Monday, May 28, 2012

Trouble with Pearls

Barbara Bush is in trouble.  We read this in 1 Timothy 2:9:

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.

No. no. no. No pearls.  No stringed.  No cultured.  No fresh water.  Of course, the problem is not with pearls.  The passage isn't telling women not to wear any of that stuff.  There isn't anything wrong in and of themselves with broided hair, gold, costly array, or....pearls.

And what do pearls have to do with what comes after v. 9?  Learning in silence.  Subjection.  Not teaching men.  Not usurping authority over men.  Being in silence.

Four words:  The New Roman Woman.  That's what pearls have to do with those above things.

Shortly before the first century, Roman society required propriety of the Roman woman.  Not the man.  While his wife was required faithfulness, he was allowed casual extramarital liaisons.  But into the first century, this began to change with the new Roman woman.  She brought to the marriage her dowry and property in her own name.  They may have asked like the title of the book by Maureen Dowd, feminist columnist of the New York Times, Are Men Necessary?   The new Roman woman was finding the answer, like that of Dowd, to be "no."  This financial independence became reflected in a new social freedom.  From their men, they learned well.  The new Roman woman became a playgirl, assertive and glamorous, competing for attention like her male counterpart with a similar objective.

Like many a modern female, the new Roman woman protected her independence with abortion and contraceptives before those practices were very safe.  Without bearing children, what she preserved in the way of her figure, her leisure, her equality, and her opportunity, she lost or suffered in the way of a God-given role, the reward of child rearing, the protection of a husband, and even her life.  Abortion and contraception and the lack of male refuge in a dangerous world often led to an early demise.   Depressed older years would accompany the older Roman woman with her thoughts of a wasted, barren life, her biological clock run out, with nothing in the way of legacy or grandchildren.  She could have been saved through childbearing (cf. 1 Timothy 2:15).

So what do pearls have to do with the previous three paragraphs?  It wasn't pearls.  It wasn't gold.  It was a particular look that communicated a philosophy.  The influence of the new Roman woman had entered the church at Ephesus, just like it had in the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:32-33).  Dress really does mean something.  It's a way to fit in with the world.  It's a way to jive with the culture.  It's a way to guarantee opportunities you would not have heretofore possessed.  Styles and looks and fashions do mean things.  And Paul said "no" to these.  That assumed that you could interpret what the dress meant.

Paul wasn't saying no gold, no pearls, or even costly dress.  He was saying, stop attempting to look the part of a particular woman with which you should not be identifying yourself.  The same instruction of 1 Timothy 2:9 could be given to the men as well.  Men try to look hip.  Men try to look a particular way that will attract women.  They strut.  Today this is even seen in pastors who attempt to look and sound a part just like the world, communicated in many different ways---the hair, the t-shirt, the beard, the frames, the speech.

You may read and think or say, "Well, that's a non-essential."  Paul doesn't write like it isn't important.  He gets to it in the second chapter of the first epistle to Timothy.  He gets into this early on and has a lot to say about it (2:9-15).  The people of God should not be fitting into the world with their appearance.

Today women indicate their independence in some of the same ways, and some different.  They look similar or just like the world, and to the modern church, it just doesn't matter.  It's even a good strategy.  You can be a Christian and you don't have to be different.  Very egalitarian.  You don't stick out that way, look like a woman of submission.  That looks weak and uneducated.  So we've got the new Roman woman come into the church again.  What women dress like says something.  It really does.  And, again, it relates to male authority.

With those women in Ephesus, it doesn't seem that they really were the new Roman women.  They just looked like them.  And that mattered.  That's the trouble with pearls.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Book Review: God's Wisdom for Marriage & the Home by Scott Markle

Marriage has been a major national news story for all the wrong reasons, so I offer you some good news with a  recent book by Scott Markle, God's Wisdom for Marriage & the Home for the Glory of the Lord (GWFMATH), 34 chapters, 446 pages, with a Scripture index.  Scott will not attempt to impress you with the clever writing style of some worldly evangelical.   He sets your table with meat and potatoes, a full course of helpful heaps of exegetical platefuls, all depending on the Word of God for the recipe.  Each chapter builds on the former to provide a very complete manual for a God-glorifying Christian marriage.

Couples need help with their marriages with so few good examples around.  Pastor Scott Markle ends every lesson with truths upon which to meditate and corresponding verses to memorize.  I see the book as handy for a premarital counseling assignment and a refresher course for marriages in the church.  Couples could take one chapter at a time, ending with some discussion about implementation, and working their way a little at a time until the end.  If you're a pastor and you're looking at some ideas for a series on marriage, the book could help you with that.

You shouldn't read GWFMATH, looking for serious original language work in the nature of a commentary.  Markle takes his authority from the Bible (all King James Version), but it's obviously intended to be practical.  Couples' marriages can and will be edified by careful consideration of the material.

Markle gets marriage passages right that others have missed.  He diagnoses problems in marriages with precision.  With most of GSFMATH, I concurred, with little disagreement.  I would have liked more elaboration to what he meant by "naturally" in this sentence on p. 16:

Although there may be different levels of authority and submission between the roles of the husband and wife within the marriage and home, there is no superiority or inferiority between them spiritually or naturally in the sight of the Lord their God.

Maybe by "naturally" he means intellectually, but I wasn't sure.  I would have liked to understand better what he meant.  Men are of superior strength and women are vulnerable emotionally, both as a "weaker vessel," so it would have helped to get what he was saying.

Markle spends some time on James 1 on pp. 197-199 in a chapter on communication and misapplies what James wrote in v. 19.  James was revealing a faithful response to the exposition of the Word of God, so that text holds no authority for marital conversation.  Other passages would have been better for the application he wanted to make.  And then he misses what the "root of bitterness" is in Hebrews 12:15 on pp. 254-255, which isn't that uncommon in material I've read or heard.

The above critiques really are minimal in light of the massive amounts of great material in the book.   For that reason, I recommend it for anyone who wants a better marriage or could be used of God to help others with theirs.


As a side note, you'll notice that Scott self-publishes through Xulon Press.  There are those, I know, who would disrespect a book, unless it was picked up by a big-named secular or Christian publisher, that someone how it isn't credible unless it is.  I've thought about this some recently, and have considered doing an entire post on it.

We should not allow the publishers to be the controllers of what materials are acceptable or suitable for churches and their people.  Publishers very often have an agenda and it's often an economic one, a purpose that conflicts with that of a true church.  Since the church is the pillar and ground of the truth, it should be churches deciding what is good material for churches.  I would like to see churches take the power and influence away from publishers by publishing their own materials.  To do that, other churches should help with promotion in order to circumvent the publishers, and not reward them for their parachurch operation and money-making endeavors.  I would support Scott earning some money for the work he's done here, but I also admire someone who goes ahead and finishes the job without the endorsement of publishers that have zero scriptural authority.

None of the above is to say that churches should just go ahead and approve of shoddy work.  They should help the books to be as good or at least as nearly as good as those done by publishing houses.  But I also see the standard for publishers to center too much on readability, if not on a big name that will get people's attention to sell more of the books.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Paradigmatic Example of New Age Medicine and How to Expose and Analyze it, part 4

The following is a continuation of part 3.

While the evidence set forth by John Doe in the previous posts is really the best way, and should be sufficient for anyone with a Biblical worldview, for evaluating New Age and quack therapies, Mr. Doe also conducted a practical test, because he knew that some people in the situation involved would not really care about what the general facts and overarching Biblical principles indicated.  While this attitude is certainly bad, if you are in a situation where you are trying to help people who are caught up with New Age or quack therapies, you can consider following John Doe's example below and conducting a practical test of a New Age or quack therapy.  The following test approximated a double-blind, placebo controlled test--the kind of testing done by medical science but avoided by New Age and quack advocates, because their practices cannot pass such tests, and, if applied, would drive them out of business.  Read on to see what he did.  I think you will find it both informative and entertaining.

