15 December 2012

Answering Questions #20- Restorationism (7) Restoration, Kingdom and Political Expectation

Practically speaking a Restorationist mindset means frustration with the state of things and many difficulties in relating with other Christians. It becomes all the more confusing because you will encounter many Evangelicals who believe they too are Restorationists.
They believe they are following 'just the Bible' and they too want the Church to be like it was in the first centuries. And then more often than not, they'll talk about 'our guys' over in Vietnam or Afghanistan and how we need to stand by Nixon, Reagan, Bush, or whomever. They'll also tell you about how America was founded as a Christian nation etc..
The pronouns become confused and it becomes clear they really have no idea what they're talking about...not just about America...but with regard to Restorationism. In fact for them the founding of America is almost a Restorationist concept!
Generally speaking a Restorationist mindset has led to a myriad of practical difference that makes 'getting on' with your average Christian American Evangelical rather difficult. For the rest of this series I would like to touch on some of those differences.

So-Called Christmas 2012

Once again I offer the following to consider during this time of....whatever it is that's happening right now.

It's interesting that those who decry the materialism of this season have failed to grasp that our retail economy and thus much of the national economy is absolutely dependent on Christmas related sales. Many stores break even at best nine months out of the year. Christmas related sales make or break them. If there was a nationwide rejection of materialism...the national economy would implode and collapse.

Of course as one who spends absolutely zero on Christmas, I care little other than I would like to see the country adopt a different economic model...one that would necessitate a different political order. But that's for another time.

In the meantime for those interested in contemplating or reconsidering this holy day....

30 November 2012

Uganda and A World Net of Lies

I saw something this morning that drove me to sit down and write this even if it meant being late for work. It started with a podcast at a website which frequently praises the efforts to politically Christianize Africa. Uganda frequently comes up. The Christian Right in America has had their eyes on it for some time.

28 November 2012

Answering Questions #20- Restorationism (6) The Reformed Tradition

I'm including a link to Part 5 because I noticed many seemed to miss it in the flurry of subsequent and unrelated posts.

Thus far in discussing Restorationism we've looked at the Stone-Campbell Churches of Christ, briefly at the Anabaptist legacy and I've mentioned the Restorationist impulses and elements found with the Reformation.
The Lutheran and Anglican wings had a very limited view of Restoration. The Reformed wing went further and yet it could be argued this impulse was severely arrested with the development of specifically Reformed creedal and confessional standards. In addition the mainstream Protestant wings of the Reformation never repudiated the Medieval Sacral order. They wanted so-called Christian societies, a Protestant Christendom.

21 November 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

For those who haven't read it yet or for those who are interested, here's a link to my 2010 article on Thanksgiving.

As is usually the case, I approach these questions in a different manner. I'm not binding your conscience, nor do I want to ruin your day but it's interesting to observe the responses I get when I tell people I couldn't care less about the American holiday of Thanksgiving. This year will be no different, it's just another Thursday and I'll most likely be at work.

Being counter-cultural in this case is viewed as being somehow anti-Christian. To me it just further exemplifies the confusion in most people's minds regarding these issues of Kingdom, culture, and state.

I realize virtually no one will accept my argument. I realize very few will accept my arguments in general. But as always, it's something to ponder and meditate on.

14 November 2012

Answering Questions #21- Conscientious Objector Issues

A friend in Turkey recently wrote to me regarding a Christian man who is in a difficult situation. Many countries have conscription and Turkey happens to be on that does not have a provision for conscientious objectors. The penalty varies but if he refuses to do the mandatory 'service' he might be looking at anything from a few months up to a year or so in prison. He has a wife and child.

11 November 2012

The Geography of Division as Demonstrated in the Electoral College Map

Another interesting link and a comment I posted with some information some might find to be helpful. Some other worthy commentators also contributed to this thread.

My comment follows:

Election Commentaries

Here are some comments I put up at Green Baggins, a Reformed website. They will interest some readers.

But for context you'll need to visit the link: Random Election Day Thoughts

And there's another link mentioned in the comments that I also commented on.

5 Christian Responses to the 2012 Election

The author is someone I often disagree with. Ironically I used to attend his church several years before he took over. Reformation21 doesn't allow for comments, hence the discussion thread over at Green Baggins.

Here are my comments, which you can also find if you visit the Green Baggins link.

Veteran's Day 2012

Here's a link to a 2010 Veteran's Day post.

Sorry about the spacing on the Vance piece. I didn't go through and fix that. The paste function often does that...add spaces.

Answering Questions #20- Restorationism (5) The Anabaptists and The Constantinian Shift

The Church of Christ represents one aspect of Restorationism that I at least in principle would seek to emulate... a commitment to Biblicism and more specifically a New Testament oriented Biblicism.
With this comes a certain posturing toward history and doctrine that on some level I do appreciate, though in many cases I do not come to the same conclusions they do.
Another grouping to consider would be that of the Anabaptists. This would include the various Brethren groups in addition to the better known Mennonites.[i]

29 October 2012

Halloween 2012

Every year at this time I post the following link. I'm afraid for those of us in the Eastern United States, this year's Halloween will be a bit of wash out. Nevertheless the issue doesn't go away. In terms of spending, it's now the second biggest holiday in the United States and all the culture warriors and Dominionists feel the need to respond. 

My take is a bit different.

All Sacralist's Eve

Answering Questions #20- Restorationism (4) Stone-Campbell and Musical Instruments

The Stone-Campbell Movement, Biblicism, and the example of musical instruments.
What does this Restorationism I propose look like? Usually when people speak of Restorationism they think of the Stone-Campbell movement, better known as the Churches of Christ. This group is worthy of much admiration. I greatly appreciate their Biblicism, their determination to adhere to the text of Scripture. Many of their positions are akin to my own though we often arrive in a different manner.

13 October 2012

Answering Questions #20- Restorationism (3) The Kingdom In History

I recently heard a Reformed podcast in which the host and guest caricatured the whole idea of returning to the first century. Look at all the problems in the New Testament era, why would we want to return to that?

07 October 2012

Answering Questions #20- Restorationism (2) How Far Back?

Some of this distaste for Restoration is also related to ideas of 'progress' and Primitivism (or Restoration) is by nature regressive. It does not elevate the development of ideas and consciously rejects much of history as invalid. That is to say, a Restorationist will suggest many of the claims and ideas which have come out of history are in many ways just built on bad foundations. Restorationism seeks to sweep this away and get back to the foundation and start over as it were.

