Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fundamental Stupidity

Anyone who thinks straight knows that the United States of America has reached a point of a very fundamental stupidity.  It is difficult to watch and hard to know how to react to it.  Before I get a big lecture, I know I still have salvation and joy and that everything is going to be alright in the end.  I know God is in charge like He was in Babylon when Daniel was in captivity there.  I know that.  The lectures themselves are a symptom of the stupidity.  This isn't Babylon.  Yet.  I know God will still be in charge when America becomes Babylon.

You don't hear much sense from anyone in power or who could have power in the country, but when you do, you want to acknowledge it.  I realize that Donald Trump could be lying to everyone.  I've got to establish my bonafides in recognizing Trump might be taking people for a ride.  I read just today that Donald Trump said the following in People magazine in 1998:

If I were to run, I'd run as a Republican. They're the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they'd still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.

It was a meme that started appearing in October 2015 as Trump was rising in the polls of the Republican primary race for President.  Is it true?  Did he say that?  Snopes, which is no friend to conservatives, said that it isn't true.  The fact that 48.5 million people have shared the Snopes article indicates how many times people have repeated this lie.  People need to check out their sources better.  That was entirely made up in order to smear Trump.  You can find enough real stuff that Trump has said if you wanted to smear him as a conservative.  But why even bring in the name Trump at this juncture in a discussion about fundamental stupidity?  Trump has gained traction as a candidate for pointing out the obvious.  This is no accident.  Dismissing that is a part of the fundamental stupidity.

Conservatives have become useful idiots by undermining certain Trump points of sensibility.  They attack common sense to put down Trump.  In so doing, they support fundamental stupidity.  Trump wants to eliminate illegal immigration.  He early on made a point about Mexico sending rapists and other criminals across the border, which has been found to be true again and again, but the fundamentally stupid media reported and continues to report that Trump said that Mexicans were rapists and criminals.  That is typical of the media.  Then you had Republicans using the media lies to oppose Trump.  Trump has done what a smart person would do.  He has ignored the charge.  It is, however, the kind of thing that works with fundamental stupidity, that is, just tell a lie that dupes idiots.

At this point, someone might say I'm fundamentally stupid for supporting Trump.  That is a fundamental stupidity, because I'm supporting what Trump said.  Guess what?  That's different.  Slow down here everyone.  Stop for a moment.  T.h.a.t.'.s.  D.i.f.f.e.r.e.n.t.  We have to slow way down for fundamental stupidity.  It's different to support things Trump says than to support Trump.  Are you getting that, people who have regurgitated the media lies?  We get it.  You are against Trump.  But who else says what Trump says?  Let me give you a recent example.

I had some ideas of what I might want to write, and I didn't want to write something with the name Trump in it and start all over again, which says that fundamental stupidity does work very often.   Under pressure, I was thinking about writing about something else, maybe even continuing the theme of my last two posts.  However, I watched Trump give his press conference on his plane.  Much of the line of questioning in the 18 minutes was about Trump's taking away of the Constitutional rights of Muslims.  Trump is good answering these types of questions.  I don't know how much of it is natural and how much of it is trained or practiced.  What he does is stay on point and his point is, "They have to turn people in."  People want to talk about the rights people are taking away, and Trump doesn't bite.  He says, "They have to turn people in."

Many Moslems (who knows what percentage?) do not turn people in when they know they are planning the terrorist acts.  Trump focuses on that point.  That makes sense.  That is not fundamental stupidity.  Trump takes a moment of sensibility.  Fundamental stupidity ignores that common sense.  This was the same reason he talked about killing relatives, by the way, like Reagan did when he bombed the Gaddafi compound in Libya in 1986.  That's what Americans once did, that is, retaliated for the killing of their people.  Now we present deaths like they are a traffic fatality, just another way to die like the flu.  They will keep killing us if we don't bring any threat to their evil.  I want to obey my duty to hate Trump, but I can't hate these sensible things he says, that no one else will say.  They are too afraid of offending fundamental stupidity.

I know that the fundamental stupidity in the United States starts with denial of God as Creator and then goes down from there.  That should be a stopping point, one that is supported by evangelicals when they push for old earth creationism in the form of the day age theory, theistic evolution, and progressive creationism.  When you remove God as Creator or compromise to allow for those who deny God's creation, you sabotage sensibility and start down the path of fundamental stupidity.  You get every stupid idea proceeding from that initial stupidity, that is, that all of what we see out there came about by chance.  It affects everything when you are wishy-washy and not solid on God as Creator.

Unbelievers will keep denying God, so I could just spend all my time on the gospel.  I could bring up nothing else.  If I do talk about anything else, someone might claim I diminish the importance of the gospel.  The rest of my life I just preach the gospel and bring up no other subject even if it is fundamental stupidity.  I know the gospel is the cure.  I know that.

Since evolution or Darwinism buttresses all fundamental stupidity, I could just park there and never leave.  Since the gospel is the solution, I could live there without ever moving.  I could ignore illegal immigration, racial discrimination in the form of affirmative action, opposition to a second amendment right to self and home protection, the robbery of progressive taxation, the corruption of our government, and the lack of law enforcement.  I could.  I won't.  I'll keep bring up these issues at the same time I oppose evolution and preach the gospel everywhere and to everyone.  I think it is fundamental stupidity not to do that.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Essential and Non-Essential Critique

Criticism can help.  Some doesn't help at all -- for instance, name-calling, like the scoffers do of 2 Peter 3:3.  A few weeks ago I wrote again on the essential and non-essential doctrine, and it was linked at an online forum, whose owner, Aaron Blumer, wrote a short critique.  I'm happy he wrote it, because it sheds light on the subject.  Here's what he wrote:

Essential for what? 
I'm sure he means well, but the reasoning is messed up... and putting all truth on the same level of certainty and importance is far more damaging than even incorrectly discerning how truths relate to one another. 
That everything is not equally clear in the Bible is indicated in the book itself (e.g. 2 Pet. 3:16) 
The revelation God has given us includes evidence of priorities. Since it relates ideas to one another, and encourages us to use reason to relate ideas to one another, what truths are essential and nonessential to other truths is part of what God has revealed. 
It is impossible for everything to be essential for everything else. This should be self evident. You could be stranded on a desert Island with only fragments of Genesis and John and still be able to discover the gospel and come to faith in Christ. 
"Essential" is a synonym for "necessary" and it can never stand alone as a concept. The question the term always begs is "essential for what?" The fact that Mary who sat at Jesus feet in Luke 10 is the same Mary who poured perfume on Jesus' feet in John 12:3 is essential for something or it would not be revealed. But you could definitely get your Marys mixed up and still fully understand and live the gospel. 
Since violations of commandments in the Law of Moses have penalties of varying severity, yes, I have to accept that they do "rank commandments in heaven." (See also Matt. 23:23, in which Jesus clearly indicates that some matters are weightier than others... and that failing to see these differences is a serious error.)