The analysis above, based on a Biblical worldview, should be more than sufficient to demonstrate that the practices of Chiropractor Fox are ones that Christians (and all others) not only have no right to participate in, but ones that should be warned against for both their spiritual and physical dangers.  However, as a practical demonstration of how Biblical reasoning and science based upon it is sound, and the New Age and occult techniques employed by Chiropractor Fox are manifestly unsound methods of determining what is good health, this writer made an appointment with Chiropractor Fox, subsequent to his previous visit with Judy, for the purpose of conducting a scientific test that would demonstrate in a clear way that his methods are faulty and either useless or harmful for determining what is healthy.  This test was conducted out of love and concern for those to whom this written document has been given.  It certainly did not produce any great benefit to this writer, as the visit to Fox cost him $55, the materials employed for the conduct of the experiment were also somewhat costly, and several hours of time and much gas were used up driving to and from the chiropractic office, since it is not at all near the writer’s residence.  However, if this expenditure of money and time saves brethren and family in the Lord many hundreds—indeed, thousands, of dollars in future expense—twenty visits to Chiropractor Fox will cost $1,100, apart from the cost of his remedies, the spiritual and physical dangers associated with him, etc.—then the sacrifice involved in conducting the experiment will be considered well worth it.

The writer had Judy put a variety of items in an assortment of containers, label the containers and the items, and then give them to him.  The exact contents of the containers were unknown to this writer at the time Chiropractor Fox did muscle testing upon him to see if they were beneficial or not.  Some of the items in the containers were a variety of vitamins that, whether or not they were necessary for consumption, were not going to cause any kind of serious harm, while the other containers had items that were clearly of great harm for human consumption, such as rat poison and highly toxic and poisonous mineral spirits from the Home Depot that were potentially deadly if consumed, and dangerous and harmful if inhaled or placed upon the skin.[1]  If Chiropractor Fox’s muscle testing is an accurate procedure, he would by no means state that any of these deadly and toxic items were ones that the writer—or any other human being—should ingest, place upon his skin, etc.  One error on one substance would demonstrate the unreliability of his methods.  100% accuracy is certainly to be expected:  after all, genuine science would be able to determine with certainty the nature of the substances in the bottles every time by laboratory analysis.

When the writer arrived at Chiropractor Fox’s office to be muscle tested, he was asked what the items were in the bottles.  In perfect truthfulness, he stated that he did not know, since his wife had packed them the night before and did not tell him what they were.  Chiropractor Fox proceeded to employ muscle testing to determine the healthfulness, or lack thereof, of the various substances.

The various items below were held in one hand right beneath the neck, while my other arm was stretched out, and Chiropractor Fox pushed down on my arm in his typical muscle testing methodology to determine if the items were helpful or not to my body.  First, my arm was moved/not moved to determine if the substance was healthful in general.  Then, my arm was moved/not moved to determine if I needed to take what was in the bottle.  If my arm moved in the proper way, indicating I needed what was in the bottle, Chiropractor Fox then said the word “one” and moved/did not move my arm, and, if my arm remained steady, said the word “two” and moved/did not move my arm, etc. and in this way determined the number of pills I was to take from a particular bottle that was determined to be good by seeing what my arm—and, allegedly, my muscles—did after he spoke the number in the English language.

The items tested, and the claims from the muscle testing, were:

1.)            Young’s Essential Oil bottle #1.  Fox stated that the contents of this bottle were good for the body, but unnecessary for my personal consumption, after performing muscle testing.

2.)            Young’s Essential Oil bottle #2.  Fox stated that the contents of this bottle were good for the body, but also unnecessary for my personal consumption, after performing muscle testing.  It should be noted that he also later took a whiff from one of these Essential Oil bottles, and said that they were really good stuff. 

3.)            Utrophin (“Uterus support”—parts of cow uturus in a bottle from Standard Processing) bottle.  The contents of this bottle were tested as good for the body, but unnecessary for my personal consumption.

4.)            Daily Multivitamin bottle:  This product tested as good for human consumption, and further testing determined I needed to take two of the pill in this bottle daily.

5.)            Vitamin C bottle from grocery store:  The contents of this bottle were tested as beneficial for human consumption, but testing determined that I did not need to take any of these.

6.)            Beta Vitamin C bottle from Body Wise Corp.: The contents of this bottle were tested as beneficial for human consumption, and testing determined I was to take one of these daily.

7.)            Multiprobiotic bottle of the kind sold at Fox’s office: Fox observed by visual inspection that the pill inside of this bottle was not the kind of multiprobiotic that was sold at his store.  I, of course, did not know what was in this pill.  The contents of this bottle were tested as beneficial for human consumption, and testing concluded I was to take one of them daily.

8.)            Female balance multivitamin bottle from BodyWise Corp.: This pill tested as a good product for human consumption, but one I did not need.

9.)            Flora source bottle:  This pill tested as a good product for human consumption, and muscle testing determined I should take one daily.

10.)         Unspecified bottle #1: The pill in this bottle, a simple container with a #1 on the side, was determined to be healthful through muscle testing, but unnecessary for my personal consumption.

11.)         Unspecified bottle #2: The pill in this bottle was determined through muscle testing to be good for human consumption, and testing also indicated that I needed to take one daily.

12.)         Unspecified bottle #3: The pill in this bottle was determined through muscle testing to be good for human consumption, and testing also indicated that I needed to take two of them daily.

13.)         OJ bottle: The contents of the orange juice bottle were determined by muscle testing to be good for human consumption, but testing determined I was to consume no more than two 8oz. glasses a day.

14.)         Water bottle:  The contents of a water bottle were determined by muscle testing to be good for human consumption, and moving my arm determined I was to consume 3.5-4 quarts daily.

15.)         I also was muscle tested to determine that I need to take calcium and fish oil daily—but not any other vitamins or minerals, as the items from the above list covered what I need (a conclusion that someone who did not believe in muscle testing at all could easily come to by simply looking at the bottles that were being tested and noticing that I had been “tested” to take two basic multivitamins a day).

16.)         Finally, I was tested to determine how long it was until I needed to come back to see if the needs of my body for vitamins had changed.  It was determined that I needed to come back in 14 weeks, because after pronouncing the number “14” my arm moved down.

The contents of the various bottles were:

1+2.) Tiny amounts of Young Essential Oils, with the great majority of the bottle containing highly toxic mineral spirits purchased at the Home Depot, that are deadly when ingested, harmful on the skin, and carcinogenic when inhaled.

3.) The Utrophin bottle contained one Ester C vitamin.

4.) The Daily Multivitamin bottle contained one daily multivitamin.

5.) The Vitamin C bottle contained one chewable vitamin C.

6.) The Beta C bottle contained toxic and obviously unhealthy Silica Gel mixed with some Female Advantage Body Wise product.

7.) The Multiprobiotic bottle contained some Body Wise Female Advantage product mixed with a definite majority of rat poison.

8.) The Female Balance bottle contained one cranberry supplement from Walmart.

9.) The Flora Source bottle contained Epsom Salt, which should obviously not be ingested.

10.) The unspecified bottle #1 contained one Body Wise female advantage tablet.

11.) The unspecified bottle #2 contained cake topping mixed with female advantage from Body Wise.

12.) The unspecified bottle #3 contained a Body Wise food shake.

