Monday, December 28, 2009

The Son of God Goes Forth to War

The love of truth is weaker than the love of power

In chapter four of In Praise of Prejudice, Dalrymple explains why it is that social engineers prefer a history of disaster to a history of achievement.
A country whose problems, by comparison with those of all other countries are minor, and disproportionately caused by the inherent and inescapable difficulties of human existence…rather than by defective political arrangements, does not necessarily please the intellectuals, who are left with nothing, or nothing very much, to think about and rectify.
This is why history often has to be revised—to justify taking power and making radical political alterations.
If history is indeed but the record of extreme nastiness, then we have nothing to learn from it except that we, who of course are people of unalloyed good will, must do things—everything—differently in the future.
And if this means we must to sacrifice historical truth for political power, well then, so be it.
The love of truth, while it exists, is generally weaker than the love of power.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

History Teaches Us Anything We Like

From In Praise of Prejudice, chapter three: “History Teaches Us Anything We Like.”

In a recent book entitled Menace in Europe…the talented American journalist Claire Berlinski tells us that war and genocide are not part of the history of Europe, but constitute the whole of its history. She arrives at this conclusion by looking at European history through the lens of the Holocaust and a list of wars that fills an entire page of print… Miss Berlinski’s is an example of what might be called the nothing-but school of historiography, by means of which a narrative is constricted [constructed?] from highly selected facts in order to verify a key to the understanding of everything… A present discontent is read backwards, or traced by a golden thread through the whole of history, and made to supply that history with an immanent meaning and teleology. (pp. 8-9)

Inconvenient facts usually spur us to heroic efforts of rationalization to preserve our outlook, rather than to honest re-examination; in medical practice I have been struck by the capacity of even intellectually ungifted people to manufacture an infinitude of rationalizations almost instantaneously in defense of a course of action upon which they have already decided, in spite of the abundant evidence that will be disastrous. When a doctor proposes an eminently sensible course of action to a patient, based upon the most compelling evidence, and the patient replies, “Yes, but…,” the doctor might as well give up there and then…” (p. 11)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Destroying certainty

In chapter two of In Praise of Prejudice, Dalrymple observes that unlike Rene Descartes, the 17th century philosopher who systematically subjected everything to doubt in order to see if there was anything of which he could be absolutely certain, modern Cartesians wish to destroy certainty itself.

The popularity of the Cartesian method is not the consequence of a desire to remove metaphysical doubt, and find certainty, but precisely the opposite: to cast doubt on everything, and thereby increase the scope of personal license, by destroying in advance any philosophical basis for the limitation of our own appetites. The radical skeptic, nowadays at least, is in search not so much of truth, as of liberty—that is to say, of liberty conceived of the largest field imaginable for the satisfaction of his whims. He is in the realm of moral conceptions what the man who refuses to marry is in the realm of relationships: he is reluctant to foreclose on any possibilities by imposing limits on himself…

The skepticism of radical skeptics who demand a Cartesian point from which to examine any question, at least any question that has some bearing on the way they ought to conduct themselves, varies according to subject matter. Very few are so skeptical that they doubt that the sun will rise tomorrow, even though they might have difficulty offering evidence for the heliocentric (or any other) theory of the solar system. These skeptics believe that then they turn the light switch, the light will come one, even though their grasp of the theory of electricity might not be strong. A ferocious and insatiable spirit of inquiry overtakes them, however, the moment they perceive that their interest are at stake—their interests here being their freedom, or license, to act upon their whims. Then all the resources of philosophy are available to them in a flash, and are used to undermine the moral authority of custom, law, and the wisdom of the ages. (pp. 6-7)

Christ Church caroling at the the mall.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Good Little Cartesians

In chapter one of In Praise of Prejudice, Dalrymple cites the Oxford Shorter Dictionary, which defines prejudice as,
A previous judgement, especially a premature or hasty judgement. Preconceived opinion; bias favourable or unfavourable; prepossession…usually with unfavourable connotation. An unreasoning predilection or objection.
He goes on to point out that nowadays the idea of prejudice is usually associated with race (“the word race and prejudice go together like Mercedes and Benz, or Dolce and Gabbana”). Surely in this connection prejudice is a vice to be diligently avoided. But does it follow from this that all prejudice is vicious? Is it really possible to live without preconceived ideas? Are all preconceived ideas necessarily wrong?

The man without prejudices, or rather, the man who declares himself such, is a man who is terrified to be thought first bigoted, and second, so weak of mind, so lacking in individuality and mental power, that he cannot think for himself. For his opinions, he has to fall back on the shards of wisdom, or more likely unwisdom, which constitute prejudice. Every proper man, then, is a Descartes on every subject and every question that comes before him. In other words, he seeks that indubitable Cartesian point from which, and from which only, it is possible to erect a reasonable opinion that is truly his own and owes nothing to unexamined pre-suppositions. The answer to every question, therefore, has to be founded on first principles that are beyond doubt, or else it is shot through with prejudice. Whether the person who declares himself free of prejudice knows it or not, whether or not he has ever read the Discourse on Method, he is a belated Cartesian [i.e., one refuses to accept anything as true except what has an indubitable rational basis]. (p. 4)

Crowder in Detroit

Ever wonder what vast amounts of state and federal money and powerful unions will do for city? Check out out Steven Crowder's visit to Detroit.

Boxer's Logic

In commenting on the abortion compromise in the Senate health care bill, Senator Barbara Boxer said, "You have both sides criticizing it [the compromise], which means we did what we had to do, we compromised in a fair way."

Let's say an innocent man is put on trial for murder. The prosecution wants him to be found guilty and executed. The defense seeks his acquital and release. The judge wishing to give something to both sides, finds him guilty and gives him 20 years in prison with eligibility for parole after 10. Neither side got everything it wanted. They both complain. But the judge tells the press, "You have both sides criticizing it, which means I did what I had to do, I compromised in a fair way."

Monday, December 21, 2009

In Praise of Prejudice

I have just begun what appears to be a very profitable read, In Praise of Prejudice: The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas, by Theodore Dalrymple.
To call someone prejudiced is to relegate him to the lowest rung of intellectual life. But is there anyone who isn’t prejudiced? As Dr. Dalrymple argues in this brief and bracing rehabilitation of both prejudice itself and the necessity of prejudice, someone who walks out into the world completely unprejudiced is as helpless as a newborn babe.

In fact, as Dr. Dalrymple shows, prejudice is at the root of most virtue as well as of a lot of vice. To expect people to work out all their morals for themselves from abstract first principles is to expect far too much from them. It is not only unrealistic, it is harmful.

The pretense that we can be totally unprejudiced, argues Dr. Dalrymple, who speaks from wide clinical experience as a doctor in a slum hospital and the prison next door, is a pretext for licentiousness and lack of self-control, to the detriment not only of the individuals themselves but of society as a whole.

Prejudice is not just a matter of derogatory stereotyping of racial groups (though it may certainly include that). It is also the foundation of social virtue. To read Dr. Dalrymple is to let him destroy your prejudice against prejudice. (From the front flap)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Who was Jesus praying for?

Question: When Christ said on the cross, “Forgive them for they know not what they do”, who was he praying for? It seems he wants the Father to forgive the people who put him to death. Surely they are not saved without faith? So does this mean that He asked for forgiveness that was short of salvation? And how was his prayer answered?

Answer: The degree of guilt in any particular instance of sin is measured in part by the degree of one’s knowledge of right and wrong. James writes, “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (Jas. 4:17). Jesus told the Pharisees, “If you were blind [lacking knowledge], you would have no guilt [relatively, not absolutely]; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains” (Jn. 9:41). And in another place he said,
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you (Matt. 11:21-24).
From this we see that there are degrees of punishment in proportion to the degree of guilt, which in turn is determined in part (at least) by the degree of knowledge. The Jewish cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, the chief cities in which Jesus taught and performed his miracles, would receive a more severe judgment than the Gentile cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom, because they sinned against greater knowledge. They had Jesus himself ministering in their midst! Their refusal to repent was inexcusable.

