Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Russian Winter Roads

Just a quick post of a beautiful shot..winter in Russia. I do wish we had some of that snow in the Midwest. What a bust this winter has been!!! (BTW..I generally dislike winter, but I do like gardening in the spring and summer. We are WAY too dry.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Biblical Theology and Balance

As is the case in any generation of Christians, there are issues that arise and trigger significant debate. In recent months, we've seen the Emergent Church/postmodernism debate, the Open Theism debate, a renewed "Battle for the Bible" to quote the late Dr. Harold Lindsell, the debate over the seeker-sensitive church model, and the list goes on. While we are not quite at the stage where a modern day Martin Luther is being hauled off to the Wartburg to escape Duke George and Pope Leo, the battle over theology is getting quite intense.

It should be no surprise that this would happen. Scripture is replete with warnings about the last days and deception. The Lord Jesus Himself asked the question, "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). The picture painted by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy is severe, marking out especially for condemnation those who "have a form of godliness, but deny its power." I think it is safe to say that, while Revelation speaks of a multitude that no man can number, this number - as vast as it apparently will be - is but a remnant of those who could have been saved. I believe Scripture also makes it clear that the Lord expects those who name Him as Savior to be faithful to His Word. "If you love Me, keep my commandments."

In my own fellowship, the Evangelical Free Church of America, revisions to our doctrinal statement are being considered. At this writing, the main changes seem to be in the area of eschatology, or doctrine of the end times. The EFCA has historically been a premillennial, dispensational fellowship. A change was made back in the 1970s to reflect other understandings of the word "imminence" in a historic premillennial sense. The proposed changes appear to allow for amillennialism, postribulationism and other eschatological ideas. All of this rather confirms a long-standing belief of mine. I seldom see doctrinal statements strengthened by changes. Almost always, they get watered down. The battle over this proposed change is only beginning, and only time will tell whether it is ultimately adopted. I hope not. The EFCA was formed to stand for something. There are numerous other fellowships out there having amillennial views on eschatology. I would hope that people would seek those fellowships out instead of insisting on changes that are not in keeping with our historic stance.

(EDITED TO ADD) - Lest I get chastised for it later, I should qualify the above with the following. I am not suggesting that one's stance on eschatology should be a test of fellowship unless the physical return of Jesus to earth is denied. I have friends who are amillennial whom I respect very much and their theology is solid, despite my disagreement on that particular matter. What I AM suggesting is that we ought not try to force a fellowship to abandon its doctrinal statement or distinctives because we might happen to hold a different view. If it gets that bad, it's better to find a fellowship more in line with what you think. And most certainly, a pastor should not obtain or maintain credentials under false conditions.

And that leads me to comment briefly on another thing that has bothered me for a long time. In many denominations, a pastor must reaffirm the doctrinal position of his denomination to remain in good standing with his credentials. I have seen it on more than one occasion that the pastor actually no longer holds to some of the doctrinal distinctives of his fellowship, but when it's renewal time, "nudge nudge..wink wink..say no more, say no more." This is dishonest and lacking in integrity. If you can't sign on to your fellowship's doctrinal statement, it's time to move on. But no..it seems some would rather engage in what amounts to a guerilla campaign to change the doctrine of the fellowship in question while supposedly pledging to uphold it. Scripture says "let your yes be yes and your no be no." Oh, silly me. I forgot. Who has a high view of Scripture anymore these days?

As time marches on to its denouement, the struggle over fealty to the Lord and to Scripture will only grow more pronounced. I would like to see us throw out all the best sellers we're buying with the latest pop theology, and get back to the time tested, proven Word of God. A biblical theology is a balanced theology, and is the best guarantee for the church having the impact on the culture.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

In Defense of Discrimination

Wow, you must be thinking. That's a rather cheeky title to an article. Actually, it's an attempt to look at a VERY controversial subject through another lens.

In USA Today's February 22 front page, there is a story about the gay-sheepherder film "Brokeback Mountain" and its Oscar chances. The very first sentence ought to speak volumes, but I bet it passes through most heads. "It has yet to win an Academy Award. It has never been the No. 1 film in theaters. Not that many people have seen it. Yet Brokeback Mountain is already The Movie."