The orange juice and tap water were both actually orange juice and tap water.  A bottle with grape juice and mineral spirits mixed together, and of root beer, apple juice, and mineral spirits mixed together, were also taken along, but these smelled horrible and were obviously not normal juice, so I did not get them tested, as I could clearly determine beforehand that they contained toxic mineral spirits and was thus not ignorant of the contents of the bottle before the muscle testing.

The results of Chiropractor Fox’s muscle testing was as follows.  Highly toxic mineral spirits, which should not be breathed, are fatal if consumed, and are very dangerous if on the skin for extended periods of time, were good for people in general to ingest/apply to the body (#1-2).  Ester C vitamin tablets were good for human consumption (#3), but I personally don’t need them.  Daily Multivitamins are good for human consumption (#4), and I should take two a day.  Normal vitamin C is good for human consumption, but I personally do not need it (#5).  Toxic Silica Gel mixed with Body Wise Female Advantage is good for human consumption, and I should take one such pill a day (#6).  A little bit of Body Wise Female Advantage mixed with a lot of rat poison is good for human consumption, and I should take one such Female Advantage/Rat Poison pill every day (#7).  Cranberry supplements from Walmart are good for human consumption, but I don’t need them (#8). Poisonous Epsom Salt is good for human consumption, and I should take one pill of it every day (#9).  Body Wise Female Advantage is good for me, but I don’t need it (#10)—only when it is mixed with rat poison (#7) and Silica Gel (#6) is it good for me.  However, Body Wise Female Advantage mixed with cake topping is good for me, and I should take it every day (#11).  Finally, I should take two servings of Body Wise breakfast shake a day (#12), and drink orange juice and tap water.  This is to continue for 14 weeks.  Although I am a male, I am to consume Body Wise Female Advantage, but only if it is mixed with cake topping, a majority of silica gel, or a majority of rat poison.  On its own, it is not something I need.  If I am not dead or having my stomach pumped in a hospital from eating rat poison, silica gel, and Epsom salt every day, then I am to come back in 14 weeks to pay another $55 and be re-tested to see if my bodily needs have changed.  Perhaps at that time the highly toxic or deadly mineral spirits in the essential oil bottles—which were tested as good for human consumption and complemented upon for their beneficial properties—will be required, although at this time I do not personally need any.  Rat poison is enough for me at this time.


[1] The mineral spirits bottle stated, in part (capitals in original), “Odorless Mineral Spirits, Excellent for thinning oil based paint, stain, and varnish; Cleans and prepares surfaces for painting . . . DANGER! HARMFUL OR FATAL IF SWALLOWED. . . . [I]t is an excellent cleaner for paint brushes, tools and equipment [so it would “clean out” a human being’s insides for sure!] . . . Protect eyes with chemical splash goggles and avoid prolonged skin contact . . . USE ONLY WITH ADEQUATE VENTILATION TO PREVENT BUILDUP OF VAPORS.  [So it is plainly not only dangerous to ingest, but even to smell.]  Do not use in areas where vapors can accumulate and concentrate such as basements, bathrooms or small enclosed areas.  Whenever possible, use outdoors in an open air area.  If using indoors open all windows and doors and maintain a cross ventilation of moving fresh air across the work area.  If strong odor is noticed or you experience slight dizziness, headache, nausea or eye watering—STOP—ventilation is inadequate.  Leave area immediately.  IF THE WORK AREA IS NOT WELL VENTILATED, DO NOT USE THIS PRODUCT.  A dust mask does not provide protection against vapors.  Do not take internally.  Avoid contact with eyes and prolonged contact with skin. . . . FIRST AID: IF SWALLOWED . . . Call poison control center, hospital emergency room or physician immediately. . . . IN CASE OF PROLONGED SKIN CONTACT, wash thoroughly . . . if irritation persists, get medical attention.”  Obviously, these spirits are bad stuff.  They can be deadly if consumed and are dangerous to inhale or on the skin.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Pandering President of America, States of America, Church of America, and the Pandering Party

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language says that pandering is:

To cater to the lower tastes and desires of others or exploit their weaknesses.

I like the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary definition even better:

To do or provide exactly what a person or group wants, especially when it is not acceptable, reasonable or approved of, usually in order to get some personal advantage.

The United States has the perfect conditions for pandering to succeed, to take hold, to spread, and then to dominate.  People here are consumers and have a consumer mentality.  As much as people may say that they don't want to be pandered to, they continue to be, because it works.  And people will continue to pander as long as it does work.  I don't see any end in sight.

Of course, it is the nature of the flesh to enjoy and reward pandering, so that without restraint of that flesh, pandering will continue.  Flesh also feeds off of other flesh.  The flesh of the panderer and that of whom is pandered feed off of each other.  Both flesh get what they want.  One wants the pandering and the other the success of pandering---perfect complements to each other, a perfect couple.

The Bible speaks to the dangers of being pandered to, to reject it.  We see it all over Scripture actually.  Satan pandered to Eve.  Jacob pandered to Esau.  Aaron pandered to Israel.  Delilah pandered to Samson.  Jeroboam pandered to the ten northern tribes.  Solomon warned about the pandering of sinners in Proverbs.  He admonished regarding the pandering of people with money.

Part of business education is the art of pandering.  So much of it goes on in advertising that people have grown to expect it.  They want it.  They have rewarded those who are best at it.

As a result of the above, we've got the Pandering President of America, who has become perhaps the biggest panderer in political history, pandering to homosexuals, to blacks, to hispanics, to illegal immigrants, to Hollywood, to the poor, to the middle class, to women, to teachers, to unions, and to environmentalists---a list of special interests from which he hopes to cobble together enough votes to win in November.  Both major political parties pander to various groups, but pandering is virtually the entire strategy of Democrats.  At one time, Democrats used class envy to guarantee the poor at election time.  With that economic group now safely in the bag, they are applying the same type of pandering to the middle class, hoping to use class envy with an even larger segment of the population, to divide America.  They have reached an almost political nirvana, arriving now to a place where 49.5% of Americans don't pay any income tax.  That has become a sweet pandering point for the PPOTUS (pandering president of the United States) from which he can keep an amazingly high approval rating even though the economy is tanked.

You can only keep pandering as long as you have something really to offer people with which to pander them.  The pandering in Greece, for instance, doesn't work anymore, because Greece doesn't have anything to give anyone.  They have successfully stifled productiveness by redistributing wealth.  The people who received the benefits were still angry with the gravy train out of business.  Since there was so few left to punish, they just started destroying things.  We see the same thing here in the United States with the occupy movement.  It is an astounding level of reprobation arising from desolate minds.

Pandering, of course, is a kind of lying, mainly flattery.  God calls it a "lying vanity" in Jonah.  Pandering mainly degrades God and then truth.  Since God is the God of Truth, when truth becomes a casualty, God is the victim.  And that is why pandering is even worse when it is being practiced by those who profess to be God's people.

Churches today of all kinds have copied the pandering that has become the culture of the United States.  Rather than stand against pandering, they customize it and then implement it in the church.  There are so many examples of it, but the two greatest examples that come to mind are Rick Warren, with his Pandering Driven Church, and then Joel Olsteen.   I personally don't get Joel Osteen or how that people get sucked up into his type of pandering, the big hairdo type.  It says "fake" all over it.  But his kind of glitz does work at least in Houston.  There are so, so many though.  I hardly know where to start or stop when it comes to examples of pandering.  I'm more angry with those who should know better, those whose preaching and writing would indicate that they repudiate pandering, but then they do it.  Those are the ones that I think should be exposed.  It is the more subtle pandering that I believe is even the most dangerous and then destructive.

The worship in churches has deformed almost exclusively for pandering.  Instead of evangelism, churches use pandering.  Preaching styles have become a kind of pandering.  Theologies have been distorted by pandering.