I wish he had interacted with my actual post, which exposed what Jesus said in John 8, or with the other exegesis I've done on the subject.  Not one person has yet done that.  Years ago, Phil Johnson promised he would and didn't.  I get why someone wouldn't.  Their teaching is totally debunked by scripture.  Nonetheless, I'm happy that Aaron did at least what he did.  Let's think about it together anyway.

To start, the essential and non-essential doctrine directly relates to justifying doctrinal and practical error for the sake of keeping together coalitions.  If men unify around essentials and separate only over essentials, they will have a bigger group, it's true.  That's what motivates the doctrine and it is what it is all about.  However, does the Bible teach that?  One should be asking if that is taught somewhere in scripture.  If someone does not start with that understanding, he is not going to get a correct evaluation of the essential and non-essential doctrine.  I want to take Aaron's critique one point at a time.

Aaron says my reasoning is "messed up," but he doesn't deal with what I wrote.  He doesn't point out anything in particular that I've written (except for one minor one that I will mention later), any quote, to show how it is "messed up" in its reasoning.  In so doing, he erects a straw man, which isn't uncommon.  Much of what he writes here is just a distraction, or what some people have termed, "a red herring."

By nature truth is certain.  It's the truth.  It is certain.  I'm not talking about what isn't true, but what is true, which is certain.  There is no such thing as a sort of certain truth.  You either are a disciple of Christ or you are not.  The idea that that are various levels of certainty to truth fits a postmodern view of the world.

Certainty and importance are not the same subject.  The Word of God is truth, so it is certain.  The word "important" doesn't occur in scripture, so "importance" as it applies to scripture must be defined.   What is someone saying when he says that one doctrine is more important than another?  Depending on how someone defines that, I could agree to it.  For instance, I would rather someone murder me in his heart than physically to murder me, so that I'm not breathing any more.  I still get to breathe when someone murders me in his heart.  The death penalty doesn't apply to mental murder, so that means mental murder isn't important, right?  Murdering in the heart is important to God.  It will condemn a person as much as physical murder will.

I have no problem discussing priorities.  Before I start talking about particular acts of obedience to someone, I might deal with his salvation.    Salvation is foundational, but is it more important than sanctification?  Aaron uses the word "damaging" and then doesn't explain it at all.  I see ranking of truths as more damaging than not ranking them.  If someone does all of them, because he believes they are all certain and they are all important, what damage has that done?  On the other hand, someone ranks "truths" as to certainty and importance, and then doesn't do the "unimportant and uncertain" ones.  Aaron is saying that the former is damaging and the latter is what?  Not damaging? The latter is what happens because of the essential and non essential doctrine.

Let's say that I agree with Aaron that not all parts of the Bible are equally clear, or as Peter wrote, some parts are harder to be understood.  Does that mean we are exempt from the parts harder to be understood?  That is the essence of the essential and non-essential doctrine.  If it's harder to be understood, some people get a pass.  Some things can't be understood, but that is not the Bible.  The Bible can be understood, just that some parts are harder than others.  Was Peter saying, "You're not responsible for those hard parts"?  Of course not.  Just the opposite.  He's saying that false teachers choose those texts in particular to attack in order to cause doubt about the second coming, because they think they can do more damage with passages harder to be understood.  The essential and non essential movement picks up where those false teachers left off: "You can doubt the second coming because the prophetic passages are harder to be understood."  Aaron seems to agree along with most evangelicals today.  Their essential and non essential doctrine says that same sex marriage is a non essential.

The desert island argument isn't Bible.  Would I want people to have John instead of Leviticus?  Sure.  So what?  That argument doesn't mean John is either more certain or more important than Leviticus.  For someone who isn't saved, I start with salvation passages in the Bible.  It's true.  Again, that doesn't make them more important or more certain.  All through John I see Jesus say that He does everything that the Father tells Him to do.  The people who follow Jesus will do the same.  When Jesus said, "continue in my word," was He saying, "Continue in my essentials," or "Continue in what is certain," or "Continue in what is important"?  No.  The essential and non-essential doctrine makes Jesus the Lord of the essentials, which He, the Lord, doesn't determine.  We do.  That is messed up reasoning.

You can still be saved if you don't properly label the correct Mary in the Gospels, or "mess your Mary's up."  What does that prove?  Does that prove that you can sprinkle infants?  I would agree that you can still be saved and not know exactly what happened to Jephthah's daughter.  That is not an argument for ranking doctrines.  It is not necessary to know Esther to be saved.  That doesn't say that Esther isn't certain or important.  All of this is a red herring or a strawman, because that's not the point of the essential and non-essential doctrine.  The messed up reasoning is the following:  since I don't separate over a mislabeling of Mary in the gospels, then I don't separate over mode of baptism or eschatology.  We have a basis for thinking that all of the Bible is certain and important  I've already long ago laid out many biblical arguments that have never been answered.

The only place Aaron touched on the article I wrote was in my side argument that in heaven they do not rank doctrines.  By saying that, I'm saying that in heaven they do everything that God said to do.  Aaron's argument against that is that they do rank doctrines in heaven because the Old Testament gave different severity of punishment to different crime.  Heaven still does everything God said and if someone in heaven decided to rank a doctrine as less important and didn't do it, he would be banished from heaven.  If we do the will of God on earth like they do in heaven, we will do all of it.

At the end of Hebrews 6, God says that different rules apply to what God says than what man says.  Man needs two or three witnesses to verify the truth.  Man needs oaths to verify his promises.  God cannot lie, so He doesn't need witnesses or oaths.  The punishments of the law were set up for sinful men, because men violate those laws:  eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, life for a life.   Those punishments taught justice, equal retribution.  You couldn't take more or less for the crime committed.  That didn't mean that taking an eye wasn't serious or unimportant.  You still took an eye for an eye, but you couldn't take a life.  Not taking a life didn't mean that taking a tooth was unimportant or uncertain.

In Hebrews 2, the punishments under the law were sure, they were certain. That was an argument for not escaping the neglect of the salvation spoken by the Lord and those who heard Him.  If someone took a tooth in heaven, he wouldn't be in heaven any longer, because not one sin is allowed in heaven.  This is why in James 2:10, James says that one offense of the law, any point of law, is an offense of all the law -- all of it.  I'm saying that Aaron's reasoning is messed up.

Aaron says that Matthew 23:23 justifies the essential and non-essential doctrine, because Jesus said that the Pharisees did not obey the weightier matters of the law.  The word for "weighty" is barus, which has the understanding of "more difficult," that is, "heavier."  Something that is heavier is harder to do.  The Pharisees ranked God's laws.  This is a big irony here.  The Pharisees were guilty of ranking laws by those that were the most difficult for them to do and those that were the least difficult.  Tithing of little herbs was easy for them, and so they did that.  What was impossible for them, weighty, they didn't do.  A Pharisee couldn't keep all the law, so he ranked it and kept what he deemed important.

