Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Love This Victor David Hanson Column

Don't ignore the last few articles written here, but I didn't want to wait to link to the Victor David Hansen post, entitled Progressive Regression, at American Greatness.  There's almost nothing I disagree with his characterization of the state of the United States.  Read it and save it as a reference, because he nails it in a succinct and eloquent manner.

The Truth about Christian Liberty

Post On Christian Liberty Last Week, Entitled "Evangelicals (and Most Fundamentalists) Are Completely Messed Up About Christian Liberty and Then Mess Everyone Else Up By Pushing Their Perversion"

God forbids activities.  When someone does one of them, he's sinning.  Whatever activity God doesn't forbid in His Word, someone has the liberty to do that without it being sin.  That isn't quite Christian liberty though, because someone still doesn't have liberty if he's in bondage.  Only Christians have liberty.  Liberty is not just about not sinning, but it's also about pleasing God.  It's impossible for a non-Christian, an unbeliever to stop sinning, and he can't please God.  In Romans 8:8, the Apostle Paul writes, "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."

A Christian, a true believer in Jesus Christ, pleases God because he can through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  He is now led by the Spirit of God, the same Spirit of God that led Jesus, the Son of God, while He lived on this earth.  He now has the ability not to sin.  He can do good, not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.  A Christian pleases God as a son, like Jesus pleased God the Father, doing everything the Father wanted Him to do, because he has received the Spirit of adoption.  This is the liberty in which he stands.

Christian liberty is freedom to please God as a son.  The Christian wants to please God and can.  However, that liberty is not an occasion to or a base of operations for the flesh of the Christian, that he still has.  He doesn't use liberty as a cover to do evil.  Liberty is to please God, which is the Apostle Paul's point to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 6 through 10, where he limits the liberty of a Christian.

The first limitation on liberty, however, Paul makes in Romans 6:1-2, which is that a Christian doesn't have the liberty to sin.  He is truly dead to sin.  He is free from sin, not free to sin.  Sin is breaking God's law.  All unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17).  Whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

Someone does not have liberty to violate scripture.  That is sin.  He has liberty in non-scriptural issues.  That doesn't mean that he has liberty in every non-scriptural issue, but his liberty is at least limited to non-scriptural activity.

Much of what scripture teaches requires application.  The Bible forbids corrupt communication, but it doesn't tell us what corrupt communication is.  We are assumed by God in scripture to know that.  Just because God doesn't say what corrupt communication is doesn't mean a Christian has liberty to use corrupt communication.

"Be not conformed to this world" requires application.  "Abstain from fleshly lusts" requires application.  "Make no provision for the flesh" requires application.  "Mortify therefore your members upon the earth" requires application.  "That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter" requires application.  "Keepers at home" requires application.  Not being "effeminate" requires application.  "Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father" requires application.  There are dozens and dozens of these.  Christians don't have liberty to disobey them, just because they require application.

In the context of a church, a Christian doesn't have liberty to disobey his pastor (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Corinthians 11:1), as long as it is a non-scrriptural issue.  Of course, he obeys God rather than men (Acts 5:29), but he doesn't have liberty to be factious (Titus 3:10-11) or cause disunity in the church (Ephesians 4:3, 1 Corinthians 1:10).  A Christian is required to fit into the body of Christ, the church (Romans 12:3; Ephesians 4:18).

There is no verse that says a Christian must go to the movie theater.  He can obey God and not go.  If a church says its members can't attend the theater and gives good, godly reasons not to do so, a member shouldn't go.  That shouldn't be a problem for a Christian.  Whatever argument someone might give for attending a theater, not going to one isn't going to stop him from living his Christian life.  This requirement is not a violation of Christian liberty.  Principles of Christian liberty can be applied.

Someone might say, scripture says nothing about going to a theater.  It's true.  However, scripture, as I wrote above, requires application, and there are many principles that do apply.  So, a church says its members can't go, rather than leaving it up to each family or individual member to judge.  A prospective member says, "I've got to have a church that allows this, because it is restricting a liberty I have," so that he doesn't join that church.  He looks for a church based upon its allowing its members to go to the movies.  The Apostle Paul commanded on matters of Christian liberty, be ye followers of me, imitators of me (1 Corinthians 11:1).  Paul wasn't harming their Christian liberty by ordering them to follow the way that he handled liberties.

If the pastor says all the ushers will wear ties, that doesn't violate scripture.  He's not saying that you are a better person for doing it.  He's not saying that you've got to wear a tie in order to get to heaven.  He's in charge, what scripture says is "ruling," so ushers should wear ties.  This requirement is not a violation of Christian liberty.

There are several other limitations on Christian liberty that Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 6 through 10.  Something might be good other than God, but a Christian doesn't have liberty to be addicted to it (6:12).  In 1 Corinthians 10, it's not just doing evil, but associating with it that a Christian doesn't have the liberty to do.  By mere association and proximity, he could easily fall.  In 1 Corinthians 8, he doesn't have liberty to cause a weaker brother to stumble or to violate his or someone else's conscience.  These don't even have to be a sin.  He doesn't have the liberty to be a bad testimony to an unbeliever, even in something that might be permissible (10:30; Romans 14:16).

A Christian doesn't have liberty in whatever he does except to bring glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31).  It goes back to living like a son, that Paul emphasizes in Romans 8 and Galatians 3-5, and children are not only to obey their parents, but honor their parents.  We can know what honor is or God wouldn't have told us to do that.  If we can judge honor, we can also judge dishonor.

Christian liberty isn't about doing what you want to do.  It's about doing what God wants you to do.  It's about pleasing God out of love as a child of His.  To practice Christian liberty will require applying principles in scripture to honor and glorify Him.

What I'm writing about Christian liberty isn't new.  The abuse of Christian liberty also isn't new.  Paul talks about it in Galatians 5, Peter in 2 Peter 2, and Jude in his one chapter.  The grace of God can be turned into lasciviousness and that's rampant in evangelicalism and fundamentalism today.

Many times today professing Christians will choose their church by how much liberty the church allows.  Alcohol, check.  Rock music, check.  Immodest clothing, check.  Movies, check.  Hit and miss church attendance, check.  Little to no evangelism, check.  Churches cater to this, and they call it Christian liberty.  It's not.