Since there is so much of it, I'm going to give just a few examples to indicate how rampant it is.  John MacArthur and Grace Community Church panders to the youth culture with the staging and rock band of their Resolved Conference.  MacArthur also pandered to the Jesus' Movement by calling it a modern day revival.  He pandered to the rock music lovers of his church by saying that church services shouldn't be rock concerts, but that he wouldn't say that there is anything wrong with any particular musical style.   All that is pandering.  Ron Hamilton panders to children with his Patch the Pirate inventions.  Forty something Mark Driscoll panders to punks by dressing like a pubertic fourteen year old.   John Piper panders by calling "Desiring God," "Christian Hedonism."  Most church marketing today is mere pandering, attempting to connect with someone with some fleshly or worldly lust.  Most brochures are pandering to the carnal interests of a constituency or demographic.  Many Bible colleges and Christian universities are non stop panderers in their promotions.  Pensacola Christian College came first to mind, but I'm sure there are many worse.

Certain practices nauseate me as I think about it.  I read about a church that promoted their own prayer for a nearby community that had suffered a tragedy.  They exploited that situation by pandering with their mention of prayer. I'm not going to say the name of the church, because that would make naming the name the whole issue.  I believe churches do this with all sorts of practices that they continue as a means to pander to a certain people group of their church.  What the Bible teaches should be good enough.  A congregation should want that.  But no, they also expect some pandering, and the leadership, therefore, provides it.

So much more could be said about pandering in and by the church---a whole book.  But this is only a blog post, especially intended to get you thinking.  And then I might be accused too of pandering to people who hate pandering or who don't want to be pandered to.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Church Success: Evangelism

Biblical success is sorting out what Scripture says and doing it.  Worldly success doesn't care what Scripture says.  Our nation obsesses over faithless, tangible success.  Who makes the most money?  What has the most people?  In the end, God's Word will stand.  Like gravity, you can argue with it, but that won't change anything.

A family in our church has a local mega church pastor as fellow parent on their daughter's soccer team.  One other set of parents attends that church.  Our family has heard him talk with the other parents about his reason for multiple services.  You've got to have an earlier service for the guy who wants to watch NFL football, east coast games. You've got to have another service for the typical Californian who wants to sleep in on Sunday morning.  Church growth is tricky business.  Since success is the size of the church, the discussion becomes what will make the church bigger.

Is size of church success?  Does the Bible offer a strategy for making churches get larger?

This is where a view of success guides what a church, its pastor, its members will do.  Jesus said go and preach to everyone.  Success is preaching a true gospel to everyone, not leaving anyone out, and going as far out from where you are as possible, starting with where you are.  So today we have these huge churches that know how to make the crowd get big, and yet the gospel isn't being preached to everyone.  I know this to be true.  Is this success?

Where we are at up in Sacramento evangelizing, we see numbers of different evangelical churches with names like "Journey" and "Adventure."  I'm not speaking metaphorically---that's what they are called.   There is a huge Southern Baptist megachurch.   Both where we have been for 25 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and up in the Sacramento area for about a year, we have not run into one single other person out preaching the gospel.

Churches have a certain paradigm for growing their crowd, increasing their numbers, but they aren't preaching the gospel to everyone.  Some of them have watered down the gospel to begin with, and they are not seeing their churches grow through preaching.  Are they a success?  I say, "No."  The church hasn't influenced its own membership to obey what Christ left believers here to do.  It has made a pariah of the task Jesus practiced and to which He commissioned all believers.  Churches are actually further away from success.

Evangelistic success does not either even relate to number of conversions.  It relates to faithfulness in preaching.  If a church is preaching a true gospel to everyone, it is fulfilling its responsibility, and is, therefore, a success. If the people of a church are not preaching the gospel, they are not obedient, so they aren't successful.  The church that isn't preaching the gospel to everyone is not a success.   Success is sorting out what God said and then doing it.

Preaching the gospel singles out a church.  It marks a church.  Non-Christians will not want to join that church.  They don't want to become what this church obviously is.  That's part of the turn off of this obedient church to the megachurch.   The megachurch spawns disobedient, self-serving, professing believers.

Many churches, fundamentalist ones, conservative evangelicals, and others, have gotten bigger without being obedient to preach to everyone.  They would even explain how that not preaching to everyone has been part of the means for garnering the success that they have reached.  Not necessarily in just those terms, but for all intents and purposes, they grow through strategies that don't relate to how Christ said He wanted a church to grow.  As a result, Jesus Himself isn't glorified through this strategy, and for that reason, it also is not a success.

We've got a few steps to take to be a success as a church that relate to church growth and evangelism.  First, know what the gospel is.  Look at what Jesus preached in the gospels and the apostles in Acts.  Second, begin preaching it to everyone.  Expect all of your men to be involved.  Not preaching should not be an alternative for men.  God didn't put you where you're at to work at making a church get larger, but to spread the gospel to every person.  Don't let the worldly success get in the way of real success.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Paradigmatic Example of New Age Medicine and How to Expose and Analyze it, part 3

The following is a continuation of part 2.

A third severe problem with Chiropractor Fox’s practice is that his chiropractic philosophy is occult and unscientific.  While there are chiropractors who have rejected the occult and unscientific ideas of the founder of chiropractic, D. D. Palmer, and have embraced the (Biblical) scientific method for evaluating facts—namely, those chiropractors associated with the National Association of Chiropractic Medicine,[i] which sought a merger in 1994 with the Orthopractic Manipulation Society, Chiropractor Fox is not one of these scientifically practicing men.  The (unfortunately, small minority) of chiropractors who have rejected New Age philosophy and similar mystical concepts for science do not make wild and unsubstantiated claims that they can cure just about everything through spinal manipulation, but limit themselves to what can indeed be factually demonstrated and have nothing to do with pagan chi energy and such occultisms, namely, that spinal manipulation can bring temporary relief for back pain.  Such chiropractors, which one might view as a related medical service to a physical therapist, are to be commended, and a Christian who has lower back pain and who wishes to go to one such chiropractor has nothing in Scripture or science that would properly prevent him from doing so.  Unfortunately, Chiropractor Fox is one of the large majority of unreformed chiropractors who have not rejected pseudoscience, but continue to employ methods built upon the philosophy of the founder of chiropractic, D. D. Palmer—who was quoted in a large framed picture prominently displayed in Fox’s office.

Daniel. D. Palmer confessed that practices like his were not new but were associated with ancient pagan religion and cults, as well as various occultic societies of his own day.  Before his invention of modern chiropractic, he had been a psychic healer for over nine years, had studied spiritism, developed his chiropractic principles from the occultic ideas of mystical body energies (chi, etc.) taught by these pagan philosophies, and even transmitted his psychic powers to his son, B. J. Palmer.  D. D. Palmer claimed that chiropractic manipulated a divine life force (cf. Genesis 3:5, “ye shall be as gods,” said the devil) within all people called the “Innate,” which flowed from the brain through the nerves to the organs of the body, and which was also the source of all manifestations of occult and psychic power.  B. J. Palmer stated that the Innate, a personal, divine guide, was the true founder of chiropractic.  D. D. Palmer said that he received the idea of “replacing displaced vertebrae for the relief of human ills” in a séance through communication with the spirit of Dr. Jim Atkinson, a doctor who had died some 50 years earlier.[ii]  Chiropractic, said both Palmers, cannot be practiced apart from a personal working relationship with the Innate, and this spirit guide will assist the chiropractor with his diagnosis.[iii]  The occult dangers of unreformed chiropractic (referred to below simply as “chiropractic” for the sake of simplicity), that is, chiropractic techniques employed by those not associated with the National Association of Chiropractic Medicine, is frighteningly clear.

