30 April 2011

Answering Questions #11- The Framework Hypothesis and some additional considerations

Genesis 1-11, Old Testament Chronology and the Theological Implications

Many Christians have been stymied and frustrated by modern scientific observation and interpretation of the geological record and astronomical observations regarding the age of the universe.

In the past some responded by coming up with what is called The Gap Theory, which inserts millions of years between verses in the opening verses of Genesis. This is basically just a bad form of exegesis, actually akin to what Dispensationalism does with Daniel 9, by inserting 2000 years between two verses. Both interpretations destroy the obvious flow of the passage. The problem is solved, but at what cost, and by adapting what kind of principle?

Others have responded to the scientific dilemma by turning to Theistic Evolution and many among Mainline Protestant circles simply discount Genesis 1-11 as mythological and of no importance. By taking a different view of Scripture they maintain intellectual respectability, but as we know all too well. If Genesis is doubt, then why not the accounts concerning the Resurrection and many of the other miracles?

Rejecting this we understand the New Testament rests many key theological arguments, critical to the gospel on the events of the opening chapters of Genesis. Christ is the 2nd Adam and in order to interpret His work, we must have some understanding of the arrangement under which the 1st Adam operated. In addition, we run into serious problems if we fail to acknowledge the Fall, or the Flood as actual events. It is surprising how often they are appealed to. We even encounter problems with Christ himself who obviously treated them as historical events. Was Christ mistaken? Some have no problem saying so, but those of us who understand the Apostolic teaching concerning His Person…to suggest that Christ was wrong, fallible, subject to peccability, is to overthrow the Gospel itself.

28 April 2011

Integration vs. Assimilation, Turkish Assertiveness, and the Rise of the Right in Europe

This link is quite interesting.

Erdogan the Turkish Prime Minister demonstrates….

Turkey’s increasing self-confidence. Rejected by the EU and yet a longtime and crucial member of NATO, the Turks are growing quite comfortable if not a little assertive with their ‘Bridge’ role between East and West. They’re not afraid to stand up to the EU and the United States. Erdogan proves this by urging the massive Turkish population in Germany to ‘integrate’ not ‘assimilate’. In addition the Turks have succeeded in irritating Washington by refusing to cooperate with the 2003 Iraq invasion as well as finally assuaging their longtime animosities with Syria. Also, notice the difference between integrate…function in society but maintain your identity vs. assimilate… basically become in this case, German.

Why do Christians in the United States think it so essential for immigrants to assimilate? It is literally a theological issue for them. Isn’t integration enough? If you don’t want your society to change, then don’t invite people in. Of course all societies change anyway, and many American Christians seems to suggest that America has changed so much because of….immigrants? It’s a strange assertion. Most of the immigrants that come to the United States are coming from cultures far more conservative than our own. I think a lot of Americans and probably some Europeans don’t want to face the consequences of their materialistic lifestyles and especially in the United States, the type of children and youth it has produced.

Of course when speaking of inviting immigrants, I’m not talking about the millions of Mexicans and Central Americans that have entered the country illegally. That’s a separate issue but not unrelated to the Materialism issue I just raised. They weren’t invited per se, but the American economy needs them, wants them, and in many cases has facilitated their movement north by American policy both here and abroad. Mexico (a longtime American fief) is on its knees. Turkey (a former satellite, increasingly ally and partner) is not.

26 April 2011

The Babel Impulse

 We read in Genesis 11 that the men who sought to build the Tower of Babel were trying to build a tower to reach heaven and to make a name for themselves.

I remember as a kid being somewhat baffled by this. Were they that dumb that they really though they could build something to penetrate the sky?

That's not what they were trying to do. Reaching heaven didn't necessarily mean they were trying to punch through the atmosphere. Rather in ancient times there was a commonly held belief that the gods dwelt on mountains. Mountains are majestic, inaccessible, almost surreal. The Babylonian plain is pretty flat and we see something of a pseudo-mountain motif in the ziggurats of the day.

Establishment Media, The System It Protects, And The Blind Who Follow It

Our supposedly 'liberal' media refuses to report the real issue regarding America's financial situation...the one everyone refuses to ignore.