I'm adding to this post, at least two more points that are important, first some might say is positive and the other negative. I reread the above and like it, believe it, but other thoughts came to mind.  A whole book could be written on this.  Whole books have been written.

A positive is what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 7, where a woman, whose husband has died, has the liberty to marry whoever she wants in the Lord.  The liberty is restricted by "in the Lord," but the liberty is highlighted by 'whoever she wants.'  I'm not quoting here except where I put quotations, and I'm taking liberty to do that. Biblical authors did the same.  This is a woman previously married, not a daughter still under the authority of her father, that Paul explains in the same context.

Christian liberty is a subject that relates to a biblical view, a right perspective, on the will of God.  God allows for you to do what you want to do.  You are free to eat meat, but you are also free not to eat meat.  If you want to be a vegan or a vegetarian, you are free to do that.  You can use paper or plastic.  God allows for these choices.  Principles apply -- "in the Lord" -- but that still allows for Christian liberty.

I talked above about attending the movie theater.  I've said that someone has the liberty to do that.  However, if the church says, "no," a principle applies.  The church shouldn't be judged for doing that either, because principles do apply.  The church has liberty to limit based on principles.  This is the historic teaching of the church.

When considering what I wrote above, I was thinking about the list of activities Paul commanded a Christian to mortify in Colossians 3:5.  God doesn't allow uncleanness and evil concupiscience, but those have to be applied.  A church can say, no dancing.  That's an application. There are other principles they could use, but that's a direct application of those.  When Paul commanded, "flee fornication," he wasn't saying that it's permissible to do everything short of fornication.  This is where evangelical and fundamentalist churches fall short today on Christian liberty.

I understand that someone might think that limiting Christian liberty means not having liberty.  Liberty isn't being able to drive as close to the side of the cliff that you want.  It isn't being able to play in the road since there is no law against it.  Liberty has a purpose. When that purpose is not fulfilled, then it isn't liberty, but bondage.  I understand there is a paradox here and scripture is full of them.  This is something that evangelicals and many fundamentalists, it seems, are playing dumb.

The second point to which I gave thought later is the often used verse for evangelicals by Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:6, especially parking on the particular phrase, "above that which is written" (I've written on topics related to this many times -- here, here, here, here, here, here, here).  Using selective relativism, evangelicals will say, "the Bible doesn't say anything about that, so you're adding to scripture -- you're above that which is written."  The Bible doesn't say you can't drink Pabst Blue Ribbon, doesn't say you can't hip thrust, doesn't say that you can't wear bermuda shorts to church, but it also doesn't say you can't smoke crack pipes.

You are not going or moving "above that which is written" when you apply scripture in the right way.  Scripture writes that.  Nowhere does scripture prohibit abortion.  You've got to piece together "that which is written" to make that application.  Scripture prohibited, but not in so many words.  Evangelicals today, even by quoting 1 Corinthians 4:6 as a means of not applying scripture, show their fundamental perversion of sola scriptura, what they very often trumpet or hang on a banner in their auditoriums.  They should go back to the Westminster Confession of Faith, where it says (1:6),
The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
The Bible is to be used to interpret the world around us, that is, everything is to be seen within the framework that the Bible establishes.  You are wrong when you are not doing that.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Engagement of Others on the Modern Versions or King James Version

For the Apostle Paul to leave Judaism for faith in Christ, he had to count his old religion as dung.  Paul's life and lifestyle was woven into Judaism.  It was a major break to say he had been wrong and now he was going an opposite direction and taking a different position.  Today you don't see that much.

I'm confronted with the consideration of wholesale change every time I evangelize in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I sat in the living room two days ago and talked to a Hindu man from Nepal, who had been in the United States for two years.  We talked for about an hour and he was about 75% sure on his English.  It would take awhile to get across everything he needed to know to leave his family religion.  This kind of situation is more common than ever in the United States, where a person is further away from sufficient salvation knowledge, including for multi-generation Americans.

I grew up in a home where my parents were saved when I was a toddler, so I grew up in a Christian home.  In one sense, my parents, sister, brother, and I grew up as a family.  However, since I've been saved, even since I've been a pastor, I have made changes in beliefs and practices, and so has our church.  I would say 5 to 10 pretty major changes, that really affect our lives personally and drastically.  If the Bible is the sole authority for faith and practice, Christian growth means a willingness to change when you see something in the Word of God.

I haven't noticed that most men and churches are willing to change, unless it is a leftist direction or someone might say, downward direction.  It's easier to get more loose or become more like the world, and that's happening.  People are sliding to the left or downward.  It's easy to see that churches are changing.  It's not a reaction to the Word of God, which means it doesn't fit with the historical positions and practices of Christianity.

Mark Ward wants churches that use the King James Version to change, and he has just written another post encouraging them instead to start using a modern version, which was published by The Gospel Coalition, an organization from the left of evangelicalism.  Each new post seems to go a little further than the last.  The last time he challenged fundamentalists to separate from churches and leaders that use the King James Version only (KJVO), based upon their disobedience to 1 Corinthians 14.  In this very latest, in a translation to the gospel coalition crowd, Mark adds both that "KJV-onlyism is not a Christian liberty issue" and that it "makes void the Word of God by human tradition."  He implies KJVO are weaker brothers, whose consciences are bound by extra or unscriptural scruples.  He didn't challenge The Gospel Coalition to separate from KJVO like he did the fundamentalists.

To change, it is true that I would need to be convinced by scripture and this is something, it seems, that Ward maybe notices about his target audience.  However, would Mark Ward be willing to change based upon the teaching of the Bible?  I and my church use the King James, based upon scriptural presuppositions.  I am not convinced that Mark takes his position based on scriptural presuppositions, but he's arguing like this is important.  This is new for modern version proponents.  They didn't come to their position from scripture and yet here Mark Ward is using scripture to persuade textus receptus proponents to use a modern version.  I want to stay on that track.