D. D. Palmer claimed to have restored the hearing of a deaf man, Harvey Lillard, by manipulating his spine, and this, he alleged, was involved in his promoting his chiropractic ideas to the world.  The story of this healing is spread widely among those in favor of chiropractic to this day.  However, the daughter of the man allegedly restored to hearing by Palmer, Valdeenia Lillard Simons, claimed that this restoration of hearing through chiropractic spinal manipulation did not happen.[iv]  Far more important than the disputable testimony of various people about what happened in the life of the nineteenth century janitor, Mr. Lillard, is the fact that it is impossible for spinal manipulation to have anything to do with restoring one’s hearing, since all of the nerves that are associated with hearing are within the head itself, and so hearing has nothing to do with the nerves in the spinal cord.  Thus, this foundational story of the alleged healing of Mr. Lillard by D. D. Palmer through spinal manipulation is impossible.

The explanation for chiropractic techniques given by Chiropractor Fox is representative of attempts at a scientific-sounding explanation for the flow of chi and “Innate” developed by D. D. Palmer and intimately connected with chiropractic methodology.  Fox, during our visit, asserted that the brain sends electrical signals to the organs of the body through the spinal cord, and that spinal vertebrae can impinge the spinal nerves, something chiropractors generally call a “subluxation.”  When the nerves are impinged by the spinal vertebrae, electricity does not flow to the organs through the spine as it ought to, and one thus gets sick.  Manipulating the spine to eliminate places where the bones of the spine are crushing or pressing on the nerves will then allegedly eliminate the reduced flow of electricity, and thus restore health to the organs.  The problems with this alleged scientific explanation for chiropractic claims to cure or assist in the elimination of disease are severe.

First, the health of one’s organs is not related to the flow of electrical impulses through the spine.  Someone who snaps his spine by, say, diving into a very shallow pool of water, and thus become paralyzed from the neck down, does not suffer severe organ malfunction from the entire area below where his spinal cord has snapped.  His heart, intestines, liver, and other organs continue to function normally, and he is able to live for many years in his condition.  The snapping of the spine prevents his brain from transmitting electrical impulses to his voluntary muscles, so that he is unable to move these muscles as he wishes—doubtless a very significant and sad problem—but that is just about it.  If traditional chiropractic theory was true, all those who are thus paralyzed should quickly die as their organs stop functioning, since electrical impulses from the spinal cord have ceased entirely.  This simply does not happen.

Second, God has designed our spines very well, so that the spinal nerves actually do not get impinged by the bones surrounding them, and electrical impulses are not at all affected by this non-extant disability that is the theoretical basis behind all chiropractic.  Surrounding the nerves in the spinal cord are large areas of spongy tissue.  These provide excellent cushioning and protection from any such harm to the nerves from the spinal bones.  No scientific test has ever demonstrated the existence or the validity of such impingement of the spinal nerves (“subluxations”)—an amazing and devastating fact, in light of the fact that chiropractors have literally earned billions over the course of their over a century of practice, so that they have a superabundance of funds to produce such studies to prove the legitimacy of their methods.  On the contrary, genuine tests of the subluxation theory have demonstrated that these spinal impingements do not exist, and, indeed, are impossible.  Before pressure upon the spinal cord is extreme enough to in any way compress or affect the spinal nerves protected by the spinal bones, the bones themselves will shatter.[v]  In other words, God has designed our spinal cords so well that the bones of the cord simply do not harm the nerves within them.  Pressure that is so extreme that it is just short of shattering the spinal bones does not impinge the nerves at all.  Nothing happens to the spinal nerves from actions in everyday life that can prevent electrical signals from passing through them.  Pressure will shatter the spinal bones before it will affect the spinal nerves.  Therefore, anyone who has not had the bones of his spinal cord break into many pieces has not had anything negative whatever happen to his spinal nerves from the spinal bones.  The fact that spinal bones do not impinge spinal nerves makes chiropractic theory, as expressed by Fox and D. D. Palmer, impossible.  Chiropractic “spinal realignments” or “adjustments” do nothing positive whatsoever to the flow of electrical impulses through the spinal nerves, because nothing negative that required “adjustment” or “realignment” has taken place.

While chiropractic “adjustments” do not benefit the overall health of the body or fight disease,[vi] since Palmer’s theories are false, chiropractic spinal manipulation and other associates of chiropractic visits can cause serious harm to one’s health.  First, full-spine X-rays of the type employed by many chiropractors—including Fox—cause cancer.  When I found out that Judy had had such X-rays performed on her twice, once as a child and once relatively recently, I was very concerned.  “A five-view lumbosacral series of x-rays exposes the gonads to 3,000 times more radiation than front-to-back and lateral chest x-rays.”[vii]  Spinal X-rays of the sort employed by chiropractors contributes yearly to hundreds of cancer deaths.[viii]  Furthermore, manipulations of the neck, employed by many chiropractors—including Fox—can result in the chiropractic patient suffering strokes or becoming paralyzed.[ix]  When I saw Fox perform these dangerous neck manipulations upon Judy, I was, let me say, not a little displeased.

Furthermore, the misinformation that one will get about one’s health by accepting the tenants of unreformed chiropractic, practicing muscle testing, or employing homeopathy, will often delay or even entirely prevent the taking of reasonable and realistic measures to improve legitimate health problems.  There is no equivalence between a scientifically proven method for dealing with a health issue and one that is sheer speculation or, worse, one revealed by demons.  Employing unproven methods is not a sort of equal “alternative” medicine, but, at best, a risky endeavor of the sort we do not consider wise in lesser matters.  Why do we want a house to meet up to proven criteria for buildings so that it will not collapse in a storm, and we want a bank that meets proven criteria for financial stability so that our money does not vanish, but we will entrust our health to methods that—even apart from their roots in the occult—have not been proven to work?  Are we getting better health, or simply a lighter pocketbook?  Do we do well to employ health practices that are impossible upon their stated methods of working?


[i] cf. pg. 7, “NCAHF Fact Sheet on Chiropractic,” William T. Jarvis,
[ii] “NCAHF Fact Sheet on Chiropractic,” pg. 1.
[iii] pgs. 211-215, Can You Trust Your Doctor? Ankerberg & Weldon.
[iv] “NCAHF Fact Sheet on Chiropractic,” pg. 1.
[v] Cf. “A Scientific Test of Chiropractic’s Subluxation Theory,” Edmund S. Crelin,
[vi] Ernst Edzard. “Chiropractic: A critical evaluation,” Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 35:544-562, 2008]
[vii] “NCAHF Fact Sheet on Chiropractic,” pg. 5.
[viii] Ibid.
[ix] “Chiropractic’s Dirty Secret: Neck Manipulation and Strokes,” Stephen Barrett.; cf. “NCAHF Fact Sheet on Chiropractic,” pg. 5ff.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Latin Vulgate and the King James Version

Latin Vulgate.  King James Version.  Two translations.  How do you relate those two?  The first is Latin, the second English.  They are not translated from an identical original language text.  The former was the Bible of Roman Catholicism, not a denomination that teaches salvation by grace through faith.  The latter was accomplished by the Church of England with support and participation from professing Christians and ultimately accepted as the received version of Scripture by the English speaking people.  Although it is called the authorized version, it was not actually authorized in any official way.  It was referred to as the authorized version by the people.  They saw it as authorized, so it became known as authorized.

