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Monday, March 02, 2015

Dirty little secret and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* Another View on Obama's Comments on the Crusades, Slavery, and Jim Crow -- "He was wrong in assuming that all religions are the same at their core and in not illustrating what caused Christianity to recognize the error and to expunge it."
* Carjackers rob Baptist minister at gunpoint in front of St. Louis church -- "An associate minister at a Baptist church was robbed at gunpoint by carjackers Tuesday night as she sat in her idling SUV in front of the church, police say."
* Christians have waged their own ‘holy wars -- "The deeply pious Christian ruler Charlemagne, for instance, conquered and forcibly converted neighboring pagan peoples in the 700s, slaughtering thousands who resisted."
* Churches offer drive-by ashes -- "...the steady stream of worshippers...lined up in cars and in person at churches across the country Wednesday and waited for a priest to walk out and apply a cross of ashes on their foreheads."
* Don't Play the Lottery for Me!-- "The lottery is another opportunity to pierce your soul with many pangs, and lead your children into ruin."
* Gay Marriage, What Does Our Constitution Say? -- "The Constitution does not say it is against the law to rob a bank. The Constitution does not say it is against the law to murder your neighbor. The Constitution does not say it is against the law to sell or use drugs."
How Jon Stewart turned lies into comedy and brainwashed a generation -- "Brian Williams lied about his personal exploits a few times. Jon Stewart was unabashedly and habitually dishonest."
* Hundreds of Indian Christians arrested during protest over church attacks -- "Though hate groups have targeted Indian Christians in the past, some experts say the BJP’s victory has bolstered their activities.
* Mother of four wins $188 million in Powerball, says first ‘purchase’ is to pay tithes-- "WTKR reports that Holmes’ portion of the $564 million jackpot is roughly $188 million."
* Terry Bradshaw: Wouldn't Have Won All Those Superbowls if Phil Robertson Hadn't Left Football to Hunt Ducks -- Phil with Terry Bradshaw
The Dirty Little Secret: Most Gay Couples Aren't Monogamous -- "In writing about the subject, gay people emphasize the aspects of their relationships that sound most wholesome and straight-like..."

Benen's Bilge

In an opinion piece on The MaddowBlog, a "mad as a March Hare" MSNBC contributor named Steve Benen took aim at Rand Paul and then unloaded his six-shooter on Ron Paul. According to Benen's quirky commentary, the views of Ron Paul are bizarre, kooky, strange, fringe, ridiculous and off-the-wall. Surely if he uses enough adjectives some weak-minded readers will believe every word of it. But looking at Benen's background I'm sure I can find beliefs that are bizarre, conjectures that are kooky, stands that are strange, feelings that are fringe, reasoning that is ridiculous and opinion that is off-the-wall. 

Hey, Benen, instead of telling us how you feel, use your op ed to identify Paul's positions and then use logical arguments to counter them.  

[Disclaimer: I don't agree with all of either Paul's points of view, but they're far from the strangest politicians. And I'm the only person I know who doesn't have any odd opinions.]

Sunday, March 01, 2015

When We Awake in His Likeness

"When We Awake in His Likeness" by O. P. Speirs

Psalm 17:15 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.

1. We are trav'ling thru life's journey, 
Hope and fear are side by side, 
Hope to waken in His likeness 
And be satisfied.

2. Tis a hope we long have cherished,
Tis a stay whate'er betide, 
That we'll waken in His likeness, 
And be satisfied. 

3. When this weary life is over, 
When we've lain us down and died, 
And we waken in His likeness 
We'll be satisfied.

This probably the same O. P. Speirs mentioned in the Signs of the Times, December 1908. This O. P. Speirs lived in Claremont, California and was involved in the organization of the Little Flock Old School Predestinarian Baptist Church in October 1908. This may be the Oliver P. Speirs buried at Oak Park in Claremont, California.

