Monday, July 29, 2019

The Falsely So-Called Science, Yet Popular Psychobabble: "Daddy Issues"

Part One

Falsely so-called science, and uniquely psychology, really psychobabble, proceeds from a requirement of meaninglessness.  When I write, meaninglessness, I know there is meaning, of course, but the pseudo-scientists need a blank canvass for their own lust.  They can assign their own meaning to any and every thing, like a rorschach ink blot, so that they are sovereign over existence.  A major component of this is "it's not my problem, I couldn't help it," because the convenient randomness leaves them only a victim.  This justifies past and predicts future bad behavior.  There are a multitude in number and in different varieties of maladies, ailments, syndromes, and disorders with a similar multitude in number and in different varieties of explanations and causes so that the sovereign individual can pick his own.  He becomes even a sympathetic figure because of the disorder, which becomes his new identity.

Scripture, on the other hand, speaks with authority about what is wrong and why.  The Bible sufficiently furnishes someone to every good work.  There is no temptation to sin for anyone about anything that God has not provided a way of escape.  Instead of turning to and listening to God, a person replaces God's authority with self-authority, and uses falsely so-called science to excuse a sin.  The "science" has become a higher pseudo-authority, quoted without a permission to challenge.  By replacing scripture, it replaces God and grants cover to the individual.  He gets a pass.

A syndrome, peer reviewed in a journal, absolves a victim of guilt.  When he does wrong, a debilitating malady explains it.  Victims are selective in their use of their infirmity like a child who isn't hungry until he's offered ice cream.  Greater expectations trigger a relapse.  Blame exacerbates the symptoms.  Another episode meets a suggestion of responsibility.  Victims are the perfect spokesmen for almost any issue because they can't be criticized.

I'm not saying there aren't challenges in this world because of the curse of sin on the creation and on people themselves.  I'm also not saying there aren't true victims.  Scripture says there is and everyone knows that by experience, which would be why Jesus taught to "count the cost," also represented by the tough experience of the sun beating down on a plant, which had no root in a rocky soil.

We have a state police officer in our church, and he's seen horrific fatal outcomes in car accidents.  He deals with regular, threatening confrontation and more.  I ask him how these experiences have left a mark on him and his thinking, especially with certain disorders that others claim from them.  He says they are not beyond the ability to face, because of his faith in Christ.  The greatest afflictions arise from drugs and alcohol a part of what they treat as self-medication.  The same state police officer said that in their classes on this subject matter, it was agreed that the measures used to mask the memories create bigger issues than the incidents that triggered them.

Special attention is paid to those who go through apparently traumatic events, when anyone living faces every day the trauma of the chaos of this world, arising from the detrimental effects of sin.  Everyone could claim any one of multiple causes for syndromes and disorder, and it's only getting worse.  Many varied events could be interpreted any number of ways to allow us to be victims:  rejection, failures, death, loneliness, isolation, disrespect, stress, castigation, fear, injustice, regret, boredom, illness, pain, hatred, sorrow, low metabolism, loss, and intolerance.  One could pick any one, several, or a unique mix of a few.

Jordan Peterson, a clinical pyschiatrist with thousands of hours, in his book, 12 Rules for Life, writes about what constitutes an "oppressed" or "disabled" people.  He asks (p. 316):
But who is disabled?  Is someone living with a parent with Alzheimer's disabled? If not, why not?
My wife and I are taking care of my parents, both type 2 diabetes and my father with advanced alzheimer's.  From the professional opinion of a PhD with decades of hours of clinical experience, I'm a victim to the level of a disabililty.  What do you think?

It's pathetic, but more than ever, especially millennials use status as a victim to gain attention.  They report the latest downturn and how they're attempting to cope.  They're having a hard time.  I'm not sure most people either believe them or care, but the strategy or technique multiplies.  It's an old scheme that God exposes in Ezekiel 18:1-4:
1 The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying, 2 What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying,, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? 3 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. 4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
The same reference is made in Jeremiah 31:29-30:
29 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. 30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.
The proverb represents the methodology of victimhood:  children say their teeth are set on edge because their fathers have eaten a sour grape.  The one doesn't follow from the other.  Of course, what God says is that it isn't someone else's fault; it's your fault.  The soul that sins, however, shall die.  A child is still responsible for his sin.

Daddy Issues

For this series on psychobabble, I'm starting with "Daddy Issues."  I've read that the specific terminology mainly applies to a daughter with her father.  It's used both ways though -- also with the son, and that's where I'll focus for this series.

I had never heard of such a thing as daddy issues growing up, or maybe I could have made some mileage from it, when my dad required of me what he did when I was a child.  I could have used it when I received God-ordained physical discipline, claim that he went too hard on me or humiliated me, when he either yelled at me or forced me to work   hard.  He judged me.  He pushed me.  Very often, I didn't feel acceptance.  I'm sure I could cook up some victimization out of all that.  Maybe it's too late.  In fact, I never had any of those feelings.

"Daddy Issues" are also known as "Father Complex" and "Father Hunger."  My phone sent me a short clip of a speech Harrison Ford gave to Sean Connery for a lifetime achievement award, and Connery had played Ford's father.  Ford said, "Our fathers, we endure them, we're tested by them, and then as we grow older, we gain a whole new level of respect and admiration for them."  The "endure" and "tested by" seem like where the daddy issues come.

Generally, as I've read, the daddy issue for a son is when he blames his issues as an adult on his relationship with his dad.  Someone wrote:  "It is typically defined by an inability to accept [his] own faults by projecting that onto [his] father."  Today psychiatrists and psychologists will agree with this, affirm it as truth.  A lot can also put a strain between the relationship of a son with his father, pointing at dad:  divorce, drunk, drugged, absent, non-stop cruelty, or even total permissiveness.

Problems for adults do trace back to original problems with parents, which is why the parent-child relationship is so emphasized by God in scripture.  Even if the parents didn't do everything God wanted them to do, the Jeremiah and Ezekiel passages above remind the next generation that it will give a direct account to God.  The New Testament characterizes apostasy in two different places as "disobedient to parents," not "parental irresponsibility."  Daddy issues can be what someone else wrote:
While many boys idolize their fathers, that can change once the teenage years arrive. That's the stage during which a young male is attempting to form his own identity. Rebellion against authority—often one's parents—is common, and clash often ensues. This, however, often changes as the son matures and comes to realize that he didn't, in fact, know everything, and begins to realize his father was right about a lot more than he'd realized as an adolescent.
Everything between either a father and a son or a father and a daughter must be tested by scripture.  If a dad follows God's Word and encourages a son or daughter to do the same, the daddy issue lies with the adult child.  If a dad doesn't obey the Bible, then the daddy issue is with daddy.  A father-child relationship is not irredeemable, but the terms for reconciliation are what God says in scripture.

Issues between a father and his children have a biblical solution, but the father and the children have to want to solve it according to scripture.  Both sides have to care.  Instead, however, in many cases having daddy issues is a convenient issue, like Absalom with David (2 Sam 13-18), to embrace something other than what God says in scripture.  A daddy issue claims a victim status that excuses someone who wants to do what he wants to do, which is violating God's Word.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Goodbye Darwin: Three Prominent Scientists Bury Darwinism


Peter Robinson for the Hoover Institute interviews three scientists -- David Berlinski, David Gelernter, and Stephen Meyer -- and they talk about why Darwinism is false.  Berlinski and Meyer have both written books (here, here, here, and here) and Gelernter just announced his own departure in an article in the Claremont Review of Books (here), which you really need to read.  The Bible teaches creation and that's good enough, but it is heartening to hear from these men.  As a disclaimer, they keep mentioning millions and billions of years.  It seems like incrementalism coming from Meyer.  However, if someone admits design, than Whoever the Designer could do what we see and know, He can also get it done in whatever way He chooses.

As an aside Gelernter was one of the victims of the Unabomber in 1993, permanently disabling his right hand and right eye.