Any other relations between the two?  Probably a few others that don't come to my mind.  If you didn't know Latin, the Latin Vulgate would be, well, Latin to you.  It wouldn't mean anything.  It wouldn't edify a non-Latin speaking people.  You couldn't say "Amen" to it unless you were fluent in Latin.  It shouldn't be your Bible unless you knew Latin.  Latin wasn't an original language of Scripture.  Preservation of Scripture wouldn't be the preservation of a Latin translation of the Bible.  A denomination, like Roman Catholicism, could say that this Latin translation was the authoritative text of Scripture and that, my friends, would not be true.  The authoritative text of Scripture would be an original language text.

Protestants and Baptists stood for an authoritative, original language text.  Controversy arose between Roman Catholic theologians and Protestant ones over this issue.  Romans Catholics came down on the side of the authority of the Latin Vulgate, for purposes of tradition, because it was the translation of the Roman church, and for biblical reasons Protestants and Baptists sided with the original language text.

As you read the previous two paragraphs, did you see anything that related between the position of the Catholics and the Protestants and Baptists?  If you said "no," that is correct.  Catholics based their position on tradition.  Protestants and Baptists in this case based their positions on Scripture.

In light of the above information so far, then how does the Latin Vulgate relate any more to the King James Version?  Is the King James Version still supported by many Protestants and Baptists because of tradition like the Latin Vulgate was because of tradition?  Could be by some, but that is not the historical position.  Churches support and advocate the King James Version because of the original language words from which it derived.

Enter opponents of the King James Version, critical text proponents, or multiple-versionists.  They tell the world that you see nearly identical relations of Roman Catholicism and the Latin Vulgate as of King James Onlyists and the King James Version.  They are saying that the King James continues to be supported for the same reason the Roman Catholics required the Latin Vulgate.  They are saying that King James Onlyists (KJO) are being Roman Catholic here.   They claim that both the Roman Catholics and the KJO are the same in that they both look to one Bible.   So they say that one-Bible-ism is Roman Catholic.

In my lifetime, I have mainly heard this type of argumentation coming from left-leaning or liberal who don't have a good argument to stand on.  Recently, Ann Romney, wife of Mitt Romney, wrote an op-ed, published in the Wall Street Journal, praising motherhood.  In the next to last paragraphs, she wrote:

But no matter where we are or what we're doing, one hat that moms never take off is the crown of motherhood.

Michelle Goldberg, an author and Newsweek contributor, took off on her "crown of motherhood" mention on MSNBC:

I found that phrase ‘the crown of motherhood’ really kind of creepy, not just because of its, like, somewhat you know, I mean, it’s kind of usually really authoritarian societies that give out like ‘The Cross of Motherhood,’ that give awards for big families. You know, Stalin did it, Hitler did it.

Multiple version supporters attempt to smear KJO by using the same type of argument, accusing them of a type of Roman Catholicism.  That is exactly what it is, a hatchet job, that they really do know is not true.   This type of argumentation works like a form of propaganda that is intended to intimidate.  It works, not as any kind of credible proof, but as a way to embarrass someone to move from his position. It also tosses red meat to the supporters.  They get a big kick out of it, just like the feminist panel got big chuckle-chuckles out of Goldberg's snide remark about Ann Romney.

Those who use a Latin Vulgate attack either are ignorant of the position of KJO or of history, or are just devious.  Protestants would not associate themselves with Roman Catholicism as some legitimate Western Christianity.  Baptists never did.  They rejected the Catholic position the Vulgate for the text received by the true churches, hence the received text.  They applied this same title to the English translation from the received text by calling it the "received version" of God's Word.  By doing so, they referred to the text from which the translation came.

The longtime usage of the Latin Vulgate by Roman Catholics does not compare to the long time usage of the King James Version by actual Christians.  Catholics required the Latin Vulgate.  Until the freedoms originating from the Protestant Reformation, there was not widespread challenge to Roman Catholicism.  The acceptance of the King James Version wasn't forced upon anyone.  The people received it because they were saved, Holy Spirit indwelt people.  It's history is one of choice, not of coercion.  And that choice of God's people testifies to the authenticity of the King James Version.

The Protestants and Baptists agreed that God had preserved all His Words, every one of them and all of them.  They believed that there was one Bible, the one canonized by the Holy Spirit through His churches.  This is the position found in the Westminster Confession and many other major confessions of those who believe in salvation by grace through faith.  The Holy Spirit would testify to His people what His Words were and they agreed that those words were found in the Hebrew Masoretic and the Greek Textus Receptus.  All accurate contemporary language translations from that text would be authentic.

The view of the Protestants and Baptists came out of a pre-enlightenment way of thinking, transcendent thought, that started with God and Who He was.  They took a position that came out of the exegesis of Scripture, in complete contrast to Roman Catholicism.

The modern multiple-versionists represent a post-enlightenment thinking that begins with man's reason.  It does not rely upon the beliefs of God's churches for centuries.  Instead of depending on the Holy Spirit by faith, they reject what the churches received for the forensics of scientific theoriticians.  They not only abandon an old and accepted Bible, but the testimony of the Holy Spirit through His churches.  That's why you will never, ever hear the actual historical, biblical position from them, even mentioning to you the pages and pages of well-established and documented bibliology of the pre-enlightenment saints.  They reject historical bibliology for the uncertainty of textual "scientists."

So when you hear these references to the Latin Vulgate in an attack on the King James Version, understand it for what it really is.  It is a desperate smear from someone with no historical or biblical basis for his position.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Forward or Backward?

Why reelect our President?  Of course, because a vote for Mitt Romney would bring back the failed policies of the Bush years, you know, what got us in this mess in the first place.

You've been hearing the above same argument for awhile now, even in the 2008 campaign against John McCain.   Mostly, I think it plays on the complexity of the reasons for the steep economic downturn, assuming that a vast majority will not understand its cause.   They provide the following explanation. Bush is responsible because he was the President when it began, and so it must have been his economic policies that caused it.  What are those economic policies?  Mainly lower taxes.  Rich people benefited most from the lower taxes.  He lowered taxes to pay for his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, based on a lie that Saddam Hussein had WMD.  It was mainly a war to help his cronies at Big Oil.  Bush also deregulated the big banks in order to help his rich friends.  President Obama makes his campaign slogan:  Forward.  Mitt Romney represents the Bush years.  Do you want to move backwards to what got us into this mess in the first place or forward in order to let us finish the job we started?


Democrats make the argument without ceasing.  I don't hear Republicans even try to counter it.  Instead, the Republicans say that Obama promised hope and change and things have only gotten worse.  He didn't make it better.  He had the majority in both houses of Congress and all he did was to double the federal deficit and sign legislation and regulation that hurt job-producing small businesses.  Republicans concede that Bush got us into it in the first place, but that he created a lesser mess than what Obama did. Republicans yield the Democrat argument that Bush got us into the mess.  They instead skip the whole Bush presidency and talk like Reagan after Carter is what Romney after Obama would be.  The policies of the Republicans pulled us out of the last great recession.  And Obama was worse than Bush.

So there we go.  Not too promising.

Republicans skip Bush because they're ashamed of him.  He was the compassionate conservative, i.e., the conservative who would lower taxes but wouldn't cut spending.  Do you really think that the Democrats were opposed to Bush's spending more money?  Of course not.  They would have spent even more if they could.

Austerity has become a political buzzword.  The idea is that the cause of financial ruin in Europe was the austerity of conservative governments.  They say, like Paul Krugman, that the social unrest has come from cutting spending and shrinking government.  Joblessness has risen because of a lack of employment in the public sector.  That would all be laughable to anyone in his right mind, if it weren't so scary.

But are we really better off not defending the Bush presidency?  It seems that Republican silence acquiesces to the Obama main proposition of "Forward."  How would Romney differ from Bush?  Does a  Romney presidency mean only a slower rate of failure?