This song appears in the Harp of Ages, No. 377, and the Old School Hymnal, No. 499.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Anti-Semitism and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* 10 Facts Funeral Directors May Not Tell You -- "The average cost of a traditional funeral, including embalming and a metal casket, is almost $6,600, according to the most recent data from the National Funeral Directors Association."
* 10 Worst Misconceptions About Medieval Life You'd Get From Fantasy Books -- "Sorry, even in the Middle Ages, members of polite society, from kings to villeins, followed certain etiquette, and that etiquette involved good table manners."
* Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore Gives Obama and SCOTUS a Civics Lesson -- "We have a fundamental misunderstanding in our country that federal courts, by their mere utterance, make law."
* Anti-Semitism Rising: Hundreds of Jewish Graves and Tombs Vandalized in France -- "In January, a Kosher deli in Paris was attacked by an Islamic terrorist shortly after the rampage carried out at Charlie Hebdo. Over the weekend in Denmark, a synagogue was attacked and in France, hundreds of graves were desecrated and destroyed."
* Christians, It's Time to Get Over Your Illusions -- "...too often people serving God are not directly connected to truth."
* Do it Yourself Funerals -- "Gradually the work of burying the dead has become the exclusive domain of the funeral industry. But there is growing discontent over the cost and perceived chicanery of the profession."
* How to Think about Persecution When You’re Not Very Persecuted -- "When we think about persecution it is important to remember the corporate nature of suffering. As our brothers and sisters suffer, we are to share in this suffering."
* Park proposed for Ohio Civil War battle site from Morgan’s Raid -- "Civil War battlefields, in general, are quite the tourist draw."
* Texas judge's immigration rebuke may be hard to challenge -- "...the judge was wise to focus on an area of administrative law where legal precedent is sometimes fuzzy."
* The Death of Religion and the Rise of Faith -- "...the rapid fall of religion in the post-World War II era has been a phenomenon well documented by scrupulous pundits and media outlets heralding the arrival of “post-Christian” America.

A three-legged dog

Back in the old west days, a three-legged dog walks into a saloon and hops up onto a bar stool. 

The bartender says, "What can I do for you?" 

The dog says, "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Alcohol Today, and other book reviews

The posting of book reviews does not constitute endorsement of the books or book reviews that are linked.

* Alcohol Today: Abstinence in an Age of Indulgence -- "He argues that Christians should abstain from consuming beverage alcohol."
* Book Review- Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor -- "I was at once drawn in when I first heard of Don Carson’s project to write a book reflecting the life and ministry of his late father."
* Book review: The Crescent through the Eyes of the Cross -- "The main purpose of The Crescent through the Eyes of the Cross is to convey, especially to the Western reader, how Muslims feel and what they think about both the West and Christianity."
* “Purified by Fire” by Stephen Prothero -- "How we went from being a society in which incinerating the dead was considered “heathen” and heartless to one in which the fiery furnace is seen as just another “memorial option” is the subject of Stephen Prothero’s readable new history."
* Review of Stephen Holmes, Baptist Theology -- "Courtesy of the Brill Self-Archiving Rights policy, I'm pleased to be able to to share the full text of my review of Stephen R. Holmes, Baptist Theology..."
* Review of The Psalter Reclaimed by Gordon Wenham -- "The question, What are we doing singing the psalms, is the initiation point for exploration of this study of the psalter."
* Science And Religion: Surveying The Field Of Battle -- "...can evolution and a biblically rooted Christian faith coexist?...books like Clark’s show an engaging interest in the need to study the question further..."
* Using A Theological Dictionary for Word Studies -- "Word studies are notoriously dangerous and contain many potholes in which interpreters can find themselves stuck."

What is marriage?

After a good bit of snark in Let Me Answer Your Questions, Justice Roy Moore, Domenick Scudera vanquishes the "slippery-slope argument" with his answers to two questions.
"What is marriage...?"It is a legally recognized union between two people. Two. People.
"[W]here do we draw the limits on who can marry?"We draw the limits at two people. Two. Human beings. Not horses. Humans.
Then Scudera concludes with the challenge, "Any more questions?"

Yes, Domenick, I have one (and will let you slide on the rest). Why? Why do you draw the limits at two people? People, yes. But why two people?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Christians and Guns, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* Alabama Baptist executive board affirms Biblical view of marriage -- "The Executive Board of the Alabama Baptist Convention voted Friday to release a resolution affirming the Biblical perspective on marriage."
* Are you a leader? -- "I think many Christians are walking around following “leaders” who are not really leaders."
* Baptist Handbook For Church Members -- "It is a distinct principle with Baptists that they acknowledge no human founder, recognize no human authority, and subscribe to no human creed."
* Death and Bereavement in Judaism: Ancient Burial Practices -- "Decent burial was regarded to be of great importance in ancient Israel, as in the rest of the ancient Near East."
* Lexical Fallacies by Linguists -- "Although modern linguistics has made significant and abiding contributions to biblical studies, not all linguistic principles are of equal value."
* Scripture Makes Plain God’s Design for Marriage -- "...Stan Mitchell, has decided that homosexuality is acceptable to the God of the Bible...it is noteworthy that he talks a lot about love and 'conversation' and 'journeys' but little or not at all about truth and the Bible."
* Should Christians Carry Guns? -- "My concern is that we too often equate God’s agenda with our own agenda and then we make decisions like owning a gun based on our personal values instead of a keen Christian ethic."
* To Bury or To Burn? Cremation in Christian Perspective -- "As mentioned earlier, the Judeo-Christian tradition has historically understood the biblical call to proper stewardship of material possessions to teach that burial is the best way to handle (or steward) the body of a decedent..."
* What ISIS Really Wants -- "The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse."

