Tuesday, March 30, 2010

And we're going to pay for this...how?

I've seen this before, but not in a form I could post, until I saw it again in Joel Belz' column in World Magazine. Take a few moments to look it over carefully and ask yourself if the proponents of the healthcare reform bill are living in the real world if they think we have the resources to pay for it. Figures above the line show a budget surplus, figures below show a deficit.

Says Belz:

"Take a look at the simple but frightening chart on this page, whose sources are the Congressional Budget Office (in red) and the White House itself (in yellow). What they're reporting is the best possible scenario-the most optimistic projection anyone can come up with.
Here's what the graph summarizes:  The Bush administration inherited a surplus from the Clinton years. But tax cuts, the response to 9/11, and foolish and profligate spending by the Republican Congress of the mid-90s drove the federal government into successive deficits of around a third of a trillion dollars annually.
The Democrats' first year in charge of Congress took the deficit back up toward half a trillion (in 2008). Then came the unprecedented deficit of 2009 - the first year Democrats enjoyed control of the presidency as well as of Congress. All that follows has to be claimed as the fruit of their policies.
The projections, mind you, are what the sponsors of "health reform" say will happen if everything goes right for the next 10 years-if all the optimistic assumptions work just the way they hope they will.
By their own forecasts, the money isn't there. It will all have to be borrowed, printed, or counterfeited."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Hitchens Brothers

You've heard of atheist Christopher Hitchens. Now meet his brother, former atheist, Peter.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What would you ask the President...if you could?

Have you ever wondered what you would say if you had the opportunity to sit down and visit with President Obama? Ben Stein would like to ask a series of questions--good questions.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Separation of Church and State?

What do you think of the idea of separation of church and state?

It all depends on what you mean by it. If you mean, “Do I believe the government of the church should be kept separate from the government of the state”, then yes I’m all for it. The church should not be a department of the state nor the state a ministry of the church. Each has its own officers and its own sphere of responsibility.

But if you mean, “Do I believe in the separation of God from government”, which is what most who cry “separation of church and state” mean, then no, I don’t believe it for moment. The state, no less than the church, has a responsibility to acknowledge God and to be subject to him.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him (Ps. 2:10-12)

Those who hold office in civil government have a responsibility not only to live faithfully as Christians in their private lives, but also to govern faithfully as Christians in their public office, publicly acknowledging the Lord and governing in terms of his word. Much of the Bible, in fact, is given as instruction to those who hold public office—the case laws of the OT, for instance. God tells Moses, “These are the judgments [i.e., rulings] that you are to set before” the elders and judges of the people (Ex. 21:1; cf. Deut. 1:17). Civil magistrates are not to rule on their own authority, but are to look to God’s law as a guide in terms of the proper scope of government, as well as in terms of specific pieces of legislation, and in terms of how to rule in criminal cases.

Not only this, but much of the material in the prophets is a denunciation of kings and princes and judges for failing to uphold God’s law. And the prophets call the rulers to repentance.

Church and state each have their own particular spheres of responsibility. The state has two chief responsibilities. First, it is to defend its citizens against foreign invasion. Second, it is to maintain domestic order by enforcing laws against what God defines as criminal behavior.

The church, on the other hand, is to teach the word of God and be a center for his public worship. So church and state each have their own responsibilities, but both are under the authority of God and his word.

Leaders in civil government ought to be members of the church who listen to the teaching of God’s word and faithfully apply it to their calling as public officials. This was, in fact, a requirement in the early days of our nation. The colonies, and later, after the War for Independence, the states, had religious tests for public office-holders. As a part of the swearing in ceremony officials had to swear that they believed in the Christian religion and in the divinity of Christ, and that they accepted the Bible as God’s own revealed word.

It is unfortunate that our nation’s founding documents are not more explicit in this respect. Our Founders seem to have shied away from requiring a religious test for national office (i.e., they didn’t require a profession of faith in Jesus Christ), not because they were hoping to establish a secular society, but because that was deemed something properly to be taken care of at the state level. The states had their own religious tests, so that those sent to Washington had to meet the state religious requirements.