I call what the Pharisees did, "left wing legalism."  If you can't keep the law, then rank the law, so that you can keep it.  Reduce the law to that which you can keep, because the whole law is impossible to keep.  This is the legalism of the Pharisees, mimicked by the essential and non-essential doctrine of Aaron and others.


There was one other comment, you can read, by William Dudding.  He calls me a Diotrephes (3 John) for my exposure of the essential and non-essential doctrine.  Is that messed up reasoning? What I'm saying is that Diotrephes cast people out of a particular church.  In other words, he skipped all three steps of Matthew 18 to kick someone out of a church.  Our church has never done that.  In every practice of church discipline, we have gone through three steps and the third step is the church, not one person, removing someone from the church.  In other words, I have never done what Diotrephes did.  Ever.

With that in mind, what is Dudding talking about?  What have I cast people out of?  It's hard to understand, but that is the nature of evangelicalism and fundamentalism.  They are so twisted and corrupted in their thinking, so unscriptural, that you can't even understand what they are talking about.  That passes for acceptable teaching for most of them.

Perhaps the SharperIron crowd just ignores Dudding or what he said stands as acceptable interpretation and application of 3 John.


Let me give you an easy illustration to grasp the damage and danger of the essential and non-essential doctrine, why it is popular, and how it attacks the truth.  Someone breaks a small window in our house.  The police visit and tell me that they can't or won't do anything about it, because it isn't important enough.  If they had broken a big picture window, then that would get their attention, but the small window, they won't do anything about.  As a result, people do what they want and get away with it.  No one needs to point it out, because it isn't essential.

This is where our culture is.  Someone broke my car window and no one cared.  If they had murdered someone, that would get police attention.  Certain doctrines and practices have become meaningless with the essential and non-essential doctrine until now the churches have same-sex marriage on their hands.  This is what they have done.  They own this.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas: Christians Were Against It Before They Were For It Before They Were Against It

Let me give you a summary of Christmas, writing completely off the top of my head, which is bald. One, we can be pretty sure that Jesus wasn't born December 25th.  Two, there is no history of Christmas celebration until medieval times.  Three, Christmas originated with Roman Catholicism.  The pope essentially invented it to compete with, four, the revelry of pagan festivals revolving around Winter solstice.  He gave an alternative to offset what he considered the damage it did, would do, and had done.  Five, at the beginning actual Christians were against Christmas.  After the Reformation, when Protestants could take charge, they did away with it.  Six, the Plymouth colony did not observe Christmas.  Seven, early Congress continued to meet on Christmas, which was a bit of a protest against England, where Anglicanism was good with it.  Eight, Christmas grew in the United States, but it was influenced by secular notions like Santa Claus, sort of coming full circle to the revelry again.  Nine, Christmas became an American tradition.  Ten, Christmas is the only traditional observance of the birth of or the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  Eleven, evangelical churches in the United States see Christmas as a time to exalt the coming of Jesus to the earth, the most important event in world history.

As I grew up in a small town in the Midwest, I never heard that Christmas was pagan or Roman Catholic.  I never paralleled any of the Christmas traditions with that.  I never heard of anything against Christmas until I was already a pastor (there was no internet at the time).  The first I heard it was bad was when a couple who had moved from Pennsylvania and started attending our church told my wife and I they were against Christmas trees.  We didn't have a Christmas tree our second Christmas in California because we thought it would be a stumbling block to this couple.

My family started going to church faithfully when I was three or four, and I never heard Christmas was bad.  We attended an independent Baptist church.  I never heard in school, in church, or from anyone that Christmas was bad.  My family moved to Watertown, Wisconsin and my dad went to Bible college and I started into a Christian school for the first time when I was 12 years of age.  For the next thirteen years in church, Christian school, Christian academy, Christian college, and Christian graduate school, no one told me Christmas was bad.  Nothing I read said it was wrong.  I didn't hear anything about it until this couple from Pennsylvania started attending our church.  As I think about how bad Christmas was, this was a very well kept secret that it was bad.

Since all of the above, I had never had anyone oppose Christmas to and with me in our church.  I had been asked about it a few times, because of something someone heard, but no one said we shouldn't celebrate it.  As Christmas came around, my biggest concern was not Christmas itself, but the secularization and commercialization of it.  It seemed like Christ was being taken out of Christmas. When I was young I heard that X-mas was a conspiracy, not knowing that the X was the first letter of "Christ" in the Greek alphabet, so it meant "Christ." It had never occurred to me that Christ wasn't in this season to begin with and that His being put into this season was a development.  I probably wrote three or four school Christmas programs exploring the theme of Christ being taken out of Christmas.

My only challenge recently against observing Christmas has come from a few outside of our church not from our area.  I have had to defend Christmas almost entirely in emails from people asking why we have anything to do with it.  I don't like being an offense to these people, but I'm not convinced that we can't take this traditional time of celebrating the incarnation of Christ and use it to extol the birth of Christ.  I have a long built up reservoir of Christmas good will with a lot of people to stamp out suddenly, and I don't have the conviction to do it.  I'm not ready to move for the armchair quarterbacks who want me to make life easier for them.

On the other hand, in our church is an elderly lady who is raising her grand daughter, who just started in the public school.  She went to the Christmas program there of her grand daughter and there wasn't one mention of Jesus or Christ in the entire program.  It was all about Santa and gifts and candy canes and Rudolph and Frosty and the like.  The state has removed Jesus as if it must to obey the Constitution.  It celebrates Christmas now.  The Congress goes home and doesn't keep working, but it can't mention Christ except in the word "Christmas," which most of you know is removed for Happy Holidays, whatever the "Holi" means.

I'm torn here.  I've got to defend Christmas and I've got to fight Christmas.  Both.  It seems like both of these actions, the defending and the fighting, place a lot of emphasis on Christmas.  Both of them are very serious about Christmas.  The secularists are very serious about keeping Jesus out and the pious are very serious about keeping Jesus out.  If I keep Jesus out, I'll please both of them, the former for their love for my love of tolerance and the latter for my anti-paganism and Roman Catholicism.  On the other hand, I'll displease all the people who see both positions as extreme.  Is it really that serious an issue?  My personal take is that secularization or commercialization is easily the biggest problem here.

If I regulate my worship by scripture, can I preach and sing about the birth of Christ?  Yes.  That's what our church does.  We do it a lot in December.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Hillsong: If Nothing Is Wrong, Then Nothing Is Wrong

Sometimes you can get your "church news" on ESPN.  We don't have cable television, so I read sports on the ESPN website, where I saw Justin Bieber was baptized in the bathtub of NBA center Tyson Chandler's apartment in New York City.  One of the hosts was wondering who the "guy on the right was," who happened to be the "pastor," Carl Lentz, who baptized Bieber, commenting that he looked like the "dirtbag version of David 'Menemun' (sp?)."  Just from sheer appearance, an unaware ESPN analyst sees Bieber's evangelical pastor as a "dirtbag."  Someone's judging something to look awry.  Is it possible that something is wrong, when nothing can be wrong?  The world seems to think so.