03 October 2012

Answering Questions #20- Restorationism (1)

You're ideas while interesting seem to lead toward some sort of Restorationism. Your ideas concerning theology and church history would seem to lead to that end. Aside from some doctrinal points, aren't you saying the same thing? Are you ultimately promoting some form of Restorationism? How do you differ?
And practically speaking, where do you draw lines? Sometimes reading your material I feel like with 'Confessionalism' being invalidated the possibilities seem, endless. But on the other hand it seems like you're condemning almost all of modern Christianity. Somewhere you said you attend a PCA, which seems strange considering at times you're quite hostile to Reformed theology and polity. Can you clarify some of this?

22 September 2012

Philosophical Wanderings 5a

These posts have generated some offsite discussion. I've been posting some of these exchanges. This is a continuation of the discussion from the previous post.

16 September 2012

Philosophical Wanderings 5- Is Logic Empirical?

Continuing this discussion, a friend and I have been interacting via email. With all argument you tend to have to keep peeling back layers and get back to basic definitions of your terms and concepts.
No surprise my friend is a bit uncomfortable with some of my language concerning logic. I say no surprise because again, for those of us reared in the West...this is default thinking. He inquired concerning logic and wondered if I would agree that logic itself it 'built into humanity and at least analogous to the Mind of God'?
In response I raised an issue concerning logic itself. What is it? What is its nature? Not easy questions to answer. Is logic objective? Is it something intrinsic to creation or can we go even further and say reflects the Divine Nature?
What if logic is in fact subjective? What if it is dependent upon our human ability to frame, decipher, and categorize? In response to my friend, I raised a question....
Is logic empirical?

14 September 2012

Answering Questions #19- War and Scepticism

This is kind of a strange lead-in, but my friend and I were discussing one of my favourite movies. ‘The Last Valley’ came out in 1971 and stars Michael Caine and Omar Sharif, certainly two of the best actors…ever.

Philosophical Wanderings 4

The role of reason and logic in the realm of metaphysics....

Philosophical Wanderings 3

** These discussions will not interest most readers.

They will seem perplexing, pedantic, if not arcane and impractical. In the end what I'm saying is that the Bible has to shape our thinking. That would seem obvious to everyone that appreciates my writings. That's what all this leads to.
While on the surface it seems obvious, there are nevertheless many disagreements among Christians and within the larger circle of people labeled the Church. Why?
Because we all read things differently and we have different ideas about 'thinking' and how ideas are formed and work. You don't have to master this material to read your Bible. But at some point virtually all of us will to some extent wrestle with some of these questions. If we're not, then we're probably just reading the Bible as Westerners, as 21st Century Americans. To be sure, we can still apprehend the Gospel...but will we understand the Bible rightly? Deeply? What is that we're after?....to merely escape hell or to know God, to be reconciled with Him and to know the Truth?
So many of us agree the Bible alone is foundation. So many of want to just follow the Bible....why then are there so many disagreements on so many topics? Most of the arguments are a waste of time because the fundamental issues that drive the disagreements are not being addressed. That's what is happening in these posts, in this discussion I've labeled Philosophical Wanderings....

03 September 2012

Putin and a Punk Band- Sacral Russia and American Evangelical Silence

Sacralist minded American Evangelicals have long hoped for some form of synthesis between Church and State. While they generally eschew a formal or legal union with an Established Church, they want the two 'spheres' to work in a symbiotic relationship.

The political leaders should be members of and thus accountable to the Church.[i]

02 September 2012

Assange, Breivik, a SEAL, and Wicked Hypocrisy

While Bradley Manning certainly committed treason in releasing the diplomatic cables made famous by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks website, I’ve often been left scratching my head when listening to people speak of Assange himself.

01 September 2012

Answering Questions #18- How Should We Respond To Gay/Homosexual Marriage? (Part 8)

This is the final segment of this discussion on marriage the state and the related issues concerning sexuality and behaviour.

It may seem I’ve strayed a bit in discussing the whole issue of ‘church’ weddings, but the reason I bring it up is because I think we have problem when we take ideas like marriage and divorce which for us have theological meaning but also overlap with the culture.

If the last segment seemed a bit out of bounds to some readers, I’m afraid this section will seem even more so.[i]

Two Items

One, the final part of the Gay Marriage series is basically done. I hope to post it sometime Saturday.

Thank you for the recent comments. I'm going to hold off on responding until the last part is up. It might help clarify why I was bringing up certain points. Many still will not agree but hopefully be able to understand why I'm thinking as I am.

I don't expect very many readers to agree with me. Some of thinking is way out of bounds to probably most people. But I hope the discussion is helpful and challenging.

And, I thought I would post the link to a pertinent article I put up a couple of years ago since it is a date that deserves reflection.

1 September 1939

31 August 2012

Anwering Questions #18- How Should We Respond To Gay/Homosexual Marriage? (Part 7)

Marriage for the unbeliever is like all things....ultimately sinful. It's part of what condemns them. The little bits of relationship, love, and humanity they experience result from Common Grace. Sometimes people will experience a great deal of this and are very guilty when they stand before God.[i] Others receive very little of this in their miserable lives, but they still stand condemned.

28 August 2012

Answering Questions #18- How Should We Respond To Gay/Homosexual Marriage? (Part 6)

The Israelite Theocracy presented a multi-faceted picture of Adam (the Hebrews) in the Garden (the land of milk and honey) as well as a picture of man's inability to find his own righteousness (the law standing alone) and a picture of the gospel (the law's condemnation and the picture of redemption). With Israel we have a picture of both the 1st and 2nd Adam, the condemnation/despair and the redemption/hope.

Or to put it another way, from start to finish it was a picture of Jesus Christ the True Israel and demonstrated the consequences of rejecting Him.

27 August 2012

Answering Questions #18- How Should We Respond To Gay/Homosexual Marriage? (Part 5)

At this point Proverbs 14.34 is usually invoked to contradict what I’ve said….

Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a reproach to any people.

We see this everywhere, on billboards and certainly on Church signs[i] around election time.

Answering Questions #18- How Should We Respond To Gay/Homosexual Marriage? (Part 4)

To answer my first question:

For the unbelievers among us, what purpose does marriage serve?