When I was younger, I watched Star Trek.  That's not an endorsement.  With Star Trek, I remember all the various fictional aliens coming with different languages.  Some of these aliens were advanced beyond humans and had even more advanced languages that humanity could not understand.  People were fine with that idea.  There is a code, a language, very complex, that precedes every creature on earth.  We can see the complexity of it, and we can't interpret it.  It's beyond us as a language, but it is there.  God wrote that language.  That language at least tells us of a Designer who must be God.

Among many other observations, an intrigue toward the beginning, Gelernter calls Darwinism a "beautiful theory," so Robinson replies, "beauty is aesthetics, so there's something subjective about it."  When that came out of Robinson's mouth, I thought, no, beauty isn't subjective, and then Gelertner answered (at about 3:05), "Each year of my life, I am less convinced that there is anything at all that is subjective about beauty."  That fits with this worldview, perhaps the new worldview of Gelertner, but objective beauty fits with the existence of a Designer.  That was a wonderful moment, I thought.  This goes along with what I've written about art in the last week or so (here and here).

Friday, July 26, 2019

Baptist the Dog: A Christian Children's Story

My wife has written a number of childrens' stories.  While I am doubtless biased, I think they are good, and the children who have read them have enjoyed them.  I intend to post them on my website, Lord willing.  I have posted one called Baptist, about a doggie that comes to the Roberts' farm and who teaches the Roberts' children some spiritual lessons.  It is not a very long read (it is a story for kids, after all); perhaps you might find it a blessing, and perhaps your children, or children whom you know, may find it one as well.  You can read the story of Baptist the Dog by clicking here.  Please feel free to share any comments you have concerning the story below.  The PDF file includes the nice pictures included with the story.  Other edifying children's stories should also, Lord willing, be posted in time here.

-TDR

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Falsely So-Called Science, Yet Popular Psychobabble: Introduction

"Over half of psychology studies fail reproducibility test."  "Scientists replicated 100 psychology studies, and fewer than half got the same results."   "An ambitious effort to replicate 100 research findings in psychology ended last week — and the data look worrying. Results posted online on 24 April, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, suggest that key findings from only 39 of the published studies could be reproduced."  "The Stanford Prison Experiment was massively influential. We just learned it was a fraud."  The Independent, the British newspaper, characterized the above with the following headline:  "Study reveals that a lot of psychology research really is just 'psycho-babble'."

I'm telling you what the research on the research actually says, but I think in reality it's worse than reported.  A lot of what is repeated, and called science, especially in the field of psychology, is the opposite of the truth.  It isn't being said or quoted because it is the truth, but because of its personal usefulness either excusing past or justifying future sinful behavior.  There is no science behind a lot of what people say or do today.  There is no scientific proof for homosexuality, that a baby in the womb is not a person, and for the secular or naturalistic explanations for origins today.

If something is scientific, it should mean that it is true.  If it's a lie, that shouldn't be science.  Science should be about getting to the truth, but it has become about supporting a presupposed position, usually today something that is politically correct and more.

Notable evolutionist, Aldous Huxley, the grandson of Thomas Huxley, wrote Ends and Means and said (1937):
I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning - the Christian meaning, they insisted - of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.
Marxism is not an economic science.  The Patriarchy is not a social construct based upon tyranny.  Darwinism is not science, but "an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality," especially that interferes with sexual freedom.

Enter 1 Timothy 6:20-21 from the King James Version:
O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. 
The last part of verse 20 reads literally, "the antithesis of the false so-called knowledge."  "Science" translates gnosis, found 29 times in the New Testament, and it is translated knowledge almost all of those times, but here it is translated "science," and it fits.  John MacArthur writes:
Over the course of human history, all kinds of speculative ideas have been falsely labeled “science” and mistakenly accepted as true and reliable knowledge by otherwise brilliant people. The now-discredited dogmas of older scientific theories are numerous—and in some cases laughable. They include alchemy (the medieval belief that other base metals could be transmuted into gold); phrenology (the Victorian belief that the shape of one’s skull reflects character traits and mental capacity); astrology (the pagan belief that human destiny is determined by the motions of celestial bodies); and abiogenesis (the long-standing belief that living organisms are spontaneously generated by decaying organic substances). All those false beliefs were deemed credible as “science” by the leading minds of their times.
The psychological writings are the place of the greatest abuse of science today.  Like Paul was writing, it is pseudo-intellectualism, just trying to sound smart, but a true antithesis to actual knowledge, so that Paul calls it just "so-called," because it isn't.  It is made up.

Some might say that advocates approach their psychological speculations like religion -- since there is no proof, it is only matter of faith for them.  This actually is an even bigger problem.  Biblical faith does depend on evidence.  What has occurred over numbers of years is the bifurcation of the sacred and the secular, separating the Bible into a religious category inferior to science.  The Bible is science.  The Bible is true, but the psychological studies are false, which is why the Bible is science and the studies are only falsely so-called.  Now someone can immediately relegate something to speculation by calling it religious or faith.

Much of psychology has earned the derisive "psychobabble," because it isn't scientific or true.  Despite that, the psychological still brings an unmerited force to an argument, because of its unworthy elevation over the sacred, condoning whatever psychology promotes.  Like with Huxley above in his quote, the psychology is a useful tool for bad or sinful behavior.  It has also driven professing Christians from standing in the public square and led many to succumb to the prevailing cultural norms.

One of the evil lies of the so-called science of psychology is its ability to help or give aid and its superior compassion.  Someone doesn't really care about another person unless he offers a psychological solution to a problem.  He's not even credible, because he doesn't have a popular treatment to promote. In certain cases, psychology does give someone a kind of short term relief from symptoms, which are then offered as evidence of a solution.  They don't solve the actual problem, but along with the popularity of the psychological remedy, better feelings are a powerful defense.  Actual studies will show that it's only a placebo and doesn't really work.  It isn't even science, but it's acceptance by the culture is enough confirmation.  It really is a bias toward an antidote that matches a desire, interpreting information in a way that approves a preferred behavior.  I'm saying its driven by lust.

The person who relies on a lie of psychology enjoys the acceptance of the mass, often an entire association of people invested in its proliferation.  There are paid proponents with economic motivation even to perpetuate the myth, if not the problem.  Someone needs the existence of the problem to stay employed.  They depend on belief in the falsehoods.

For people who merely want to look like they care in order to receive that recognition, it doesn't matter if someone really gets help.  It is cheap promotion.  You don't need to study.  You don't need to know.  You just use the acceptance lingo for the consequential plaudits.  Few need to notice if it makes you feel good about yourself.  You don't have to help anyone.  You just have to look like you care, and while you do, you imagine that people are impressed, and then you feel good too.

Man's biggest problem is his sin, because of the sin itself and its offense to God, but also because of the consequences.  Sin causes short term problems with the mind, emotions, and body, but it also separates someone from God in this lifetime and then forever in Hell.  The world will support your advocacy of social issues and psychobabble, because it's most interested in how it feels in this temporal world, all that it has and can do.  It doesn't mean that God doesn't want to relieve and comfort you in this lifetime, but what's most important is preparing for eternity.  A true believer will not focus on the best life now, but on the one forever with God.  This is science.

This post introduces a short series on certain psychological science, falsely so-called, or psychobabble.  The goal will be to disabuse the readers from the lies they embrace to continue according to their own lust and excuse or justify that false way.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Art: What Changes?

Part One -- "Artists"

Our church doesn't use the following psalter, but it's available at Psalters Online.   I chose, The Book of Psalms in an English Metrical Version, founded on the basis of the Authorized Bible Translation and Compared with the Original Hebrew, by Richard Mant.  Here is Psalm 106:11-22 from this psalter, a versification of the Hebrew Masoretic text, the same text from which comes the King James Version, just like the title says.