Why? Why don't they come out and say that America spends more on its Military-Industrial Complex than all the rest of the world combined?

Why do they persist to use to phrases like 'defense spending' when it has virtually little to do with defense? Ask the rest of the world if America's posture could be described as defensive.

24 April 2011

The Spirit in which I say these things………

Am I really this narrow and severe?

Just a quick note, a final thought to wrap up the recent posts……I argue these points and I believe in what I'm writing. Nevertheless I am happy to overlook much for the sake of charity. I will sit in churches with many things going on that I do not agree with. I will tolerate them, but I often find they will not tolerate me. I make up my mind to be quiet and not to discuss these things with anyone, not to sow discord.

If we talk to any modern Evangelicals we either have to grit our teeth and smile or we try and lightly engage and inevitably offend someone when we don't celebrate Christmas, support Israel, or show enthusiasm for George Bush and Sarah Palin.

23 April 2011

The Temptation of the Tactile

This is kind of a part 3 to the Easter discussion, but this goes far beyond Easter.

Interestingly not that many years ago, Protestants were somewhat apologetic about the pagan elements that had crept in their holy days. But today, Sacralist impulses have driven them to be proud of the conquest and appropriation of these elements. Suddenly, the eggs, bunnies, candy and the rest are good things…just as they've done with all the symbols floating around christ-mass celebration.

It's interesting how the early church quickly lost the authority base after the Apostles. There are several factors here.

One the Scriptures had been recently completed and while the Canon was mostly recognized quite early, there were a few books being debated.

Two they were trying to survive both in the face of civil persecution as well as the twin threats of Judaizing and Paganizing…mostly in the form of Gnosticism.

Consequently the church got off track pretty early and the occasional voices that tried to pull them back were ignored. Days and seasons were invented and kept, relics venerated, and slowly the Church introduced many new things and borrowed things……candles, vestments, crosses, altars, buildings/temples, offices, and eventually the cult of saints, purgatory, monasticism and the papacy.

22 April 2011

22 April Note

Regarding Comments:

A few of you have expressed frustration at losing you comments in the vortex of cyberspace. I'm not sure what the problem is. There are no restrictions. Anyone can post and I moderate after the fact...just removing spam etc...

Make sure you select an identity.......anonymous is fine, but please sign your note even if it's with a nickname or something.

Try 'previewing' your note before you submit. Usually if there's a problem it will show up at that point.

Also, I've lost a few as well at other sites. I ALWAYS right click, select all, and copy. Then I click the dead space to remove the highlight and then submit. That way I can right-click paste if it got lost.

Does anyone else have any tips? Those of you that have commented, have you run into anything that others might find helpful. I've had quite a few emails from folks telling me their comments did not post.

I wish we could figure this out.

A Refreshing Grasp of Historical Nuance From An Unbeliever

This was both interesting and refreshing. This is a short news clip from NPR covering Robert Redford's new movie 'The Conspirator' which deals with the Lincoln assassination conspiracy and the trial and execution of Mary Surratt, a story few people know about.

While Redford could hardly be called a Southern sympathizer he and many others have picked up on the fact that the sainted Abraham Lincoln has been mythologized and the narrative we were all given in school doesn't quite tell the story. In other words the Civil War was far more complicated than the propagandists from either side are willing to discuss or portray.

21 April 2011

Cluster Amnesia

Hilary Clinton was outraged at the possibility the Libyan government was using cluster bombs.

This is despite the fact that the United States has rendered the Convention on Cluster Munitions essentially meaningless. Without the backing of the United States, the Convention isn't worth much. The U.S. stands with Russia and China in refusing to sign on.

The United States has used cluster munitions in Iraq and Afghanistan and has received extensive criticism for doing so. In fact we could have a little discussion about which country generates and uses more chemical and anti-civilian weapons than any other country in the world, but that's for another time.

Clinton herself seems to be suffering a little amnesia as this 2008 article from the Guardian demonstrates.

Deceit at work in Christian Media and Politics

Here's a Christian guy that's trying to be reasonable. I don't agree with everything he says, nor do I endorse Ron Paul in any way.