26 August 2012

Answering Questions #18- How Should We Respond To Gay/Homosexual Marriage? (Part 3)

There were some Christians in the 1600's...early Congregationalists who refused to perform marriages.[i] These elders said the Bible nowhere teaches that a 'minister' should marry you,[ii] nor does it give any credence to the whole idea of a 'church wedding'.... all holdovers from medieval Catholicism and the Romanist view of marriage as a Sacrament, viewing the building as a holy temple, etc...

19 August 2012

Answering Questions #18- How Should We Respond to Gay/Homosexual Marriage? (Part 2)

There are others who have made America into an idol and created a myth-narrative to go with it. Essentially the United States has become the present manifestation of the Kingdom of God or at the very least the leading vehicle for the Kingdom of God to work on this earth. It's not that far of a leap if you incorporate culture (and thus politics) into the definition of the Kingdom. Following Verduin, we have labeled this extra-Biblical and very pervasive error...Sacralism.
If America or the West abandons its supposed Christian heritage, then it's as if the Gates of Hell have triumphed.

16 August 2012

Answering Questions #18- How Should We Respond to Gay/Homosexual Marriage? (Part 1)

I've received a couple of questions regarding this matter and basically I can sum up the questions in this way...
Why are so many Evangelical and Reformed leaders so adamant about the need for Christians to oppose the Homosexual agenda, not just theologically, but in social and political terms as well? And why has this become so much more intense over the question of marriage?
It's a complex question, but to put it simply....for different reasons.  Since that's not very helpful, we'll have to look at some of the larger issues, or to put it differently, we have to look at some basic or foundational issues and assumptions that are driving people to think a certain way and thus respond a certain way. After examining this a bit, we can weigh their considerations and then attempt to come up with an answer, hopefully one that is Biblical and helpful.

Philosophical Wanderings 2

Since these comment threads are so long, I'm just putting them up as posts. The comment module will only take about a page at a time. If I want to type a 5 page response, I have to break it up and copy-paste. Plus it's harder to read for anyone following. This is easier.
Pardon any typos....I'm not getting too carried away since this is just an ongoing discussion.

15 August 2012

Philosophical Wanderings....A discussion thread that took on a life of its own.

This is just an topically eclectic thread that has grown to the point that I thought I would just post it by itself and then we can continue the discussion under this heading.

Here are the original comments.......followed by a long response by me.

14 August 2012

Why No Time? 2/2

Anyway, this is what I'm dealing with. It's no big deal...just consumes a lot of time and energy. One of the advantages of punching a time-clock is that you go home and don't have to worry about your job anymore.
God willing by dropping this electrical job and perhaps/hopefully dropping this other job...I will have more time. Some might balk at this and suggest I'm breaking a commitment. There's no contract, it was tentative agreement. I'm very careful about how I commit myself. And I don't do this in a shady or ambiguous way. I'm cautious. There are just some people that I don't want to work for and you don't always know that right away.

Why No Time? 1/2

Personal issues and a little window into my world....

To the anonymous who is praying for me and all others likewise engaged....
As always, thank-you.
This is just a personal note. Nothing profound, but an explanation regarding my lack of web activity.
We're fine, I'm just insanely busy. This summer has been especially bad in terms of 'after-hours' work. I've been dealing with the electric company which is a nightmare. In fact, that job I just cancelled. I did so because it has been a dreadful experience and it has reached the point of absurdity.
One day when I get to my 'Life in Babylon' series that will basically be a small book...I hope to share and elaborate on my observations and experiences regarding the Christian interacting with our economic and social system. I have much to say.

21 July 2012

No Time

It's been a frustrating week. I've been going to work quite early, in part to deal with the heat and often getting home late. I'm exhausted and disappointed that I haven't had time to get to my writing.
I still want to finish the articles on the issues surrounding Kirk Cameron's movie...I've got a couple more parts to finish.

15 July 2012

A Few Clarifications Regarding Philosophy and Christian Theology

This is an update/revision of an article originally published in July 2010

For years I grappled internally and with others over theological issues. As time progressed I became convinced most theological debate was basically fruitless due to fundamental differences regarding reason itself, and accepted or assumed thought categories.

We bring this baggage with us when we read the Bible and we run the risk of two extremes.

12 July 2012

Kirk Cameron's Monumental Part 5: The Enforcement of Original Intent and The Road to Oligarchy

From the standpoint of non-Sacral Christianity, a composite society is highly desirable and allows for maximum freedom. In the end that's not what we're supposed to spend all of our time and energy looking for, but, if it's a possibility we ought to support it in the civil sphere.
And yet at this point, I cannot in good conscience support the American Establishment in any sense. America's economic and foreign policies promote violence and bloodshed and so like a Christian living in Rome I go about my business, but I will not worship Caesar nor will I support the legions or the machine that empowers the empire.
Unlike many of my ancestors, I wouldn't have supported the Rebellion of 1776, but once the new American state was established I would have been content to live within it.

Kirk Cameron's Monumental Part 4: Common Law, The Puritans, Composite and Monistic Views of Society

Did the Founders belong to a time when a Sacral Christian consensus still reigned? Of course. And yet, they were of many different stripes and persuasions and a jumble of ideas came together in what they produced. The Sacral consensus of the Middle Ages and Reformation was beginning to crumble and the Founders were men of their day. They imbibed (as we all do) from a variety of sources of worldviews, everything from English Common Law to Locke and others.
Interestingly Jefferson detested the famous Blackstone commentaries on English Common Law, which is often something Christian America advocates point to when trying to build their case for the Founders attempting to establish a Christian state. While it may work with someone like John Adams, they won't find an ally in the author of the Declaration of Independence.

08 July 2012

Kirk Cameron's Monumental Part 3: Foundations of Law, Theonomy, Social Consensus/Contract and The Problem of Democracy

In addition to questions concerning 'rights' and the 'state' and how these concepts are read (by many Christians) back into the Bible, there is the whole question of democracy itself. America is of course a Republic, which by definition has a public or democratic element, and yet foundationally rests in the notion of rule by law. There are many forms of Republicanism, but in the United States we have specifically a form of Democratic Republicanism.
So though we're ruled by law, our legislators (our lawmakers, law proposers, law givers) are selected democratically. These legislators have a dual obligation. They are to forge laws compliant with the 'static' foundational document of the Republic (the Constitution) but they also are to represent the 'dynamic' needs of their constituents, dynamic in that they (the needs of society) change with the cultural and historical context.