11 Their foes returning claim,
And sweep them, one and all, from sight:
12 They saw, they felt, they bless'd his might,
And sang Jehovah's name.
13 But of his works with impious haste
Forgetful, in the lonely waste
They spurn’d his sage controul;
14 Till, challeng’d by their base distrust,
15 He gave them meat to sate their lust,
With leanness in their soul.
16 'Gainst Moses meek their envy burn’d,
And Aaron, saint of God, they spurn'd :
17 Till earth asunder flew,
And Dathan’s factious band devour’d ;
18 And vollied flames, on Korah shower’d,
His godless followers slew.
19 At Horeb's rock a calf they made,
With gold the sculptur'd form o'erlaid,
And low in worship bow’d:
20 Thus impious they their glory chang'd
To semblance of a beast that rang'd
The grassy field for food;
21 And Him, the living God, forgot,
Their Saviour, who for them had wrought
Great deeds on Egypt’s hosts;
22 Great things and of surpassing might
In Ham, and things of fearful sight
All on the Red-sea coasts.

This amount of text usually scares away the modern reader, but I provide it mainly for a reference, so that you can keep looking up at the section, while reading the post.

In the flow of the story, I want to point out the apostasy that occurs in Israel and then relate it to art.  In the first three verses, upon experiencing want after deliverance from Egypt, Israel forgets the goodness of God and "They spurn’d his sage controul," says verse 13.  This reminds of 2 Peter 2:1 and following, they deny the Lord that bought them.  God's will isn't fitting into their desires, so they spurn God's wise control of their lives.  Justification would come from their immediate want.

Read it all, but pay attention at this moment at verse 19.  Israel made something.  "At Horeb's rock a calf they made, With gold the sculptur'd form o'erlaid."  At Sinai, God gave them the plan for something beautiful, portraying or depicting Himself, but instead they made a golden calf, which was fitting with a god formed in their own imagination.  This is the objective versus the subjective.

The creation of the golden calf by the people of Israel shaped god according to their own lust.  Egypt and other ungodly nations influenced their minds and hearts.  They weren't neutral.  Their creation was their own expression of their own imagination, not a depiction based upon the revelation of God in His Word.  This is the difference between the objective, the heavenly tabernacle and worship fitting a pattern ordained by God, and the subjective, the inordinate manifestation from within themselves.

Now look at verse 20.  "Thus impious they their glory chang'd To semblance of a beast that rang'd The grassy field for food."  John Gill writes concerning the first part of this verse:
God, who is glorious in all the perfections of his nature, and is glory itself, and was the glory of these people; it was their greatest honour that they had knowledge of him, nearness to him, the true worship of him among them, and that they were worshippers of him; and who, though he is unchangeable in himself, may be said to be changed when another is substituted and worshipped in his room, or worshipped besides him; which was what the Heathen did, and in which the Israelites exceeded them, (Romans 1:23, Romans 1:25) (Jeremiah 2:11) , the Targum is, ``they changed the glory of their Lord.''
Instead of worshiping the Lord in the beauty of His holiness, giving unto the Lord the glory due His name (1 Chron 16:29), "they their glory changed."  Something that was beautiful was now ugly, no longer reflecting the object of the worship, but the imaginations of their own hearts.

What was "their glory?"  There is some dispute here, but I believe it to be two things.  This relates back to what occurred in Exodus 32:2-3 and 33:5-6, when the people who made and worshiped a calf at Horeb changed their glory into a calf.  Their glory was actually the glory of the Lord -- that was the true glory of Israel, but in their minds and hearts.  God had been replaced.  The reference to “their glory” refers to the golden earrings that were molded into the calf.  Their glory should have been the Lord, but it wasn't and it had become their golden earrings and the like.

In verse 21, "And Him, the living God, forgot."  They could not depict what or who they had forgotten.  As the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:23, they "changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things."

Some might answer, "But the golden calf wasn't art."  It wasn't art in the sense that art is objectively beautiful, and the calf was only in the eyes of the beholders.  It was an expression of their own imagination, God based on the perspective of the subject, hence subjective.  Paul calls their minds, "reprobate" (Rom 1:28), the Greek word adokimos, which is literally "fails to meet the test."  As a result, their portrayal of God, the "art," is distorted because it proceeds from their own depravity.

Very common then when God doesn't accept the "art," or as it occurs mostly that godly people reject it, the subjects oppose the leadership (verse 26) -- "'Gainst Moses meek their envy burn’d, And Aaron, saint of God, they spurn'd."  They can't get at God Himself, but they can tear into the human leaders, representing God.  It didn't turn out well for Dathan and Korah (verses 17 and 18).

The godly focuses on God, His own beauty, and the beauty of what He created, not the distortions.  The truth shapes the imagination.   He retains a true view of God and his behavior is also affected in a godly way.  On the other hand, someone forms his own imagery of God in his mind and expresses that with what he makes.  It not only changes His own view of God but it has a diminishing and destructive affect on others.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

"Artists"

The word "artist" is like the word "culture" -- in common usage, its meaning has disappeared. People don't know what they mean, when they are saying it.  The knock-off entertainers sure aren't artists, no matter how many times someone says they are.

God is the prototypical Artist.  Art proceeds from the Bible in definition like everything that can be right and good, except the word in the King James Version isn't "art," but "craft," and the artist is a "craftsman."  The Hebrew word could be translated "artificer," which is someone skilled.  As late as 1828, Webster's defines:
The disposition or modification of things by human skill, to answer the purpose intended.
If you go back to the etymology of the word, it is "artifice," and the "artist" is an "ingenious workman."  The assumption of artifice from which comes "artificial" is that it is a copy, not the original, so something imitating something else.  Someone is able to make something very close to the original, so that it looks like the real thing.  The artist is imitating something, originally something of God, not inventing something new.

God, of course, is the Creator, and though we can't create ex nihilo like God, something out of nothing, we take the components of God's creation and orchestrate them into portrayals of God's handiwork, which is divinely defined reality.  Since beauty starts with God, it is objective, reflecting His nature.  The handiwork of God declares His glory (Psalm 19:1), that is, the perfections of His attributes.  Anything that clashes with the nature of God isn't beautiful or lovely, but is ugly.  This takes us to the objective nature of beauty and, therefore, art.

1 Chronicles 16:29 says,
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
Beauty relates to the glory due unto God's name and His holiness.  Glory, God's name, and holiness are essentially the same.  They all relate to His attributes, their perfection.  This is a baseline for beauty.

The skill of art is the ability through both nature and nurture to represent the divine reality.  It is objective, because it focuses on the object, which is a proper object, one that is right and true and of the highest value.  The object is what makes the effort worth it.  The term "depiction" is a good word to associate with objective, because Someone (God) and something (His creation) is being depicted according to God's perspective.  This contrasts with the subjective or relativistic.

Modern art shifted from the objective to the subjective, like modernism, and even worse then, postmodernism.  Some today think that they are more "artistic," even and sadly professing Christians, because they are modernistic and postmodernistic.  They're imitating others, that is, being worldly.  They don't know what they are talking about.  They're just saying it and anything goes today.  Hardly anyone is going to judge, because hardly anyone judges anything, except whether someone's feelings are hurt.

The subject became "art" according to the "eye of the beholder," which is in reality to turn from God to man, man becoming the center of things.  This made autonomous imaginings of the "artist" the standard, which are his expressions.  He's expressing himself.  This philosophy of art in general is expression or expressionism, with lots of sub categories.

A biblical understanding, a Christian worldview, says that man is depraved, so the shift to the subject brings distortion.  The subject isn't neutral, even if he thinks he is.  He's affected by his own evil imaginations.  Today someone might say, "he's messed up."  Modern art allows the "artist" to create his own reality out of his own imagination, so that he shapes his own subjective reality and in so doing, becomes a god-like figure.  It is a subjective reality that leads people astray in modern culture as much as anything.  Sadly, some of you reading this don't even care, and you think it's a joke.  You'll find out before everything is over, but the earlier the better.

Professing Christianity has started buying into a false view of art, the modernist and postmodernist view, for awhile, even when judging children's finger paintings like they are something great.  They are without skill.  The child may not need an art lesson, to teach him how to "depict" what he sees, because it doesn't even matter.  Just keep "expressing yourself."  It's wrong.  Several very bad things also happen.

