. MacArthur says very boldly that Satan would want to use this, to blur the distinctions. And MacArthur doesn't help clear up how this is done, which would seem to continue to aid Satan in his endeavor.

I can appreciate that MacArthur is honest with the text. He tells what it really means. He doesn't try to explain it away or ignore it like so many preachers. I do think this is something MacArthur wouldn't touch on today. Doing it in 1977 was a lot safer, more acceptable. I don't imagine him broaching it today. However, he misses the application and then he is very ambiguous and vague. That is unhelpful. Someone can explain his way out of about anything as it relates to how MacArthur applies Deuteronomy 22:5.

In the end, again, however, MacArthur says Deuteronomy 22:5 means the same thing we say it does.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

When I Left Fundamentalism part eight

Fundamentalism either suffers from or is blessed by many definitions, depending upon how you view that scenario. I took a class in graduate school, called "The History of Fundamentalism," taught by a fundamentalist icon, B. Myron Cedarholm. Our textbook, to which Dr. Cedarholm did not refer at all, was A History of Fundamentalism by George Dollar. We read it, but he lectured from the top of his head (which was quite similar to what the top of my head now is). I've got a copy sitting in front of me as I write this and here is a quote from p. vi, taking up one whole page in about 35 point bold-print font:

Historic fundamentalism is the literal exposition of all the affirmations and attitudes of the Bible and the militant exposure of all non-Biblical affirmations and attitudes.

I would love for that to have been or to be the definition of fundamentalism---if so, there may even be hope for my being a fundamentalist. However, it quite obviously is not. No way. The most out-of-place two words in the fraudulent definition are the two usages of "all." Fundamentalism is not looking to expose "all" non-Biblical affirmations and attitudes. That could even be said to be a joke, it's so opposite of what fundamentalism is and how it operates.

A true church can fulfill that definition of fundamentalism. Fundamentalism itself cannot. Someone is much more likely not to follow that definition by actually being in fundamentalism. Fundamentalism will tend toward masking many affirmations and attitudes of the Bible and covering up the non-Biblical ones.

For a long time I criticized fundamentalism by saying that it was an interdenominational movement. Being an interdenominational movement was indeed a problem in the practice of Dollar's definition. It remains a criticism from me, but I don't see it as the major problem any more. Fundamentalism doesn't even have the capacity to agree on what the gospel is. And denominations are not the major factor in not exposing "non-Biblical affirmations and attitudes." Lots of nots there, but you get the point. From my perspective, those things are not exposed in order to protect fundamentalism itself.

Fundamentalism does not have a scriptural basis for handling disputes. No final authority exists in fundamentalism, like the congregational authority of a church. As a result, fundamentalism stumbles and bumbles at resolving bad situations. There is not authoritative pattern by which it can operate, so it feels its way along, pretty much making it up as it goes, leaving wreckage in its wake.

Why Does Fundamentalism Exist?

All of the above should make someone think. Why does fundamentalism still exist? It isn't in the Bible, which is sufficient. If we needed fundamentalism, God would have it in Scripture.

Buttressing the beginning of fundamentalism was invisible church doctrine, which arose from the allegorical interpretation of Platonic philosophy. Some will scoff at that sentence, but it is true. The biggest danger to Christianity in the first and second centuries was a subjective approach to Scripture. They began to spiritualize the meaning of Scripture. This affected all the doctrines, including salvation, but we continue even more so with the mess in ecclesiology and eschatology.

Politics were involved then too. An individual church wasn't enough in many's estimation to solve the big problems and to offset the authority of the Roman government. Not enough power existed in separate churches to combat the opposition to Christianity. And then Catholicism grew and grew. The separatists became a problem to Catholicism. Cyprian in the third century wrote:

God is one, and Christ is one, and His Church is one; one in the faith, and one the people cemented together by harmony into the strong unity of a body. . . . Nothing that is separated from the parent stock can ever live or breath apart; all hope of salvation is lost.

Splitting "the church" was worse than sound doctrine and practice. New practices developed out of desire to preserve the coalition.

The beginning of fundamentalism mirrored that of Roman Catholicism. It started as a reaction to worldly problems in accordance with allegorical ecclesiology, which will never harmonize unity and separation. Sometimes a solution in the long run can be more destructive than the problem it's trying to solve. Roman Catholicism used tactics to keep control of its people, as has fundamentalism, albeit in a less powerful and intrusive way. I believe the adherents have often been well-intentioned in their desire to preserve the enterprise, thinking that they are serving God for the well-being of many. They equate the cause with the truth.

The doctrine of separation and fundamentalism are not synonymous. You can be a separatist and not a fundamentalist. And you will not accomplish either biblical separation or unity if you stay a fundamentalist.

How Can You Function Without Fundamentalism?

The first major hold of fundamentalism is emotional. It is understandable. When you make your break, you will be marked off by many. I had professors at colleges tell me, "Don't burn your bridges." An overused cliche, but this particular bridge is the bridge to nowhere, another cliche, but quite fitting here. They are offering a warning. If you get too vocal and then start doing something about some of what you are saying, then you'll lose out on those fundamentalist opportunities that you once thought marked ministry success. And that's not all, because your break will be leaving former acquaintances behind.