Some commented on Ward's essay.  They discussed how to persuade a King James Only person.  One wrote:
Often they have strong built-in assumptions, and if you can ask them some good questions, and thereby pull out a few of the key pieces in their house of cards, it will crumble. I like to ask (if the conversation seems to be headed a direction where this question is helpful) "Which Textus Receptus edition do you believe is the perfect one? The answer might be 'I didn't know there was more than one?' or 'I guess the one that the KJV is based on' and either of these responses can lead to the collapse of the house of cards.
He's right.  This is the kind of question that eclectic or critical text, modern version, adherents will ask.  It doesn't do what Mark Ward does.  It doesn't try to persuade using scripture.  On top of that, it's a straw man -- it doesn't prove anything.  Those who use the textus receptus know there is more than one TR edition.  That's not a stumper.  I'm differentiating from a Ruckmanite, double inspirationist, or English preservationist, someone who thinks the English corrects the original language text. Scrivener published an annotated textus receptus that actually shows the tiny number of differences between TR editions.  Since eclectic or critical text or modern version proponents don't start with scriptural presuppositions, they assume others approach the issue the same way they do.

A house of cards analogy alleges everything built upon some kind of single, thin element, which removed would bring down an entire viewpoint.  When we wrote our book, Thou Shalt Keep Them, we very purposefully presented the biblical doctrine of preservation.  We didn't answer questions, like, "which TR," because the answer to that question won't matter if someone won't accept or doesn't even care about what the Bible teaches about its own preservation.

I like to read the doctrinal statements of churches.  I read them and I read a lot of them.  If someone sends me his doctrinal statement, I almost always read it.  Very often, the statement on the Bible is right toward the top.  I have also read historic confessions and creeds.  It is easy to see what men said in the past and what's left out today.  Did scripture stop teaching some of the doctrine of the past?

Bibliological statements have changed.  Today people act like nothing has changed.  It has.  And if it has changed, someone should start explaining how the Bible stopped teaching what people once said it did.  I started off by talking about change, because that's what Mark Ward wants KJVO to do.  He gives them a doctrinal basis and he warns that if they don't, he and others are going to separate from KJVO.  He makes some harsh conclusions about these churches and men.

By the way, in not a single instance have I heard anyone on his side interact with Ward's commentary, except to say something inane, like, it was really good or they really liked it or you've really got to listen to him.  I actually have a hard time believing that anyone really believes him.  They like the outcome, but I haven't heard specific support for his exegetical basis.  I've found that's normal for that crowd of people.

I do think that the modern version position, the eclectic and critical text view, is like a house of cards.  It isn't built on anything substantive that will hold someone firm.  It didn't start from scripture.  Only recently have some arguments been invented, so not a priori, but a posteriori.  I'm not saying they didn't start with arguments -- they just weren't scriptural.  They started with naturalistic or rationalistic presuppositions.  They have come to the party late with their scripture, like a revivalist preacher who has a sermon and then goes looking for a text to back it up.  I still have not read a single laid-out, scriptural, doctrinal explanation or presentation for the eclectic text or modern version position.  What Ward does is like throwing out a proof text, completely out of context, and KJVO are supposed to jump on this very flimsy raft with him.  If we don't, The Gospel Coalition or John McWhorter might laugh at us.  We might lose a platform privilege at a big fundamentalist event.

What really does get someone's attention when it comes to the doctrine of the Bible.  What matters?  Inspiration?  We should look at what someone says the Bible teaches about inspiration.  That has changed in the last few hundred years.  The statements have changed.  Why?  Did someone learn something from the Bible or what happened?

Something missing that is very, very noticeable is a doctrine preservation.  If you go to a conservative evangelical church website with a very thorough doctrinal statement, like Grace Community Church, you will not see anything about the preservation of scripture.  Nothing.  Why is that?  The Westminster Confession of Faith and the London Baptist Confession both have preservation in their statements.  Those statements have been expounded upon in great detail through the centuries.  I'm picking that church out, because it is well known.  This is not unusual.  Sure, many KJVO churches have some wacky statements about preservation, that are unscriptural, but other churches have nothing.  Nothing is a change too.

I haven't looked at the statement of our church for a little while, but this is the first sentence under the section on scripture:
We believe that the Holy Bible as originally written was verbally inspired and product of Spirit-controlled men, as well is Divinely preserved in the same fashion, and therefore, has truth without any mixture of error for its matter.
By "in the same fashion," we are saying "as originally written" and "verbally."  It's a short statement for a website, and we have a longer one, but we say something about preservation.

If I were going to ask questions about this issue, the house of cards would start falling for me, if someone couldn't provide some kind of systematic scriptural basis for his position.  I could ask a lot of questions like that, which people cannot answer.  Sometimes they will not answer.  Most of the time, I've found that they don't care.  They do. not. care. that their position has never been buttressed by scripture and especially that it didn't start that way.  It actually goes further.  Most of them are annoyed when I ask, and they want to end the conversation, because bringing up appropriate scripture on the subject is an unacceptable inclusion into the discussion.  The Bible triggers them.

So.  What is important to me is a scriptural doctrine of preservation.  The doctrine must also must be historical.  If it is new, it better be very, very persuasive from scripture.  It should be both, but if it isn't historical, the scriptural part ought to do away with the old, wrong position.  That's how change happens, don't you think?  I don't separate over the use of the modern version.  God promised to preserve His Word.  I believe God.  I don't want someone to imply God is a liar.  I don't want people to doubt what He said.  I want to guard the doctrine of preservation.  It's the wrong doctrine over which I separate.  Evangelicals and fundamentalists are changing the doctrine of preservation without a scriptural basis, mainly by just leaving it out.  To tell you what I really think, I believe they are dishonest in just leaving it out.  It's like Mormons leaving out the part about the special underwear.

I have a difficult time, I must admit, believing that someone, who never started with a scriptural or historical position on the preservation of scripture, wants me to change my position based on scripture.  He's got a lotta lotta work to do.  A lotta.  He can show up on multiple podcasts, in exciting and noticeable varied other media, and before Trump-like stadiums of people and it won't start a ripple of change on the surface of my pond.  He's using the wrong or faulty pebbles.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Evan Roberts: 100,000 "saved" by his false gospel? Part 11 of 22

The content of this post is now available in the study of:

1.) Evan Roberts

2.) The Welsh Revival of 1904-1905

3.) Jessie Penn-Lewis

on the faithsaves.net website. Please click on the people above to view the study.  On the FaithSaves website the PDF files may be easiest to read.


You are also encouraged to learn more about Keswick theology and its errors, as well as the Biblical doctrine of salvation, at the soteriology page at Faithsaves.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Evangelicals (and Most Fundamentalists) Are Completely Messed Up About Christian Liberty and Then Mess Everyone Else Up By Pushing Their Perversion

If you read the epistle, 2 Peter, you find a tutorial on apostasy and it mainly relates to lust.  People want to do what they want to do, and so they've got to attack authority to allow for them to do what they want.  "Doing what you want" could be a definition of liberty or freedom.  I'm not saying it's a true definition, but it is common in people's minds.