Objective reality, the depiction of God, is not separate from emotions.  Some of you reading might have been wondering about feelings, because you think or feel they're the essence of art.  They are not, but even so, scripture teaches rightly ordered emotions, what Jonathan Edwards called affections versus passions in his Treatise on the Religious Affections.  This also represents God, who is impassible, not subject to mood swings.

C. S. Lewis wrote about feelings or emotions in his book, The Abolition of Man, and this was a concern of his.  The two greatest commands of God are "Love God" and "Love your neighbor," and both of those are at risk without getting them right.  Someone can't obey God when he disobeys those two commands.  "Inordinate affection" is a sin (Colossians 3:5).  Lewis exhorts (pp. 28-29) of  "the ordinate condition of the affections in which every object is accorded that kind and degree of love which is appropriate to it,” asserting that “the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought.”  He continues (pp. 31-32):
[B]ecause our approvals and disapprovals are thus recognitions of objective value or responses to an objective order, therefore, emotional states can be in harmony with reason (when we feel liking for what ought to be approved) or out of harmony with reason. . . . The heart never takes the place of the head: but it can, and should, obey it.
Lewis wasn't promoting the expressions of someone's imagination, but the correct emotional response to the right or true thinking about what is of the greatest value.

People who still want to profess to be Christian are changing exegetical and historical Christianity by merging it with modernism or postmodernism under the guise of "freedom."  I read the language of "personal and creative liberation" that had been pent up by conservative Christianity, which put the "artist" in a "box."  The limitations held back the creative expression of the artist that now he can unleash.  This freedom is called "grace," so that now they're really experiencing grace like they haven't before, and that feeling flows through the art.  This isn't actual Christianity.  The attempt to conform Christianity to lust is just departing from Christianity.

Another term, that I often hear to describe a modern or postmodern emotional quality, is "authentic."  The "artist" is really "authentic."  Most often this term is associated with someone who isn't authentic, according to the dictionary definition of the term, but using it instead in a subjective fashion different than its objective meaning is apropos.  From the wrong usage, a postmodern variety, "authentic" is a highly subjective expression of someone's feelings, usually distorted and often corrupt.  That also makes it "true," true simply because the subject "feels it."  It is unlikely that the "artist" "truly" or "really" feels the way he is expressing, but that doesn't matter, because it's what he's expressing at the moment in an ironically inauthentic way, which is what does matter.  Instead of being "authentic," usually it's contrived, because it is entertainment, intended to "relate" with the audience (fool it), giving approval to the same feelings it might have, which very often are lust.

What motivated me to write this post was a recent promotion by someone of "country artists" out of Nashville.  I wasn't expecting art or artists, which it and they were not.  The expressions reduce art to the lost wanderings of fallen men, rebelling against God's created order, which brings chaos.  It perverts truth, goodness, beauty, and validates inordinate emotions.  It denies God as the true basis for all reality and conflicts with the truth of scripture.  It is not denying self, but expressing self with all the lack of constraint.  God is not and cannot be glorified and others are likewise influenced.

Rather than expressing imagination, true art, what Christians should solely accept and enjoy, shapes the moral imagination.   This is the true meaning of the world that God created.  The thinking and the emotions reflect God.  God is known in an accurate and better way.  The hearer can turn to God or grow closer to God, which is what a Christian wants.  He shouldn't be promoting either the world's twisted  perversion of art or artists or the depraved expressions of the ungodly culture from which they come.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Jessie Penn-Lewis: Her Inspired Writings (part 6 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.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The "Tabernacle of Witness" and Objective Aesthetic Meaning

In Stephen's sermon to the Sanhedrin in Acts 7, his theme is that God speaks and Israel's leadership and predominately Israel doesn't listen.  They "do always resist the Holy Ghost: as [their] fathers did, so do [they]" (7:51) and "they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers" (7:52).  The evidence in Old Testament history is Abraham and Joseph (7:9-16), Moses (7:17-37), the law (7:38-43), and then the tabernacle or temple (7:44-50).  Their not listening to Stephen was now a long line of not listening to God, which was not listening to God-ordained authority.

Israel didn't listen to Joseph, Moses, the law.  And the tabernacle or temple?  What was the tabernacle saying that wasn't being heard by the people?  By the time of Stephen's day, it was a veil rent and shortly before, a few cleansings by Jesus and the threat of destruction.  The temple was still testifying.  Stephen said the temple was talking too, a "tabernacle of witness" (7:44).  Moses made "it according to the fashion that he had seen" (7:44).  "Fashion" is tupon, which is transliterated "type," but BDAG says it is "a mark made as the result of a blow or pressure," "embodiment of characteristics," and "technically design, pattern."  All of this says language, like something that expresses a message.

God through the human author of Hebrews says in the first verse (1:1, 2):
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past. . . . Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.
The tabernacle and temple were two such diverse manners by which God spoke. And God's people didn't hear, according to Stephen's assessment. Even when the greatest manner, His Son, spoke, they took the same tact.  As much focus the leaders of Israel had on the temple, they disrespected it even as they eliminated its witness or testimony in its type of Christ.  They disregarded this divers manner in which God spoke to them through its objective aesthetic meaning.

Stephen contrasts the Lord's tabernacle in 7:44 with the tabernacle of Moloch in 7:43.  The two could be distinguished, and the Lord's was set apart by a pattern that was revealed in God's Word.  The two, although both tents, were antithetical.  God's tabernacle was a witness to God’s presence with His people, His gracious willingness to forgive as testified by the connected sacrificial system, and it foreshadowed the heavenly realities of Christianity as a type of Christ in His incarnation (John 1:14, Hebrews).  Each piece of the tabernacle had layers of meaning to portray the Lord and His relationship with men.  Moloch was a cheap knock-off, a reprobation that presented an entirely different message from which was borrowed later by Jeroboam in Israel's downward trajectory.

The nature of God receives characteristic expression in the arrangements of the tabernacle, the perfection and harmony of the character, the symmetry and proportion.  God created within man, made in His image, the qualifications to enjoy these attributes.  The harmony of the tabernacle design is shown in the balance of all its parts and in the choice of the materials employed. The three varieties of curtains and the three metals correspond to the three ascending degrees of sanctity:  the court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies, all related to the proximity to Jehovah.  So much more could be said about the mathematical precision of the rooms and the craft and coverings and furniture.  The aesthetics of the tabernacle point to the perfection and character of God.  Edmond de Pressens√© writes on the temple of the Lord in the Pulpit Commentary:
This idea of consecration ran through the whole plan of the building. Without having recourse to a minute and fanciful symbolism, we see clearly that everything is so disposed as to convey the idea of the holiness of God.  In the Centre Is the Altar of Sacrifice. The holy of holies, hidden from gaze by its impenetrable veil, strikes with awe the man of unclean heart and lips, who hears the seraphim cry from beneath their shadowing wings, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!" (Isaiah 6:3.) The temple of holiness is not the temple of nature of colossal proportions, as in the East, nor is it the temple of aesthetic beauty, as in Greece. It is the dwelling place of Him who is invisible, and of purer eyes than to behold evil (Habakkuk 1:13.) Hence its peculiar character. It answers thus to the true condition of religious art, which never sacrifices the idea and sense of the Divine to mere form, but makes the form instinct with the Divine idea. Let us freely recognize the claims of religious art. The extreme Puritanism which thinks it honours God by a contemptuous disregard of the aesthetic, is scarcely less mistaken than the idolatrous materialism which makes beauty of form the primary consideration. It was not for nothing that God made the earth so fair, the sky so glorious; and it was under Divine inspiration that the temple of Jerusalem was reared in such magnificence and majesty as to strike all beholders. Only let us never forget to seek the Divine idea beneath the beauty of the form.
The meaning to which I'm referring in the tabernacle and the temple of God are not communicated by means of words, but the message was still necessary for Israel to inculcate.  Israel's resistance to the Holy Spirit was also contention with the declarations or articulations of the tabernacle, its testimony or witness.