Now doesn't that say something? Of course, the Oscars have always had films winning occasionally that raised eyebrows a bit, but this is something that ought to leap out at people. Not that many people have seen it, yet it is being treated like Moses coming down the mountain with the tablets.

Many have wondered why such a tiny minority have been able to commandeer so much attention and force things their way in recent years. Aside from the odd notion that a behavior should be seen as a civil right, something just doesn't sit just right, does it? This should illustrate more than anything else how this is largely a media-driven event..propaganda every bit as much as something produced during World War II. Tell a lie, a big lie...and tell it often enough. Sooner or later, people begin believing it. The far-left has been in control of educational establishments for decades as well as the mainstream media. They have never been in lockstep with the rest of us..people they consider the "great unwashed." They will continue to do this and get away with it until the majority finally has enough of it and takes control back. Education, media, legislatures, courts..you name it.

Far from being "bigoted," the majority of people in this country are opposed to homosexuality because they believe it is morally wrong. Discriminating against what is wrong is a good thing. Sadly, discrimination has become a loaded term connected with "rights." There is a good kind of discrimination, such as you want people you love to avoid things that will lead ultimately to their destruction. Participation in evil is a behavior, but it is not a "right." Alan Keyes put it well a few years ago. "You do not have the right to do what is wrong." Wrong behavior may well be tolerated, but it is not a right.

People would, more likely than not, leave those who practice this kind of lifestyle alone if they would leave the rest of society alone. But they're going too far now. Rather than be content with being left alone, they insist that their lifestyle be accepted as normal, right and good. Because they are being so "in your face" about it, they may well get the opposite of what they want. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

No-Sun Photosynthesis?

While referenced in another post, I felt this interesting enough to post separately.

When you speak with those who object to the concept of biblical inerrancy, you'll hear the Genesis account of creation attacked regularly. Supposedly, photosynthesis cannot happen without sunlight. The Genesis account tells how God created light, but this supposedly would not have been enough to sustain plant life. Impossible to have photosynthesis without the sun.

Well, not so fast. According to the Science Buzz blog and other sources, scientists have made an interesting discovery. A green sulfur bacterium that requires light for growth was found where the only light source is geothermal radiation. The discovery of this organism was reported by J. Thomas Beatty and associates at the University of British Columbia, Canada; University of Munich, Germany; Arizona State University; University of Alaska Fairbanks; College of William and Mary, VA; and the Bermuda Biological Station for Research. This previously unknown bacterium was found in a deep-sea hydrothermal vent where the only source of light was from geothermal radiation.

Hmmm. Wonder how that could happen? Could it also be that a sovereign Creator can do what He wants? Even have plants growing with no SUN light? Jesus wondered if He would find faith on the earth at His return. Seems like the ones stirring up a lot of doubt are those who claim to be His followers.

Monday, February 20, 2006

ABBA Forever!

Time for a lighthearted post after all the heavy theology. I was listening to my ABBA Gold Greatest Hits CD on the way to the office this morning. As a musician, I really don't think one could get any better at perfect, formulaic pop. Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid nail it with nearly every song. You wouldn't believe some of the well known rock musicians out there who are closet ABBA fans. The reason? Well crafted music, sharp hooks, sturdy bridge, soaring harmonies. Nobody did it better!

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Today's comment was spurred by an exchange with Rob, a frequent contributor to the EC discussion. He had wondered if my argumentation would lead down a slippery slope toward anti-intellectualism.

While Rob didn't directly accuse me of anti-intellectualism, this has been a recurring theme I have seen quite often with others engaging in this "conversation." I, along with most other apologists I know, view scholarship as very important. As part of scholarship, asking questions and seeking the truth are foundational. However, I am finding that some question-asking really has little to do with intellect or scholarship. Instead, the question is asked expressly for the purpose of obfuscation and creating doubt. This is often revealed by the disjointed fashion of the questions.

I'll give you a specific example by borrowing a bit of my discussion with Rob and adding to it as if were a dialogue with someone else. Make a comment about the Bible being clear on a subject such as homosexuality. You'll then hear, "No, it's not clear." This will be followed by throwing up something that has nothing to do with the original issue being discussed. We begin by talking about what the Bible says regarding sexual morality, and end up talking about whether sunlight is necessary for photosynthesis. The implication here is that if the Bible is wrong about photosynthesis, then it can't be right about sexual morality either.