GQ magazine has done a feature on Lentz and Hillsong, his church in New York City, entitled, What Would Cool Jesus Do?  Christians often chalk up secular magazine critique to persecution, but GQ pretty much nails Hillsong.  It offers a savvy tongue-in-cheek analysis to this pop version of Christianity.  Can anything really be wrong with Hillsong though?  Evangelicals long ago stopped judging the specifics of the culture and relegated anyone who did so to legalism or adding to scripture or the gospel.

What I'm writing is that all evangelicals are responsible for what they see in Hillsong and should have zero room for criticism.  They own Hillsong, because they can't judge cultural issues any more. Therefore, all evangelicals, including the entire Southern Baptist Convention, own Hillsong and everything like it.

Evangelicals know something is wrong with Hillsong.  They know it.  They won't say exactly what it is though.  Some of the conservative evangelicals nibble around the edges without getting into any specifics.  I've read their minimal critiques in various of the usual places and they usually mock them for being hipsters and celebrities.  They don't offer any substantive critique.  They don't give anyone any reason above personal preference for not associating with or even supporting a Hillsong or the like.

John MacArthur at the Strange Fire conference said, "It's the music.  It's like getting drunk so you don't have to think about the issues of life.  If you shut down the music, turn on the lights, and try to sell that with just words, it's not going to work."  This is about the extent of the critique you get, but they still don't say what's wrong with it.  They won't, because "the music" is also what MacArthur and other conservative evangelicals also use in their churches.  They know something is wrong, but they aren't stopping what they know is wrong in their own ministry.

Imagine a classroom situation where young people are talking and jesting in a boisterous manner outside of class, but when they enter the classroom their demeanor and disposition changes to one of respect.  The latter is expected as a proper classroom attitude and approach.  Today in the public school system, a major reason a classroom is out of control is because the system has lost that ability to say certain behavior is wrong behavior.  This is where evangelicalism is today too and a major factor for its continued destruction.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Reverent Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs--and Handel's Messiah

Ephesians 5:18-19 states:  "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord."  In light of this command, I thought you might be interested in my relatively recent expansion in the free music downloads in the ecclesiology section of my website here.  The entire 1650 Scottish Psalter is now available for free download, as well as many professionally produced psalm recordings and many recordings of congregational psalm singing.  Several versions of Handel's Messiah have also been added for free download.  A website with godly hymns for free download run by a world evangelist/missionary sent our by our church is also available, as are a goodly number of other resources.  I have reproduced the links to some of the new stuff below; to see it all, use the link above.

Download a Free Audio File Each Month of a Psalm

On another note, I would encourage you to add as a supplement to your hymnal some of the songs on hell and judgment found in the hymnal of the great soulwinner and opponent of Charles Finney, Asahel Nettleton.  Hell is a clearly Biblical thing to sing about (cf. Psalm 9, 11), but many modern hymnals have a huge section on heaven and not a single song on hell.  Here are links to a few classic hymnals worth checking out (including Nettleton's) that are also linked to in the ecclesiology section on my website:

Our Own Hymnbook: A Collection of Psalms and Hymns for public, social, and private worship, C. H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Children Scribble Scrabbling: Interpretation of History and Reformed Theology

A few weeks ago, some men commented here, offended at my characterization of the reformed, seeing it as having been disrespectful of a multitude of historic Christian figures, giants of theology and ministry.  I borrowed a biblical metaphor by classifying them as children only in the sense that I was writing in that post.  The parallel in my mind was Hebrews 5, when the author was warning Hebrews to leave the first principles to go on to perfection.  He said they had stayed babes in their understanding, when they should have been teachers. Another could be 1 John where John wrote about levels of growth with children, young men, and fathers.  In my description, I said that the reformed were like children showing their scribble-scrabbles to their mother, and her being impressed.  Maybe another metaphor would be that they were still riding with their training wheels, when they could have been up on two wheels.

When the author of Hebrews wrote the audience of Hebrews, he was writing to people who could have been just as offended at being called babes, who could only drink milk when they should have been eating meat.  Many would have considered themselves to have been meat eaters.  Perhaps for their sensitivities, he should have used less offensive descriptions, and they would have been more likely to consider what he was saying to them.  If someone says he’s offended with a biblical characterization, a sacred one, would we do better with a secular one?  How could someone go wrong using a biblical metaphor?

For sake of argument, I want to say that it wasn’t the metaphor itself that was offensive but the people for which I was using it.  I think the idea would be that the people I was characterizing are giants that are well beyond myself.  In other words, compared to them, I’m the one on training wheels and they are well past the bicycle into some celestial form of transportation compared to me.  In other words, it is the height of arrogance to elevate myself above these heroes, such as John Owen and Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  I get the offense, I do, but let’s keep going with this, because anyone reading here knows that I didn’t back down on my metaphor.

In one sense, the author of Hebrews, was pointing to the understanding that Moses had of Jesus in Hebrews 5:11-14.  In other words, the author could have been said to have elevated himself above Moses and the prophets.  I recognize that the Jews of New Testament times, second temple Judaism, had not moved on, even though they had revelation that Moses and Daniel and Isaiah never possessed.  However, easily the audience of offense, like they would have thought of Jesus and the Apostles, could have considered this “babes” portrayal to be directed toward its giants, its spiritual heroes.  The metaphor though was still true.  If Moses and Daniel had lived in their day, a believer would have expected them to have been different than the unbelieving Hebrews.

Unless we can see the problem, we’re not going to have a solution, and as long as a modern audience finds its trajectory back to the reformation, it will continue with theological scribble-scrabbles.  Men can huff and puff over this, but it is a problem.  The one offended is God, but that doesn’t seem to matter so much, because the modern men are busy being offended for dead men, who now know they were doing scribble-scrabbles, even as they are known by God.

Who am I to say that scripture is clear in its ecclesiology and eschatology and hermeneutic or system of theology?  I say ecclesiology and eschatology, but neither do I see the reformers as so clear in their soteriology either.  Today’s reformed treat Luther like a hero of “the faith,” and you see his children, the Lutherans, with a gospel that does not save.  The reformed kept remnants of Roman Catholicism, dogmatics originating long after the completion of the New Testament.  Much of the apostasy today can be traced to not continuing to reform, but even better to have separated completely with a blank slate and then a totally biblical theology.

Does writing what I’m writing dismiss the contributions of Owen and Spurgeon?  Does writing what the author of Hebrews wrote dismiss the contributions of Moses and Daniel?  No.  I see the offense as a form of theological correctness akin to political correctness.  If people would be released from a Roman Catholic influenced system, they must open their minds to the reality of its corruption of their beliefs.