06 July 2012

Kirk Cameron's Monumental Part 2: The Theology of Nationalism and Historical Narrative

Cameron brings along Marshall Foster to help him interpret the monument's symbolism. Foster is a popular 'historian' in these circles. I've listened to him lecture on numerous occasions and find myself rarely agreeing with much of anything he says. Even when gets something correct, it is framed in a misleading or manipulative manner. History has a narrative to it, and it's amazing how it seems to perfectly match the Theonomic Reconstructionist and Christo-American cultural and political agenda.
Providence guides history, but history isn't complete and unless God has specifically laid out a historical narrative, which he hasn't for any nation in the New Testament but the Church...it is a dangerous thing to impose one upon the annals of history. History is messy and complicated and imposing these narratives (like God's hand was on America) on history is a dangerous business, can be self-deceptive, have a tendency to whitewash and mythologize, promote unbiblical pride and bigotry, and can blind people to the evils their nation commits. Assyria was used by God in Isaiah 10, but then Assyria was crushed and punished by God for her wickedness. America and the Americanists would do well to take heed. They think of themselves as a North American Israel...but how do they know they're not an Egypt?

05 July 2012

Kirk Cameron's Monumental: Initial Considerations

Dominionism is the idea that says we must seek to transform society and culture. Among the myriad of Christian sects almost everyone would agree that Christianity brings a set of ethics and values to the table, it has something to say regarding human conduct and behaviour.
Protestants in particular have laid an emphasis on the new life, being 'born again' as Jesus says to Nicodemus in John 3. As New Creatures, we approach all ethical tangles differently than the nonbeliever. In addition our entire focus is different, we seek heavenly wisdom, we are to lay up treasure in heaven where are our hearts, our hopes are.
Dominionism says we must go further. Based off their reading of Genesis 1.26-27 they believe we are to subdue the earth. This combined with Paul's injunction to 'bring every thought captive' launches them on what seem to them to be a clear programme to transform all of culture and society. To them this is Kingdom work, this is bringing the Kingdom of God to earth and making it manifest.

28 June 2012

News Commentary 28 June 2012 (2)

 Some musings about the continued fallout....
I heard a commentator today mention that this decision coupled with an Obama re-election will further radicalize the extreme Right. I agree. But what does that mean for Christians who reject Sacralism?
This has already entered the Church and though I'm no fan of Barack Obama, I am not content to sit in a congregation where people are cursing the nation's rulers, engaging in seditious and violent rhetoric and promoting law-breaking and armed resistance. Anyone who has read my writings knows I am no fan of the great lie known as the United States. Nevertheless I am to pray for the peace of this Babylon, not try and overthrow Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Sennacherib, or Caesar.

News Commentary 28 June 2012 (1)

A few thoughts regarding the Supreme Court decision today....what it means for the American Church and what the present social polarization points to in the coming days, months and years.
First a few specific points of consideration....
1.    Romney has been avoiding an in-depth healthcare discussion due to the conservative condemnation of his Massachusetts programme. But now, Evangelicals more than ever will be polarized by the Supreme Court ruling the health reform as Constitutional. They will rally around Romney who has promised to work towards repealing Obama's reform....even though putting the rhetoric into action will be difficult.

A Significant Date in History

28 June 1914 (updated)

First published in 2010

27 June 2012

The Imperial Sociopath and Hypocrisy

A Sociopath believes the rules don't apply to him. He is above the standards that other people have to follow.
A sociopath is blind to his own shortcomings. He often critiques others for violating rules that he will violate with abandon. He is either completely blind to his own crimes or in every case makes an excuse, finds a justification for them.

The Reasons for my Criticism of the United States

This post dates from November 2010, but I thought it would be a good time to repost it. There are many new readers to the site and I want to make sure people understand that my criticisms of the United States are not rooted in some kind of Leftist freedom bashing agenda. My statements not only come from years of intense reading and study, but a specific theology...one that informs both my citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven and the kingdoms of this world.
Here's the original post...

A Strange Sense of Service Part 2

Actually the death toll from American foreign policy is pretty staggering. We condemn others for aggression, when in fact there has been no country since World War II that can compare with the United States in the realm of aggression. And I say this fully conscious of the charges many would bring against the Soviet Union. A very evil government, but in terms of aggression... their actions do not surpass the United States. Not even close.

A Strange Sense of Service Part 1

Some will take this the wrong way, but I want to make a few observations regarding one of the top headlines from the past twelve months. I wrote this at the time but never published it. Almost a year later and with the 4th of July approaching...it's worth revisiting.
Apparently on 6 August 2011 some thirty American soldiers and eight Afghan soldiers were killed when their helicopter was shot down. This was one of the worst single-incident losses of life for American troops during the Afghan War and the media gave this event a massive amount of attention.
Of course the sheer numbers makes it newsworthy, in addition to the fact that most or all of these Americans were members of the Special Forces.
This single event provides a great example to demonstrate several things.

24 June 2012

Answering Questions #16 -Dissecting Stellman's Apostasy

In some recent comments it was mentioned that a PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) pastor recently converted to Roman Catholicism. The PCA is one of the conservative Presbyterian bodies, not to be confused with the PCUSA which is the Mainline and much larger Presbyterian body which abandoned Scripture long ago. The PCA formally broke with the mainline body in 1973.

The pastor in question is Jason Stellman, a pretty strong proponent of the Reformed variety of Two Kingdom theology and certainly someone I would have recommended not long ago. I often visited his website and sometimes commented there.

Sacralist enemies of Two Kingdom theology have tried to find a connection....find a way to show that Two Kingdom theology leads to Rome. It doesn't, in fact the two systems are operating in very different universes. In the past it has actually been Theonomy and various Sacralist positions which have produced converts to Catholicism and it's always been an embarrassing point for them. I almost sense a state of glee at this man's defection.

My Credentials and Views on Education- 10

If I started a ministry or institution I could receive funding and sit and write scholarly articles. If anyone published them, those that chose to read them would say the same thing I've been hearing for years....they disagree but find what I'm saying to be interesting and worthy of consideration....or would they even bother saying that I wonder?
Institution A and B work within the same general framework. If B critiques A, then A has to respond. There's a threat to their standing, but actually A and B really need each other, they keep each other going. They don't agree but it's critical they operate within the same larger circle. As long as they do this, they can continue to perpetuate, almost feed off each other.