Reasons for segregated churches?

Churches segregated by race are a common phenomenon in the United States due to the historical fact of reconstruction, segregation and so forth. Even though it is now common to commend such deliberate arrangements, the reality continues to be perpetuated -- not only racially, but in other ways as well. On the one hand we decry segregation in the churches, yet on the other create new ways that we can segregate them (e.g. teenagers vs. keenagers, contemporary vs. traditional, and so on).

There are many illegitimate reasons to segregate churches, reasons which do not comply with New Testament principles and do not follow the New Testament example. Are there legitimate reasons to have separate churches? Three that possibly seem reasonable are distance, doctrine and language.

Distance, or different geographical location, is a reason that believers confined in mortal bodies meet together in assemblies near where they live. This is consistent with New Testament practice. Congregations of believers were formed and met in geographical locations where these believers were. Because of physical realities, distance or location, are and will remain a reason for the existence of separate churches until we all all located together as one flock under one shepherd.

Doctrine, different theology or creed, is a reason that believers meet in separate churches. Some of this is legitimate and some is not. Theological error, divisive disposition and moral failure are reasons for separation found in scripture. 

Language can be a genuine barrier to worshiping together. It is a reason for the existence of separate churches in our time. In our area we have English speaking church and Spanish speaking churches. This is replicated for groups with various languages throughout the country. It is difficult to worship together if we cannot understand one another. Nevertheless, there are no obvious or outstanding examples of this that appear in the New Testament.

The last two causes of separation -- doctrine and language -- can be alleviated, There are real doctrinal differences among Christian believers. These should not be ignored or overlooked. We don't just give up our doctrinal distinctives to pretend to have unity. But by endeavoring to come to the unity of the faith we can try to dispel those differences. Further, we should consider whether some differences are doctrinal or personal preferences for things not addressed by doctrinal orthodoxy. If we must separate over doctrine or related considerations, we should, It should be the last resort.

The lack of division by language may be partially explained by a widespread common language across the Roman Empire. Yet some of our current separation due to language might be explained by comfort and ease rather than necessity. Do we want to meet together? Is it more important than remaining segregated from our brothers and sisters by language? If so, it could be alleviated by preachers who speak both languages. Both could preach to the entire congregation, rotating who preached in what language and who translated into the second language. Further, believers can begin to learn one another's language if we place high enough importance on unity.

So that leaves the first — distance — as the main reason to have distinct and separate churches. There are biblical reasons and examples for local churches in local areas where believers live. If doctrinal error is not an issue, we should meet with the believers who are near us -- as opposed to driving past meeting places to get to another we "prefer". Otherwise shouldn't believers come gather together in the name of Jesus? Even the legitimate separation of distance can become an excuse to not meet with other believers who are too far away. While we may not be able to regularly meet together, we should be aware and at times meet with believers across a broader range of geography. It is intriguing to read the New Testament and see how much Christians across the Roman Empire knew about one another (with very few communication options compared to what we have today).

What do you believe are legitimate reasons for separating/segregating our churches?


Quotes from Review: Come, Let Us Reason Together: The Unity of Jews and Gentiles in the Church by Baruch Maoz
"Ethnicities, doctrinal issues that do not reflect on the glory of Christ, cultures, and human interests must not be allowed to define congregations. To transgress this standard is to promote a man-centered gospel that places human interests on the throne where God in Christ should be sitting. It is to forsake the biblical focus that should characterize all who seek to serve God. (p. 159)"
"Seeking the comfort zone, we avoid the tensions that a multicultural, multinational, multilingual, multi-layered church would posit. (p. 168)"

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Treppenwitz

This word interests me because I often experience it! Work Coach Cafe says that “Treppenwitz is a German word that describes that flash of genius you get for a clever comeback after the opportunity has passed.” The Yiddish equivalent is trepverter ("staircase words"). In French it is l'esprit de l'escalier or l'esprit d'escalier ("staircase wit"). Some English speakers call this "escalator wit". "Afterwit" is also a synonym in English.