In another place, Jesus said, “That servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating” (Lk. 12:47-48a). The severity of the punishment is determined by the degree of knowledge each servant possessed. The servant who did not know his master’s will, received a less severe punishment. His ignorance, though not entirely excusable (he ought to have known his master’s will), somewhat mitigated his guilt.

Paul wrote of his own case, “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Tim. 1:12-13).

Let’s apply these principles to the situation you mention.

There were a number of different classes of people gathered around the scene of crucifixion: the Jewish rulers (Lk. 23:35), the Roman soldiers who actually nailed Jesus to the cross (Lk. 23:36-37), a large crowd of common people from the city (Lk. 23:27), and a small band of faithful women (Lk. 23:27-31). The women, of course, were not to be blamed for the crucifixion, and so the prayer was not offered for them. The remaining classes of people were to blame—some more so and some less. The Jewish leaders were most to blame. They were the primary figures behind the crucifixion of Christ, and consequently had the greatest guilt (Jn. 18:35; 19:11). They ought to have known that Jesus was the Messiah. “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not understand these things?” (Jn. 3:10). They ought to have been first to have paid him the homage he was due as the Son of God. No one was in a better position to have known who he was than those who were the teachers of the Law. But they were blinded through envy (Mk. 15:10). Their actions were entirely inexcusable, and that’s why Jesus had earlier denounced utter ruin upon the city, which came forty years later by the hands of the Romans (Matt. 23:29-38).

The Roman soldiers were “just doing their job.” They were probably in no position to obtain a knowledge of the actual facts of Jesus’ case. All they knew was that he had been condemned by Pilate, who ordered his execution. For them it was simply a case of following orders. They would fit the description, “They know not what they do.” To a lesser extent, so would the crowds of common people, because, for the most part, they were deluded by the chief priests to ask for Jesus’ crucifixion (Matt. 27:20).

It would seem that Jesus’ prayer that they be forgiven was not a request for a full pardon of all sins, but a request for forgiveness for the particular sin of participation in his crucifixion. The crucifixion of Jesus was the darkest, foulest deed ever done by man, and deserving of an immediate and severe punishment. But Jesus prayed that this particular sin not be held against them, but that they be spared so as to have the opportunity to receive a full salvation which could only come through faith in him and his atoning sacrifice.

Was his prayer answered? Yes it was! How so? On the day of Pentecost and afterward many thousands of them who had had a part in Jesus’ crucifixion were brought by grace to repent and believe so as to be saved (Acts 2:32, 37-41).

John Calvin sums it all up well when he says,

It is probable, however, that Christ did not pray for all indiscriminately, but only for the wretched multitude, who were carried away by inconsiderate zeal, and not by premeditated wickedness. For since the scribes and priests were persons in regard to whom no ground was left for hope, it would have been in vain for him to pray for them. Nor can it be doubted that this prayer was heard by the heavenly Father, and that this was the cause why many of the people afterwards drank by faith the blood which they had shed.”

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Infant Baptism

Question: Please explain what the Bible teaches about infant baptism. Should we not wait until a child has grown up and become a believer?

Answer: To ask the question of whether or not infants are to be baptized is really to ask the question, “What is the relationship of the children of believers to the covenants of God?”

There is no doubt that when God made covenants with men in the Old Testament, those covenants included their children. We have several examples of this (Gen. 6:18; 17:7-14; Num. 25:12-13; Ps. 89:3-4; Jer. 35:18-19).

Even covenants between men included the children of the parties concerned. David’s kindness to Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth is a prime example (2 Sam. 9:1-7). David and Jonathan had made a covenant with each other (1 Sam. 18:3; cf. 20:8), a covenant that included one another’s entire households (1 Sam. 20:15-17). We see the outworking of this covenant when Jonathan died and David showed kindness to Jonathan’s son, “for Jonathan’s sake” (2 Sam. 9:1). Scripture says David showed him this kindness, “because of the oath of the LORD [the covenant] that was between them, between David and Jonathan” (2 Sam. 21:7). A promise to show kindness and mercy to someone is necessarily a promise to show kindness and mercy to his children.

God’s covenant with Abraham is the most instructive example for our purpose in considering infant baptism. When God made a covenant with Abraham, it included his entire household (Gen. 17:7-14). Furthermore, God gave Abraham circumcision as a sign and seal of the covenant (Gen. 17:11; Rom. 4:11). For an analogy, think of a wedding ring as a sign and seal of the marriage covenant. It is a token of the vows that are exchanged.

In a similar fashion, circumcision was given to Abraham as a token of God’s covenant with him. And this circumcision of the flesh was a type of the circumcision of the heart (Lev. 26:41; Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4; 9:25-26: Rom. 2:29)—that is, it was a type or a shadow of regeneration or the new birth.

Now was Abraham to apply this sign to himself alone? No. He was to apply it to his children, as well. Was he to wait to circumcise them until they reached an age of maturity and they “made a decision” for themselves to follow the Lord? No, he was to circumcise them on the eighth day after their birth (Gen. 17:12). Not only this, but all the males of his household were to be circumcised as well, including his servants purchased with money (numbering in the hundreds, Gen. 14:14), and his servants’ sons, too (Gen. 17:10-13). Thus, we read, “Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskin that very day” (Gen. 17:23). Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised. Ishmael was thirteen. And when Isaac was born, he was circumcised on the eighth day according to God’s command.

Furthermore, when a Gentile was converted to the faith of Abraham, he was to be circumcised, too, as were all his sons (Ex. 12:48).

What’s the point, you ask? Just this: In the New Testament Paul connects baptism with circumcision in Colossians 2, and he connects them in such a way as to show that baptism is the New Testament counterpart to Old Testament circumcision. He says, “in him [Christ] you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands…by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism…” (Col. 2:11-12a). In other words, by baptism, they were reckoned to have had a circumcision “made without hands,” a spiritual circumcision, a circumcision of the heart—the very thing that circumcision of the flesh was intended to represent. So he connects baptism with circumcision.

The question then becomes, “If in the Old Testament children were regarded as members of God’s covenant with their believing parents, and received the Old Testament sign of the covenant [circumcision], why should children of believing parents not receive the New Testament sign of the covenant—baptism?”

Is it because children are no longer participants with their believing parents in the covenant of God? God forbid! Are we to believe that God is less gracious in the New Testament than he was in the Old? Certainly not! We are told that the New Covenant is a better covenant, enacted on better promises (Heb. 8:6). If the Old Covenant contained promises that included the children of believers, how much more the New Covenant!

Accordingly, on the day of Pentecost we hear Peter preaching, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:38-39).

Later, while explaining his encounter with Cornelius to the elders of the church at Jerusalem, he said, “He told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household” (Acts 11:13-14). This is the same message the apostle Paul gave to the Philippian jailor, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). This is why we read several times in the New Testament of household baptisms (Acts 16:14-15, 32-34; 1 Cor. 1:16). These included the baptism of all who were a part of the household: parents, children, and servants—all who were under the authority of the converted head of the household.

This is a topic I never tire of addressing because few things demonstrate the covenant mercies of God as beautifully as the promises he makes to believers with respect to their children. And nothing sets this promise forth quite like baptism. Consequently, I encourage further questions. Let's continue to plumb the topic together to the bottom.

The Transfiguration

Question: What was the Transfiguration all about?

The account, taken from Matthew’s Gospel, reads like this,

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him (Matt. 17:1-3).

The transfiguration of Christ, which is recorded in all three of the synoptic Gospels, was a supernatural manifestation of our Lord’s divine glory, and I think is more to be wondered at and admired than to be dissected for analysis. Nevertheless, there are some important lessons we may glean from it.