I enjoy reading Spurgeon.  He was a master in so many ways, worthy of emulation.  I’m not saying I could preach like him.  At the same time, I wouldn’t want to preach like him.  I believe preachers should preach passages as their habit, exposing scripture.  Spurgeon was too allegorical in his hermeneutic, seeing things in the text that were not there, putting them in to get them out.  Does respecting Spurgeon require just swallowing all of him whole and not moving on.  Do we keep the training wheels on?  He was post-millennial.  Because of that, he gets at least 20 percent of scripture wrong.  How does that sound?  “I have decided to get at least 20 percent or more of the Bible wrong so as not to disrespect Spurgeon.”  That is not a literal, grammatical-historical approach to scripture.

Because of his ecclesiology, Spurgeon didn’t understand biblical separation.  People break down his down-grade controversy, but his church missed out on the protection that scripture teaches, because he didn’t understand how to practice separation according to the Bible.  He did the best he could with a less full perspective, an incorrect one, due to the influence of the reformed, the leftovers of Roman Catholicism.

An easy shot right now is to say something like, “So you’re so proud that you know more than Spurgeon?”  Or, “You think you’re smarter than Spurgeon.”  The audience of Hebrews could say to its human author, “You think you’re smarter than the Old Testament prophets?”  This is not a matter of intellect.  I don’t want to say that it is sincerity.  Spurgeon was under wrong influences that affected him in a detrimental way, and John Owen even more so.  I’m just using these two as examples, to go straight to the top of the heap in my analysis here.  It’s not intellectually honest, with all that I am writing, to say that I’m doing any of that.  It’s also a way to keep people from moving on to what they should understand.

After having written all that I have written above, much more could be said about what should be done, and why that would be right in comparison to the wrong of Owen and Spurgeon.  One major, helpful theme would be a view of or an interpretation of history.  People should not take their trajectory through the reformation.  They should appreciate and enjoy the reformation for what it is.  However, the trajectory should not go through the reformers, and, therefore, through Rome.  It should move straight to Jerusalem, back to Jesus and the Apostles.

When people look for a reformed heritage, they will be messed up to a certain degree, and what I’ve witnessed is a large degree.  God is One and His truth is One.  When people get a big chunk of it wrong, it will only have an effect on all the other truths as well.  The error must be corrected or it will naturally seep into everything else and corrupt that too.

In one way, I’m happy if I stop into a church on vacation, and I see the five solas displayed proudly over the front of the auditorium.  At least that church is anchored into something that will keep them from sliding as fast as I have seen many pragmatists, who have a finger in the sky to check which way the wind is blowing.  I see the value of confessions.  I mention them fairly often here.  However, any church that traces itself back to the solas, I know, is involved in scribble-scrabbling.  Refer to the confessions and look at the historic theology, but open the Bible and start with a clean slate.  Skip Rome.  Go back to Jerusalem.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Damage of the Non-Essential Doctrine to the Gospel

The Non-Essential doctrine that plays like it's centering on the gospel contradicts the gospel.  It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel to include people in a false gospel that doesn't save.  I want to go to one place in the gospel of John, a pivotal place there, and then go several different directions to show how that this corrupts the gospel.  Jesus said in John 8:31:

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.

Here is a pivotal gospel statement in the entire teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is the means by which Jesus says that true belief is distinguished from false belief.  He teaches at the Feast of Tabernacles six months prior to His death, at which hundreds of thousands would attend.

Who are Jesus' true disciples?  Who actually believes in Him?  They are those who continue in His Word.  He is their Lord, they are His servants.  They deny themselves to follow Him.  Earlier in the same setting, Jesus said (8:12):

I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

How is it someone follows Jesus?  He does that by continuing in Jesus' Word.  That is the example of Jesus Himself, as read in two verses previous to the pivotal text:

And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

Jesus always did those things that pleased the Father, so anyone who was following Jesus would be doing always those things that pleased the Father.

The fundamentals or the essentials are not all there is to always pleasing the Father.  Jesus never hinted at anything else.  You can work your way through John and see this all over, but never is it more apparent than in the upper room in John 14, when Jesus said the following verses 15, 21, and 24:

If ye love me, keep my commandments. . . . He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. . . . He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.

Who determines what is essential and non-essential?  When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, in the model prayer, He said to pray that the will of the Father would be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Do they sort through the essentials and non-essentials in heaven?  Do they rank commandments in heaven?

The sort of teaching above isn't incidental or some kind of side teaching.  It's all over the gospels and in the epistles.  John repeats this type of teaching in his epistles again and again.  A test of faith is whether someone will do everything that the Word of God teaches and it will not be burdensome to the one who is born of God.  He will love it.

The essential and non-essential teaching cheapens the grace of God.  Actually, it isn't even the grace of God, because the grace of God teaches someone to live righteously.  Righteousness isn't reducing the teachings of scripture to essentials and keeping those.  That is legalism.  When someone in the flesh cannot keep everything God says, he ranks the commands based upon his ability to keep them. He can't keep them all, so he must reduce them to what he says is important.  Jesus isn't Lord anymore in that system, and that is the system of essentials and non-essentials.

I understand that those advocate for the triage and the fundamentals and the essentials and the first order teachings will argue against what I am saying they are doing.  It sounds horrible.  It is what they are doing though.  This is not the gospel. It is a false gospel that attempts to hold together coalitions and crowds by diminishing the gospel to something ordered by men and not God.

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said in Matthew 7:21:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

This wasn't all.  He ended the Sermon with this account in 7:24-27:

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

The essential and non-essential teaching encourages apostasy.  It comforts false profession.  It alleviates the distinction between true and false belief.  It lends itself toward turning people into twice the children of hell they once were, and all in the name of the gospel.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Baptist Confessions and the Preservation of Scripture: A Video

I have relatively recently posted a video on the subject of Baptist Confessions and the preservation of Scripture.  The video, which is largely based on my essay The Canonicity of the Received Bible Established from Reformation and Post-Reformation Baptist Confessions, available by clicking here, demonstrates that true churches have recognized and received as canonical the words in the Textus Receptus underlying the Authorized, King James Version.  Biblical presuppositions on the preservation of Scripture (the subject of the video here, which was relatively recently mentioned on this blog) consequently require that the TR/KJV is the Word of God.  Confessions examined include the Anabpatist Schleitheim Confession of 1527, the Particular Baptist Confession of Faith of 1644, the General Baptist Standard Confession of 1660, the General Baptist Orthodox Creed of 1679, the Particular Baptist Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, the New Hampshire Confession of Faith of 1833, the Articles of Faith of the Baptist Bible Union of America of 1923, and numbers of others.  Use the link below to watch the video, and use the comment section on this blog post to discuss it.

Watch or download the video by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Can Islam Assimilate Into American Society or Is Islam Protected by the First Amendment? Pt. 2

Read Part One.