When used in English, treppenwitz expresses the idea of "staircase wit," but in modern German speech treppenwitz usually has a different meaning.

Redefining marriage

Oh, no, he's going to write about same-sex marriage again! No. I'm going farther back this time, to consider the redefining of marriage that paved the way for this more recent development.

A redefinition of marriage took place long before "same-sex marriage". This redefinition cast off years of religious belief and social praxis in favor of the modern and untested.* In the old tried and tested "definition" of the institution of marriage the feelings are secondary to a permanently established covenant. It provides a safe relationship for husband, wife, and for the needs of children. The modern and untested version reorients toward the feelings, desires and "romance" of adults. This does not insure a safe haven for children (or adults), but rather is sand that shifts with the changing desires of the adults. According to Ryan Anderson, "The revisionist view is...about an intense emotional union that any two adults can form regardless of their sexual complementarity, and children are seen as an optional add-on if the couple chooses to have children."

Marriage has been redefined because love has been redefined. It is some strange Hollywood feeling, we know not what. It is a warm feeling down in the gullet, and, to speak plainly, a warm feeling down in the groin. This is not to say that infatuation, passion, physical attraction and physical desire have no part in one's love interest, but rather than these qualities are fleeting, fading, and fluctuating -- not vital and persistent. Love will hold the hand of a spouse with emaciated body and tenantless mind and walk all the way to the end of the road with that one. Passion will droop and physical desire may wane or even be directed toward another. True love is bigger and better -- and not enslaved by emotional captors. It is commitment and caring, sacrifice and sharing that lives above and beyond the fluctuating feelings of human hesitation and chronic caprice. If you say that you "just don't love your spouse any more" and there will be plenty of fair-weather friends, advice columnists and divorce attorneys to second that emotion. For all their majority, their guidance is founded in failure -- the blind leading the blind.

Not only is marriage "redefined," it is also being "reworded." In The Social Costs of Abandoning the Meaning of Marriage Ryan T. Anderson tells us about "The New Language of Marriage." Here are a few bits:
“Monogamish.” —relationships where partners would allow sexual infidelity provided they were honest about it.“Throuple.” —similar to “couple” but with three people. The word appeared in a 2012 article in New York Magazine that described a specific “throuple” this way: Their throuplehood is more or less a permanent domestic arrangement. The three men work together, raise dogs together, sleep together, miss one another, collect art together, travel together, bring each other glasses of water, and, in general, exemplify a modern, adult relationship.“Wedlease.” —Two people commit themselves to marriage for a period of years -- one year, five years, 10 years, whatever term suits them. The marital lease could be renewed at the end of the term however many times a couple likes...The messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit.
Marriage brings the two halves of humanity -- male and female -- into one whole. "They shall be one flesh" -- one in sexual union and one in the children they produce. Jesus explained it this way:

The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10
6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Biblically, marriage is a lifetime covenant established by God. He made male and female, designed and exhorted them to procreate, and commanded them to leave father and mother for this new commitment. [Divorce between two Christians should be as scarce as hen's teeth. Christians have the Spirit of God within them, the Word of God to guide them, and the church of God to support them.] From Jesus's positive instruction we find the definition of marriage. It is based on God's creation order. It is a primary mutual relationship that is a union of body and soul -- heterosexual, exclusive and permanent. We redefine it to the detriment of our families, churches and society. 

* In my opinion, the degree of testing we have seen is that it breaks down the permanent bond of marriage for the fleeting and transient romance of temporary feelings of "love".

Monday, February 23, 2015

Philpot's Points

"The fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is." 1 Corinthians 3:13
How careful and anxious we should be to have two points well secured in our hearts. First, to be right as concerns the foundation. "Do I believe in the Son of God?"...The next important question is, "How stands the superstructure? Has the Holy Ghost wrought anything with a divine power in my soul?"
"...If you stand upon the foundation that God has laid in Zion, you are right; you are right if God the Spirit has wrought a living faith in your heart." -- J. C. Philpot

"This "good warfare" is carried on against three principal enemies—the flesh, the world, and the devil; and each of these enemies so closely allied to ourselves..." -- J. C. Philpot

Marriage equality

President Obama told BuzzFeed News Tuesday Feb 10, “Same-sex couples should have the same rights as anybody else” under the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

The case for same-sex marriage flying under the banner of "marriage equality" seems to have just about won the day here in the United States. The Supreme Court might stand against the direction the wind is blowing, but that seems unlikely to me.* This post probably won't change any minds. Rather I place it here as a testament of where I stand. Proponents of same-sex marriage say this stand is “on the wrong side of history.” But, as Dennis Prager wrote, “history is very long. Our grandchildren, or their grandchildren, will judge whether this is true.”