First, it shows us something of the power and glory of Christ. Paul tells us that before the incarnation Jesus existed “in the form of God” and was equal to God, but that he “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7).

While on earth our Lord’s divine glory was obscured by the veil of human flesh; but in the transfiguration, God permitted some rays of that glory to break forth to be seen by men: “His face shown like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.”

So in the first place, the transfiguration was designed to reveal something of our Lord’s divine majesty.

Second, as he was transfigured before them, “there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.” Luke tells us what they were speaking “of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Lk. 9:31). That is, Moses and Elijah were speaking to Jesus about his death and resurrection.

This symbolizes that Jesus fulfills the Law and the Prophets. The Law is represented here by Moses, through whom God gave the Law; and the Prophets are represented by Elijah, who was regarded as kind of the prototypical prophet, the head of the line of prophets.

These two men appear and speak to Christ of his approaching death. Then, a bright cloud appears (representing the presence of God); and the cloud overshadows them all. From the cloud a voice is heard, declaring, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to him” (Matt. 17:5). Peter, James and John, then fall to the ground in terror, and suddenly Moses and Elijah disappear, and Jesus is left standing there by himself.

All this teaches us that Jesus fulfills the Law and the Prophets, a truth which is repeatedly emphasized in the New Testament (Matt. 5:17; Lk. 24:27, 44; Jn. 1:45; Acts 3:21-24; 24:14; 26:22; 28:23; Rom. 3:21-31). The sacrifices of the Law point to Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). The temple services, described by Moses, were living prophecies, or object lessons of the redemption Christ would bring. The high priesthood of Aaron foreshadowed the intercession of Christ at the right hand of the Father on behalf of the saints.

The Prophets, likewise, depicted many aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry, as well as his death and resurrection. The appearance, then, of Moses and Elijah speaking with Jesus about his “departure” symbolically portrayed his fulfillment of all that the Law and the Prophets spoken concerning him.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A little bit of heaven on earth

Melinda and I have had the privilege of attending 3 or 4 of Christ Church's Sunday evening Psalm Sings. Christ Church is a member congregation of the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches, located in Moscow, Idaho and pastored by Doug Wilson. A couple of times each month the congregation gathers on Sunday evening to sing Psalms and hymns. People sit in different parts of the auditorium depending on whether they sing soprano, alto, tenor, or bass, and they learn how to sing their respective parts.

Each Psalm Sing consists of singing familiar Psalms and hymns, as well as learning new ones that will be used in Sunday morning worship. The singing is glorious! One of our favorites is Psalm 98, "O Sing a New Song to the Lord."

Watch and enjoy. Also, please note the corporate "AMEN!" at the end of the song.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Carnal is as carnal does

What is meant by a “carnal” Christian?

This language (“carnal” Christian) comes from the old King Jimmie Version of the Bible. We find it places like 1 Corinthians 3, where Paul says,

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal (1 Cor. 3:1-4)
This word, “carnal”, comes from a Latin word that means “meat” or “flesh.” You might recognize it from the Spanish in chili con carne—chili with meat; or carne asada—roasted meat.

The word carnal is used in the King Jimmie several times, mostly in Romans and First and Second Corinthians (i.e., Rom. 7:14; 8:7; 15:27; 1 Cor. 3:1-4; 9:11; 2 Cor. 10:4; Heb. 7:6; 9:10). Most modern translations use some variant of the word “flesh,” which is the meaning of the underlying Greek word.

The concept of “the flesh” is a very important one in the Bible, and stands in contrast to “the Spirit.” “The flesh” refers to that which is natural, earthly, and human, as opposed to that which is supernatural, heavenly, and divine. The word is sometimes used to describe a natural, unregenerate man who does not know God (Rom. 8:6-9).

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
At other times the word is used to describe, not a natural or unregenerate man, but an immature Christian. And this is the sense in which Paul uses the word in 1 Corinthians 3, where he writes (according to the ESV), “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh [i.e., carnal].”

And then he explains precisely what he means when he says, “…as infants in Christ.” In other words, for a Christian to be carnal or fleshly, is for a Christian to be immature. Paul continues, “I fed you with milk [that is, food appropriate for a baby], not solid food [which is appropriate for a man]; for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh.”

We see here how he again equates being carnal (fleshly) with being immature. And then he explains why he formed this negative judgment of their maturity.

For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? (1 Cor. 3:1-4)

There was jealousy and strife among them, due in part to different factions in the church favoring one apostle or minister over another (v. 4f; cf. 1:11-12). But jealousy and strife of this sort are characteristics of those who are immature (Gal. 5:20).

Now, when he says, “are you not being merely human?” he is asking, “Are you not walking like mere men, who are devoid of the Holy Spirit?”

The carnal Christian, then, is a Christian who is immature. He is truly numbered among God’s people, but he is only a “babe in Christ.” In some respects his life may be hardly distinguishable from that of an unregenerate man. It is a sad thing to remain such a babe in Christ. There are few things more pitiful in life than a grown man who acts like a child. Likewise, it’s pitiful to see a man who for many years has been a Christian, but has not grown to maturity and still has many things in common with a natural man.

In another place, Paul said something very similar

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb. 5:12-14)

Let us never be content with the level of spiritual growth we have attained. Instead, let us always press on to greater and greater maturity.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stupidity on Display

Thomas Sowell explains why it is stupidity of the highest order to try terrorists in federal court.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Warriors Tournament

We competed in the Wichita Warriors Preseason Tournament last weekend, and finished in a misleading 5th place. I say misleading because we were matched in our first game against Manhattan, which ended up taking first. We were clearly the two best teams in the tournament. We should have been the number 1 and 2 seeds, but we ended up playing each other in the first round because the tournament organizer tried to do both teams a favor by scheduling our games in two days rather than three so we wouldn't have to spring for two nights in a motel. All the other teams were from the Wichita area and played one game each on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Since we were coming from out of town he scheduled our two teams to play our first round game on Thursday, which required us to play each other. A fifth place a finish was the best a team could do after losing in the first round.

After being down 12 at half time we roared back and cut the defict to only 1 at the at end of the third quarter. We actually took the lead twice in the fourth quarter, but ended up losing by 4, 37-33. Kristen Schmidt led the way in scoring with 11 points and dished out several assists. Suzanna Enick was also in double digits with 10.

We played Reno County in our second game and won big, 52-19. Suzanna Enick led all scorers in this game with 16 points, and Shie Eck was also in double figures with 11. This was all the more impressive given the fact that I had all three of our seniors (Shie Eck, Kristin Schmidt, and Suzanna Enick) sit out the entire fourth quarter.

In our third game we were matched against Newton. Again, we came out ahead, this time with a 38-27 victory. Shie Eck led us in scoring with 12. Again the seniors spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench to give our younger players some experience.

Our record now is 3-1. An encouraging statistic: four games, four different leading scorers.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A good start

Here's a picture of the basketball team I have the privilege of coaching this year, the South Central Wildcats varsity girls. Front row: Breann Pope, Kristin Schmidt, Candice Rawlings. Back row: yours truly, Suzanna Enick, Shie Eck, Hannah Eck, Elizabeth Enick, Melinda Enick (my lovely assistant coach). We had our first game last Saturday against the Ponca City Saints. We had four players score in double figures and came out with a 45-23 victory.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling

Question: What does Paul mean when he says to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12)? I am trying to understand his meaning of “work” and “fear and trembling.”

Answer:  The difficulty you may be having in understanding the apostle’s meaning may be due to the fact that we often conceive of salvation too narrowly. “Salvation” is a comprehensive term. We tend to think of only one aspect of salvation as if it were the whole of it. We tend to use the term exclusively of the moment of our conversion. We tell people, “I was saved when I was 12 years old.” Or, “I was saved when I lived in Wichita.”