Another question that would have lengthened the title is, is Islam a religion?  In a discussion about whether the first amendment allows for the free exercise of Islam, one must consider the definition of free exercise and the definition of religion.  It is a legitimate question to ask whether Islam itself should even be considered a religion.  I don't think that "some of the founding fathers thought it was one" is enough evidence that it is.  They didn't write enough about Islam to give me confidence that they knew what it was about.  Islam wasn't a threat to them either in the world in which they lived.  It is now, for sure.

Rebecca Bynum has written a book asserting that Islam isn't a religion.  You can read a bit of a synopsis of that theme from her as well, giving some of the arguments for that point.  Bernard Lewis, author of Islam and the West, has written something similar to the theme of Bynum in an article, Europe and Islam:

But for Muslims this word, religion, does not have the same connotation as the word religion has for Christians, or even had for medieval Christians. . . .  For Muslims, Islam is not merely a system of belief and worship, a compartment of life, so to speak, distinct from other compartments which are the concern of nonreligious authorities administering nonreligious laws; it is the whole of life, and its rules include civil, criminal, and even what we would call constitutional law. . . the semisacred early history of the Islamic state, which constitutes the core of memory, of self-awareness, of Muslims everywhere, tell a story of swift and uninterrupted advance in which the leaders of false and superseded religions were overwhelmed and the way was prepared for the eventual triumph of the Muslim faith and of Muslim arms.
What the founding fathers had in mind and what Islam did and does likely do not constitute the same idea of what a religion is.  Islam by nature does not fit into the constitutional understanding of a "free exercise of religion."

One important consideration is the meaning and the place of the term "jihad" in the belief and history of Islam.  Bernard Lewis, former Princeton professor and preeminent expert on Islam, in Jihad versus Crusade writes:

The literal meaning of the Arabic word "jihad" is striving, and its common use derives from the Koranic phrase "striving in the path of God." Some Muslims, particularly in modern times, have interpreted the duty of jihad in a spiritual and moral sense. The more common interpretation, and that of the overwhelming majority of the classical jurists and commentators, presents jihad as armed struggle for Islam against infidels and apostates. Unlike "crusade," it has retained its religious and military connotation into modern times. . . . In his declaration of 1998, Osama bin Laden specifically invokes this rule: "For more than seven years the United States is occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of its territories, Arabia, plundering its riches, overwhelming its rulers, humiliating its people, threatening its neighbors, and using its bases in the peninsula as a spearhead to fight against the neighboring Islamic peoples." In view of this, "to kill Americans and their allies, both civil and military, is an individual duty of every Muslim who can, in any country where this is possible, until the Aqsa mosque and the Haram mosque are freed from their grip, and until their armies, shattered and broken-winged, depart from all the lands of Islam, incapable of threatening any Muslim."

You can find this teaching in the Quran.  It is the literal teaching of Islam.  Freedom of religion cannot coexist with a professing "religion" that has its goal the elimination and subjugation of all other religions through violent, militant means.  Some may interpret "jihad" in an allegorical or spiritualized fashion against the plain meaning of Islam, but that does not mean that anyone should assume their corruption of the literal and historic meaning.  You can read the writings directly from the Quran about jihad that belie the modernistic or even postmodernistic Islamic interpretation.  To support a decision, one must not take the most convenient understanding, but the correct one.

A mantra repeated again and again is about the minority of jihadists and the majority of peace-loving Moslems.  A recent National Review Online article challenges that.  The author uses statistics to prove that assertion wrong.  It is wrong and anyone, who just refused to hear-no-evil and see-no-evil, knows it.

The "good Moslem," the peace-loving Moslem, is more upset with Donald Trump for saying Muslims can't visit the United States than he is over the murdering of the people in San Bernadino. In this sense, the "good Moslems" should not focus on whether new Muslims can pass through the borders of the United States, but on the frightening behavior of their fellow adherents to Muslim doctrine.  People in their right mind can see the contrast, the greater offense with societal shunning than the terrorism of their co-belligerents.

What you read right now is that Moslems all over the world are upset that Trump doesn't want to let them come to the United States.  Is anyone surprised that Moslems are upset about someone opposing Moslems? Really?  What about the following headline?  Moslems are upset they can't come in, so we let them, and one of them blows up a thousand people!  Will Moslems all over the world be opposing that? Will Moslem opposition even be a headline?  Not at all.  Let's get some perspective here.  The media is manipulating this because of their twisted worldview, to oppose Donald Trump for their preferred leftist candidate, and to create controversy.

Again, it's not that I don't want to live with Muslims.  I would want them all around me so I could preach the gospel to them, but you've probably read at this point that the targets in San Bernadino were people like me, who might refute Islam.  If you go to Syria or Iran or Iraq, you would expect to be killed for preaching the gospel.  There is a place called the United States where the practice of preaching against false doctrine is still not to be threatened.

Saying that Islam is not a religion and that a primary goal of Islam is the annihilation of all those who will not believe Islam does not constitute hatred of Moslems.  You can continue to evangelize them out of love without believing that Islam should be protected by the first amendment.  You can treat Moslems as well as possible without either believing their teachings or supporting their freedom to exercise Islam in the United States.  Not everything that calls itself a religion is welcome in the United States.


I have to say, I'm ashamed of our country right now with its reaction to these recent killings.  The sun doesn't go down upon my wrath, but I'm angry at the response.  At one time, if someone killed Americans like this, we would not let it go.  When Muslims killed the American ambassador in Libya, we did nothing.  The Boston bombers.  We did nothing.  The Fort Hood killings.  We do nothing.  The killings in San Bernadino. We do nothing.  And then we say we won't have a religious test for people entering the United States because that is being a Third World Thug.  I'm embarrassed and ashamed.

I'm also outraged at the lack of discernment here that has come from moral relativism and political correctness, and unwillingness to call something what it is.  This is a problem with Islam.  Dick Cheney, the president, who is cozy with Saudia Arabia:

I think this whole notion that somehow we can just say no more Muslims, just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in. . . . . I mean, religious freedom has been a very important part of our history and where we came from. A lot of people, my ancestors got here, because they were Puritans.

What a totally ignorant statement.  The pilgrims came here because of religious persecution.  The Puritans came and started a state church, the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which persecuted Bible believers, Baptists.  Dick Cheney either doesn't know what he's talking about or he wants to make nice with Saudia Arabia, because of his money ties with them.  All of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudia Arabia.

Cheney says banning Muslims goes against everything we stand for and believe in.  The new Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, says:

This is not conservatism. What was proposed [by Donald Trump] is not what this party stands for and more importantly, it is not what this country stands for. . . .  Not only are there many Muslims serving in our armed forces dying for this country, there are Muslims serving right here in the House, working every day to uphold and defend the Constitution. Some of our best and biggest allies in this struggle and fight against radical Islamic terror are Muslims. The vast, vast, vast, vast majority of whom are peaceful, who believe in pluralism, freedom, democracy, individual rights.