The concept of "equality" has captured the minds and hearts of many. What American wants to oppose equality? But what is marriage equality? Is marriage equality equal? Does marriage equality require accommodating every interest group that disagrees with the marriage laws that a state adopts? Are these laws so unequal after all? In our state (as it has been in all states) any citizen is free to marry anyone the law allows any citizen to marry. It applies equally to all citizens. The law doesn't discriminate against your "attraction" -- because it doesn't take it into account. If a man is "attracted" to ten year old girls, no matter, he can't marry one. Neither can the man who is not attracted to them. Why? Because the law is unequal? No. Because the law is equal, regardless of one's attraction. Now you may not agree with that law, but your disagreement doesn't make it unequal. If a man is "attracted" to his sister, no matter, he can't marry his sister. Neither can the man who is not attracted to his sister. Why? Because the law is unequal? No. Because the law is equal! You may not agree with that law, but your disagreement doesn't make it unequal. If a man is "attracted" to other men, no matter, he can't marry one. Neither can the man who is not attracted to them. Why? Because the law is unequal? No. Because the law is equal! You may not agree with that law, but your disagreement doesn't make it unequal. It is the same law for everyone who resides in the state of Texas.

But, you say, laws against same-sex marriage target a group of people -- people who are attracted to the same sex. Well, if so, in the same sense laws against marrying someone under a certain age target those who are attracted to someone under that age. Laws against marrying close relatives target those who are attracted to those close relatives. Laws against polygamy target those who are attracted to multiple partners. But these laws target all equally because they do not target the attraction but the license to marry.

Well, you raise the analogy or comparison between laws against interracial marriage and laws against homosexual marriage. If laws against interracial marriage were unequal and wrong, aren't laws against homosexual marriage also unequal and wrong? The comparison is false and inapplicable. There is no pertinent difference between black and white humans. Differences between male and female humans are significant -- physical, physiological and morphological, some more obvious than others (even legal, as in certain different necessary accommodations for men and women).

To believe in the superiority of marital union of a man and a woman one does not have to believe in the superiority of heterosexual men and women over homosexual men and women as individuals. It is simply a recognition that the basic building block of society is a marriage between a man and a woman. This is not some strange new idea. You may believe that same-sex marriage is the right thing to do. You cannot insist that it is it not radical. In recorded history marriage has always been regarded as a union between a man and a woman -- even in societies where homosexuality was regarded sympathetically.

The revision of marriage reduces it to sanctioning adult desires, emotional bonds, and sexual attraction with certain legal privileges. Deep below the surface of this is the intense need to recognize the relationship as "normal" -- that is, that the same-sex relationship is in no way radical or different from the opposite-sex relationship. But we all know that is not so, even when we do all we can to act if it is.

In "When ‘Redefining Marriage’ Meant That Women Had To Be Treated Like Human Beings," Ian Millhiser argues “this objection (to redefining marriage) makes little sense. The reality is that the way we define the concept of 'marriage' bears little resemblance to the way it was defined just a few decades ago...” But in reality Millhiser redefines the discussion of redefining marriage. His references are variations within the male-female marriage relationship (selectively choosing those which he expects modern Americans to reject as "outdated") rather than the thing itself. Yes, the nut and bolts of marriage relationships have varied from time to time, and will continue to do so. In one place it might include child brides; in another polygamy. But it was always between males and females. To include two parties of the same sex is a redefinition not of the inner workings within a marriage relationship, but of the very relationship itself.

No, homosexual marriage  isn't the destruction of family values. But it stamps the seal of approval on the destructive sexual revolution that raged in the 20th century. The redefinition began with approving temporal emotional bonds for opposite-sex couples, which might be changed nearly as easily as changing a flat tire. It will (logically) end in the all-out approval of all strong emotional bonds that might be entered into by those who feel them.

I've noticed article after article in which same-sex marriage advocates whine about the "slippery slope" argument. The "slippery slope" argument points out that redefining marriage for two persons of the same sex on the basis of "marriage equality" will logically lead to polygamy, polyamory and so on. If marriage must be redefined for one interest group, it must be redefined for all interest groups. If not all-inclusive, the law is discriminatory and unequal for the others who are not included. If there is something wrong with including these relationships on the basis of marriage equality, then the premise is wrong for supporting same-sex marriage as well.


* In fact, it seems to me that they have carefully and deliberately placed themselves in the wind's direction.