God reveals to Moses in Exodus 28:40:
And for Aaron's sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty.
These things that were made as designed and described by God expressed glory and beauty, two thoughts tied together in scripture.  Isaiah hears the angels in God's throne room express in Isaiah 6:3:
Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
The glory of the LORD is the character of God on display, showing the perfections of His attributes.  In Exodus 33:18-19 Moses asked God, "[S]hew me thy glory," and God answered Him, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee."  The glory of the Lord is visible showing of God's goodness and the proclamation of His name, which is the expression of all of His attributes.  Psalm 19 says that God declares His glory through the handiwork of His creation.  We can see God through the aesthetics of God's visible creation.  The coats and girdles and bonnets worn by the priests in the tabernacle also communicated the character of God.

When children bring glory to their parents, they are living in a manner consistent with their parents' values.  When we bring glory to God, we live according to God's attributes.  These values are objective.  They are not whatever pleases a child or pleases us.

Like something is good because it proceeds from God with an objective standard, so is beauty.  Just because I'm pleased doesn't make something good.  Just because I'm pleased doesn't make something beautiful.  What is true to me is true or what is good to me is good is the essence of postmodernism.  Our responsibility as worshipers and followers of God is to find pleasure in what God does.

The pursuit of certainty according to modernism spurred by the enlightenment no longer relied on the objectivity of God's revelation as authority.  The subject was assumed to be neutral so could access truth, goodness, and beauty out of pure reason or feeling.  With man as the new measure of all things, postmodernism took this one step further to not even needing a standard.  A person's personal pleasure or satisfaction were as good or true as anything or anyone.

God created the world in which we live assigned by Him with its own meaning.  No human comes to His world with neutrality because many varied forms of intervention have occurred including the corruption or perversion of sin.  Man is depraved.  He must depend on God for His understanding and interpretation, and He can.  Just because I want something or I think it is good for me doesn't mean that it is.  Beauty involves pleasure, and it is neither beautiful because it pleases me, but because it pleases God according to the perfections of His attributes.  That's what brings glory to Him and for us it is of the highest value.

God has created man to judge objective meaning through an aesthetic.  God created men with imaginations able to read symbols -- words, pictures, gestures, sounds, and shapes --- and they point beyond themselves to a higher reality by which reality itself becomes meaningful for us.  This is a reality made evident by the revelation of God in His Word and in the new nature God gives the regenerated man.

Man can, should, and must distinguish and make a distinction between what is holy and what is common or profane.  When Paul writes both "be not conformed to this world" (Rom 12:2) and "think on these things . . . whatsoever things are lovely" (Philip 4:8), and Peter, "as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance" (1 Pet 1:14), they are teaching to examine, prove, and test and "hold fast that which is good" (1 Thess 5:21).

The religious leaders of Stephen's day had profaned the temple, while pretending to exalt it or God through it.  This was a witness against them like the integration of popular culture into the church and the lives of professing saints of God.  Theirs is the tabernacle of Moloch.  Israel frequently fell into terrible idolatries because they accepted the symbols and the expressions of the cultures around them.  God gave them the tabernacle of witness, but they preferred something nearer and dearer to their own personal taste, nothing so objective as was laid out in the Word of God.  When they did so, their own God, the true God, was rejected in their imaginations, meanwhile their thinking that they continued accepting or receiving Him, so self-deceived.  When Jesus came to them, they didn't even recognize Him as God because they had already so turned away from God in their imaginations.

When I look at the ugliness, the trash, the silliness, the coarseness, the superficiality, and the disrespect accepted by professing believers today, it reflects a reality in their soul.  They have a form of godliness only as defined by their own pleasure.  There is a base pride about knowledge, doubting the truth but with almost absolute certainty about personal opinion, that embraces what pleases self and counts it as sacred.  Their feelings from their sensuous experiences they deem as authentic just because they themselves have felt them.  Acceptance is a prism of their lust.  This is the worship of the creature above the Creator.

What's the problem?  First, someone needs to admit a need.  To do that, he also must listen to someone else, who sees the problem.  Very few people take correction well, but millennials are notorious for not wanting any judgment, only acceptance, a recipe for disaster.  They surround themselves with those who will accept them how they are.

Second, the source could be unbelief, someone who doesn't know the Lord Jesus Christ at all, but it's at least someone who is feeding at the hog trough of this world.  The influence comes from two primary places.  First, the focus is on self, the regular attention on what he wants, looking at everything from his own point of view, guided by his own desires and with hardly a braking system to impede his personal taste.  Second, he sees and hears, like Lot in Sodom (2 Pet 2:8), the trashy sights and sounds of television, movies, the internet, and popular music, forming a distorted imagination and salving, searing, or desensitizing his conscience, today such profanity as Game of Thrones, foul language, lewd or insipid lyrics, and nudity. He slurps up the culture with the world running down his chin.  With such alliances as preconditions, he can't interpret the world to which to apply scripture.

The vulgarity of passions reveals an internal emptiness very often masked by incessant noise and useless chatter, bouncing from one cheap encounter or activity to the next.   It is the mindless fish swimming in the dragnet, not considering the shortness of its days (cf. Mt 13:47-50).  I see this in countless millennials today, yearning for a "like" but forsaking the mercies of God, some of whom I love very much, and I think of the warning of James in James 5:1, "weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you," and then of the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 1:9, "Turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God."

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Seeds of Apostasy: A Personification of Heresy

Gaius wasn't someone Diotrephes would tolerate, because Gaius was someone the Apostle John loved (3 John 1:1), who walked in the truth (1:3).  When Gaius came along, he would not be accepted into the midst of the church to which John had written according to his third epistle (3 John 1:9a).  Diotrephes in 3 John is the personification of heresy and in his qualities are the seeds of apostasy.  John indicts Diotrephes on at least three counts, one of which stands above the rest.

First, John had written to the church, so when John writes, Diotrephes "receiveth us not," he meant that Diotrephes did not accept and distribute the contents of his letter.  That's how he doesn't receive John.  I have found in my lifetime that I'm not received because someone is not receiving what I say, not because it isn't the truth, but because it is.  Like Diotrephes, someone doesn't want to hear the truth.

John was an Apostle.  What he sent and would send was authoritative, either scripture or like scripture, because it was apostolic.  Diotrephes suppressed and opposed it.  Why?  Because he had greatest affection for himself, what John communicates: "who loveth to have the preeminence."  This translates a compound Greek word (philoproteuo), which is made up of two words, phileo, "to have strong affection," and proteuo, "to be first."  Whenever scripture, the truth that John taught and in which Gaius walked, clashed with Diotrephes strong affection for putting himself first, he chose himself above the truth.

Heresy is dividing from the truth, causing a faction, and this relates to apostasy, which is turning from the truth.  Heretics and false teachers, teaching or preaching heresies, are nameless, no one in particular, so enigmatic or obscure.  Diotrephes though is a real person, hence a personification of heresy in scripture.  In him we see an example of what the other heresy and apostasy passages, such as 2 Peter and Jude, teach.  What one reads in those epistles and the example of Diotrephes are not contradictory.

What is "strong affection to be first" in Diotrephes is walking according to lust in 2 Peter and Jude.  In 2 Peter and Jude, this means eliminating any competition to that lust, whatever authority  that says, "No."  John would be one.  Gaius would be another.  Anyone who walked with John and Gaius and behaved liked they did.  Being first meant having your way and the truth would be a casualty to lust when it needed to be.

So Diotrephes actively suppressed and opposed scripture, and it is implied that truth in particular that clashed with Diotrephes.  Second, he was "prating against us with malicious words" (3 John 1:10).  "Prating against" is literally to make false accusations.  The same word in 1 Timothy 5:13 is translated, "tattlers."  Tattlers tell tales, false, unfounded accusations, to cause people to distrust the authority, the leadership, the teacher, who is saying something different than what they want to hear.  They don't want their teaching and then they undermine them by saying things about them to others that are false.