Why I say the emotion is understandable is because this is also how church discipline works. The fundamentalist cold shoulder isn't church discipline, but it carries with it some of the same feelings, which God has created us with, that motivate us to get right with our church. I put pressure on people all the time when I believe they are disobeying scripture, and they feel something from that. In this you will have this feeling that you are abandoning some of your friends, and, therefore, not being a good friend to them. Real friendship revolves around the truth. If your emotions are invested in God and the truth, you'll be able to cope with the loss.

Another aspect of the emotion is in your perception of success. Success may have been wrapped up in the approval you felt from some part of fundamentalism. You would have reached a certain level of it by the mere accomplishment of staying in line with fundamentalism. You could feel acceptance and receive praise for your faithfulness within the system. But were you obeying God? Were you sorting out what Scripture said and doing it? True affection for God starts with the right kind of thinking. And the desire for the approval of fundamentalism is not the proper way to be thinking.

For myself, I wouldn't even have time for fundamentalism. It would be too difficult to maintain with everything else I've got going in my life, most all of which I enjoy. I have family. Love it. I have my church, got lots of friendship there. I've got all the projects I work on, including writing on this blog. I have regular obedience to Scripture---preaching, evangelism, prayer, exhortation, discipleship, etc. And then I have school, orchestra, soccer, odd jobs, reading, exercise, keeping up with the news and the government, and more.

A second major hold of fundamentalism is certain resources that churches become dependent on, even addicted to. These are convenient, but unnecessary. I am familiar with many of these in my break with fundamentalism, because I had to rethink how I would operate outside of fundamentalism.

I'm going to talk about each of these in the next edition of this series.

Monday, May 02, 2011

When I Left Fundamentalism part seven

God is light without any darkness (1 John 1:5). Darkness is doctrinal and moral. God created us to please Him. We can't please God with doctrinal or moral darkness, both of which contrast with or contradict the message and application of God's Word. God Himself does not fellowship with darkness. If we wish to please Him, we cannot fellowship with it either. Over ten years ago, I concluded that I could not be a fundamentalist and please God.

Scripture is perspicuous. We can know what it means. God would have us do what it says. For instance, we know it teaches believer's baptism by immersion, not infant sprinkling. Infant sprinkling is darkness. And yet, infant sprinkling doesn't exempt one from fundamentalism or evangelicalism.

To remain in fundamentalism, one must condone or at least overlook doctrinal or moral error. This is how fundamentalism conducts what it calls "unity." Fundamentalism unifies upon a very amendable, malleable group of fundamentals, which are the source of perpetual debate between evangelicals and fundamentalists. Therefore, if you are going to get along in fundamentalism, you have to learn to "let go" what a mysterious consensus of fundamentalists consider non-essential. But none of this is how the Bible reads, nor is it how God operates. And this among other reasons is why I couldn't claim to be nor wished to be associated with fundamentalism.

How I Left, When I Left

To stay in fundamentalism, you remain involved with a para-church organization---a college, university, camp, fellowship, association, or board. And then you continue with the churches who continue to participate with those groups. If you persist in your fellowship with these, you will also fellowship with darkness. How? They are tolerating some doctrinal and moral error. If you fellowship with them, you will fellowship with darkness. God isn't pleased with that. You are choosing to let go some violation of Scripture.

I think that most fundamentalists do not believe it is possible to be consistent in the matter of separation. You will always be affiliating with some kind of wrong doctrine or practice, so your associations will always be a matter of a degree of error. You've got to choose what you think is serious enough to break from. And fundamentalists will make breaks. They will separate, unlike evangelicals. Evangelicals will say they don't like something, but it won't result in separation. Fundamentalists will separate, but they are always arguing about what is a "matter of separation." Because fundamentalists mostly don't know what they're supposed to separate over (in other words, there is no consensus), separation has become mostly political. Whichever fundamentalist orbit has the most dominance (not to be confused with competence) will most often sway the most fundamentalists to its particular stew of doctrine and practice.

Leaving fundamentalism didn't mean moving to another group where the same or worse problem existed, that is, evangelicalism. Leaving meant going back to square one, where I was only in fellowship with my church. Fundamentalists call this isolating yourself. Fundamentalists will say that you don't want to isolate yourself and even call this "isolationism." You know the verse on that, don't you? Correct. There is none. They'll also mock this kind of act, by asking something like this: "So I guess you are left to fellowship with yourself then, aren't you?" Actually I've found just the opposite, and I'll explain later.

So I went to ground zero in my fellowship. I knew I was in fellowship with my church, and so now our church and myself within our church would only fellowship with other churches that believed and practiced like we do. Our basis for fellowship would be doctrine and practice, that is, doctrinal and moral light. The truth is the grounds for fellowship (read 1-3 John---it's very clear there). Unrepentant false doctrine and practice hinder, disrupt, or break fellowship.