When we say things like this, we are thinking of the moment of our conversion and equating it with “salvation.” There is nothing wrong with this as long as we remember that there is more to our salvation than this initial conversion experience.

The Bible uses the word “salvation” to refer, not only to conversion, but also to all of the various aspects of our redemption. According to the language of Scripture, we have been saved, we are being saved, and we shall be saved. In other words, there is a past, present, and future element to our salvation. Note the past, present, and future tenses in the following verses relative to our salvation.

Past tense: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy” (Titus 3:5).

Present tense: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).

Future tense: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Rom. 5:9).

These are just a few passages that speak of the various “tenses” of our salvation. At conversion we are justified. Justification is an act of God’s grace by which he pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous in his sight through the merits of Jesus’ blood, accepting his death in the place of our punishment. It is a one time, once for all work of God in the life of the believer that takes place at the moment of our conversion. This is the past tense of our salvation, and is usually what we have in mind when we speak of “salvation.”

Following justification comes sanctification; and whereas justification is an instantaneous work that God does for us, sanctification is a progressive work that God does in us. In justification God reckons us to be righteous; in sanctification, he makes us so in practice. By the working of his grace in us, he brings us into greater and greater conformity to his will. We are justified at the moment of our conversion, and it is a completed work. But sanctification begins with conversion and continues till the moment of death. This is the present tense of our salvation.

At death, the Christian is “glorified.” That is, he is finally and fully delivered from the power of sin. He is fully established in righteousness, and sin is no longer even a possibility. In this life we must contend with the world, the flesh, and the devil in our fight to live righteously. But in heaven we will be delivered from all our enemies, and the fight will be over. The culmination of our redemption, of course, will take place when Christ comes again to raise the dead. Then we shall experience the redemption of our bodies and our salvation will be complete (Rom. 8:23). This is the future tense of our salvation.

We have been saved (justified), we are in the process of being saved (sanctified), and one day will be saved (glorification/resurrection).

When Paul said, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” he was referring to the process of sanctification—working out in practice what God is working in us. The very next verse says, “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). This helps us to understand what he means. God is graciously at work in us, moving our will to will what he wills, and to do what he would have us do. This is a work that we are to yield to and cooperate with. But why with “fear and trembling”? Because, as Scripture says, “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 10:29). Peter said, “If you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile” (1 Pet. 1:17). God is holy, and he impartially judges with temporal judgments both saints and sinners. In fact, Peter would say just a little later, “It is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4:17).

Finding God in 60 Days

Andrew Klavan has a new humorous video poking fun at athiests over at PJTV.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

Question: Why did God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden if he didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat of it? In other words, why make something that is not allowed in the first place? We are told that God does not tempt man to sin, so we know that’s not why.

It appears that God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden to serve as a test of simple obedience.

This does not contradict what we read in the epistle of James: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (Jas. 1:13).

Testing is something quite different from tempting. God tested Adam and Eve, but he did not tempt them. He put the sincerity of their faith and obedience to the test, but he did not allure them to do evil—which is the essence of temptation.

They were tempted by Satan, as well as by their own desires. James tells us, “Each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (Jas. 1:14-15).

Satan, who is called, “the tempter” (Matt. 4:3; 1 Thes. 3:5), approached Adam and Eve in the garden and appealed to their pride and their desire for autonomy, or independence from God. He said, “When you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). The sense here is, “You will be like God in determining good and evil.” In other words, Satan was suggesting that if they ate from the forbidden tree, they could determine for themselves what was right and wrong. He was tempting them with the prospect of independence from authority of God and the rule of his word.

We are not told what kind of tree the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was. The usual representation is that it was an apple tree. But it may just as well have been a fig, or a date, or even a banana tree! In all likelihood, there was nothing exceptional in the tree itself—nothing in its appearance that would have distinguished it from the other trees. It probably was no different from the other trees of the garden except that God had said, “Don’t eat from it.” There was nothing inherently sinful about eating from the tree, but it became sinful simply because God commanded them not to eat from it.

Now, it would be a mistake to think that this was the only thing that was forbidden to Adam. It would have been unlawful for him to lie, to cheat, to steal, to murder, etc. But in his unfallen state he would have naturally seen the reasonableness for the prohibition against these things. But the command forbidding him to eat from a certain tree—a tree which was in every other respect just like all the other trees of the garden—this was an arbitrary command, and one for which he could see no inherent reason. The command to refrain from eating of it, therefore, was a test of pure obedience. In other words, would Adam obey God implicitly, without being able to understand God’s reasons, or would he follow his own judgment.

In Proverbs, Solomon says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). This is precisely what Adam and Eve failed to do. They failed to trust God implicitly. They were seduced by the suggestion of the serpent that they could be like God in determining good and evil for themselves. They were not content to live within their own creaturely limitations, but instead grasped for a prerogative that did not belong to them.

The trial they faced is not all that different from the one we face, as well. Will we humbly bow before the authority of God, who alone has the right to determine good and evil? Are we willing to live with his definitions—his judgment concerning what is right and wrong? Which is to say, will we confess that he is Lord, and we are not?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Why No Celebration?

Mark Steyn, always an insightful read, had this to say almost as an aside in his NRO column this week.
Twenty years ago this Fall, the Iron Curtain was coming down in Europe. Across the Warsaw Pact, the jailers of the Communist prison states lost their nerve, and the cell walls crumbled. Matt Welch, the editor of Reason, wonders why the anniversary is going all but unobserved: Why aren’t we making more of the biggest mass liberation in history?Well, because to celebrate it would involve recognizing it as a victory over Communism. And, after the Left’s long march through the institutions of the West, most are not willing to do that. There’s the bad totalitarianism (Nazism) and the good totalitarianism (Communism), whose apologists and, indeed, fetishists can still be found everywhere, even unto the White House.

Just a Few to be Saved?

The road to hell is wide and many go there, according to the Bible, and the road to heaven is narrow and few go there. Why wouldn’t a merciful God reverse that?

I assume the question is a reference to what Jesus said in the 13th chapter of Luke’s Gospel when someone asked him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?”

It’s important to note that Jesus actually uses the present participle, which is more accurately translated by the NASB like this: “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” Not, “who will be saved,” but “who are being saved.” The focus is on the speaker’s contemporary situation. In other words, the person who asked him this had his own generation in mind. No doubt he noticed that relatively speaking Jesus had very few followers. The great majority of the Jewish people at the time did not regard Jesus to be the Messiah. And the one who questioned Jesus was concerned about this. Can it really be that there are just a few who are being saved?

And Jesus’ answer addresses this historical situation.

Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying “Lord, open to us,” then he will answer you, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets” (Lk. 13:24-26).
You see here how he has the historical situation of his own day in mind. It is only those who lived in Jesus day who could say, “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.”

It’s true that in Jesus’ day there were very few who were being saved. But it doesn’t follow from this that this is the way it’s always going to be. In fact, Jesus told a couple of parables in the 13th chapter of Matthew, which indicate that in the end there could well be far more people who are saved than are lost.

He compares the kingdom of heaven to a grain of mustard seed, which he says is the smallest of all seeds, but when it is grown, it becomes larger than all the plants of the garden and becomes a tree, which I take to mean that in Jesus’ day the kingdom was very small, but in time it would become the largest, the most pervasive, the most dominant force in the world (see Matt. 13:31-32).

He follows this up with another parable that is like it—the parable of the leaven. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened” (Matt. 13:33).

These parables should be understood as demonstrating the slow, steady growth of the kingdom of heaven over time, through history.

This agrees with the words of the prophets. Daniel is given a prophecy of successive world empires from Babylon to Rome, and he is told that in the days of the fourth kingdom or the Roman Empire, “the God of heaven [would] set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed,” one that would in time come to “fill the whole earth” (Dan. 2:31-45).