Defending Bush doesn't require defending the indefensible.  At the end of the Clinton presidency, the bubble popped, a fact that is very seldom mentioned in the discussion.   Revenues decreased because of the devastation of tourism after 9/11.  People wouldn't travel on planes for quite awhile.  Gas prices escalated.  9/11 necessitated an elevation of spending on the war on terror.   And then Bush wouldn't cut spending after the Clinton years.   Bush even implemented some of his own government programs that didn't bother the Democrats.

The collapse of 2008 wasn't because of Bush policies.  They weren't caused by Bush deregulation or tax breaks.  They were caused by overly regulating the mortgage industry in the Clinton years.  Then both Clinton and Bush rode the economic wave until it crashed on the beach of 2008.  You'll hear it was deregulation that allowed people to get away with murder.  No, it was regulation that forced banks and lending agencies to give dangerous loans to those who could not afford to pay them back.  The increase in home purchases from the easy loans created an overvaluation of properties.   The mortgage bubble popped, people foreclosed on their homes, and people's housing values plummeted.   Jobs decreased and then more foreclosures ensued.  Americans lost over 16 trillion dollars in home value from 2007. Belts tightened on consumers, factories stopped producing, and more jobs were lost.

The Democrats describe "backward" as deregulation of the big banks and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.  To paint a fuller picture, they also say that "backward" is women without "reproductive rights and health" (freedom to abort your child), homosexuals who cannot get married, African Americans who are racially profiled and disenfranchised, and the  movement toward intelligent design in the public schools.

Forward is actually a freight train moving out of control:  the destruction of the male role and then the family, the undoing of the American free enterprise system, the loss of 2nd amendment rights, the rise of crime, a leftward lean of the United States Supreme Court, and a slouching toward Gomorrah.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

What NT Churches can Do to Oppose Sodomite Marriage, Abortion, and Economic Theft

It is certainly Biblical for us to use our rights as citizens, as
 Paul used his Roman citizenship in Acts, and for us to follow Christ's 
command to be salt and light in our society--nevertheless, we are also
 not to violate Biblical precepts about separation, nor neglect the 
fact that preaching the gospel and making disciples is the Great
 Commission, not simply trying to influence society.
  Is there a Biblical way to preach the gospel, stand for godly
 government, and cry out against the evils of our society at the same 
time, while maintaining Biblical separation?  Should we join hands
 with those who preach a false gospel to advance political causes? What can be done to cry out for righteousness when we now have a president who openly supports sodomite marriage, not to mention the murder of the preborn and economic theft?  A 
way that some Baptist churches have sought to fulfill all these
 Biblical responsibilities, without at all compromising on separation, is to personalize and pass out thousands of
 copies of the tract:  "The Role of Government:  Has God Spoken?"
 available directly here or at either:

The tract can be edited to have your church address placed on the
back, and material concerning specific candidates can also be added 
in.  (The current version simply mentions the Republican and
Democratic party platforms, but in recent election cycles specific
positions taken by different state and national candidates relevent to
their areas have been placed in the tract by churches.)  You can then
print as many of them as you like;  the tract fits on a single 8.5 x
11 piece of paper, folded in the middle.
 The tract sets forth Biblical teachings on economics, marriage, and abortion, and then pointedly and powerfully preaches the gospel. Since 
most people have contributed to the murder of the preborn, if not by
 having an abortion themselves, then by voting for candidates that
 favor it, or doing nothing to oppose it, the tract can be used by the 
Holy Spirit to deeply convict lost people.  Furthermore, those
 unconverted individuals who agree with the Biblical position on these
 issues will find its argument music to their ears, and are often
 especially open to the gospel presentation contained in the tract.
  When passed out to a sympathetic audience, thousands of copies of this 
tract can be distributed very quickly, and in a normal crowd of people
 of mixed interest and disinterest it can be distributed as quickly as
 any normal gospel tract.  (I have passed out many copies of a similar tract at a pro-life rally in San Francisco in the past, and the tracts went as fast as I could pass them out to many pro-life but unconverted people.)  
In addition to setting forth the glorious gospel of Christ and being 
able to be an instrument through which God can save the physical lives 
of the preborn, it is very possible, in the providence of God, that 
widespread distribution of this tract could swing a close national 
election in November through altering the result in swing-states (such as here in Wisconsin, where we have printed many of them and are going to pass out, Lord willing, a four-digit number of them) 
towards those with a more Biblical worldview, with tremendous state 
and national consequences.  Thus, its distribution can have positive
 results for all eternity, and also in our role as salt and light in
 this life. 

If you are interested in personalizing this tract for your church,
 please contact Mukwonago Baptist Church at:

and a version with your church's address, etc. on the back can be sent to you.
  God only spared those who sighed and cried over the abominations done in their land (Eze 9:4), not those who merely mentally assented to evil being evil.  This tract is one way to do something about it in a very Scriptural way.


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Eclecticism of Today's Churches

I've got so many series going that it's hard to keep track.  I haven't finished up my Church Kids Go to College and am not even close to done with Why I'm Not a Calvinist, so you can expect more there.  There are a few others that I know I'm not done with, but a new one today.


I have enjoyed reading the Puritans.  I've read them and have had our church read them---John Owen, Francis Turretin, Richard Baxter, Thomas Watson, Thomas Goodwin, and William Gouge.  Now, understand that  if I lived at the time of the Puritans, they might have persecuted me.  We don't believe the same.  I am a Baptist.  The Baptists agreed with the Puritans on many points.  One way that I appreciate them is in the consistency they manifest in their theology.  Even if you disagree with them, you have to admire them for their consistency.

Most of the reformed and the Calvinists that I encounter today do not reveal the consistency of the Puritans I read.  They act or talk as though they have taken the mantle of the Puritans.   They really dig them.   They are reformed and they are Calvinist to a certain extent, what seems plainly to be a convenient extent.  These are the so-called "new Calvinists" and the "young, restless, and reformed."

As we have been evangelizing in the Sacramento area, I have met many in the new Calvinist category.  Many of  the churches there have arrived at that position.  However, I've read the Puritans, and these are no Puritans.  Their belief and practice are not consistent, really a total patchwork.  The word is eclectic.  Their doctrine and practice is a buffet table and they pick and choose what it is that they want on their plate.

What is so much characteristic of the Puritans is God-centeredness.   The new Calvinists, these young, restless, and reformed, they're not God-centered.  They pick where they want to be God-centered.  Ironic, huh?  They pick how it is they're going to be God-centered.  They choose, of course, to say they're God-centered, but they are not.  They also choose how they'll be reformed.  If they're doing the picking, then it isn't God doing the choosing.  They're monergistic where they want to be monergistic.  Eclecticism.

The new Calvinists claim a Calvinist soteriology, while using today's new measures of Finney.  The results justify their methods, but they're also vindicated by a new Calvinist explanation.  They label their pragmatism with new theological terminology:  missional, contextual, and incarnational.  It's the same old bait and switch, but with a new tackle box.  But why does anyone need the new measures, when they have the sovereign authority and power of God?  Isn't that sufficient?

What I see is that certain facets of Calvinism remove from the responsibility of evangelism.  I understand that a true Calvinist would argue against this.  However, it is still how it very often works.  The highways and hedges are not crowded with Calvinistic preachers.  I never run into them out preaching.  I visit their doors, and they're "like so happy I'm doin' this, dude."  "I'm like so totally with it."  Not really.  (It doesn't, um, work.  It, well, turns people off.)  They've got their Finneyesque new measures, with the title scratched out, and sharpeed over with their above new theological lingo.  This is, like, what Jesus would have done.