"Malicious words" are harmful ones that have that intent, of causing harm to the person.  They want to harm that person's reputation, to make him of enough disrepute that his teaching won't be trusted, trashing him so that they will be free of him.

Third, Diotrephes personified heresy by also not being receptive to those like-minded with scripture.  There are people in agreement, see things the same way as John, love the Lord, and these people are not received—they are rejected.  This is expressed in 3 John 1:10 as "neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would."  Whoever agrees with John and his teaching can't be allowed or received, nor anyone who would else who would accept those who agree with John.

In the way of Diotrephes, a personification of heresy, are the seeds of apostasy.  John says in 1:9, "if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth."  John says, I'm going to expose the man if I come. I will make it an issue of his conduct in the church because it is an issue for discipline. I'm not going to overlook this. Something is going to be done about it.

The heretic, the one turning from the truth to whatever varied degree, doesn't want to hear that he's going to be dealt with, only that he's going to be tolerated and be allowed to continue however he wants to be.  When a Diotrophes isn't dealt with, however, his belief, attitude, and behavior will influence others, spread, and turn the church a different direction than it is.  Someone who cares about the truth, like John, won't allow it to continue.  He will deal with a Diotrephes because the truth is more important than the potential grief that comes from the unjust, malicious accusations that come from a man who is most interested in having his own way.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Knowing the Trinity: Practical Thoughts for Daily Life, by Ryan M. McGraw: A Review

Dr. Ryan M. McGraw has written a valuable book entitled Knowing the Trinity: Practical Thoughts for Daily Life (Lancaster, PA: Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, 2017).  I asked (and received) a review copy of the book and believe that it is a valuable book on the Christian's fellowship with the Triune God.  Too many Baptists and other professing believers recognize the Trinity as an important doctrine, but Trinitarianism has little impact on their practical lives or on their view of Christian piety.  This is a very unfortunate and unbiblical situation.

The chapters of Dr. McGraw's book are as follows:

Table of Contents:
Introduction
1. What Is Trinitarian Piety?
2. The Trinity in the New Testament
3. The Trinity and the Plan of Salvation

Knowing the Father
4. The Trinity and How the Father Saves Us

Knowing the Son
5. The Trinity and How the Son Saves Us
6. The Trinity and Christ’s Incarnation
7. The Trinity and Christ’s Life and Ministry
8. The Trinity and Christ’s Death
9. The Trinity and Christ’s Resurrection
10. The Trinity and Christ’s Ascension

Knowing the Spirit
11. The Trinity and How the Spirit Saves Us
12. The Trinity and Adoption
13. The Trinity and Prayer Meetings
14. The Trinity and the Church
15. The Trinity and Spiritual Gifts
16. The Trinity and Worship
17. The Trinity and the Gospel Ministry
18. The Trinity and Baptism
19. The Trinity and the Lord’s Supper

Conclusion
20. The Blessing of the Triune God

Appendix: Triadic Passages in Scripture

The twenty chapters are brief, as the book is only 137 pages; thus, it is easier to follow and grasp than John Owen's tremendous classic Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (summarized here), to which McGraw acknowledges his indebtedness.  McGraw writes his book with the "aim that believers will recover the rich Trinitarian theology of the New Testament that will lead to devotion to the Triune God. . . . The Lord has used this book to promote this goal in my family, in my former congregation, and in myself" (pg. 14).  I believe that the book would be helpful to men to leading their families in family devotions, as well as useful for Christians in general.  (We went through it in our family worship and it was a blessing to us.)  The truths in the book should be ones with which all pastors and teachers should be very familiar, but too many are not.  I would consider assigning it were I to teach my college class on Trinitarianism again as a simple summary of how the Trinity influences so much of Biblical Christianity, and knowledgeable leaders could use it, and the study questions following each chapter, in connection with Sunday School, although I would not recommend giving copies to everyone in Sunday School or assigning it to everyone in church because of the following problems.

While the book is valuable, Dr. McGraw, as a Puritan-type Presbyterian who teaches at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, in a few areas allows erroneous doctrine to influence his book.  Occasional references to limited atonement (pg. 44), a wrong view of Spirit baptism and Luke 11:13 (pgs. 68-69; see the study of Spirit baptism and Luke 11:13 here for the true view), of the office of the evangelist (pg. 90; in contrast to McGraw, the evangelist is one who evangelizes for the purpose of seeing new churches established), a failure to affirm the Filioque, the truth that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (although it is not denied either, pg. 96), highly problematic statements on baptism connected with the false doctrine that it is a seal of grace (pgs. 100-104) and the false doctrine of the Lord's Supper as a seal (pgs. 105-107), connected with the idea that baptism and the Supper are sacraments, not ordinances, and use of Bible versions other than the KJV (pgs. 115-137) should be noted. (See the exposure of these errors in the ecclesiological studies here.) There are also some distracting typos.

If one watches out for the problems mentioned in the paragraph above, the Biblical truth in Dr. McGraw's book could be instrumental in the Father's strengthening discerning Christians spiritually through the Son by the Holy Ghost.  I would recommend anyone buying a copy from the large online bookstores to click through portals such as the ones here first to reduce the (relatively low) price of McGraw's book, although portals do not work for buying hard copies from a publisher such as Reformation Heritage Books. With the qualifications mentioned in the paragraph above, I recommend the book highly.

-TDR



Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Who Is Semipelagian? Does Someone Need to Be a Calvinist Not to Be Semipelagian?

Church historians will say that a big part of the history of the church is a reaction to major heresies or at least strains of heresy that caused major problems in the church.  The true church starts with the truth, and a heresy would be a deviation or detour off that path.  A heresy would be a false teaching that diverts from true teaching, so some kind of perversion of the truth.  Pelagianism is identified as one of these major strains of heresy in the history of the church.

Before I get to that point, I digress.  Are there really only five strains of heresy in the history of the church like some pose:  Judaizers, Gnostics, Arians, Pelagians, and Socinians?   One old one, seen through the New Testament, and then throughout church history, but especially today in professing Christianity, is antinomianism, where grace is used as an occasion of the flesh, what seems to be the grace of modern Christianity.  Now back to the point of this post.

Pelagianism gets its name from Pelagius, a fifth century British monk.  Pelagius taught something contradictory to established truth of scripture and his position became prominent especially in its conflict with a contemporary, Augustine.  Wikipedia gives a suitable definition of the essence of Pelagianism:
Pelagianism, also called Pelagian heresy, is the Christian theological position that the original sin did not taint human nature and mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special divine aid or assistance.
The novelty of the doctrine which he taught is repeatedly asserted by Augustine, and is evident to the historian; but it consisted not in the emphasis that he laid on free will, but rather in the fact that, in emphasizing free will, he denied the ruin of the race and the necessity of grace.
In the 16th century, Protestant reformer Theodore Beza coined the term, "Semipelagianism," targeting Roman Catholicism.  Just being honest, even though Augustine was Roman Catholic, Beza recognized that infant sprinkling didn't leave its object with only an inclination to sin.  Semipelagianism to Beza attributes salvation partly to God’s grace and partly to human effort, which is a doctrine of Roman Catholicism.  He was targeting a Roman Catholic perversion with his term.  As a reaction, certain Roman Catholics embraced a late fifth century modification of John Cassian, a Syrian monk who moved to Marseilles, France and staked out a middle position between Augustine and Pelagius that was widely accepted, in essence accepting Beza's analysis.

"Semipelagianism" was weaponized after Beza to label any degree short of complete or hard determinism.  Using logic as an explanation, they work anything smacking of "synergism" back all the way into Pelagianism, barely slowing down at Semipelagianism.  The line follows:  no one can make a decision or it is actually Pelagianism, which is a type of salvation by works because then someone not totally depraved can then be saved by works.  With Beza, semipelagianism was the invention that original sin could become just an inclination to sin with water sprinkled on a baby's head.

Today I've noticed that Calvinists are fine with people who behave like Pelagians and call themselves Calvinists.  This is widespread.  Does the grace of God actually change someone or is he left with only an inclination to sin?