22 June 2012

My Credentials and Views on Education- 9

I think it's a good and healthy to exercise to read those whom you disagree with. I think we need to be challenged. So often in academia the scholars suffer from ivory-tower syndrome. They live in an insulated world and are consumed by inter-factional battles. This happens in many spheres, not just theology. I can think of many economists, media figures and political thinkers who operate within a tiny circle. They've adopted certain key doctrines and cannot think beyond them and in time their arguments become not only mundane but absurd.

21 June 2012

My Credentials and Views on Education- 8

Why start writing after all these years? The years are slipping by and I'm at a point in my life where I'm old enough to realize how little I knew when I was twenty-five. I used to be one of those people that wanted to see things in black and white and was pretty disgusted with people who didn't see things in those terms. A lot of older people just seemed 'soft' to me. Some undoubtedly are, some having grown weary and mentally lazy, set in their ways. But there are others that have developed a bit of wisdom. You start to realize that sometimes it's not a matter of something being black versus white but whether or not you're even asking the right question to begin with? How are your determining what is black and what is white? Things like that.
I'm at a point in my life that I see the years starting to pass by very quickly. My children are growing. I have a teenager now and I see how short a time we have with them. If I've learned something it's this...youth is wasted on the young.

20 June 2012

My Credentials and Views on Education- 7

So here's my quandary. I have all these things I want to write about. If I take the time and write scholarly articles and a book or two I will have the potential of reaching the professional accredited people of academia, the pastors and leaders of Reformed Christianity and other factions. However, because I lack the proper credentials and I'm not tied in with their institutions, I will have no audience. Because I'm questioning too many things, too many unassailable traditions and constructs, again...I will have no audience.

Apologies and The Gift of Time

Once again I wish to extend my apologies to the readers of this weblog. Normally I'm able to produce material at a pretty steady tempo, but the last couple of months have left me exhausted and in terms of time...exasperated.
We've had health issues and other personal situations that have dominated our time. In terms of my business I've been bogged down by time constraints and a lot of hours in the office working on estimates and plans. It's been very frustrating as I've just not been able to use my time the way I would wish. Calculating building materials is not something I'm interested in, but theological, historical and contemporary commentary don't pay the bills.

25 March 2012

Returning Soon.....

The last couple of weeks have been too busy. I haven't had any time at all to work on 'blog' matters. God willing I'll be responding to comments and putting up new posts in the next couple of days....

Sorry for disappearing.

16 March 2012

A Strange Encounter Part 12

As I looked through the literature I realized he was a member of a local congregation I was well aware of. Faith Baptist Church is part of the Independent Fundamental Baptist tradition. They also run a college and programme for aspiring pastors. These folks proudly fly their flags and believe that they represent the real and genuine America. We see them all the time at the shopping mall. These groups are permeated with legalism rooted in a cultural narrative. (See The Good Old Days)

They almost have a uniform, certainly a look you're supposed to emulate. We have a lot of these groups around here. We have the Wesleyan and Holiness groups which are trying to emulate the pre-1920's look, we have the Amish, and we have the Baptists that seem to view the 1950's culture...America on top of the world...as the golden age.

13 March 2012

My Credentials and Views on Education- 6

I went to work about a year ago at a local hardware store/lumber yard. It was too much of a cut in pay so I went back to remodel work. But worst of all (or best) I lost the time so precious to me. Working on estimates for houses and garages, pricing sheets, answering phones and waiting on customers no longer afforded me the time to listen to my audio materials. Obviously I wasn't going to walk around with headphones on. The personal interaction was good.

My Credentials and Views on Education- 5

I wouldn't have considered writing these things if I was still a 'member' of the PCA. Angry and offended pastors are known to make trouble. If I upset the wrong guy in cyberspace he'll be on the phone to my pastor. Some of them can be quite controlling. I had some OP men angry with me because I quit a job that I didn't like...I had an ethical problem with it...no, they told me I should keep it and then were quite angry when I didn't listen to them. I think they were miffed because I got out of the Air Force and they wanted to ‘take control’ of me. Of course the one elder was a retired officer. Let’s just say our views were not in harmony on many fronts.

05 March 2012

Ecclesia Part 7: Pragmatics and Conclusion

When the 'licentiate' is 'ordained' we'll stay away. I don't recognize the authority of the presbytery. It, like all denominations are para-church organizations. This 'service' is nothing more than homage, a ceremony to clericalism. We'll stay away, but we'll return the following Sunday and try to keep encouraging others and hopefully be encouraged.

02 March 2012

Ecclesia Part 6: Submission and Authority

So why in the world would we once again attend a PCA? Good question. We're not going to become 'members' though we did once before. I worked out a compromise with the elders. This time I'm not inclined to try and work with their system.

Submission versus Oppression

If they want to make a list of who's a member (in the Biblical sense) of course that's fine. If that helps them to govern or pray, no problem. If they want to ask for my testimony every three days and for me to account to them for my actions every week, that's fine. I'll submit to that. If they want me to study out issues with them and if they push for regular attendance, that's fine too. That's not in opposition to Scripture. I will bend over backwards to comply with their requirements, with their supervision, even to the point of being ridiculous.

But when they want me to stand up and take extra-Scriptural vows and to submit to extra-Scriptural standards I won't do that.

My Credentials and Views on Education- 4

While all this was happening, the 2000 election happened, 11 September, and the buildup to the Iraq War.

I was still classified as inactive Reserve and that was not due to expire until March 2003. Throughout all of 2002 I watched with dread as the country slipped into hysteria and Bush beat the drums of war. That summer I got a letter in the mail telling me my formal/final discharge was on hold as they were calling up people from the inactive reserve to come back to active duty.

29 February 2012

My Credentials and Views on Education- 3

My friends had all left for assignments in the United States or gotten out as well. As I found myself once more a civilian and back in the United States, I wrestled with what to do. Based off my own inclinations as well some gentle pushing from others I decided to attend seminary.

A Strange Encounter Part 11

But here in America the lessons are not learned. The man on the bench still thinks Islamic Terrorism is the primary threat. He doesn't understand that his actions and those of his son are only making it worse.