(EDITED TO ADD) As an aside, a little tidbit from The Scientist reveals that photosynthesis IS taking place without sunlight. Check out this link:


The Genesis account of creation mentions LIGHT being there, but the argument is since there is supposed to be no SUN, there could have been no photosynthesis, and therefore no plant life could have existed. Leaving aside the fact that a sovereign Creator can do what He wants with His creation, this is supposed to create an insurmountable problem for those who believe in Scripture. Sorry, it doesn't. The Genesis account mentions that God created light. How do the beknighted "believing" critics of inerrancy know what qualities that "light" had even if there was no sun? But rather than give Scripture the benefit of the doubt, the postmodernist "Christian" would rather give benefit TO the doubt. Even with the discovery above, which gives credence to my belief that the light created by God was sufficient to do what it had to to, the postmoderns are bound and determined to shred the authority of Scripture.

Well, back to the discussion of this post. Annoyed, you dispose of the photosynthesis issue through arguments such as the one above, and then try to steer the discussion back to the ORIGINAL issue - what the Bible says regarding sexual morality and the clarity thereof. However, your quibbling disputant will then head down another bunny trail, and you've got a choice to make. You can go down the bunny trail, deal with the objection hidden under the bracken by Peter Cottontail, hoping against hope that you can eventually get back to the original trail, refuse to go down the bunny trail and force the discussion back to the original issue, or end the discussion in frustration. You will see this time after time after time. Talking with these people is a lot like talking with a Jehovah's Witness.

The ideal discussion would have us sticking to the original issue. First, we would look and see what the Bible says about sexual morality. We would look at the meaning of Hebrew and Greek terms. We would look at the history of the period to see what prevailing attitudes were about the subject. That is scholarship, and it takes some intellect to pursue this. At the end of the day, the Bible alone is our final authority in regards to faith and practice. THAT what riles our disputants the most.

It takes patience. I have plenty of patience for unbelievers who don't understand, and I'll walk them through the mire to help them reach the correct conclusions. However, my patience is wearing extremely thin with supposed believers in positions of authority who spout nonsense - people such as pastors, teachers and theologians. Like Jannes and Jambres, these people are "always learning, yet never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Cheney Tempest

This won't be the longest post on the Seventh Sola, but it might perhaps be my most "to the point."

I have long had a growing dislike for politics and the increasing nastiness of it. Yes, I realize that politics has always been a rough and tumble game, but in the past few years its gotten beyond disgusting. While both parties are certainly capable of dirty tricks, I think the behavior of the left of late is unconscionable. They will do anything and say anything to bolster their chances of gaining power. Never mind offering up alternatives of what you'd do to fix things. God forbid they'd think of something that simple. Instead, they prefer throwing the most scurrilous attacks of a personal nature. They've made the politics of personal destruction an art form.

If I had been Dick Cheney, I wouldn't have even done the Brit Hume interview. The scene of the White House press corp soaking their shirt fronts with spittle was enough to last me for a lifetime..and I am a former "media." Cheney should have just said "none of your business." I could say much more, but you get the idea. A tempest in a teapot and much ado about nothing. I wonder what they'd say if the vice president walked into the press room with a shotgun to illustrate what happened. Hmmm. Sounds like a potential late night skit by Jay Leno or David Letterman!

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Genesis Trail of Tears

No, I am not referring either to the band Genesis or the Cherokee Trail of Tears. The biblical book of Genesis - specifically chapter 3 - is on my mind. Normally I wouldn't make one blog post after another but this struck me so forcefully I thought I'd best write it down now.

Much is said in postmodern "Christian" circles about questioning. We can't be too certain, can we? We suspect all authority, don't we? Things really aren't all that clear, even in Scripture. Are they?

In Genesis 3 is recorded the fall of man - the very episode that started mankind's downhill slide. As the well-known story goes (my, how I have come to dislike the word "story" these days), Satan approaches Eve in the Garden after God's instructions not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden...the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He begins by asking a question..."Has God said..." etc. After the guileless Eve recounted God's instruction, the Enemy followed up by a direct contradiction to what God had warned. "You surely will not die!" Well, most of us know what happened next. Eve took the fateful bite and encouraged Adam to do the same. The results have plagued mankind ever since.