For a moment, I think it is important to understand that fellowship relates to working together in some endeavor or worship or service. It isn't getting together to talk or have a discussion. You will see that in 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 and 1-3 John again.

The missionaries with which we would work together are sent by churches with which we are in fellowship. Those churches believe and practice like our church does. If I preach at a conference, I go to fellowship with that church. There may be someone attending the conference that I would not fellowship with, and I might even talk to him or discuss something with him, but I'm there to fellowship with that church.

Once we got back to square one, I didn't know of one church in California with which I would fellowship with. I would have hoped there was one church, but it wasn't that important to me to find another one. I knew I could trust the Lord with this. Micaiah was one prophet telling the truth next to four hundred who didn't (1 Kings 22). I was invited to preach at a church in Utah. The pastor there had heard me on tape. I wasn't sure I was in fellowship with that church, but I went to preach. This is how fellowship works. You don't cut people off. Love is involved. You believe. You hope. I preached there and then started receiving the church's news publication. When I read it, I was finding that I agreed with him on everything. We started fellowshiping with that church and today we support a missionary sent by that church. As I fellowshiped with that church, I got to know other churches with which that church fellowshiped. Now I know of churches all over the United States and in foreign countries that are just like our church. Or in other words, we're not isolated.

We once were in the American Association of Christian Schools. Things only improved when we left the AACS. If we want a teacher conference, we hold our own. We do a great fine arts and academic competition with only churches which believe and practice like we do. We have our own camp in the Sierra Nevada mountains. We've gotten together with another church that believed and practiced like ours one year. We have in missionaries who are sent by churches like ours, who are not affiliated with a board. We don't have to tolerate doctrinal or practical error. We can please God. We can be consistent. We're not isolated. We have fellowship.

When You Leave Fundamentalism

There really is no reason for a fundamentalist to separate from me or our church, except that we separate from fundamentalists. I've noticed that if you separate from fundamentalists, you are treated worse than evangelicals who don't fellowship with fundamentalists. If you are a separatist, but not a fundamentalist, then you must be a heretic or factious. There is no way that someone who separates more than fundamentalism could be anything but a heretic. I don't know of the scriptural explanation for this, have never heard it. Fundamentalists are not excited you are a separatist, which has me thinking that separation isn't what's so important about being a fundamentalist. It can't be unity either, or fundamentalists wouldn't be as separated as they are.

I have noticed that fundamentalists will sometimes agree with me, but then they'll quickly provide a disclaimer, something like "but I don't agree with everything he says" or "I'm not in favor of his position on the versions or the church or on dress standards." You won't, however, hear them say, "I really like Mark Dever, but I don't agree with everything he says, especially on amillennialism." Or "I really like the material on humility by C. J. Mahaney, but I'm not in favor of his continuationism." Fundamentalists dislike certain disagreeable doctrine and practice more than others for no apparent biblical reason. I think that amillennialism is far worse than women wearing dresses, but you would never, ever know that by listening to fundamentalists. This is one way that I see fundamentalism to function according to a political position more than a doctrinal or moral one. Or maybe this is just modern fundamentalism---men who feel such respect for the intellectual or numerical prowess of evangelicals, that they are fine with throwing embarrassing separatists under their bus.

After I left fundamentalism, fundamentalism didn't associate with me any more. They didn't have a verse for that. I wasn't confronted by fundamentalism for my separation from it. I just got the cold shoulder. To remain a fundamentalist, you do have to support fundamentalism. You have to send your kids to their colleges, go to their camps, and support the missionaries that are a part of their boards. That's how you get along in fundamentalism. If you stop doing that, you really are "x'ed" from fundamentalism. It's nothing official or even biblical. You'll just know. And some guys are afraid of that, afraid of those prospects, that they might be missing something. News: you won't be missing anything. You thought you were getting something and all you were getting was getting gotten. They got you; you don't get anything. You don't even get fellowship, because that involves doctrinal and moral light.

Shortly after I left fundamentalism, myself and a few other pastors finished a theological book. I've written three. One is not yet in print, but it's been done for a little while. A fourth is about finished. No one from the fundamentalist college from which I graduated had written a book. None of the faculty had written a book. Maranatha had published two books. The first was a reprint of Thomas Armitage's two volume History of the Baptists. The second was a paperback, Evaluating New Testament Versions, by Everett Fowler, foreword written by B. Myron Cedarholm, the founder and president. The latter was a King James Only book. Of the two books that I have written, that are on the market, neither of them is either in the college bookstore or library. You'll find secular humanist and apostate books in the Maranatha library and several non-fundamentalist books in the bookstore, but never mine. Why? I don't send students nor support the college. Neither does R. Kent Hughes, but you'll find his books in the library and bookstore. He's as good as separated from the school, to it's left, not a separatist. This is the blatant inconsistency of fundamentalism. And it will always be inconsistent---it really is part of being a fundamentalist.

(More to Come)