Isaiah, likewise, said that of the increase of his government and of peace there would be no end (Isa. 9:6).

David, also, in the Psalms, said, “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you” (Ps. 22:27).

And the prophet Habakkuk said, “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).

So although in Jesus’ day the kingdom was small, and there were relatively few who were being saved, we should not assume this to be the case throughout history. Scripture teaches us to expect the kingdom to continue to grow. Consider how far we have come already. There were 120 people in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. There are two billion people today who call themselves Christians. This is about one third of the world’s population. Certainly not all those who call themselves Christians are entirely orthodox and faithful, but it is nevertheless an amazing thing that so many today would at least claim in one way or another to be a Christian. And I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet. Judging by the statements in Scripture, I think we have every reason to believe that God will yet pour his Spirit out in such a measure, and bless the preaching of the gospel to such a degree, that we will see the triumph of the kingdom of Christ that we have never even dared to dream, so that in the end, when it’s all said and done, there will be far more who will have been saved than have been lost.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Liberal Slave Ship

Race baiters, beware! Alfonzo Rachel is on to you!

The video is especially good from about 2:00 to the end.

Why did no one think to bail out the buggy industry?

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. Skimming the headlines over at, my eyes alighted on this: Report Urges Bailout to Preserve Journalism.

"Yikes!" methinks to myself. "Could it really be?" And so I clicked the headline to read the story:
NEW YORK -- Journalism is at risk and American society must act to preserve it, according to a report co-authored by The Washington Post's former executive editor.

In a paper commissioned by the Columbia University Journalism School, the ex-Post editor, Len Downie, and Michael Schudson, a Columbia professor, argue the government, universities and nonprofit foundations should step in as newspapers suffer financially.

The authors recommend that the Internal Revenue Service or Congress ensure the tax code allows local news outlets to operate as nonprofits. Downie and Schudson also urge philanthropic organizations to support local reporting. They suggest the Federal Communications Commission establish a fund using fees from telecommunications companies or Internet providers for grants to innovative local news groups.
Let's suppose the government steps up to the plate and bails out failing newspapers. Will there be any strings attached? Like required changes in management (think GM)? Will there be any required changes in editorial policy? Will there be regulation of content? To ask the questions is to answer them. Whenever you receive government money, you invite government control. He who pays the piper calls the tunes, as they say. There goes a free press. Newspapers will simply become the official propaganda tool of the federal government.

The article continues...
"American journalism is at a transformational moment, in which the era of dominant newspapers and influential network news divisions is rapidly giving way to one in which the gathering and distribution of news is more widely dispersed," the report begins.
Some people, including yours truly, see this as a good thing. A centralized control of the flow of information is a means of brainwashing. For far too long there have been far too few means of "gathering and distributing" the news. And what means there have been have been overwhelmingly secular and liberal.

With the explosion of the internet, the official gate-keepers at the "dominant newspapers and influential network news divisions" have been bypassed, so we no longer have to be subjected to the groupthink of the mainstream media.

Besides, why is it that a failing enterprise should be propped up by the taxpayer? If a business, any business, is not producing a product that people want, shouldn't it go out of business? Why did no one think to bail out the horse and buggy industry? Couldn't they see that with the advent of the automobile, the buggy industry was doomed?

The automobile proved to be a far more desirable mode of transportation than a horse and buggy, much like other news outlets are proving to be far more desirable than the MSM. The only people who would have advocated for a bailout of the buggy industry would have been buggy-makers, who would have simply been trying to serve themselves. They might have tried to couch their pitch for a "buggy bailout" in high-sounding altruistic terms like saving thousands of jobs, preserving an American institution, etc., but the fact of the matter is that they were producing a product that no one wanted anymore more because other means of transportation were faster, more efficient, and easier to maintain.

Just so, the product of the MSM is a product that fewer and fewer people want. Other sources of information are proving to be more reliable, and other means of delivery (especially the internet) are proving to be more efficient than newspapers.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Is it ever permissible to lie?

Question: In 1 Samuel 16 God tells Samuel to go see Jesse in Bethlehem to anoint the new king (David). Samuel responds by saying that if Saul finds out why he is going, Saul will kill him (v. 2). God then tells Samuel to go to sacrifice and to give that as his reason for going (v. 2). Isn’t this deceptive?

Yes, it is. Samuel held back the main reason for his going to Bethlehem, and thus deceived Saul. Furthermore, he did this at God’s command.

Many Christians are a bit squeamish about this. But this is not the only instance of God approving the use of deception. One need only think of the two Hebrew midwives lying to Pharaoh and being blessed by God on account of it (Ex. 1:15-21), or Rahab hiding the two Hebrew spies and lying to the men of Jericho (Josh. 2:1-7)—not to mention the fact that the spies themselves, by virtue of being spies, were practicing deception—or Ehud’s deception of Eglon (Jud. 3:15-23), or Jael’s deception of Sisera (Jud. 4:17-22), or Elisha’s deception of the Syrians (2 Ki. 6:14-20), to see that God has on many occasions approved of his people in the use of deception.

Even God himself, at times, uses deception to further his purpose. For instance, he is said to have put a “lying spirit” in the mouth of all the false prophets to entice King Ahab to fall in battle (1 Ki. 22:19-23; cf. Isa. 19:14; Ezek. 14:9; 2 Th. 2:9-12).

What are we to make of all this?

Consider an analogy. The fourth commandment prohibits work on the Sabbath. But does this mean that there are no circumstances under which it is permissible to work on the Sabbath? No. The Bible clearly allows works of necessity (Lk. 13:15; 14:5-6), works of charity (Mk. 3:1-4) and works of piety (Matt. 12:5; Jn. 7:20-23) to be performed on the Sabbath. “Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it?” (Lk. 13:15). “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” (Lk. 14:5-6)

Consider another analogy. In the fifth commandment, children are commanded to honor their parents (Ex. 20:12). This entails obedience (Eph. 6:1-2). But does this mean that there are no circumstances under which it is permissible for a child to disobey his parents? What if a parent should tell the child to do something which God forbids, or forbids a child to do what God commands? What should he do? He must obey God rather than his parents (Acts 5:29). The principle holds true for a wife’s submission to her husband, and the citizen’s obedience to the civil magistrate.

Consider still another analogy. The sixth commandment is, “You shall not kill.” But does this mean that there are no circumstances under which it is permissible to kill? No. The Bible clearly recognizes the moral legitimacy of killing in self-defense (Ex. 22:2), killing in capital punishment (Ex. 21:12-14), and killing in a just war (Ex. 17:8-16).

The eighth commandment prohibits stealing. But consider this situation: You’ve borrowed a neighbor’s shot-gun for a hunting trip because there was not enough time for yours to be repaired beforehand. You’ve returned from hunting, but haven’t yet had time to return the gun. Your neighbor comes over in a rage. He’s just had an argument with his wife. He says he’s so angry he could kill her. He demands his shot-gun. Should you return it? If you don’t, in effect, you’re stealing from him. But if you do return it, you’re aiding him in the murder of his wife.

Likewise, the Bible prohibits lying (Ex. 20:16; Lev. 19:13). But does this mean that there are no circumstances under which it is permissible to deceive?

The year is 1944. You live in German occupied Holland. You are hiding a Jewish family in your attic. The Nazis are going door to door in your neighborhood looking for Jews. It’s the middle of the night. There’s a loud knock on the door. It’s the S.S. They ask you if there are any Jews living in your house. What do you do? Do you tell them the truth; do you lie; or do you remain silent? If you tell them the truth you are aiding them in the murder of the Jewish family. If you remain silent, they will infer that the answer is yes, and the effect is the same as if you told them the truth. If you lie, you can spare their lives.