Fear and social polarization have entered and overtaken the acculturated American Church. The Church now seems to function as a socio-political force rather than a manifestation of God's Kingdom. It's all jumbled and confused. As I'm often saying, watch the pronoun usage as you talk to people. The use of 'us' and 'we' is rather telling. One moment they're talking about America, the next moment the Church and no distinction is made...it all runs together. For Christo-Americans they represent the 'real' and 'true' America. Everyone else is an imposter or traitor.

28 February 2012

Ecclesia Part 5: Clericalism on Display

The 'pastor' who is really a 'licentiate' is to be ordained shortly. They made it clear the 'service' is under the auspices of the 'presbytery'....viz., the regional body (of ordained men) is coming in to conduct the worship service. Consequently there will be people from the entire regional presbytery present, Teaching and Ruling elders as well as many regular folks from the other regional congregations. But in this case it's not the local congregation's service...it's the presbytery.

The climax will be at the end of the meeting when the newly ordained 'Teaching Elder' will raise his hands and give the benediction. And of course at this point he will cease to be a member of the mother-congregation and instead will be joined to the regional body. Just like that he will be elevated not just to an office, but to the upper tier in the hierarchy.

27 February 2012

My Credentials and Views on Education- 2

So as I'm learning history and theology I'm also a member of the US military. I'm reading my Bible, I'm learning history, I'm assimilating and developing theology...and I'm increasingly troubled. The America I grew up with...the greatest nation in the history of the world, the greatest force for freedom and goodness...didn't exist anymore, at least for me. It was tumultuous and disturbing as I started down that road.

Ecclesia Part 4: Form Takes Over

Problems Ahead

We're going to have problems. Right now this is just a church plant. They haven't granted it 'formal' congregational status. The leader is a 'licentiate'...another office they've created out of thin air. Since he's not ordained there's no Lord's Supper as of yet.

I have no problem with ordination. Timothy had the hands of the Presbytery (local not regional) laid on him. 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 outline the office of Bishop. They have the authority to teach and the people are to submit to him, but Presbyterianism doing something more with this and the whole membership system.

26 February 2012

Ecclesia Part 3: The Need For Church, and my personal frustrations with the state of the Church and Presbyterians in particular

What is a Church?

We're surrounded by buildings with steeples that claim to be Churches or to house them. It always astonishes me how the possession of a building with a sign out front grants legitimacy to a Church. For many this is the mark of the Church. For many the building is the Church.

The question must be wrestled with...what is a Church? Just because a bunch of people get together and call themselves a Church does not make it so. I've talked about this before and will do so again. But for now, I'll simply say a group that does not faithfully preach and adhere to the Bible with some understanding of what the Bible is cannot be called a Church.

Ecclesia Part 2: Membership

The Membership Debacle

Many Churches practice 'membership' wherein they wish for local congregants to bind themselves to the congregation and agree to adhere to certain doctrinal statements and to be under the authority of the leadership. In many Churches a little ceremony or ritual has also been created to go along with this process.

Whether it is admitted or not, everyone and every congregation adheres to some sort of creed. We all believe something and even in loosely affiliated groups there are boundaries. In creedless bodies, the problem is, the boundaries are often not well thought out, and many individuals have given little thought to what they believe.

Ecclesia Part 1: The Presbyterian Problem

A quick summary of the Presbyterian landscape

For those unfamiliar with American Presbyterianism, the Presbyterian Church split as most bodies did during the Civil War (1861-65) and even after Appomattox, the bodies remained divided.

These Churches both operated under the revised Westminster Confession (1646) which had been modified after the American Revolution to remove the notion of an Established Church and a magistrate that could call for Church councils to meet. This was incompatible with the American Experiment, and consequently they changed the Confession to reflect not only the new reality but a sentiment many shared. Some Presbyterians continue to reject this modification and want an official established Church.

24 February 2012

A Strange Encounter Part 10

From the standpoint of other people across the world, the American Empire has three main arms. It has a military arm (symbolized by the Pentagon), a political arm (symbolized by the Capitol Mall), and an economic and cultural center (symbolized by the Manhattan).

The people that would fight the Empire are like fleas fighting an elephant. The United States cannot be militarily attacked or invaded. Any convoy of ships or aircraft will be annihilated long before it arrives on our shores. The only way America can be attacked is through a crippling strike...like a clandestine nuclear submarine attack...or some kind of guerilla attack which serves as a symbol or contains some kind of propagandistic value. Only the Soviet Union had the capability for a nuclear attack by submarine. Everyone else has to look to some other kind of battle tactic. That means guerilla warfare which when brought to an Empire's domestic shore will be labeled as terrorism.

23 February 2012

My Credentials and Views on Education- 1

I frequently receive emails asking for my credentials. I don't have any formal credentials to speak of. I'm literally a nobody. So what gives me the right or authority to discuss these issues? Why should anyone listen to what I'm saying about history, theology, current events and the rest?

I can't really give any good reasons. All I can do is attempt to explain my path. I've already talked quite a bit about how my ideas have been shaped and have shifted over time in the 'Why and How' series. So in this series I will try and focus a bit more on education and credentials and how I approach these issues.

Answering Questions #15- The Kuyperian Roadblock on the Pilgrim Road to Metapolis

Someone emailed me this link and asked for my response.


I responded with the following:
(this is an unedited email)
Interesting article. While I can agree with much he says, the approach he takes is a bit different. I’m afraid I didn’t agree at all with his Cain/Abel contrast in terms of the urban/rural comparison. I know of others who might make much of that argument, but usually Two Kingdom people are not into Christian Agrarianism. I realize that wasn’t his point, but his way of framing the issue reminded me of it! That’s usually found among Dominionist minded folks who have embraced a certain narrative with regard to Western Civilization and the root of its social decline.
He seems to hint at what I might call the Pilgrim Identity and ties that in with the ‘rural’ narrative. There may be something to that, but it also might be a case of hyper-typology.

22 February 2012

A Strange Encounter Part 9

The Common Citizen An Agent of Empire

Today with technology and globalization the 'frontiers' are often on the other side of the world. It's not the gritty face to face type of confrontation the American pioneer faced when dealing with the indigenous Indians. Though today it looks different, the war for expansion and new conquests has not abated.