The way the apostate or the potential apostate attacks authority, according to 2 Peter, in order to allow himself the freedom to do what he wants, what some might call license, is one of three ways. First, he attacks scripture, saying that it is in doubt in some way, not to be trusted.  Second, God isn't really intervening in the world, He's not that involved, so you don't have much to worry about with His doing anything anyway, if He even exists.  Third, Christ isn't coming back to judge, or He would have already.  You don't need to concern yourself with His judgment, so you're not going to get in trouble for breaking His so-called rules.

Peter calls these attacks on authority by the apostate or potential apostate, 'denying the Lord who bought them,' which is a denial of Lordship, meaning that they deny having a boss, who could tell them what to do instead of their doing what they want to do.  Later in chapter 2, this disposition manifests itself by 'speaking evil of dignities,' tearing down whatever authority so that they don't need to be bothered by whatever restrictions that authority might bring.

A good way for people, and specifically professing Christians, to be able to do more of what they want to do is to expand their liberties or increase their number of "Christian liberties."  However, if someone is given a liberty he doesn't have, that is, he is given liberty in an area that God restricts, that is just means by which he is in charge and not God.  He doesn't have the liberty, but he takes it anyway in defiance against God.

There is always going to be a tension or conflict for a professing Christian living in this world.  If he obeys God, he's going to clash with the world.  In order to have less conflict or tension, he could formulate a Christianity that bridges that gap between what is acceptable for a Christian and what is offered by the world.  That would create at least a more popular Christianity, and depending on how you define success, a more successful Christianity, because it will be bigger.  Very often today, a larger number of professing Christians is paralleled with success.  The success itself is another philosophy of the world, success as offered by the world.  Not only is this Christian now at less conflict with the world, conforms better to it, but he also gets the bonus of being a successful Christian.  This is a very alluring Christianity to a professing Christian leader or church.  People see the numbers and think something great must be happening, that God must be working in that place.

How does someone expand the list of Christian liberties?  I see two ways that evangelicals do that in contradiction to scripture and alleviating the tension or conflict with the world.  One, they take scriptural teaching where Christians have disagreement and say that it's now a questionable or doubtful area, because Christians are disagreeing.  There are non-scriptural issues where Christians have liberty and Paul gives examples of those.  Christians don't have liberty to disbelieve or disobey scripture just because Christians disagree on what scripture says.  Two, they turn application of scripture into an addition to scripture.  The Bible teaches not to add to or take away from anything in scripture.   A large portion of the teaching of scripture requires application, assuming it should be applied, and someone is not adding to scripture by applying those passages.

Here on my blog, I've said there is an attack on the authority of scripture in several ways:  whether we possess it, what it means, and how it applies.  If you can't apply scripture, then you have liberty to disobey most of it.  I've also written a lot about application, that understanding how to live most of scripture requires a minor premise.  I've illustrated it with "let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth."  There is no minor premise in the verse, but it is assumed that you know the minor premise, that is, you can know what corrupt communication is.  Living out God's Word requires this practice all over scripture.

Evangelicals in a very selective way turn application of scripture into a Christian liberty.  It isn't.  Not applying scripture is disobeying scripture.  We can judge what corrupt communication is, even though the Bible doesn't say what it is.  That is not adding to God's Word.

I say, "selective way," because evangelicals pick out what they want to apply.  This, you would understand, leaves them effectively as Lord.  They are the Lord of the Bible, where they decide what they will do and what they won't do, and I have noticed most of it is based upon societal norms.  They are relativists, what I have heard termed, selective relativists.  They say they believe in Lordship and even preach that sometimes as part of their gospel, but the Lord doesn't get to be in charge, because where He speaks, they change into a liberty.

I can't always explain why a particular application remains intact for an evangelical.  I was listening to a question and answer session of a prominent evangelical, and someone in the audience asked if it was a sin to gamble.  He said, yes.  Why?  "Gambling is a violation of 'Thou shalt not steal,'" and he used "Thou," by the way, even though the NASV, the Bible he uses in his church, says, "You shall not steal."  Where is the verse that says "gambling is stealing"?  You won't find it.  So is he adding to scripture.  He's dogmatic about this, but he would lock up and call many other areas, ones he does not select, to be adding to scripture -- not this one though.

At one time, evangelicals could apply many scriptures that now they call "adding to scripture" and a Christian liberty.  They have messed up the meaning of Christian liberty and now they push it on others, mainly because they don't want to be judged by others.  They only want to be judged by their own standards.

I was listening to a session on legalism by a conservative evangelical (from the same church as the above teacher against gambling) this week and he offered four types of legalism, three of which were not even scriptural.  Do you understand?  He taught about legalism in a legalistic way.  He was adding to scripture on legalism.  However, his fourth type of legalism, to which he devoted more than half his 55 minute session, was an "adding to scripture legalism."  Legalism itself is an extrascriptural term, which allows for much twisting and distortion by conflating one permitted belief and practice with something sinful and horrible.

The session on legalism gave a list of areas Christians have liberty.  He said that Christians have liberty to divorce if their spouses commit adultery.  He said those who prohibit divorce are legalists, because they are adding to scripture.  No, this is a disagreement about what scripture teaches on divorce.  Some people believe that "fornication" in the exception clause is actual fornication during a betrothal period, which is why it doesn't appear in Mark or Luke, not just a general word for sexual immorality.

This teacher said that standards of modesty are legalistic, because there isn't a verse that explains modesty.  He calls this adding to scripture.  He said, you might have a conviction that someone else doesn't have.  What is a conviction?  Should anyone have any conviction that is either adding or taking away from scripture?  If scripture doesn't tell us what modesty is, how do we obey that?  Scripture actually does teach on modesty and it isn't even silent about its application. There is an objective standard given, so since it is taught in scripture, it should be obeyed.  Evangelicals ignore the objective standard, I've noticed, and then say that you're adding to scripture.