I want you to look at this chain of events closely.

1. Question

2. Doubt

3. Disbelief

4. Disobedience

5. Death

The pattern has remained unbroken ever since. And now we have some who claim to be Christian ginning up the same old pattern. They begin by insisting that Scripture really isn't all that clear. "Has God said?" Yes, God DID say.

Earlier, I recalled the Scripture stating that "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. The logical opposite is that if Abraham disbelieved God, it would have been reckoned to him as unrighteousness. It is a dangerous thing to spurn the Word of God, whether it be outright rejection or by clever deconstructions or word games. We know from the testimony of our Lord Himself as well as His apostles that God takes His Word very seriously. Those who name the name of Jesus as Savior had best do the same. The five events of the chain of disbelief and disobedience end in disaster. Always.
What is this church doing here???

Imagine the character Major Hochstetter on the old comedy "Hogan's Heroes" screaming the above headline. In the ongoing EC contratemps, this particular question, to me, is the overriding issue outside of the very real theological problems inherent in some aspects of the EC.

Biblically, the church is the Bride of Christ made up of saved, born-again people. Unbelievers are NOT part of the church. The purpose for the assembly (or church service if we must use that term) is not evangelism. The purpose of the assembly is overall for believers to worship God, learn the Word and be equipped for ministry, including evangelism. Evangelism is done as individual believers in our everyday lives. Evangelism certainly CAN happen at a worship gathering, but it is NOT to be the primary focus.

The problem is that we've got it all backwards and have for years. Perhaps it's economic. We have to do something, after all, to pay those salaries and the utility bills for these edifices where we gather. After all, we hire pastors and pay them a salary, by George. It's THEIR job to fill the pews, isn't it?

No, actually..it's not. It's my job and your job. The pastors' job is to equip us and teach us God's Word. But until we ditch this "Sunday go to meetin" mentality and function as the church was intended to function, we'll always get sidetracked with harmful diversions such as the EC. We need to quit wringing our hands over the notion that the churches are shrinking and we aren't "reaching this generation." Poppycock. I guarantee that if God's Word is faithfully proclaimed, the Holy Spirit is more than competent enough to draw people to Himself. After all, that's His job. Our job is to do what the Lord says to do through the "foolishness of preaching." The reasons churches bleed copiously is because they get AWAY from preaching God's Word faithfully. And here's one more. If God's Word is preached faithfully and people don't come, guess what? It's not our problem! The Gospel is offensive to the world. Huge numbers are no guarantee of God's hand being on something. The numbers in the Mormon church ought to illustrate that clearly enough.

All that the Father has given His Son will come to the Son. We have His promise of that. What we need to do is obey Him and faithfully preach His Word to the lost. Leave the rest to Him!

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Cartoon Contretemps

By now, most people are probably aware of the tempest in the Islamic world over the cartoons published initially by a Danish newspaper depicting Mohammed wearing a bomb in his turban. The riots have followed the usual predictable course, and much has been said by the talking heads.

While Solameanie doesn't advocate needlessly offending people, there are some observations to be made here. It is obvious this is being ginned up (or should I say djinned up) for political reasons by radical Islamic governments and activists. Never mind that Islamic papers have printed grossly insulting cartoons about Christians and Jews for years. Iranian president Ahmadinijad's recent remarks about Israel and the holocaust are beyond obscene. But this crowd has never been known for its willingness to acknowledge hypocrisy.

Did these people having a jolly old time rioting, burning, throwing rocks, kidnapping, murdering etc. ever stop to think that the reason the prophet they claim to revere was depicted in this fashion is BECAUSE of this kind of behavior? You know, people in civilized parts of the world get tired of airplane hijackings, nightclub, hotel and restaurant explosions, suicide/homicide bombers, children being hacked to death, beheadings of helpless captives by masked men etc. I could go on ad infinitum/ad nauseum. Far from driving people to their knees, it's actually beginning to really torque people off.