Sometimes obedience to one of God’s commandments involves us in an apparent disobedience to another. And when this is the case our duty is obedience to the weightier commandment of the law (cf. Matt. 23:23). This is the case in the illustration of a person hiding Jews in Nazi occupied Holland. To tell the truth in such circumstances involves a person as an accomplice in the violation of a weightier commandment than that against lying—it involves him as an accomplice to murder. Indeed, it is not a violation of a command of God against lying to lie in order to save the lives of the innocent.

Here’s the key: truth must be told to everyone who has a right to know the truth. But not everyone has a right to know the truth. If someone wishes to make an illicit use of the truth, deception is a legitimate option. R. J. Rushdoony writes,
Man has an obligation to speak truthfully in all normal circumstances, but he cannot permit evil men to steal, murder, or rape by his truth-telling...Truth-telling under such circumstances is not a virtue but moral cowardice. (Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 548)
Charles Hodge wrote, is generally admitted that in criminal falsehoods there must be not only the enunciation or signification of what is false, and an intention to deceive, but also a violation of some obligation. If there may be any combination of circumstances under which a man is not bound to speak the truth, those to whom the declaration or signification is made have no right to expect him to do so. (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 3, p. 441)
Earlier I said, “Sometimes obedience to one of God’s commandments involves us in an apparent disobedience to another.” The operative word here is “apparent.”

Again Charles Hodge writes,

“...the question [is not] whether it is ever right to lie; but rather what constitutes a lie...[T]here must be an intention to deceive when we are expected and bound to speak the truth. That is, there are circumstances in which a man is not bound to speak the truth, and therefore there are cases in which speaking or intimating what is not true is not a lie.” (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 3, pp. 442-443, emphasis added)
Theologians sometimes refer to this as a “holy pretence,” or a dolus bonus (good deceit), or even a “lie of necessity.”

I should add that it is never right for a Christian to escape persecution, even martyrdom, by lying and denying the Lord (Matt. 10:31-32, 38-39).

This teaching is liable to misunderstanding and misapplication as a means to justify all kinds of unholy falsehoods for personal advantage. Nevertheless, for those who do find themselves in a position where a “holy pretence” is necessary, their conscience need not be troubled.

Let this be clearly understood: I am not advocating the idea of situational ethics where there is no Law of God to guide our behavior and ethical decision-making. No. The Christian is to submit himself to the authority of God’s law. But there are times when we are confronted by an apparent conflict between obedience to one or another of God’s commands. In these circumstances we must obey the weightier commandment.

In the cases in which God used deception to further his purpose (1 Ki. 22:19-23 [par. 2 Ch. 18:18-22]; Isa. 19:14; Ezek. 14:9; 2 Th. 2:9-12), he was using it as a just punishment of those “who refused to love the truth and so be saved...but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” This was, in essence, the application of lex talionis, the law of retribution: “an eye for an eye...” The wicked loved not what was true, and so in retribution God gave them over to what was false.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Good Interview

Dr. Jerome Corsi was interviewed on Hannity last night about his new book, America for Sale, and he confirmed my suspicions. Recently I've been thinking that Obama is too smart to be acting so stupidly. If someone wished to undermine the strength of the dollar and weaken the U.S. economy he couldn't do any better than what Obama and other leading Democrats are doing. At first I thought it was just economic incompetence. But recently I've come to the conclusion that it's intentional.

While you're checking out the two part interview. I'll be buying the book.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Global Cooling?

The British Broadcasting Corporation is not particularly friendly to a conservative point of view, but apparently it is at least open to facts (unlike some American media outlets).
Despite a massive campaign involving the United Nations and most of the world’s industrialized nations and establishment media, the globe is not warming but in fact may actually be cooling, according to new research detailed by the BBC." (more)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Does God Hate?

Pastor, I have a question. In Psalm 5:5 it says God hates all who do iniquity. How can that be if God is love?

There are actually quite a few passages that of Scripture that speak of God hating the wicked, and these passages often cause his people to feel a bit squeamish because they don’t seem to fit our understanding of a loving God.

This is largely because our idea of love tends to be derived more from 19th century Romanticism than from the Bible. Therefore, the language of Scripture often proves troublesome for modern Christians. However, if our understanding of God doesn’t allow us to use the language of Scripture, then our understanding of God must change. Scripture always speaks truly and we are required to bring our thinking into line with it.

The passage you refer to says,

You are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evil doers (Ps. 5:4-5).

And David goes on to say,
You destroy those who speak lies;
the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man (Ps. 5:6)

In Psalm 11:5, he says,
The Lord tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked.
And then there is Psalm 95:10, "For forty years I loathed that generation."

And in Hosea 9:15 God says of Israel,
Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal;
there I began to hate them
Because of their wickedness of their deeds
I will drive them out of my house.
I will love them no more;
all their princes are rebels
Furthermore, Scripture often commends God’s people for hating the wicked. In Psalm 15, for example, David asks,

O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
And in answer to his own question, he says (among other things), the one “in whose eyes a vile person is despised” (Ps. 15:1, 4a).

There are several other passages to the same effect.

I hate the assembly of evildoers,
and I will not sit with the wicked (Ps. 26:5)

I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols (Ps. 31:6)

I hate the double-minded (Ps. 119:113)

Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?

And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies (Ps. 139:21-22)

In addition, consider the Psalms of imprecation, that is, the Psalms in which the Psalmist calls upon God to destroy the wicked (e.g. Ps. 5:9-10; 7:6, 9; 9:19-20; 10:2, 15; 12:3; 17:13; 28:4-5; 31:17-18; 35:1-8; 40:14-15; 55:12-15; 56:7; 58:6-11; 59:5; 59:10-15; 68:1-2; 69:22-28; 70:2-3; 71:13; 79:6-7, 10, 12; 83:9-18; 94:1-2; 104:35; 109:6-20, 29; 129:5-7; 137:8-9; 139:19-22; 140:9-11). As you can see, there are not just a few isolated passages.

How are we to reconcile these things with the love of God, and with the command he gives us to love even our enemies (Matt. 5:44)? First, we have to understand that we often have too superficial a definition of the meaning of love and hate. Both words have a range of meaning and take on different nuances according to the context. Just think of the different ways in which the word “love” is used.

When I say that I love my wife, I am speaking about a romantic love, a kind of love I do not have for any other person. When I say that I love my neighbor, I am speaking about a general good will that I am to have toward others (even my enemies). When I say that I love my friend, I am speaking about a love I have for someone because we share common interests and he has an agreeable personality. When I say I love chocolate, I am speaking of a fondness for a particular sensation chocolate produces on my taste-buds. When I say I love basketball, I am speaking of the enjoyment I derive from the sport. And when I say I love God, I am speaking of a deep-seated affection of my soul for him. These are many, very different, kinds of love.

The same kind of variation in meaning is true with the word “hate.” It can be used to indicate anything from mild dislike to revulsion or disgust to having an unjust and malicious intent toward someone. For example, I might say, “I hate it when I have a flat tire.” Or, “I hate liver.” Or, “I hate white people.” Or again, “I hate John.” In each case, something quite different is meant. When I say, “I hate it when I have a flat tire,” I’m saying I’m irritated by its inconvenience. When I say, “I hate liver,” I mean it’s disagreeable to my palate. If I say, “I hate white people” (or blacks, or Hispanics, or Chinese, etc.), I mean I have a prejudice against them. If I say, “I hate John”…well…you don’t know what I mean unless you inquire as to why I hate John. Am I disgusted with John’s behavior? Is John a pervert or a mass murderer whose actions are revolting? Or is John really a rather nice guy whom I envy because he happens to be successful, and I’m not? There are many different ways in which the word hate is used.