Just for a moment, what is nakedness or nudity in scripture, if we can't judge modesty?  This is where evangelicals leave us.  What does a woman need to cover to be modest?  I think this is where evangelicals become selective.  Their standard of modesty becomes more and more selective, all depending on a societal norm.  A string bikini is fine on the beach, shorts, as long as they are not too short, if you know what they mean, are fine for church.  They mess people up with this kind of teaching and turn the Bible into a list of suggestions, which you are fine to do how you want.

The evangelical teacher said that it was permissible to smoke, to drink alcohol, to dance, to kiss your girlfriend, to get a tattoo, and all of those among several others were Christian liberties.  He parked so long on this, because he saw as the greatest problem in the matter of Christian liberty was people adding to scripture, where scripture was silent.

A tremendous amount of confusion and distortion, so much faithlessness and disobedience, comes from evangelicalism and now fundamentalism about Christian liberty.  Its proponents might teach the Lordship of Christ, but they effectively take that away by giving liberty to Christians to sin, to serve their own desires instead of Jesus Christ.  They turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, which is characteristic of an apostate.  I'm not saying they're all unsaved, but I fear for their future on earth and eternity.

Next week, Lord-willing, or at least in the near future, I'll write on Christian liberty, so that I explain what it really is.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Embarrassment: Leviticus 18, NY Times, and Albert Mohler

Leviticus 18:22 reads:
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
In a New York Times opinion piece published last Sunday, Harvard instructor Idan Dershowitz argued that the prohibition was a late editorial addition, so that homosexual sex was permitted in the original.  Sometimes the New York Times deals with scriptural matters, but never in a way to support what the Bible says.

The following day, Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, answered at his personal blog with an essay defending the prohibition and repudiating Dershowitz.  Mohler rightly traces the distortion of Leviticus 18:22 to liberalism arising in Germany in the 19th century.  Liberals invented a historical-critical method with an a priori naturalistic bias.  Like his predecessors, Dershowitz applies liberalism to delegitimize scripture, removing from it divine authority.

In short, people don't want to do what God tells them to do.  They want to do what they want to so, so they attack the Bible.  Progressives today, who hate what the Bible teaches, deconstruct it to give it a new, acceptable meaning.  The thought behind progressivism is that it makes it better than what it was.  They conform God's Word to their own desires.  The epistle of 2 Peter talks all about this common strategy of apostates.  Dershowitz denies God's Word and then looks for a way to back that up.

Men aren't now really finding something new that's different than what the Bible has said and Christians have practiced for centuries.  It's not easier to do that, and they are not doing that.  They aren't suddenly smarter to be able to do that.  We weren't missing anything.  No one should expect already established doctrine and practice to change.  Something that is true is not going to change.  The liberals of the 19th century didn't discover anything.  They were making something up.

Mohler explains the motivation of liberalism as "embarrassment":
By the nineteenth century, liberal scholars, first in Germany, began to take apart the Old Testament. Partly, this was due to the European embarrassment of the character of God and divine laws revealed in the Old Testament in general. . . . The theological grandchildren of the early Protestant liberals are as embarrassed by the moral teachings of their grandparents as their grandparents were embarrassed by the moral teachings of the Old Testament.
How much of what Mohler writes here applies to Mohler himself and the entire Southern Baptist Convention?

Evangelicals have capitulated on cultural issues one after another for over a century out of embarrassment.  They haven't applied the JEPD theory to undo biblical doctrine and practice, but they have used other means to do so.  You can read this in some of the ambiguity of Mohler's writing.  I don't think I've read the terminology "moral instincts" that he uses here.  Why not "mandates" or something stronger than "instincts"?  For a long time, evangelicals themselves have disassociated themselves from the moral instruction of the Old Testament through different means, until now it isn't even required as a basis of morality among most evangelicals.  You hear this in these lines from Mohler:
For Christians, the most significant realization is that the crucial moral teachings of the Old Testament Holiness Code that are binding upon us are repeated, and often amplified, in the New Testament. Christians may eat shrimp without sin, for example, but are fully bound by laws against any sexual activity outside of marriage, the covenant union of one man and one woman.
I draw your attention to "crucial moral teachings."  Are we bound by the moral teachings of the Old Testament or just the "crucial" ones, which are also the ones "repeated"or "amplified" in the New Testament?  In this are the seeds of rejection of Old Testament morality.

A major way that evangelicals and now fundamentalists reject morality is by ranking certain teachings or practices as essential, of first importance, non-essential, or secondary.  If it is non-essential and secondary, you as good as don't need to believe it or practice it.  It will have almost no real or practical ramifications to you if you violate it.  It's now permissible, because it is non-essential.  If it isn't "crucial," then you don't need to heed whatever it is.

Liberalism voided biblical doctrine and practice.  That's the problem.  Those in Mohler's sphere do the same thing.  They have their own ways of doing it.  Right now, it's just a matter of extremes.  The Southern Baptist Convention is still fed up with homosexuality. They could garner enough opposition against that so as not to be too "embarrassed."  A key word in his article was embarrassment.  Evangelicals are embarrassed with a lot of Christianity.

Evangelicals were embarrassed with sacred music.  They were embarrassed with biblical modesty.  They were embarrassed with courtship.  They were embarrassed with prohibitions to movies and other popular entertainment.  They were embarrassed that they couldn't drink alcohol with everyone else.  For awhile, they're even embarrassed for dressing up for church, explaining that nobody needs to do that.  They have wanted to fit in for awhile and they have found ways to circumvent biblical teaching in order to avoid embarrassment.  Same sex relations might be the only way to differentiate evangelicals from the world anymore, because they are so much the same as the world in almost every way.  What I would say is that they have been embarrassed with God.  They still want to get to heaven, which is why the gospel is an essential, but they have moved almost every cultural, biblical practice into the non-essential category or called it an Old Testament teaching that's not repeated in the new, among other ways to dodge biblical obedience.

Believers have seen Leviticus 18:22 as a clear verse, applicable for today, but they run into some trouble with that verse, because they, like liberals, have already been using their own methods for abolishing Old Testament teaching.  Most of them would say that they are free from the Old Testament, that's what salvation is.  It's worse than that, but it's at least that.  Here's another verse in the moral code of the Old Testament:
The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
That had one clear meaning and some specific clear application for all of Christian history until recently.  It has a lot of similarities to Leviticus 18:22 and is dealing with the same subject.  Christians became embarrassed with it.  They are now embarrassed with those who still practice this verse and do more to attack them, then they do those who violate the moral teachings of the Old Testament.  They are more apt to disassociate themselves with Christians than the world.