But what's really interesting is that he exposes Gary Bauer the Christian Lobbyist for what he is....deceitful.

Are people starting to get it? I hope so.

Easter and Holy Week 2011- Part 2 (Binding the Conscience Where God Does Not Bind)

As I said in the last post (#1) we can apply the concept of binding the conscience and legalism to a host of issues.

What about to be a good Christian you need to give up certain foods for 40 days prior to the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox?

20 April 2011

Easter and Holy Week 2011- Part 1A

A connected supplemental discussion.....

A few points on Apostolic Authority, Canon, and Text

What if indeed John the Apostle went along with the growing practice of Easter? Let's say for argument's sake that it began in the first century.

Irenaeus in the 2nd Century relates that Polycarp his teacher kept Easter on the 14th of Nisan as he learned from the John the Apostle.

Does that mean then that we should also celebrate Easter?

I suppose if it did, then we should be celebrating it on 14 Nisan instead of Easter Sunday.

But were the Apostles authoritative in everything they did? Could they err? Was everything they were doing meant to be applied to the Church? Can we answer 'no' and yet still claim the New Testament as authoritative?

Social Conservatives and 2012

For those who are interested. This segment was on NPR's Talk of the Nation today. It's interesting because their guest is Ralph Reed formerly of the Christian Coalition.

They talk about Donald Trump and how Reed views him as a viable candidate even though every other political commentator including top conservatives like Karl Rove consider him dead in the water. Trump has made a big issue out of his doubts that Obama is an American citizen, but Reed doesn't seem to think that discredits him. I suppose when I turn on Christian radio and I'm still hearing that Obama is a crypto-muslim, I shouldn't be surprised.

A lot of Christian Conservatives are still pulling for Huckabee as one caller makes clear. Nothing profound here, just interesting...perhaps not for the reasons others mind find it interesting. I tend to listen to these things with a different ear. I'm not agreeing with Reed et al. nor am I  a partisan for the other side. I just like to observe and am absolutely fascinated with how 'christians' think and communicate.


19 April 2011

Easter and Holy Week 2011 - Part 1*

As usual, I'm behind. This was supposed to be done last week, but here it is...just in time for Maundy Thursday!

Well, the full moon is illuminating the night sky. Beautiful. It must be getting close to Easter. You know the connection right? A lot of people seem unaware. We all know the date of Easter varies from year to year, but how many know why?

17 April 2011

Zondervan's Owner

Here's a story you probably won't hear on FOX news, or at least not with a great deal of truthfulness. Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Newscorp.,  FOX and Christian publisher Zondervan (who owns the NIV and all those rather dubious study Bibles that have come out in recent years) has been caught in yet another controversy...this time in the UK.


Answering Questions #10- The Babel Impulse

What do you mean by the Babel Impulse?

We read in Genesis 11 that the men who sought to build the Tower of Babel were trying to build a tower to reach heaven and to make a name for themselves.

I remember as a kid being somewhat baffled by this. Were they that dumb that they really though they could build something to penetrate the sky?

That's not what they were trying to do. Reaching heaven didn't necessarily mean they were trying to punch through the atmosphere. Rather in ancient times there was a commonly held belief that the gods dwelt on mountains. Mountains are majestic, inaccessible, almost surreal. The Babylonian plain is pretty flat and we see something of a pseudo-mountain motif in the ziggurats of the day.

A ziggurat was a symbolic holy mountain. The idea was that it was a gateway, a place of meeting, a throne. The god dwelt on top of the mountain and the men who built the ziggurat would place an altar/throne there, an altar crowned with horns, the symbol of power and assertion.

The ziggurat was a sort of proclamation that the god dwells here and since he dwells here…this land is therefore holy and sanctified. We are the god's children and so forth.

13 April 2011

Islam Today Part 2: Assimilation Countdown

Though often viewed as a rising threat it must be remembered that about a century ago, the Ottoman Empire was on its knees, the Persians were subjugated, the Arabs long subject to the Turks had lost their former Abbasid and Umayyad glory. The sumptuous and cosmopolitan Mughal Empire of the Subcontinent had been vanquished by Victorian armies. Not long before that the Mamluks had been crushed by Napoleon and though the French walked away from Egypt the British would not until well into the 20th century.