Today, it might be a broker hitting the 'enter' key that just caused a chain reaction leading to several families in Indonesia losing their jobs and homes. Two months later they're selling their kids, and a daughter is forced into prostitution in order to buy medicine and keep grandma alive.

Did the broker mean to do it? Hey, he's just trying to make some extra money to pay his $2500 house payment and save up for his 17 year old to go to college. And, he's still paying off the credit card balance on that holiday cruise he and his wife took last December. Is he wicked? Well, no...and yes.

16 February 2012

Summing up and the Christian Response: Part 6 of the series on American Evangelicals, War, and Iran

Iran is the hub of the Shiite world and represents the foundation, center, and caretaker role of Greater Persian culture. Shiite Palestinians, Lebanese and many Azeris look to Iran as a cultural and religious leader. On the eastern side, Hazara, Tajiks and to some extent the Ismaili community are also naturally inclined to Iran. The Iranians are very bitter that what should be their great regional role has been taken from them, or at the very least reduced by numerous powers throughout history and up to today. The French have at times shared a similar bitterness with regard to their role in Europe, a shadow of what it once was, and their former Empire.

13 February 2012

A Strange Encounter Part 8

Innocent Motives and Unintended Consequences.

For the Church this tendency toward willful blindness in the name of Patriotism is most dangerous of all. While I argue it isn't good for the nation and its citizens, ultimately the nation doesn't matter much does it? They come and go. None are good, not really. And certainly none are Holy...things that are holy will survive the Eschaton because they belong to the Kingdom of God. There's no nation on earth that can make that claim.

I've written pretty extensively about the Babel Impulse and the danger of bringing the Church into the power game. Tying in theological concepts regarding the Kingdom with culture and power is an attempt to sanctify the Beast, to sanctify the tower of Babel.

12 February 2012

A few comments on the employer-based health insurance system

I don’t mean to dive into the whole Health Care debacle quite yet, but when I look at the political theatre taking place at the moment over the issue of contraception, I am struck by the fact that no one will entertain the solution.

We can talk about contraception and whether or not it should be used. We can talk about whether as Christians we should use it, and if we don’t, whether it matters that those outside the faith use it. We can talk about our posture on this issue as Exiles in Babylon. The Christian community has politicized this issue as they have with almost the whole of Christianity, so even discussing it grants political capital to the other side. Whatever the other side does must be opposed. It’s pretty pathetic and frankly it’s starting to make a significant contribution to the breaking of our society.

Islam's Inescapable Trap: Part 5 of the series on American Evangelicals, War, and Iran

The 19th and 20th century proved pretty humiliating for much of the world. The West climbed to the top and has, up to now dominated the planet. The 20th century in particular has been a time of grief for the Islamic world. They have been brought low and are most humiliated by their own inter-cultural betrayals...nouveau oil elites selling out the Islamic world for Western treasure, and dictatorial leaders often acting as Western ‘strongmen’.  Both camps due to Western acquiescence have capitulated to Israel's existence and even 'right' to exist. And the fact that these regimes terrorize their own people, engage in inter-Islamic war, and all the while using Western purchased armaments also adds insult to the injury.

11 February 2012

The Israel Factor: Part 4 of the series on American Evangelicals, war, and Iran

So is Iran the threat they're being made out to be? Does Ahmadinejad want to see a mushroom cloud over Tel-Aviv? Santorum would say absolutely, but most geo-political analysts would say it's quite unlikely.

09 February 2012

American Evangelicals Beating the War Drum Against Iran Part 3

Contrary to Santorum Obama seems to subscribe to the idea that future American power in the Middle East needs to be soft power. Proxies, mercantilism and cultural influences will probably have more success than a military presence.
The United States isn't going to evacuate the region by any means. The military is switching to a policy based on stand-by troops, drones, and Special Forces. Obama wants to increase the American footprint in East Asia in terms of naval power and the Air Force. At this point South Korea and Japan are the only American satellites in the region. Australia has been salivating for some time wanting desperately to be a player, to become a more active and assertive member of the Anglo-American alliance.

08 February 2012

American Evangelicals Beating the War Drum Against Iran Part 2

Americans view Iran as the aggressor but imagine if you will...China conquering Canada and Mexico and sailing warships along our coast, tailing our ships etc... and then in the Chinese media the United States is denounced as dangerous and an aggressor, a threat to China. Asserting the United States was in a position of aggression would of course be laughable, and the United States would be taking drastic action I assure you. The Iranians are in just such a situation.

In 2002 George Bush identified Iran as a member of the Axis of Evil...coined by an Evangelical speech writer of course. Iraq fell shortly thereafter; North Korea went nuclear and even though they've been far more aggressive toward South Korea than Iran has toward any other country....and guess what? They're left alone.

07 February 2012

American Evangelicals Beating the War Drum Against Iran Part 1

I will not make the same mistake the mainstream media often does by calling Rick Santorum an Evangelical. He's a Roman Catholic, however Evangelical has doctrinally become an all but meaningless term, and the media is in part correct in basically viewing it as a socio-political movement. In that sense, it is appropriate to speak of someone like Santorum when talking about American Evangelicalism, even if he cannot actually be placed under that label. His recent endorsement by famed Evangelical leader James Dobson only validates this framework.

For most Americans the present situation with Iran dates to the Carter administration, the fall of the Shah, the arrival of Khomeini, and the Hostage Crisis. Some Americans will remember the glamorous Shah and his queen visiting the United States during every administration going back to Truman, but the real focus today in the American mind is 1979.

06 February 2012

Justification Controversies in Contemporary Reformed Protestantism Part 2

Lutherans by and large have always retained this heavy focus on Justification by Grace Alone…the key word being Sola or Alone. Luther even added the word to the Romans 3 text, arguing the Greek implies it. This came to dominate much of Lutheran theology. Lutheranism became associated with what we call the Law-Gospel hermeneutic, categorizing Scripture into imperatives (law) vs. Gospel (grace).

This focus led Luther to struggle with the book of James, calling it an ‘epistle of straw’ and questioning its canonicity. The Reformed wing has certainly not gone to this extent, but some have revived the Lutheran Law-Gospel hermeneutic in an effort to explain the many (and what must be troubling) warnings and commands found in Scripture. Repeatedly the New Testament exhorts Christians to ‘do’, to change, to transform, to work out, to make, to put to death and so forth.