You'll notice the word "abomination" is in the verse.  You see that it says, "all that do so," because it isn't just a teaching for Israel, but for all men.  It's a universal in its application.  Using many various, liberal-like means, Christians haven't practiced this.  This is why we are today where we're at.  One leads to the other.  When believers won't stand on God's designed distinctions, those distinctions disappear.  If we won't stand for God's standard, then it will continue to disappear.  Now we're to Leviticus 18:22, and it looks like a sort of stand might occur there, at least to say something to remove some kind of responsibility.

"There, I said that, or I wrote that."  Will separation occur?  Will house-cleaning take place?  I expect there will be further embarrassment, capitulation and this moral stand will also pass away.  Mohler ends his essay by saying that God's Word stands.  It's true, it does.  Does it really stand with Mohler and the evangelicals?  For awhile, I would say, no, it hasn't stood with them.

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Trip to Europe Continued (Tenth Post In Total)

One   Two   Three   Four   Five   Six   Seven   Eight   Nine

I missed something from Tuesday night, the night before we headed North in England.  When we drove from Oxford, we were able to return our rental car just under the wire to the Enterprise in Hammersmith, London.  I was so happy to return that car safely after two more days of driving on the wrong side of the road on the wrong side of the car.  It was also a happy moment, because I wasn't sure how we would return the car the next morning after it opened, and then make it to King's Cross Station from the Hammersmith Station before our train left King's Cross.  We caught a bus that brought up right by our flat.

The next morning we walked to the bus stop with all of our luggage.  The bus stopped, we embarked, and our oyster cards did not work for at least two of us.  We had used them up.  If you have money on a card, you touch a bright yellow card reader on entry.  I wanted to pay the bus driver.  Couldn't.  He didn't take cash.  I had seen people put their credit cards on the card reader, but I really wasn't thinking.  I had not even seen a contactless card in the United States.  Mine wasn't one.  He was growing very impatient, and then a woman stood up and volunteered to run her card for us.  She had to run two cards, one for each ticket.  It was very generous of her.  It was three pounds for two of us.  I handed her the money to pay and she wouldn't take it.

The most interesting part to the story of the woman on the bus is that she was Moslem.  She was a fifty-ish Moslem woman, dressed in Moslem garb.  As she looked at our family, I'm sure we looked different.  My wife and two daughters wear longer skirts or dresses, past the knee, most often to the ankle on this trip.  As different as we were, it was also obvious we weren't Moslem.  She was being kind to a non-Moslem family.  Would we have done the same for her?  I believe we would, because it is something I would do.  Was it a lesson?  I'm quite sure she knew we were American.  There's a lot in the news about the so-called "Moslem travel ban."  I don't know how Moslems look at our country, but she stepped up and made a point.  Her act of generosity doesn't make Islam true, but it for a moment it made life better on earth for our family.  My wife sat next to her and engaged her in a conversation, and as we left the bus at the Shepherd's Bush underground station for the last time, we thanked her again.

Our oyster cards were empty, but we were leaving London and wouldn't need them.  We bought four paper tickets to King's Cross.  This was our first train ride in England.  I had ridden Amtrak maybe four times in the United States and train transportation is just not the same as in England.  Many more people ride train for transportation all over the UK and the rest of Europe, perhaps because of the comparative size and the fact that people drive in the United States.  Driving the car is a way of life in the modern history of the U. S.  Trains are less expensive, faster, and better in Europe.

We arrived early enough to find out where we needed to go.  We had our tickets already and a train employee directed us to our track.  There are 12 platforms at King's Cross.  Platform 9 3/4, a fictional one, from the Harry Potter books, is there.  It's not an actual platform, just for your information, but a sign to give the impression a platform exists.  We were sent to the wrong platform, we waited to get on that train, and someone was in our seat.  It wasn't our train.  We were sent about 6 platforms down, where our train was waiting.  We were traveling to the York station on the Edinburgh bound train.

Even the most economic tickets on these trains are comfortable.  They aren't extravagant, but nice.  It cost us 47.60 pounds for a two and a half our train ride from London to the middle of England.  We four sat facing each other at a table.   Out the window you see the English countryside, except at high speed.   I would compare it to the country in Pennsylvania, as far as green grass, hills, and trees.  All over England are sheep, much more than what I've seen in the United States.  Like everywhere else, everything is old too.  You look out and see very old places all over, which is different than the U. S.  A conductor comes through the aisle and checks your ticket.  A very small cafe on the first deck offers beverages and snacks.

When we arrived in York, the train station was near our "car hire."  We rented a car for one day there at a local place, which was less expensive than the chain car rentals.  I could walk there less than half a mile from the station, and I passed through an archway of an ancient wall to get there.  It was the official entrance into the original city, I found, and the way the queen enters whenever she might visit York, which isn't much, but there was a photo of her in the rental place.  My car wasn't ready, so my family continued at a Starbucks at the station and I walked out to explore.  I walked up some old rock steps to the top of the wall.  This was the original wall of York, some parts of which go back to Roman times.  I walked along it and could easily see the train station from there.

I finally got the car, met my family at the station, and drove to our house.  This was the only night on the whole trip that we got a regular place to stay, but it was still the York Priory Guest House on the fourth floor, almost an old attic by means of a very narrow stair case all the way up.  Our room was the family room, so it had enough bedding for all four of us.  We purchased the English breakfast for three for the next morning.  We got back in the car and drove forty minutes North to Thirsk, UK, where we parked in this small English town near the veterinary clinic of Alf Wight.  Who is he?  He's better known as James Herriot.

My wife and I first came across the books of James Herriot, All Creatures Great and Small.  They are wonderful, very humorous multiple volumes.  We didn't know what kind of best sellers they were and how popular they were also in the UK, where they originated.  Then we began watching the BBC series by the same name that dramatized Herriot stories.  The town of his actual veterinary is Thirsk, which is now a museum.  The museum is essentially the clinic set up just like it was when Alf Wight, aka, Herriot, was alive.  There was a short film and one section of the museum showed how the series itself was made.  Just down the road was the church where Wight and his wife were married.  My daughters walked into town and my wife and I went into that church building, an Anglican church.  Every one of these old Anglican church buildings in England are a bit of a museum.  First, they are very old and there is a lot of local history that goes back a long ways.