When the Bible speaks of God hating the wicked it does not mean that God forms an unjust and malicious intention toward them. But it does mean that he finds them revolting. He takes no pleasure in them, as he does in the righteous. God’s love of the righteous is the delight he takes in them. Their lives are pleasing to Him. Not so the wicked. He finds their way of life disgusting. He is angry with them (Ps. 7:11; Jn. 3:36; Rom. 1:18), and in his holy wrath, he will punish them. This is not the result of malice, but of justice. Two very different things. God has a love of good will toward everyone, but a love of delight, only toward the righteous. His good will is expressed toward the evil and the good by sending sunshine and rain upon them both (Matt. 5:45), and by accepting everyone who comes to him trusting in Christ and repenting of their sins, no matter how vile they have been previously.

From all that has been said, it is clear to see how God can be said to love sinners in one sense, but hate them in another.

Some people attempt to express it like this, “God hates the sin but loves the sinner.” But this doesn’t quite do. It seems to suggest that sin has an existence independent of the sinner, as if God abstracts the sin from the sinner. But it is not sin as such that is punished; it is sinners. They are punished in their own persons. It is with them that he is angry, not with sin as an abstract concept.

Another way of saying it is, that considered as a man God loves the sinner; but considered as a sinner, God hates him. Man is the work God’s own hands, and as such God loves him (is benevolent toward him); but God hates what man has made of himself. We should be careful to add, however, that this does not preclude God from freely offering and generously granting every sinner who repents abundant mercy in the forgiveness of sins.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

How's that again?

So, let me get this straight. We need a public (read: government) option in healthcare to keep private insurance companies honest, to make sure they don't deny anyone coverage. But it's Medicare, the government-run health insurer for seniors that currently leads the way in the denial of coverage?

Is it just me who's having trouble following the argument?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Conversations with the Fed

Chapter 6 of Ron Paul's End the Fed is entitled "Conversations with Greenspan", and chapter 7 is, "Conversations with Bernanke". In these chapters he recounts a few conversations he's had with these two chairman (one past, the other current) of Federal Reserve. Both chapters are quite interesting.

I was surprised to learn that Greenspan had written a 1966 article "Gold and Economic Freedom" in Ayn Rand's objectivist newspaper. In it, he gave a brilliant defense of the gold standard.

In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. If there were, the government would have to make its holding illegal, as was done in the case of gold. [This is a reference to FDR's confiscation of gold and the outlawing of ownership of gold in 1933]. If everyone decided, for example, to convert all his bank deposits as silver or copper or any other good and thereafter decline to accept checks as payments for goods, band deposits would lose their purchasing power and government-credited bank credit would be worthless as claims on goods. The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves.

This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists' tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists' antagonism toward the gold standard (p. 81)

Paul goes on to give transcripts of several conversations he had with Greenspan that make for interesting reading, especially in light of Greenspan's former sound principles. Paul concludes the chapter by saying,

History will show that Greenspan, during his years as Fed chairman (1987-2006), planted all the seeds of the financial calamity that erupted in 2007 and 2008. For the same reason a disease cannot be cured by more of the germ that caused it, the inflation and debt accumulation of the Obama years will not inflate our way out of it. This depression will likely last and last. If the depression lasts a decade or more, its length cannot be blamed solely on Greenspan. That blame will be placed on the current Federal Reserve Board, Congress, the President, the Treasury, but above all on Keynesian economic policy, the same philosophy that gave us the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Humor as a Weapon

I've just recently learned about a website that I plan on adding to my list of sites to visit regularly. It's Steven Crowder's Check out this video on celebrity advocacy of government run healthcare.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ron Paul, Meet the Austrian Economists

Chapter three of Ron Paul's book, End the Fed, is entitled "My Intellectual Influences." In it he describes how he came to embrace the free market and sound money ideas he advocates in the book. He starts with the work ethic that was instilled into him by his father as he worked as a small boy in the family's dairy business during the Great Depression. The scarcity of money caused him to value the virtues of hard work and saving, and led him to explore how money "works." (It's my experience that children who grow up having to earn their own money, rather than receiving an unearned allowance, come to understand economics better.)

Later he came across the proponents of the Austrian school of economics. Of course, he mentions Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, Murray N. Rothbard, and Hans F. Sennholz, as formative influences. He had the most personal interaction with Rothbard.

In was an event that occurred on August 15, 1971 that led him to enter the political fray. That was when President Nixon "announced the U.S. government would default on its pledge to deliver gold to any foreign government holding U.S. dollars at the rate of one ounce of gold for each $35."

The consequence is that we have a monetary system that is not tied to the value of gold at all. There is no hard metal backing our currency. As a result, through various devices, the supply of money can be inflated at will, which of course devalues the dollar and impoverishes all of us. The government benefits. Monied interests who are in the know benefit. But ordinary people, middle class and poor people, are ripped off.

Muhammad's Harem

In a previous post I mentioned the fact that the Koran allows a man to have four wives and to own sex slaves, women either captured in war or purchased with money. Muhammad, however, occupying the exalted status of Allah's prophet, was permitted to have as many wives and sex slaves as he wanted.
O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war, and the daughters of thine uncle on the father's side and the daughters of thine aunt's on the father's side, and the daughters of thine uncles on the mother's side and the daughters of thine aunts on the mother's side who emigrated with thee, and a believing woman if she give herself unto the Prophet and the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage--a privilege for thee only, not for the (rest of) believers--We are aware of that which We enjoined upon them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands possess--that thou mayest be free from blame, for Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (33:50)
It appears that being a prophet has its privileges!

"Funding His Fantasies"

David Patten over at has broken down what the president's proposals are going to cost and how he's planning to pay for them. See his article here.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Koran and Women

Robert Spencer's book really ought to be read by everyone who thinks Islam is a religion of peace and suitable for civilized society. One of the most atrocious teachings of the Koran is its view of women.

It is well known that the Koran allows a faithful Muslim up to four wives. What is not as well known is that he may also resort to "those that his right hand possesses" (i.e., slave girls captured in war or bought with money).

The fourth Surah (chapter) deals with women at some length. In it we read this:
Marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess (4:3)
Apparently, the faithful may even resort to these slave girls if the girls are married.
And all married women are forbidden unto you save [except] those captives whom your right hands possess. It is a decree of Allah for you (4:24)
And in Sura 23:1-6, we read this:
Successful indeed are the believers who are humble in their prayers, and who shun vain conversations, and who are payers of the poor-due; and who guard their modesty [i.e., abstain from sex]--save [except] from their wives or the slaves that their right hands possess, for then they are not blameworthy.

The Government and Its Banking Cartel

Hans Sennholz has called the creation of the Fed "the most tragic blunder ever committed by Congress. The day it was passed, old America died and a new era began. A new institution was born that was to cause, or greatly contribute to, the unprecedented economic instability in the decades to come."

It was a form of financial socialism that benefited the rich and the powerful. As for the excuse, it was then what it is now. The claim is that the Fed would protect the monetary and financial system against inflation and violent swings in market activity...

In practice the reality has been much different. One only needs to reflect on the dramatic decline in the value of the dollar that has taken place since the Fed was established in 1913. The goods and services you could buy for $1.00 in 1913 now cost nearly $21.00. Another way to look at this is from the perspective of the purchasing power of the dollar itself. It has fallen to less than $0.05 of its 1913 value. We might say that the government and its banking cartel have together stolen $0.95 of every dollar as they have pursued a relentlessly inflationary policy.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Artists at Work

Inflation and the Fed

Even the Fed itself claims that part of its jobe is to keep inflation in check. This is something like the tobacco industry claiming that it is trying to stop smoking or the automobile industry claiming that it is tyring to control road congesttion. The Fed is in the business of generating inflation. It might attempt to stop the effects of inflation, namely rising prices. But under the old definition of inflation--an artificial increase in the supply of money and credit--the eitnre reason for the Fed's existence is to generate more, not less of it.