If a person is not a Calvinist, a lot, probably a large majority, of Calvinists would call him a Semipelagian.  This would be one of those weaponized usages of the term several iterations after Beza.  In my reading of Calvinists, someone is a Semipelagian if he is the ultimate decider (with the crucial adjective, "ultimate")?  There can be only one ultimate decider and that is God, so if someone thinks a person needs to or can decide to be saved, then he's Semipelagian.

I think someone has to decide to be saved.  And I'm saying I'm not Pelagian or Semipelagian.  I can agree to original sin.  I reject infant sprinkling.  Total depravity.  I don't believe man initiates salvation.  Salvation is of the Lord.  Faith isn't a work.  We love God because He first loved us.  I don't seek after God, but God works in me to will.  God gets all the credit and the glory for my salvation.  But I still will.  I still decide.  I turn from idols to serve the living and true God.

Especially in the United States, most professing Calvinists trace the size of their church back to their methods, their music, how good the preaching is, the conveniences, and their relevance.  The fruit of what I just described is all over Calvinist belief and practice today.  All that matters is a Calvinist doctrinal statement and verbal profession, essentially joining the Calvinist club.  All of the human means of coercing a bigger church contradict their major, if not primary, thesis.

As I write this, I watch three Calvinists in a podcast, dedicated determinists with the hard rock music theme song, tipping back their beers, and oozing with machismo, interview another Calvinist about heresy.  In the discussion, they laugh over the recognition of most Baptists as especially semipelagian.  In the midst of the questioning, the hosts ask how that statism especially is Pelagian.  They could see the connection, I think, in light of the "woke church" today that favors socialism.  Socialism doesn't fit their postmillennial view of the future.  Statism proceeds from Pelagianism, he explains, because the state thinks people are good and so it governs as if it can change people.  I was asking myself, what about state churchism, both Roman Catholic and Protestant?  Isn't that statism too?

I understand people's heads spinning over pigeon holes and applied labels.  It matters if you reject original sin.  It matters if you believe in salvation by works or baptismal regeneration or easy prayerism or pragmatism or denying eternal security.  In other words, anything that disagrees with or violates scripture is a problem.  If someone calls you a semipelagian.  That doesn't matter.  Even if it did, you couldn't do anything about it.  Everything is predestined.  You don't have a choice.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Selective Relativism: Love Isn't Acceptance or Toleration

In 2011 I attended incognito the Evangelical Theological Society meeting in San Francisco, and listened to Robert P. George in a session entitled, "Ethics in an Age of Relativism."  He described students in general in today's colleges and universities as selectively relativistic.  They become very absolute usually only when they judge a personal offense.  They know you've offended them.

As an example, love has an objective meaning that proceeds from scripture.  It doesn't mean acceptance or toleration, yet that's the definition most accept today.  "Love is acceptance" gets 115,000 results when you google it.  Many call this "unconditional love" (21 million results) about which someone wrote:
The practical extension of the theories of unconditional love is a permissive attitude and a morally nonrestrictive atmosphere.
I've read several say that millennials don't want to be judged.  They don't want to be preached to or told what to do.  A fifth of Americans claim to be religiously unaffiliated, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey, which categorizes them as “nones.”  Millennials are less devout than any other age bracket polled and describe Christianity as “hypocritical” and “judgmental.”  Both those words are common for millennials.

Hypocrisy of any kind is ironic for someone who doesn't want to be judged, doesn't want you to be judgmental.  Hypocrisy requires a standard.  No one can be a hypocrite when there is no standard, unless he is selective.  They apply hypocrisy to you because you have a standard.  They then feel entitled to have no standard because you have violated your own, meaning that it doesn't matter to keep it.  They have a standard of which they are only sure when they are offended.

Judgment is an important aspect of actual Christianity, so this is where selective relativism enters.  They want to be accepted based on who they want to be and what they want to do without judgment.  That is the new love.  They can't be "authentic" if they can't live exactly how they feel without recrimination.  This isn't love.

Love as we know it today originated from the Bible.  As it began to be used in English discourse after the translation of the Bible into English, love took on a biblical meaning, because that's where the idea came from.  It maintained biblical parameters, until words started taking on new meanings to adapt to the inclinations or views of the reader.  Usage of the word "love" then changed.

A millennial might tell you that you don't love him, but he doesn't mean biblical love when he says love.  Today fellow millennials know what the other means.  When he says you don't love him, he means you are judging him and you aren't accepting or tolerating his behavior.  This is the "unconditional love."  In fact, if you do love him, actually love him, you can't tolerate or accept all of his behavior.

Love that proceeds from scripture, the only actual love, is of God, like John wrote in 1 John 4:7, "love is of God," which is one of the first verses we had our children learn.  Love is an attribute of God.  He defines love, which is why John also wrote, "God is love" (1 John 4:8, 18).  If something clashes with God, it can't be love.

Love assumes standards, because something that violates the standards of God is not love.  The ten commandments, which are standards, are reduced in the Old and New Testaments to two standards, love God and love your neighbor.  You aren't loving God when you disobey and dishonor Him, and you aren't loving your neighbor when you are disobeying and dishonoring God.  God explains what it is to love your neighbor.

In the love chapter, Paul writes that "love rejoiceth not in iniquity" (1 Corinthians 13:6).  Consider these two verses:
Proverbs 3:12, "For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth."
Hebrews 12:6, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."
Those two verses are a millennial nightmare.  They clash with unconditional love as much as possible.  They would read instead, For whom the Lord loveth, he accepteth. In Ephesians 5:26, using the Lord's love for the church as an example of how a husband loves his wife, the Apostle Paul says that Christ loves and gives himself to the church
that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.
So loving is sanctifying and cleansing using the Word of God.  Sanctifying is separating and cleansing is removing dirt or corruption.

Of course, love includes encouragement, time spent, cheerful words, thanks, and gifts.  When there is wrong behavior, that violates God's standard, love brings correction, reproof, chastening, cleansing, and sanctifying.  Love is of God and God is love.

A millennial may want the love that he wants, acceptance and toleration, which he deems to be love out of his selective relativism.  When you violate that standard, his requirement to accept and tolerate, he will judge it not to be love.  He's judging too, just based on selective relativism.

Scripture requires love of God and others.  Paul said, cursed is any man who loves not the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 16:22.  If you are messed up on love, because of selective relativism, you are cursed.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Jessie Penn-Lewis: the Christ-Life and Quietism (part 5 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 03, 2019

Why Didn't Jesus or Paul Try to Stop Slavery?

Whenever I get to a slavery passage when teaching the Bible, I like to talk about slavery.  I taught Ephesians this year in our school and I had to talk about it in Ephesians 6:5-9.  I couldn't just say, let's talk about the employer-employee relationship, since it starts with slaves being obedient to their masters in verse 5.

Slavery is actually a big part of the Bible.  In the New Testament, the noun form of "slave" (doulos) occurs 127 times, and its verb form occurs 25.  Scripture doesn't hide the fact of slavery.  It's right there again and again.

This week Nike, the shoe company, canceled its Betsy Ross Flag Sneaker, which had a rendition of the flag of the original thirteen states on its heel.  Colin Kaepernick, who works for Nike, objected.  Vox, a site sympathetic to him, reported:
This early version of the flag, he argued, is pulled from the era of slavery and doesn’t warrant celebration.
Many are predicting sales of Nike will increase based upon this decision.  July 4th and this story got me thinking again about slavery.

Neither Jesus or Paul tried to stop slavery.  Did they approve of it?  Both did.

Slavery in the Bible isn't an overly complicated issue, but I want to give what I believe are the cliffs notes on it.  It's worth understanding, because there is good and bad here.

One, slavery itself is acceptable to God.  Two, slavery is regulated in the Bible by God and violating His regulations is sinning against Him.  Three, ending slavery isn't a target for the church, even as it wasn't for Jesus and Paul.