We met back up in town to have supper at the White Horse cafe for our second and last fish and chips experience.  It didn't match our first, which is the best I've ever had, but it was very good.  An oddity, but also a throw-back for me was our elderly waitress asking us if we wanted bread and butter with the fish and chips.  We said yes, and she brought us white bread, cut diagonally, with a thin spread of butter.  I had not seen anything like that at a restaurant, or even offered, but it sent me back to my elementary, public school cafeteria in a small town in Indiana.  The meals very often came with bread and butter identical to what she gave us.  It was my only connection.  Did anyone else grow up with a public school cafeteria that served white bread, maybe Wonder Bread, with just butter spread on it?  I especially remember it as a side for days you could choose between chicken noodle and chili soup.  It seemed as normal as anything for the waitress to bring that to our table.

Then we drove about 25 minutes to the town of Ripon, a very small one even though three times the size of Thirsk.  We witnessed the country scenery of Yorkshire between the two small English towns.  We went to Ripon to attend Wednesday evening church service at an evangelical Baptist church.  We arrived at least an hour and a half before the service, so once we located the building, we went into town.  We got some coffee at a shop that was just closing right in town, and these people were very interested.  There was a lot of history to Ripon, but they don't get visitors from America like bigger towns in the UK, so they wanted to talk.  If you read the Wikipedia article I linked to, you'll see a lot about the town that is interesting, but they said the city was most known for its hornblower every night once at each of the four corners of the obelisk right in the middle of town.  That night after church, we heard the horn blowing as we were leaving.

I wrote earlier about the church there.  About 15 gathered, including us.  It was a very worshipful time.  We were the second people there and the pastor arrived, who had just retired.  Another elderly Christian man taught out of Ephesians, who I heard later had sat under the ministry of Martin Lloyd Jones, was discipled and married by him.  We sang old hymns, every verse and slowly, and prayed long.  They were in no hurry.  It was how we would have really liked it.  I think we were a great encouragement to them.

We talked for quite awhile afterwards, then left to get back to the York Priory house.  The next morning we would have our second English breakfast.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Archaeological, Historical, and Prophetic Evidence for the Bible

I recently taught a two-part class at Mukwonago Baptist Bible Institute entitled "Archaeological and Historical Evidence for the Bible."  It is not a detailed and exhaustive analysis limited to the specialist but is a survey of important material that should be valuable and easy to understand for regular Christians as well as for skeptics open to the overwhelming evidence for Scripture.  The content is very similar to what should be, Lord willing, my forthcoming book on this topic (preview the Old Testament and New Testament sections here).  If you speak to atheists, agnostics, or others who question the historical accuracy of the Bible (or are such a person yourself) the content of these lectures should be quite valuable to you.  Furthermore, if you watched my debate with Freedom From Religion Foundation President Dan Barker on the proposition "Prophecy and Archeology Validate the Bible as the Word of God" (also on YouTube here) I am able to cover the historical evidence at a more relaxed pace than I could in the debate, as well as covering new finds that came to light after the debate took place (e. g., Sinai 361 from Serabit el-Khadim which refers by name to Moses and alludes to Israel's captivity in Egypt):

I am not done posting the lectures at this time, but there are enough of them online already that I thought it was worth mentioning to the What is Truth? readership.  Furthermore, I would commend them to your church's Bible college or institute if you do not already give your students a survey of the archaeological evidence for the Bible.  Sadly, it is possible to graduate from many fundamentalist or separatist Baptist institutions of learning and never study this great topic which will help you to be "ready to give an answer" (1 Peter 3:15) to those who question the intellectual warrant for faith in the Bible as God's infallible Word, when the glorious archaeological facts supporting God's Word should be known not just by Bible college graduates, but by the body of the every-day saints of God who fill the pews of His churches.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Failure of the Naturalistic View of Origins: Not Observable or Repeatable

When you look around, do you see evolution?  I don't.  I also don't see evidence of it.

Yesterday out evangelizing, two other men with me, I talked to a professing former Christian, who now claims to be an agnostic.  That he was agnostic wasn't surprising.  I talk to those about every week.  However, he claimed to have been a Christian, who went to Cal-Berkeley and left Christianity.  He said he "was" a Christian.  He said he "believed," past tense, in Jesus Christ.

In as nice a way possible, I challenged his former "belief," saying that he wasn't believing if he left the belief.  This is based upon scripture, where belief comes from.  I quoted 1 John 2:19 that if he was "of" believers, he would have no doubt continued with them, so that his departure manifested that he never was "of believers."  This is the teaching of the NT.  Someone is truly a disciple of Christ, a disciple indeed, if he continues.  If he does not continue, he never was.  That is in fact how you know, is through continuation.  When you leave, you prove you never were "of" and not truly a disciple.

With the above being said, what he said caused him to leave is the lack of evidence for Christianity.  I asked him what kind of evidence he would need to believe.  He wouldn't say.  Maybe he couldn't say.  I never said this to him, but based on scripture, just because someone doesn't like the evidence doesn't mean that there isn't enough.  God gives enough evidence for someone who will believe.  It's not intellectual problem, but a volitional one.

I told him there was a lot of evidence, documentary evidence, which is better than eyewitness testimony.  I told him about Peter in 2 Peter 1, who saw Christ on the mount of transfiguration, but said that prophesy was superior.  I said that 30 percent of the Bible is prophesy and all of them were fulfilled, the fulfillment accomplished after the prediction according to old manuscripts, like the Dead Sea Scrolls.  I brought up this being mathematical probability.  I gave him examples of fulfilled prophesy.

I also talked about the resurrection of Jesus, which was observed by 500 witnesses, who were still living in the Apostle Paul's day, when he wrote 1 Corinthians 15.  We have a bases for believing divine intervention, design, which is scientific.  It's just that it isn't allowed on the state school campuses.  Why is that?

He said the lack of evidence wasn't all, that he was a scientist.  My youngest daughter reminded me later when we headed back to the church building that very often when people say that they're scientists, I will answer right away, I'm a scientist too, and I do.  Actually, I think I'm one, but those saying they are scientists are in fact not.  He then said that today Roman Catholicism is at least evolutionist, but some kinds of Christians are anti-science.  I told him Christianity wasn't anti-science, that even the founders of modern science were almost all Christians and that Christianity was scientific.  The Bible says the world is round and teaches blood circulation, which wasn't accepted until modern times.