If you read about the Iraq War in 2003, there was sabotage by Muslims in the American military that killed many, leading up to that war in Kuwait during the staging period.  The media was pretty much silent about that.  It happened again and again.  Then you had the Fort Hood killing.  I think it tends toward low morale, because you're not sure whether you can trust someone.  I'm sure some will vouch for those who served with honor, but I believe that overall it is a negative to have Muslims serving in the military, and I don't believe it is an argument for a Muslim test for entering the country at this juncture.  It's just smart.

Cheney and Ryan do not understand religious freedom.  The do not understand the first amendment. I'm afraid they either don't understand Islam or they are too manipulated by Muslim oil money.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Can Islam Assimilate Into American Society or Is Islam Protected by the First Amendment?

We know Islam isn't biblical, even though I heard a Muslim scholar explain on the radio coming home the other night that if Jesus and Mohammed were together in the same room, they would get along famously.  However, that is not the point of this post.  I had already been asking myself, but the attack in San Bernadino crystallized the question I posed in the title.

The first amendment reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

I direct your attention to one part, "prohibiting the free exercise thereof."  Does this protect the free exercise of Islam in the United States?

What is "free exercise"?  I understand that the questioning of these two words might be thought to open the door against biblical Christianity as well.  My goal is not to redefine "free exercise," but to understand what the founding fathers meant by it and whether it is compatible with Islam?  Not all religion is accepted as "free exercise" of religion.  A previous iteration of Mormonism that included polygamy was rejected by the United States.  Bob Jones University could not prohibit interracial dating for religious reasons without loss of its tax exempt status.  The religious leadership of Roman Catholicism does not have the freedom to practice child molestation.  The United States government would not allow the practice of the Branch Davidian cult in the famous Waco siege of its compound. The state of Texas imprisoned Joshua and Caleb Thompson for the physical beating of an eleven year boy attendee of their Sunday School.

What I'm saying is that the United States defines what "free exercise" is.  With that in mind, should the United States allow for Islam?  If you were a family member of someone murdered in San Bernadino, would you believe that Islam can coexist in the United States?  Are there a certain number of murders or attacks that we must absorb before we do something?  Would you be willing to have it be you or your loved one?

I see four categories of Muslims.  I can't say that I know for sure what the percentages are, but I'm still going to give my opinion.  I believe there are three fairly equally sized groups, and then a fourth, which is the smallest.  The smallest of the three, I believe, are active terrorists.  The second biggest are those who support the terrorists either actively or passively, like those in Turkey, who booed the moment of silence at the soccer match.  The biggest group of the three are those who do nothing about the first two.  They are silent, but through their silence they accommodate and accept.  The fourth and smallest group represents those who oppose the first three in an active way.

What I'm saying is that the United States cannot trust Islam to assimilate into an American way of life.  Not every Muslim is an enemy of the United States, but Islam in general is an enemy of the United States.  I'm sure there are professing Muslims who can live here peacefully, generations of them, who have been here for a long time.  Many of them live here and countries like the United States because they are in the minority.  History shows us that when Islam nears something of a large minority of a nation, the Muslims start reeking havoc on a country until they have their way.  Once they have their way and all the other religions are subdued and without full freedom, they are a peaceful people.  This is how I see it, and I wish I was wrong, but I don't think so.  There are not enough Muslims to step up and stop their terrorist category from doing what they do.

I know I can coexist with Muslims, who can practice their religion peacefully.  I have never had a Muslim come to me to attempt to persuade me of his religion, but I believe he should be free to use verbal argument to do so.  However, I do not believe that Muslims can coexist here.  Every mosque, I believe, is a likely location of terrorism against the United States, plotting its overthrow.  Islam will not overthrow the United States, but the coexistence of Islam with the United States will not allow Americans to live freely.

What complicates the rise of Islam in the United States even further is the new outlaw of personal firearms.  Americans in general cannot carry firearms, so are prey to terrorists.  Americans do not know which Muslims are terrorists and by the time they find out, it's too late.  The first dozen or thousand must absorb the attack so that others might live.  I've told my school class that right now the plan is for me to rush the terrorist without a weapon and yell for the kids to run.  What do you think of that plan?  This is the suggested plan by Jerry Brown and the state of California, a place of Stanford and Google and tremendous innovation.  Americans are now expected to accept round after round of these attacks without guns.  The police will tell you that they can't protect you and neither will they allow you to carry a gun.  They will not protect you and you cannot protect yourself.  This is not freedom.  We are no longer a free people, especially with the combination of these two factors:  restriction on concealed carry of firearms and the free exercise of Islam.

In this last week, Donald Trump said that President Obama’s refusal to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” indicates that “there is something going on with him that we don’t know about."  That statement is very ambiguous, but still represents the most plain statement made about the mysterious defense of Islam in the United States by our president and his disposition to bring in almost as many Muslims into the country as he can.  It is obvious he respects Islam more than he does American citizens who happen to be Republicans.  The reason Trump must say it in such a coded way is because free speech is muzzled mostly by the left wing in the government and the media.

Like Trump, I don't know what it is with our president and how he acts toward Islam.  I think he is truly irreligious, not a Christian or a Muslim, while claiming to be a Christian for political purposes, but that he has stronger sympathies toward the practice of Islam than he does most Christianity in the United States, and for many reasons that are ingrained in him from his youth.  The same mindset is what motivated Malcolm X and Cassius Clay to convert to some form of Islam and why the president was comfortable for years in the religion of the "Reverend Wright" in Chicago, someone who has been very, very close to Louis Farakhan and his Nation of Islam.  I believe this is the translation of "something going on with him that we don't know about."  We actually do know about it, but the media casts a blind eye because of its leftist ideals.

Do you remember the pizza place owned by Christians in Indiana that would not do pizza for a same-sex marriage reception?  They were opposed and picketed and ridiculed and threatened.  Shortly thereafter someone videoed someone posing for a same-sex marriage, who went into a Muslim bakery in the Detroit area to ask if it would bake for his same-sex marriage.  The Muslim bakery owner said he would not.  This video tape went viral, but that bakery did not receive the vitriol and threats and ridicule that the pizza shop in Indiana did.  Why?  A major reason, the biggest reason, is that people are afraid of this very small minority of Muslims.  They are not afraid of the Christians who own the pizza parlor.  This tells the story of the intimidation already that Islam brings to freedom in America.

I digress to some degree to an interesting subject that maybe I can address again some time in the future, so let me get back to the original idea behind the post.  How can we allow Islam in the United States?  I understand the so-called "arguments," to start, that this is freedom of religion.  But that's what I'm talking about.  We can't allow for Islam because it isn't compatible with the American way of life, the founding documents, a proper interpretation of the Constitution.  The other arguments are mainly sentimental, I believe.  Like with illegal immigration, there are those who would say that there is no way that you can send away all these people who have been living here peacefully all these years.