We haven't even touched the Islamic culture of the southern Sahara where Islam stretches toward the frontiers of the Sub-Saharan plains and jungles. It was in Sudan that the Mahdi (another protest against Western Imperialism) was defeated by the English.

Nor have we discussed the complex forms of Islam that appear in South-East Asia as it interacts with Hinduism, Buddhism, and other traditional religions throughout the Subcontinent and the great archipelago that stretches from China to Australia.

I could go on and on. It's complicated. There are many groups, and just like in Europe they've all been at each other's throats and they all have their own cultures and ideas. They all have their own nationalisms and cultural biases. To understand Islam today, these things must be taken into account as well as their complex historical relations with the West, especially during the Colonial and post-Colonial period.

11 April 2011

Some thoughts on Media and Ethics

*Updated 11 April 1900EST

Like it or not, one has to admit Roger Ailes the architect of FOX news, Rupert Murdoch its owner, and Republican strategist Karl Rove are all exceptional and brilliant men.

They understand how to sell news and win elections. They understand how to reach the American audience, how to press their buttons, stir them, upset them. They seem to have an uncanny grasp on what makes the American public think.

Rove masterminded much of the Bush administration and played a huge part in the 2010 Republican victories. FOX has been a critical component of the Conservative political realm for over a decade now.

I hear Conservatives argue that since they know how to speak to the American public, they must be accurately reflecting the desires of the American people. In America-speak, that means it must be right.

This reflects a little bit of the duplicity I talked about in a post called Saul's Politics, wherein the Right and probably all who are involved in politics, in the end are unprincipled pragmatists, just as unprincipled and opportunistic as they accuse their opponents of being.

10 April 2011

Islam Today Part 1: A Complex of Cultures

A common historical and geo-political error is to view cultures or movements in monolithic categories or terms. By oversimplifying there is a tendency toward sweeping generalization, wrong questions, and the obvious wrong answers.
In Cold War era geo-politics the most poignant example of this can be found in the Western assessment and interpretation of Communism. Only after the Sino-Soviet Split and a bit of reflection regarding Vietnam did American policymakers and advisors begin to grasp their error. Sadly the Korean and Vietnam Wars had already happened. But even the wisdom gained by the 1970's played out in Détente and Realpolitik was abandoned by the Reagan White House in the 1980's. Conservatives with their tendency to simplify the message, marketing ideological soundbites, in the end won the day, and right up until the end of the USSR, most Americans believed they had God on their side in the war against the Evil Empire. While no one laments the fall of that or any Evil Empire, those who claimed and still claim to have God on their side have learned nothing, and march on in blind ignorance, regardless of the domestic and international costs of their Sacralist wars and worldview.

If Orwell taught us that Power needs an enemy to help manipulate the masses, then when Soviet backed Communism fell we should have expected a new enemy to appear shortly thereafter. Those wielding Western Power needed a justification to continue expanding, and leaders have long known that fear is a powerful tool to help them to that end. It creates a malleable public practically begging the State to expand.

07 April 2011

7 April update

Been very busy as of late. God willing more articles will be finished soon. I've got several in the works, but not enough hours in the day.

In the meantime, have a look at this link to Flee From Babylon. It's both sad and funny but also very true.

01 April 2011

Arthur Pink

One hundred and twenty five years ago today, on April 1 1886, Arthur Pink was born in Nottingham England. Growing up in the late Victorian era, and after being rescued from the occult he went on to serve the Lord during the tumultuous first half of the 20th century, dying on the Isle of Lewis in 1952. During the course of his life he observed the rise of Dispensationalism as well as the ascendancy of theological liberalism. Though originally a disciple of Darby and Scofield, he later denounced the system as ‘demonic’. He laboured quietly and lived both spiritually and literally as a pilgrim. Over the course of adult life he wandered much of the English speaking world labouring for the gospel in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. He wrote prolifically both in an official and unofficial capacity and asked for nothing in return. Consequently he spent much of life teetering on the edge of poverty.