Then he said that he needs something observable and repeatable.  I said, you don't see evolution today.  There isn't evidence of evolution.  I told him there is on a micro level, but not a macro one, which is what evolution is talking about.  Micro can't be conflated to macro.  I know he knew what I meant, but I don't think that micro-evolution is even evolution.  When microbiological creatures evolve, they aren't a new species.  They've just adapted.

I mentioned the evidence of irreducible complexity and DNA.  These look like design.  Design is rejected, not because it is not scientific, but because it doesn't fit a presupposition.  We know that.  People don't want design to be true.  It's not that it isn't true. They just don't want it.  The rejection isn't scientific.

I also told him that there isn't evidence of evolution in the fossil record.  It isn't observable.  Accidents don't turn into progress.

What I was telling him is that we had science.  The Bible is 100% true.  Relying on scripture is the correct epistemology, because God's Word is pure, untainted.  You can depend on it.  This is very much like documentary evidence used in a court of law, rather than eyewitness testimony, because we can't trust our lying eyes.

Later, a young man with me, a member of our church, who just graduated from West Point, very intelligent, mentioned to me in exasperation with this man, that science is just a method, one that he wasn't depending on, because evolution isn't observable or repeatable.  Part of science, he continued, is an openness to challenge.  A part of science is the willingness for opposition to a proposed theory.  Present science isn't open to challenge.  It is a closed system, that is, unscientific, more in line with the dark ages and the inquisition.

I believe this man was convicted.  I believe it.  However, his rejection is rebellion against evidence, not a lack of evidence.  He wants to do what he wants to do, and he uses pseudo-science, so-called "science," to justify his rebellion.  It's tragic and destructive to and for him, and many like him.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Who Is God? Trinity the Identity of God

Wrong views about God occur when men veer out of scripture for their understanding of God.  We know God by His revelation of Himself.  In and through God's creation, we witness the works of God, which show His attributes.  However, God's works are not His identity.  They are what He does.  He creates, so He is Creator, but His identity is not Creator.  Before God created, He was God.  He was God without creating.  He could create, was powerful enough to create, but was fully God, not missing anything, as God, without creating.

If Creator is God's identity, then He needs a creation to be who He is, but He was who He was before the foundations of the world.  In His identity, God is self-existent.  He doesn't need anything to be Who He is.  You could even say that is the essence of His holiness.  He exists without anything else.  To know the true identity of God, we read who He was before His creation, and we read that in the Bible.  Many passages talk about God before creation.

What I'm writing here relates to the history of the doctrine of God.  Arius started with God's work, His creation, and identified God as the Uncaused or the Unoriginate.  With that as God's identity, He rejected Jesus as God, because he surmised Jesus was caused.  God couldn't be caused, so Jesus couldn't be God, in the meanderings of Arius.  Jesus was the Son and the Son proceeds from the Father, so the Son couldn't be Son.  A lot of people continue to be fooled in this way today.

Athanasius centered on identity in His correction of Arius.  He said that Arius should not identify God by His works, but through the revelation of God through Jesus Christ.  The focus is on the Son in the identification of God, because the Son is the supreme identification of God through scripture.

The identity of God is Trinity.  He is Triune in His identity, which is why He is identified as Father and Son the most in scripture, but also as Holy Spirit -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Father is God's identity according to Jesus Himself, speaking of the Father as loving Him before the foundation of the world.  God was Father and Jesus was Son before creation.  You can follow this through scripture, but especially consider John 17:24 and 1 John 4:8-9.
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. 
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
As Father, God is Father.  For God always to be Father, He also always had to have a Son.   It sounds like I'm repeating myself, but Father means something.  It isn't a vessel into which we pour whatever we want it to mean.  Our understanding of Father comes from our understanding of Him.  Father is outgoing, moving out from Himself. sending, giving, giving life, and begetting.  A word that should come to mind with God being Father is Love.  1 John 4:8 doesn't say that He loves.  It says He is Love.  It is His identity and this is tied into the meaning of Father and in the identity of Trinity.

God is love is accompanied by God sending His Son into the world, so love is also associated with the Son.  God was already loving the Son and then He manifested His love toward us through His Son, giving life to us through the Son.  The Father gave His glory to the Son, loving Him before the foundation of the world.  God did not become love.  He is Love.  God wasn't alone.  He was always loving before the foundation of the world.

I haven't mentioned the Holy Spirit.  From the very beginning the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father as a separate Person, energizing space and matter.  The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  The Father delights in His Son and He sent the Spirit to the Son at His baptism.  The Holy Spirit regenerates the lifeless.  He renews.  The promise of the Father is fulfilled by the coming of the Holy Spirit.  The love of the Father is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  I'm barely touching on the Third Person of the Trinity.  The nature of God, however, is this cascading from Father to Son to Holy Spirit.

At the bottom is the Trinity.  You don't have Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and at the bottom is God.  God is Trinity.  You can't go further back or deeper than Trinity, because that is Who God is.  We pray to the Father through the Son in the power of the Spirit.  Each unique member of the Trinity is operating in prayer, taking a different role.

Very often men will talk about the greatest attribute of God.  It's a big discussion point.  What I have read the most is that God's holiness is His greatest attribute and the most common argument is the angels proclaiming that attribute in the heavenly holy of holies.  God is holy.   God says, be ye holy as I am holy.  I don't know how fruitful it is to determine God's greatest attribute when scripture doesn't tell us.  An interesting question, however, might be the following:  was God holy before the creation of the world?  He wasn't Creator until He created, creation being again one of His works.  Could He be holy before He had something from which to separate?  This would consider whether God's identity is Holy.  If God couldn't be holy until He could separate from something, then should we say His identity is Holy?

Holiness is separateness.  What was God separate from before He created something and then what He created sinned and become sinful?  At the beginning, God's creation was holy, because He was holy.  Everything about His creation was holy, because it was created by God.  God couldn't and wouldn't create something unholy.

It doesn't sound right to say that God wasn't holy before the foundation of the world, but He wasn't Creator before the foundation of the world. He was Triune though.  He was Trinity.  When we pray, Jesus instructed us to pray to our Father, not our Creator.  We can praise Him by exalting His attributes, but His identity is Trinity.

Monday, July 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Trip to Europe Continued (Ninth Post In Total)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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