The Founders seem to have taken it for granted that ours was a Christian nation and the states would send Christian men to serve in the Federal government and so they didn’t see the need to express themselves more fully on this point in our founding documents. In the Declaration we have mention made of the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” And it is said “all Men are created equal,” and that they are “endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” In the Constitution we have an acknowledgement of the Lord’s Day, and the date of its passage is said to be “the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven.”

So there is clearly a Christian presupposition in these documents, and the Lord is referenced. But as I say, we could wish the Founders had been prescient enough to have seen the need to give a fuller account of these things so that there would not be so much confusion today concerning their original intentions.

One of the Founders, Patrick Henry, actually protested the Constitution in part because there was not a more explicit reference to Jesus Christ and an open acknowledgement of him as the universal sovereign.

What is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and why is there no forgiveness for it?

This is a question of no little concern for many people, some of whom fear they may have committed it. The thought of being guilty of a sin that can never be forgiven is indeed a very frightening thought.

Let’s try to understand what this is all about. In the first place, let’s make sure we understand what the word “blasphemy” means. To blaspheme means to speak evil of; to revile; to slander or defame. We find the word used more than 50 times in the NT. For instance, when Jesus was hanging on the cross, it says that those who passed by “derided” him. The Greek word is the word for blasphemy. They blasphemed him. They spoke evil of him, slandered him, defamed him.

In the book of Acts, when Paul was preaching in Pisidian Antioch, and large crowds came to hear him, it says, “When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him” (Acts 13:45). Literally, they “blasphemed” him.

In other places in the NT we read of the word of God being blasphemed (spoken against, Tit. 2:5), the way of the truth being blasphemed (2 Pet. 2:2), angels being blasphemed (Jude 8), and even God himself being blasphemed. In the book of Revelation, as God is shown pouring out his judgments on the wicked, it says that they “cursed [blasphemed] the God of heaven for their pain and sores” (Rev. 16:11; cf. v. 21).

Jesus mentions blasphemy specifically against the Holy Spirit in Matthew 12 and the parallel account in Mark 3. The occasion was this: He had just cast a demon out of a man that made the man both blind and mute, so that when the demon was driven out by the power of Christ the man was able to both see and speak. The Bible tells us that the crowds were amazed and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” Can this be the long-expected Messiah?

But when the Pharisees heard what the people were saying, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” This is when Jesus says, “Look, every kingdom which is divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?”

He says, “No it’s not by Satan that I cast out demons. The very notion is foolish.” And he goes on to say that it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that he casts out demons. He says, “How can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.” In other words, “It’s not because I am in league with the devil that I do these things. Rather it is because through the Holy Spirit I have power over the devil.” This, then, is when he says,

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come (Matt. 12:31-32)
In Mark’s Gospel we have the further explanation that Jesus said this because “they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit’ ” (Mk. 3:30). Jesus performed the miracle by the Spirit of God. They said it was by the power of an unclean spirit. They attributed an obvious work of the Spirit of God to the operation of the devil. Thus they blasphemed the Holy Spirit.

Now why is it that blasphemy against the Son of Man, against Christ (Matt. 12:32) – will be forgiven, but not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. I think the answer is this: the glory of Christ’s divinity was hidden, as it were, beneath the veil of his flesh, and thus people might be mistaken as to his divine nature. But there was no excuse for knowingly and willingly attributing an obviously miraculous and good work of the Spirit to the devil.

To ease the conscience of any who are concerned that they may have committed this sin without knowing it, let me say three things. First, it is not at all certain that it’s even possible to commit the sin today when Jesus is not here in the flesh performing miracles by the power of the Spirit. Second, the very nature of the sin requires that it be done consciously by knowingly attributing an obvious work of the Spirit to the devil. Third, the very fact that a person is concerned about it is one of the strongest possible evidences that he has not committed the sin. A person who has blasphemed the Holy Spirit, we have reason to believe, has become so hardened in sin, and so calloused to the things of God, that he doesn’t care whether or not he’s committed it. Such a person has been given over to a depraved mind.