Justification Controversies in Contemporary Reformed Protestantism Part 1

A few thoughts…

Years ago before I was married I lived for a brief time in the American South. In 1998, I shared an apartment with a roommate who was a Theonomist, and needless to say we didn’t always see eye to eye.

I was sitting at the kitchen table with another friend and we had been working on issues related to Justification for quite some time. If I recall we spent a good number of hours in coffee shops and pulling late nights talking about it. My roommate was in awe that we could spend so much time on a topic which to him apparently was pretty simple. He never said the words, but it was almost like he was saying… “Justification? You haven’t got that figured out yet? Hey, it’s by faith.”

I remember us being amused with his frustration that we could so endlessly pursue such a blatant and simple topic. Obviously he hadn’t really spent any time looking into the issue.

05 February 2012

A Strange Encounter Part 7

The Price of Syncretism...Patriotic Blood Idols and Molech Worship
In the past, pagans have sacrificed for different reasons. Sometimes to merely pacify the wrath and anger of a deity and sometimes to atone for sin...which obviously is a concept we can resonate with. Whatever the theological particulars it was understood that the sacrificial victim whether man or beast was giving up life so that the collective group might be permitted to continue on.

This became particularly horrifying when pagans sacrificed their own children to Molech, Chemosh, Melqart, and other false gods. And as grieved as those parents would have been, to them it was an act of piety, a sad but necessary sacrifice for the continuation of Edom, Moab, or Carthage.

04 February 2012

Responding to a member of the McIntire Faction

I came across this post the other day and I felt it provided a good opportunity for some interaction. The author means well, I don’t think that can be disputed. His guiding principles on the surface seem sound and to his mind quite obvious.

However, the author holds certain theological assumptions which drive his whole understanding of not only how to look at these issues, but what questions to ask.
Consequently, we end up with some serious problems in how these issues are approached, the dilemmas created and the solutions suggested or provided. I talk about this quite often and this article provides yet another good demonstration of what this looks like.

For longtime readers this will be nothing new, but as there’s a constant stream of people coming and going, I want to make sure I revisit these points. Sometimes a change in context or just putting it all in a different way will help someone to see things in a new light. What wasn’t clear before might suddenly jump off the page.

The McIntire Faction refers to the fact that the author is a pastor in the Bible Presbyterian Church started by Carl McIntire among others. He played a large role in shaping the theology and ideology of modern American political Evangelicalism.

02 February 2012

A Strange Encounter Part 6

The Terrible Price of Sacralism...Ignorance by Design

Historically the Sacralist impulse has led to the confusion of common nation with the Kingdom of God. The nation's agenda and policy are cast in theological and redemptive terms. Conflicts with other nations are not understood as two fallen nations in a fallen world fighting over control of the City of Man, they're not understood as rival evils, competing Beast-powers. Instead it's good vs. evil, one side is white and pure while the other side is corrupted, black, and thus evil.

One side, in this case the United States becomes a manifestation of Christ's Kingdom, or at least its proxy, and thus by extension the soldiers in its army become something akin to Holy Crusaders.

31 January 2012

A Strange Encounter Part 5

A Quote From Hedges

Let me be clear once again. I'm not really concerned for the United States. I pray for the peace of Babylon. I live here. Some of my ancestors have been here since 1620. It's far preferable to live in a civil and orderly society than to live in crime ridden chaos. It's nice to be able to walk safely down a street and not be robbed or shot at.

As a Christian I desire a venue in which I can live my Christian life and an environment in which the gospel can work....one in which we can freely speak to others. A concept like the 1st Amendment is something we should desire and treasure. With it come many dangers and opportunities for others to do things that aren't desirable. Though it allows them to continue their lost behaviour it also allows us to bring them the gospel without persecution.

Theonomists have been pretty vocal in the past about the 1st Amendment. If you're committed to state enforced Sacralism...the 1st Amendment is an abomination. It grants civil protections to false religions and allows anyone to challenge what they hope would be the establishment.

30 January 2012

A Strange Encounter Part 4

American Amnesia and the Greatest Threat
My disagreement with him really struck a chord. I think he wanted to hand me the booklet, tell me what a hero his son was and have me just gush with thanks and awe.

Of course suggesting the Iraq War was built on lies was a direct assault on his narrative and largely his means of sustaining his well-being, of dealing with the tragic death of his son. His understanding was holding him together. It is no easy thing for a parent to admit their child died for nothing...or even worse engaged in something that was wrong.

29 January 2012

A Strange Encounter Part 3

The Iraq War

"Were you in the military?" he asked.

"Unfortunately," I replied.

"What branch?"

"Air Force."

"Well I believe," he continued, "my son died defending our freedoms against Islamic Terrorism. The war in Iraq," he went on...

"Was based on lies," I said.

"You don't think after they attacked us on September 11 that we had to go in there? To liberate those people?"

"Iraq didn't attack us on September 11. And the reason given was to deal with the supposed pressing issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction which all turned out to be lies."

It got kind of tense. He insisted the weapons were there and they were smuggled out through Syria. I couldn't believe that almost ten years later I was still hearing these same old tired arguments which were proven false long ago.

28 January 2012

A Strange Encounter Part 2

Gospel Gimmicks

So here I am with this poor man who lost his son and is now trying to share his story but has jumbled it all together into some kind of evangelism tool. It's an odd blend of American patriotism mixed with gospel...Bible verses and all the rest with flags and what not.

How odd I thought? For the past 18 months I've written a couple of thousand pages of material directed largely at...people just like him. And here I am minding my own business and suddenly he's sitting next to me handing me a mish-mash of theological heresy and nationalist propaganda. The muscles around my eyes grew tight.

A Strange Encounter Part 1

A bereaved father, and a gospel tract loaded with perversions of the Truth

I'm not fond of fabric stores. What can I say? As a male I'm just not enthralled about walking around racks filled with bolts of cloth. I'm thrilled my wife likes to sew and make things and has some ability at doing so. However it's not a store I can stand for more than a few minutes. Whenever we visit the fabric store at the nearest shopping mall (about 30 miles from our home) I usually end up on the bench out on the concourse.

So there I was sitting and minding my own business, half engaged in people watching and half falling asleep when this clean cut man in his sixties walks up and asks me my name. I could see he was carrying some literature and my guard went up. What was this...a salesman perhaps?