Those three points are hard for the modern American mind.  The institution of slavery doesn't exist in the United States any more, but as seen in the Nike controversy above and others like it, it's still an issue.  Thinking about slavery in a biblical way is of the greatest value.

I want to start with the regulations.  Kidnapping is wrong, so capturing someone and making him a slave is a violation (Exodus 21:16).  That would prohibit a slave trade and involuntary slavery.  Having a racial component to slavery is wrong, because the Bible teaches against racial superiority.  Everyone is equal in essence in the sight of God.  All the other regulations of slavery would fit the regulations in scripture for how anyone treats another human being.

A lot of the society of Jesus and Paul violated scripture.  The mission of the church superseded stopping what was wrong in the culture.  The focus was the permanent perfection of everything under the reign of Jesus Christ.  The priority is the kingdom of the Lord over all temporal, short-term human institutions.  The nature of change is important in scripture.  For a Christian, the successful long term changes of a society or culture depend on belief of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The world doesn't understand the last point.  Nothing could be more important to the world than its seventy to one hundred year lifespan on earth.  However, not to God.  Jesus or Paul don't attempt to upheave social institutions, which include marriage and government.

If you are slave, be the best slave for Jesus Christ.  If you are wife to an unsaved husband, be the best wife for Jesus Christ.  If you are in an oppressive government, be the best citizen of the state for Jesus Christ.  The Bible treats this life like the short life that it is.  I don't assume that living according to scripture won't turn the world into the best possible place even in the short term.    The permanent though should not be sacrificed on the altar of the immediate.

The Bible teaches that Christians have their identities in Jesus Christ.  They are not  a Jew or Gentile, but they are a Christian.  They are not male or female.  They are a Christian.  They are not bond or free, but Christians.  That brings me back to the first point.

The Bible teaches slavery.  Believers are slaves of Jesus Christ.  Every person is a slave to something or someone.  Paul said you were either a slave of sin or a slave of righteousness -- you are either one or the other and not both at the same time.

The hierarchy of slavery isn't wrong.  An earthly master isn't better than his slave, but he has authority over him.  All men are created equal, like Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence.  Submission to someone in authority over you doesn't mean he is better than you.  His position is greater even as God the Father is greater than God the Son.

The kind of slavery before the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation and the series of constitutional amendments ratified after the Civil War doesn't exist any more in the United States.  Maybe that history of slavery is still a concern to unbelievers, but it shouldn't matter to a Christian.  The slavery issue is a distraction from what the real problem is.  Christians shouldn't cooperate with that distraction as they so often do today, so that they will appear to be "woke."

Anyone who rejects the gospel of Jesus Christ will go to Hell.  Hell will be worse for everyone than any other form of slavery that exists on earth.  Rescuing people from sin and Hell must far outweigh any other cause.  Nothing is worse.

There are things worse than slavery that violate biblical regulation of slavery.  If we can't be more concerned about those things over the slavery issue, then our values are truly perverse.

 In one sense, everyone is owned by God as a submissive slave, or as a rebel against, following his own way.   On the other hand, believers are voluntarily slaves of Jesus Christ.   Believers do not do well to cooperate with a general dislike of the concept of slavery.   We want to encourage slavery to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  If someone doesn't acquiesce to the Lordship of Christ, he'll be a slave anyway to the world, the flesh, and the devil and meet a damnable end.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Apostasy and the Meaning of Stephen's Sermon in Acts 7 with Special Application to Millennial Apostates

In the first half of Acts 6 Stephen along with seven others was chosen to service the Grecian widows of the Jerusalem church.  In the second half of Acts 6, the focus stays alone on Stephen with his courageous gospel disputations in the Hellenistic Jewish synagogues.  He is charged with blasphemy by them, which then gains the attention of the Sanhedrin.  When he is called before that august council in Acts 7:1, Caiaphas asks him a question about the charges of the synagogue leadership:  "Are these things so?"  The rest of the mammoth chapter records Stephen's answer to the high priest's question.

The accusation against Stephen was blasphemy and he turns that on its head against his accusers.  The English word "blasphemy" transliterates the Greek noun, blasphemiaBDAG says that it is "speech that denigrates or defames, reviling, denigration, disrespect, slander," and in particular denigates or degrades God.  The Hebrew word that translates "blaspheme" means essentially the same.  Very often blasphemy is associated with taking the name of the Lord God in vain, breaking the third of the ten commandments, which is blasphemy.

In Acts 6:11, Stephen is accused to have spoken blasphemous words against Moses and against God.  Part of what Stephen is doing in Acts 7 is defending himself, but he does it in a cohesive manner so as to prove that his accusers were the ones guilty of blasphemy.  He uses the entire Old Testament to prove the apostasy of Israel and its leaders.  Blasphemy and apostasy come together, but what is it?

Key to understanding the sermon of Stephen in Acts 7 is in the conclusion to it in verses 51-53:
51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
This is the theme of Stephen's presentation.  His audience, he says, always resists the Holy Spirit, as their forefathers did.  They did that by persecuting the prophets, ending in the slaying of the Just One, Jesus, so having received the law, they have not kept it.

Stephen's present accusers and their forefathers denigrated God, blasphemy, by not hearing or heeding the voice of God through His spokesmen.  They denigrated them all the way up to the greatest spokesman of and for God, the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is something Jesus also had proven to them while He preached during His ministry.

What I'm writing here reinforces a theme I've been asserting in recent posts here on apostasy, authority, and heresy.  In his epistle about apostasy in 2 Peter, Peter equates the apostasy with the despising of government and speaking evil of dignities, and in Jude's epistle also about apostasy, "despise dominion."  "Despising," "speaking evil," and again "despise" are to "denigrate" or "defame."

A person, including a professing Christian or Israelite, can imagine or fancy himself respectful of God.  He has formed or fashioned his god in his imagination into one who accepts his lifestyle.  This is what Jude calls 'turning the grace of God into lasciviousness.'  Meanwhile, this person defames actual God by denigrating God's representative human authorities that this person cannot morph into what he wants.

The denigration of the human authority is what Stephen specifies to evince blasphemy of God.  When Jesus came, He was God in human flesh.  They couldn't get away with this separation of God from human authority.  Jesus was human.  They had to deal with something concrete with which they were unable to pass off through their fancies and mere imagination.  Here was God before them.  Who was it before?

Well, according to Stephen, before it was first Joseph.  Yes, Joseph.  The last fifteen chapters of Genesis  areabout Joseph.  Stephen said about Joseph, "God was with him."  I looked into who else that was said about in the New Testament.  One time.  Acts 10:38.  It was said about Jesus by Peter.  Joseph and Jesus.  God was with them.

The parallel for Stephen among the Patriarchs were the twelve tribes, the sons of Jacob, who envied Joseph.  This related to lust, another theme for Peter in 2 Peter and Jude in Jude.  They weren't getting what they wanted and Joseph was in the way.  What they wanted wasn't what God wanted and God was with Joseph.

At the end of Genesis, Joseph says God meant it for good (Gen 50:20).  That didn't relieve the responsibility of the twelve, according to Stephen.  They were opposing God nonetheless, like whom?  Like Judas for one, another apostate, whom Stephen's accusers used to betray Christ.

There are thousands and thousands of millennials today, who feel justified in changing their own views about God, because of their problem with human authority, maybe a parent or a pastor.  The human authority is the one saying, no, and punishing them when they do wrong.  They want their way.  Instead of succumbing to the human authority, whom God is with, whether they like it or not, they speak evil of it and despise it, while thinking they are loving God.  This is blasphemy.  They are blaspheming God by blaspheming, denigrating and defaming human authority.  I know about this personally and painfully.  They are not loving God, because this is how God works -- through people, human authority.  They have merely shaped a new god in their minds who rejects their human authority -- like Joseph's brothers.  Their new god, who isn't actual God, agrees with them, and actual God, Who speaks through human authority, doesn't agree with them.  They are blaspheming Him.

Stephen moves on from there, but that's how he makes his case in Acts 7.  It would be good for you to understand that.