They mostly center on what people want and offer a palatable portion of Calvinism with neon lights.  They can make the "service" a rock concert and it be Calvinistic too!  Forget William Gouge.  Forget the Puritan methodology, solely regulated by Scripture.  Pick off some Puritan meat and throw away the rest.

What I'm describing is also what the patron of the new Calvinists, John Piper, has done.  He intimates a repackage of Jonathan Edwards for a contemporary audience with his Christian Hedonism, meanwhile totally contradicting Edwards' treatise on the religious affections.  Piper offers a big bowlful of passion, leaving affection in the crisper or to spoil in the back.

No true Calvinist is a continuationist, but not in the new Calvinism.  You can go cessationism or continuationism.  The door opens for experience to replace the authority of Scripture, even though God isn't in charge without an autocratic Word.  No sole fide without sole scriptura in Calvinism really.  But not with new Calvinism.  Reformed and Charismatic.  A floor wax and a dessert topping.

There is no rule except there is no rule.  You can pick what you want.  This should be ironic for a group that features the sovereignty of God.  However, when it comes to success the pyrotechnics do matter, a lot.  Do you have on your best dress t-shirt?  Did you trim your soul patch?  Are your frames suitably retro?  Do you have the right film chosen for your illustration?  Is your verbiage suitably coarse?

The Puritans believed in one God and one Bible.   One Word.   That's part of the reformed carcass that makes the trash compactor.  You get to pick and choose what's your Bible.  There's even a theological explanation for that one---you don't want to do like the Roman Catholics with their Latin Vulgate.  I mean, you're really reformed.  You're protesting the Catholic idea that there is one Bible.  What a minute.  That wasn't a Protestant protest.  They were actually protesting a Latin Bible.  They were truly arguing for one original language Bible.  Oh, who cares, it sounded like a serious argument.  And you can use any version of scripture you want, any Bible you want, what ever one is the newest and even the hippest.  And when that one's out of fashion---which it will be---then you'll choose the next latest Bible that comes out.  But you get to choose.  Again.  And still be monergistic!

If you can choose your own Bible, then surely you can choose your own methods, and basically pick and choose whatever it is of your Calvinism and your Protestantism and your reformation that you want to use.  Eclecticism is where it's at today.  Calvinism is where it's at too.  At least until I choose otherwise.  Monergistically, of course.

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Man from Moscow Misses It on Music

When I say Moscow and music, you might think Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, or Rimsky-Korsakov, but for the moment instead think Douglas Wilson from Moscow, Idaho.  Wilson is called by many the father of Christian classical education, so he is an influential thinker among evangelicals and even among fundamentalists.  In the last week, he has written an essay in which he begins his concluding paragraph with this sentence:

Outside these basic areas, if we reject a form of music out of hand because it is not the form of music we prefer, then we are trying to kick against the variegated world that the triune God created.

Wilson introduces his post with a musical list of the last twelve songs to which he had listened:

(Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay by Sara Bareilles
Build a Levee by Natalie Merchant
29 Ways by Marc Cohn
Lake Charles by Lucinda Williams
Slow Dancing in a Burning Room by John Mayer
Slow Turning by John Hiatt
Cajun Moon by J.J. Cale
Moment of Forgiveness by Indigo Girls
Walkin' Daddy by Greg Brown
Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot
Give Me One Reason by Eric Clapton and Tracy Chapman
Boulder to Birmingham by Emmylou Harris

Wilson is not arguing that we can't judge musical form, but he narrows the basis for condemnation of form to only three criteria (that conveniently allow him to keep his music):  skillfulness at the particular genre, what he calls a musical declaration of rebellion against God, and extreme inappropriateness.  So it's got to be good for what it is, not atonal except in rare instances (he mentions atonal compositions for horror films), and in fitting with the occasion.  I have observed Wilson to approve, enjoy, and even play rock, blues, and jazz.  His main standard of judgment seems to be that the style must be played well according to its own standards.

Douglas Wilson himself is a well-known presuppositionalist.  He debated the late atheist, Christopher Hitchens, a few years ago with an entirely presuppositional approach.  To be consistent with that apologetic, Wilson must also believe objective truth, objective goodness, and objective beauty.  His stated view in this article puts a unique spin on the latter of those three.   I believe Wilson contradicts his own view of the world to conform to his own musical preferences, resulting in his piece missing it on music.

I'm guessing that Wilson has worked it all out in his own mind, to spare his own musical tastes, but if you took his arguments for his view and applied them to painting, almost any art form could be acceptable as long as it was beautiful according to the standards set for that particular genre.  Salvadore Dali and Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol were good at what they did, according to the standard set for surrealism and cubism and popism.  These art forms would parallel nicely with the free expression and improvisation ("jamming") of jazz musicians.   Good bluegrass would correspond to a good Elvis on velvet.  Even lawn gnomes could contribute to acceptable aesthetics skillfully done.

To make his argument, Wilson employs this metaphor:

Comparing Mozart to Vince Gill is like comparing your lawn mower to your dishwasher and asking which one is better. Better at what?

Perhaps Bach is ratchet set to Kurt Bachman's sledgehammer.  Wilson uses his metaphor to carve out a unique definition of beauty.  Problem is, the lawn mower, among many other power tools and household appliances, has no aesthetic value, so his analogy fails.  It is the paint brush and the violin.  Both are beautiful in and of themselves as long as they operate properly.  And then it becomes how we use them.  Certainly, since lawn mowers themselves are an invention of men, they can have morality, but in a very limited sense.  The better comparison as it relates to machines would be the lawnmower and the garrote or the rack, the former beautiful and the latter ugly.  A garrote could be skillfully machined and crafted, none of which would render it acceptable.  And a working landmower itself is beautiful, except when not used for a good purpose, for instance, aimed at and then over the neighbor's cat (some think that's open for argument).

Wilson could have used other metaphors.  He could have employed pharmaceuticals.  For instance, Bach could be to aspirin to Beethoven's motrin.  If this is the case, then Bach would be aspirin to B. B. King's barbiturates.

Rock music, the rototiller, was rejected outright for decades by the Holy Spirit indwelt, by the churches, and for the sake of Wilson, by the confessional church.  Since rock music has become very recently acceptable, as well as many other art forms, under the ecstatic influence of the Charismatic movement, it has shifted from a depravity to one of the variegated forms of the triune God to people who love it like Wilson does.  Rock music itself, for an example, is a fleshly lust that wars against the soul (1 Peter 2:12).  It was not invented by the godly.  It conforms to the spirit of this age (Rom 12:2).  It is not lovely (Philip 4:8).  It makes provision for the flesh (Rom 13:14).  The genre itself means something and that meaning is corrupt.

Paul wrote that the idol was nothing (1 Cor 10:19).  Sure.  That was also a Corinthian argument.  The meat was also nothing (1 Cor 10:19).  It was just meat.  And meats were for the belly and the belly for meats (1 Cor 6:13).  Another Corinthian argument.  But Paul said, not really.  Demons were actually involved with the idol.  Demons were also involved with the meats.  The association was much stronger than a skillfully crafted piece of wood and a nice cut of steak.  And there is more to notes than just notes in the hands of men.  So we look at who invented the particular genre.  It matters.  They know it, and it seems that about everyone knows it except for professing Christians like Wilson.

Jesus said that no man can serve two Masters.  However, there's a lot about the world system, the ungodly mammon, and worldly lust, that the flesh has a taste for.  For centuries, Christians have been attempting to find some way to acceptably straddle the fence.  It helps for "church growth," and you get to be a Christian and still have your worldly things, use your grace as an occasion to the flesh.  None of this is new.

Wilson himself is a man made in the image of God.  He's got some great skills at writing.  He's interesting to read.  But this particular composition should have been sent to another machine:  the shredder.