What the largest banks desire is precisely what we might expect any large corporation to desire: privatized profits and socialized losses. (p. 14)

Socializing Losses

In chapter two Ron Paul does a decent job explaining "The Origin and Nature of the Fed."

From its founding in 1913, secrecy and inside deals have been part of the way the Fed works.

Part of the public relations game played by the chairman of the Fed is designed to suggest that the Fed is an essential part of our system, one we cannot do without. In fact, the Fed came about during a priod of our nation's history called the Progressive Era, when the income tax and many new government institutions were created. It was a time in which business in general became infatuated with the idea of forming cartels as a way protecting profits and socializing losses.

The largest banks were no exception. They were very unhappy that there was not national lender of last restort that they could depend on to bail them out in times of crisis. With no bailout mechanism in place, they had to sink or swim on their own merits. (p. 13)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Too bad they don't really make cars like this

European engineering thwarts Arab's plans.

Funny Video

Thought you might enjoy this.

Who Made God?

If God made the world who made God?

The simple answer is, “No one made God.” He is self-existent and eternal. Although the answer is simple, understanding it is a bit more difficult. But let’s think through it for a moment.

When it comes to the origin of God, we have four theoretical possibilities. Either:

(1) He popped into being without a cause
(2) God made himself
(3) He was made by someone else
(4) He was not made at all; he is eternal

(1) The first possibility is that God just popped into being without a cause. But this is not really a possibility at all. We cannot conceive of an effect without a cause. If he had a beginning, there must have been a cause.

(2) But it’s clear that God could not have made himself, because for him to have made himself he would had to have existed prior to himself, which is absurd. It would be a logical contradiction.

(3) It is equally clear that he was not made by someone else, because if God derived his existence from someone else, then this someone else would be greater than God, and he would deserve our worship and obedience. In other words, this someone else who is greater than God would be the true God.

Not only so, but we would very naturally want to know who it was that made this someone else. And then, “Who made the one who made this someone else?” And then again, “Who made him?” and so on until we are involved in what’s called an infinite regress. We keep moving the question back one step further until we have an infinite chain of cause and effect, which is impossible.

(4) The only real possibility, then, is to say that God was not made at all—that he is self-existent and eternal. By “self-existent” we mean that he has the power of existence in and of himself…and always has had this power.

Everything else that exists derives its existence from something outside of itself, and ultimately from God. Take human beings, for instance. The cause of our existence lies outside of ourselves; and the conditions of our continuing existence, likewise are outside of us.

Humanly speaking we depended upon the coming together of our parents for the beginning of our existence. Before we were conceived in our mothers’ wombs we did not exist. But we came into existence when we were conceived. After conception we depended upon our mothers to carry us in the womb for nine months, receiving nourishment from her body. After we were born we depended upon her to feed and clothe us and to nurse us back to health when we were sick. And even now that we are grown to maturity and can take care of ourselves, we must still depend upon many things outside of ourselves for our continuing existence. We depend upon the air to breathe, for instance. We depend upon food to eat and water to drink, and many, many other things also to keep our bodies alive and well. But God has no such needs…never has and never will.

The universe and everything in it has a derived and dependent existence, but God is self-existent, self-sufficient. He does not depend upon anyone or anything outside of himself for his existence (or for anything else).

Jesus expressed this very simply and very elegantly when he said in John 5:26, “The Father has life in himself.” He has life (or the power of existence) in himself.

This seems to be one of the things God wished to communicate when he made his name known to Moses. When Moses asked God what his name was, God said his name was/is, “I AM.” When God says that his name is I AM, he means he is the God who IS, as opposed to the gods of the pagan who are not; which is to say he is the God who exists, while the pagan gods do not exist.

And not only does God exist, but he exists in the most absolute sense. He is the ground of all existence, the source of all existence, the one from whom all things derive their existence, and upon whom they continually depend for their existence—and it’s because he has the power of existence in and of himself.

This is why when we open the Bible and come to the very first verse, it says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The phrase, “in the beginning,” refers to the heavens and the earth. It doesn’t refer to God. God has always been. There never was a time when God was not. He never began to be. You had a beginning, and I had a beginning. The universe itself had a beginning. But God has always existed. There never was a time when he was not. And there never was a time when he began to be.

The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deut. 33:27)

Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God (Ps. 90:2)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Preventative Medicine

A little preventative medince ahead of the release of Michael Moore's new film, "Capitalism: A Love Story," is provided by Walter Williams.

An economic disaster on the way?

Some sobering economic analysis by Richard Rahn over at NewsMax.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Legal Counterfeiting

The Fed’s activities since the market meltdown of 2008 have been dangerous in the extreme. The Fed is using all its power to drive the monetary base to unprecedented heights, creating trillions in new money out of thin air. From April 2008 to April 2009, the adjusted monetary base shot up from $856 billion to an unbelievable $1.749 trillion. Was there any new wealth created? New Production? No, this was the Ben Bernanke printing press at work. If you and I did anything similar, we would be called counterfeiters and be sent away for a lifetime in prison. (p. 8)

Back on November 21, 2002, Ben Bernanke explained precisely what his views are, so perhaps there should have been no surprise. “The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost. By increasing the number of U.S. dollars in circulation, or even by credibly threatening to do so, the U.S. government can also reduce the value of a dollar in terms of goods and services, which is equivalent to raising the prices in dollars of those goods and services. We conclude that, under a paper-money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and hence positive inflation.” (pp. 10-11)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Reflections on Beauty

There are many defects of the modern mind, but surely one of the most serious is its being conditioned to prize mere functional utility at the expense of beauty. When we consider the value of something, we almost always do so in terms of its usefulness. What’s it good for? What function does it perform? Is it efficient?

The question we rarely seem to ask is, “Is it beautiful?” How often do we purchase something simply for the pure aesthetic delight we take in it? Are we not inclined to think it a waste of money?

Yet God has given us senses that appreciate beauty – sights, sounds, and smells that have a pleasing effect. Sadly, however, Christians often fail to cultivate their aesthetic sense. It is thought to be unspiritual to “waste time” on such things. But God’s delight in things beautiful is displayed in his handiwork. Think of the varieties of color he splashes on the sky at sunset, the thousands of hues of green in nature (with none of them clashing), the sparkling heavens at night, the smell of honeysuckle, the sound of birds singing their songs to God, the taste of a good wine. To a modern utilitarian it might seem that God wasted an awful lot of creative energy on things that serve no useful purpose other than to ravish our senses. But God was pleased not only to ensure our survival in the world by providing us with what is necessary, but also to ensure our enjoyment of it by providing us with what is beautiful.

Created as we are in God’s image, we are drawn to the beautiful, and unless our aesthetic sense has been stifled by a crass utilitarian brain-washing, we pursue the beautiful, not merely in purely artistic pursuits like painting and sculpture, but in everyday ordinary activities, like how we dress, how we speak, how we set the table, how we worship.

Below are some quotations from various sources that might help us recover a sense of the importance of beauty.

Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance (Gen. 29:17)

And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty
(Ex. 28:2)

See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft (Ex. 31:1-5)

Sound theology leads always to the love of beauty. When there is no love of beauty, we may say, reasoning modus tollens, that there is no sound theology (Douglas Jones, Angels in the Architecture, p. 26).

We were created to make beautiful things - in music, in stone, on canvass, in sculpted gardens and in wonderful buildings (Douglas Jones, Angels in the Architecture, p. 31).

Beauty is never ‘necessary,’ ‘functional,’ or ‘useful.’ And when, expecting someone whom we love, we put a beautiful tablecloth on the table and decorate it with candles and flowers, we do all this not out of necessity, but out of love. And the Church is love, expectation and joy… As long as Christians will love the Kingdom of God, and not only discuss it, they will ‘represent’ it and signify it, in art and beauty (Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World, p. 30).