And for the clerics and adherents who keep insisting these people are a minority within Islam? If that's the case, then get control of your minority by whatever means necessary, including speaking out against them loudly and forcefully. Issue a fatwa on this kind of behavior and then punish those who violate it. Severely! The Muslim community around the world should think long and hard about this. The behavior of the radicals is beyond evil. It's demonic. Sooner or later, countries who are the recipients of such attacks are going to begin getting a gutful of it and it won't be pretty. Remember Charles Martel and Tours. It can happen again.

In the meantime, the Bible says that the state does not bear the sword for nothing. As long as protests are peaceful, lawful and orderly, fine. But the moment the violence starts, these demonstrations need to be put down with brute force. The cost of engaging in this beastial behavior must be made so high that it's not worth it. It needs to be demonstrated by Western governments that this out of control behavior will not be tolerated for an instant. If that means police need to go crack skulls with batons, so be it. We WILL have order.

They should think about this one, too. Sacking an embassy is an act of war. An embassy is sovereign territory of the country owning the embassy.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The EC and Scripture

Never mind me and my Rickenbacker. I would have posted a photo of just the Ric, but shots of me actually playing are so rare, I thought at least one should be captured for posterity. I can see right now that at least 15 pounds needs to come off pronto.

In my first post on the subject of the Emergent Church (EC), I listed at least eight areas of concern. The next one I want to tackle briefly is the low view of Scripture many adherents of the EC seem to have. I say "seem" to have because one is never really certain of what they really think. Certainty is, after all, anathema to a postmodern. (Okay, that was a bit tongue-in-cheek).

I had mulled over several approaches to this until EC leader Brian McLaren lobbed a water balloon filled with limberger cheese into the blogosphere - his suggestion at the Leadership Journal blog that Christian pastors, leaders, theologians etc. put a five year moratorium on making comments about homosexuality until we can figure out what we think about it. You can read the text at the link in my previous post to this one. Brian's blog entry, of course, unleashed a firestorm. When I read Brian's initial statement, I was aghast. Then, when I read his response to those who have rightly taken him to the woodshed, I was even more aghast. But for my purposes at least, this couldn't have come at a better time as it illustrates beautifully the point I have been wanting to make about the EC and God's Word.

The EC and those who embrace the postmodern mindset love to throw all sorts of ambiguity and doubt into any crystal clear, unambiguous assertion one might make. While Brian and others in the EC might not know what to think about this issue, God's Word leaves no such doubts as to what God Himself thinks. Deuteronomy 18:22 sets God's view bluntly. "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female. It is an abomination (tow 'ebah or to 'ebah in the Hebrew). Abomination is defined as a "disgusting thing" in a ritual sense as well as in an ethical sense. Far from this merely being an Old Testament/Torah prohibition, strictures against this type of behavior are also found in Romans chapter 1 and other New Testament locations.

Only in the postmodern mind (whether drug induced or spiritually induced) can these Scriptures somehow be interpreted other than their plain meaning. Wishful thinking, maybe. You really have to either redefine them or reject them outright. But we are not to look at God's Word through a postmodern prism. Scripture makes it very clear that God will not grade on the curve when it comes to His Word. People can blind themselves through their own stubbornness and rebellion. Having done so, they will not be excused for their blindness and stubbornness.

We need to understand the ramifications of this as it goes beyond the issue of homosexuality. To not believe God's Word is to not believe God Himself. What is the opposite of "Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness?" If Abraham had not believed God, it would have been reckoned to him as unrighteousness. What does Scripture tell us of those who do not believe? It tells us they are condemned already. If we can't believe what God said about human sexuality, how can we believe what He said about how one is made right before Him? How can we believe the Gospel, by which we are saved (1 Corinthians 15)?

We had best stop playing eeny meeny miney moe with the Bible. And before someone attempts to throw it at me (Brian tried this argument in his response post), don't bother telling me that we don't stone people to death any more for violations of Mosaic law. I learned in Sunday school class as a child the differences between the Old Covenant and New Covenant..the differences between ceremonial and moral law etc. When the EC or other liberal theologians try this, understand that it is merely a smokescreen designed to throw people into a thousand bunny trails away from the key issue being discussed. If a pastor is uninformed about the differences between the Law of Moses and the New Covenant, then he has no business wearing his clerical collar and Birkenstocks. Unless his obfuscation is intentional, which makes it all the more repugnant.

In time, we'll explore the other "low views" of the EC.