Most of you readers know that the Boston bombers had been living here peacefully numbers of years. Soviet spies lived in the United States peacefully for decades.  The religion of Islam has proven that it will not assimilate as a whole with the United States and it is impossible to detect which ones are the terrorists and which ones are not.  There is too much risk.  Polygamist Mormonism wasn't allowed.  We've decided this way before now with others.

My thinking isn't fully formed on what the exact solution is.  Right now, the thoughts are experimenting with the idea that Islam should be banished from the United States.  Moslems should go to Moslem countries and spread American values.  Another argument follows.  ISIS will use it as a recruiting tool  It seems the major way for this administration to combat ISIS is by constraining free speech, which is sometimes called "political correctness."  We can't use certain terms for fear of their using it as a recruiting tool.  Who is out there to recruit in this "peaceful religion"?  The argument continues that if ISIS perceives this as a war against it, then they will fight a war against us.

Guess what?  ISIS is already at war against the United States, and this president says ISIS is not winning, but it is winning in that it has changed the way Americans can talk.  They cannot express themselves.  There is an existential threat in this country and everyone knows it.  There is a threat in even writing this article.  I think many believe that terrorists are culling the internet to make up an enemies list, which chills free speech.  I fully understand this type of threat.  It's why the coward left will attack only the Christian pizza parlor and not the Muslim bakery.

We have had gangs of teens use some of our property as a hang out. We tell them to leave at certain times, like during services.  In response, two weeks ago, they broke the window to my car door.  When a gang of them was using a retaining wall as a place to smoke and fornicate, I would just preach to them.  They would disrespect me and then slouch off.  However, I knew that I wasn't forbidding them to come, because I knew they might come back to do more damage.  Anyone who lives in an urban area of the United States knows what I'm talking about.  The police can't and won't protect us, and we cannot protect ourselves.  With those conditions, we have to decide about Islam too.

One other argument is that Mohammed would reject much of modern Muslim scholarship.  The Muslim scholars say that what we see today is a perversion.. Usually the discussion starts with equality of women, showing more skin, and not wearing burkas.  What mainly bothers me about burkas is their ability to conceal bombs and AK-47's.  The experts will drone on about how that it is all really good in the Koran and that what you see is a corruption.  Yet, if the corruption itself, becomes the rule, then that is what Islam is.  I can't sort through for all Muslims the correct interpretation of their book.  What I know is what I see.  I don't want to hear about the original intent of Mohammed when both my legs are blown off.

Numbers of Muslims live in the United States because the freedom allows for a better way of life than they experienced in their Muslim countries.  They like that way of life. The economics are a direct result of the freedom.  By allowing more Muslims though, the United States will become more like the Muslim countries.  We have already experienced a loss of freedom because of it, but how much more should we be willing to put up with, until it isn't America any more?

I believe we're already there.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Christian Internet Filtering, part 2 of 2

X3 Watch is another organization that offers inexpensive Internet accountability and filtering for computers and smartphones–essentially, all devices that have Internet access.  Their basic package is only $6.99 a month or $64.99 a year ($5.41/month), and sometimes even lower prices come up if one explores their website a bit.  These prices make X3 cheaper than Covenant Eyes, discussed in part 1.  Furthermore, X3 Watch also offers a program that provides Internet accountability (but no filtering) entirely free.  I would recommend both the filtering and accountability for everyone.  If you really cannot afford around $5 a month to protect yourself from the wickedness on the Internet, I doubt you can afford to own a computer, a smartphone, or pay for Internet access in the first place. (Note that one price protects all the devices a particular person owns;  you don’t pay per device, but per person.)  You can get your electronic devices protected with X3 Watch for the price of going to a fast food place once a month.  It goes without saying that the protection is far more important.  For that matter, many people can save significantly more than the cost of either X3 Watch and Covenant Eyes by simply changing their cell phone carrier.  (Find out how to get totally free cell phone service, service for c. $10 a month, or other low cost service by clicking here.

However, if you really want the free version of X3 that only has accountability but no filtering, you can sign up using the link here.  It is very difficult to find the page to get the free version of X3 on the organization’s website because X3 wants you to sign up for the version you pay for that has filtering as well.

X3 Watch also claims it is a Christian ministry dedicated to helping people with the danger of pornography, not a profit-making business.  The organization’s statement of faith is:

  • The Bible is the Inerrant Word of God. The Bible is the verbally inspired Word of God and without mistakes as originally written. It is the complete revelation of His will for salvation and the only unfailing rule of faith and practice for the Christian life. (II Timothy 3:16-17II Peter 1:21John 17:17)

  • The Trinity. There is one God, Creator of all things, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that these three are co-eternal and of equal dignity and power. (Matthew 28:19II Corinthians 13:14)

  • Jesus Christ. We believe in the deity of Jesus Christ; His miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit; His virgin birth; His sinless life; His substitutionary death on a cross; His bodily resurrection; His ascension to the right hand of the Father; and His personal, imminent return. (John 1:11418Luke 1:35Romans 3:24-264:25Hebrews 1:33:17:23-25;I John 2:1-2)

This is a good statement, as far as it goes, although it is not very comprehensive and it is not very prominent on the X3 websites.  I have not found a clear and convicting presentation of the gospel for the lost such as the one here or such as is found in the resources here on X3 Watch or its related websites, much less an exposure of false teaching and false gospels following the pattern of Christ (Matthew 24) and His Apostles (Acts 8;Galatians 1:8-91 John 2:22).  The organization does not fit the model of what Scripture teaches about a faithful church (see also here).  Nor are careful Biblical studies of the doctrine of sanctification and the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in progressively eradicating indwelling sin and renewing the saints in holiness, because of the miraculous destruction of the dominion of sin through the new birth, especially easy to find.  However, for Internet filtering and accountability, as well as material on dealing with pornography, X3 is definitely useful.

While X3 Watch is probably cheaper than Covenant Eyes for most people, there are certain losses that come with the lower price tag.  Prominent among these is the lack of phone support.  With X3, you cannot just pick up the phone and speak to a human being if you have an issue setting up your filtering and accountability software.  They do have support and Frequently Asked Questions pages with helpful videos and written material that users can navigate, pages which are definitely helpful, and one can communicate with X3 via e-mail.  You can download their quick reference guide by clicking here.  For significant numbers of users, paying a little more each month with Covenant Eyes is worth it because of the phone support and more reliable customer service.  For a significant number of other users, these negatives are outweighed by the bottom line that X3 Watch simply costs less.    To sign up for X3 filtering and accountability or to get more information about X3 Watch, click on the banner below:

X3 Watch

It should also be noted that there are ways to get a church or other organizational system with Covenant Eyes that will lead to their product being cheaper per person than X3 Watch; see here for more information.
This post is an excerpt and abridgment of the study here.