Friday, April 30, 2010
From time to time -- that is when I can take it -- I've been reading accounts of the Spanish Inquisition. Of late, I've been glancing through Henry Kamen's "The Spanish Inquisition - a historical revision." This book attempts a more balanced account of this rather gruesome time in church and secular history, but it's still disturbing reading. Today's passage dealt with the tortures inflicted on heretics, including the Rack (el potro). I'll quote the passage that raised my eyebrows . . .
Foreign heretics were submitted to the same procedure. Here is the case of Jacob Petersen from Dunkirk, a sailor aged twenty who was examined by the tribunal of the Canaries in November 1597. He was stripped and bound, and given three turns of the cord.
On being given these he said first, 'Oh God!; and then 'There's no mercy': after the turns he was admonished, and he said, 'I don't know what to say, oh dear God!' Then three more turns of the cord were ordered to be given, and after two of them he said 'Oh God, oh God, there's no mercy, oh God help me, help me!'
After three more turns, he confessed. While these examples give us some insight into the agony of those who were tortured, it should be remembered that the procedure was often mild enough for very many to overcome it. A comparison with the cruelty and mutilation common in secular tribunals shows the Inquisition in a relatively favourable light. This in conjunction with the usually good level of prison conditions makes it clear that the tribunal had little interest in cruelty and often attempted to temper justice with mercy.
Now, tell me. Can you come up with any better example of making a silk purse out of a sow's ear? You will find no place in the New Testament where God sanctions torturing people to bring them to repentance. Witnessing, preaching, persuading and rebuking, yes. While God Himself will render severe judgment, and eternity in Hell is the final destination of all who reject Him, the severest sanction by the church on earth in the New Testament is censure and excommunication. This is nothing more than ecclesiastical evil, aided and abetted by the state.
Don't think it can't happen again.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Time for yet another great installment from Hillsdale College's Imprimis newsletter. And I do mean great.
This time, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman contributes a piece entitled "The Coming Constitutional Debate." I would be more inclined to call it a battle, because that's exactly what it will be. Justice Markman ably draws the battle lines:
Proponents of a "21st century constitution" or "living constitution" aim to transform our nation's supreme law beyond recognition—and with a minimum of public attention and debate. Indeed, if there is an overarching theme to what they wish to achieve, it is the diminishment of the democratic and representative processes of American government. It is the replacement of a system of republican government, in which the constitution is largely focused on the architecture of government in order to minimize the likelihood of abuse of power, with a system of judicial government, in which substantive policy outcomes are increasingly determined by federal judges. Rather than defining broad rules of the game for the executive and legislative branches of government, the new constitution would compel specific outcomes.
I would go beyond even Justice Markman's concerns. They're not merely trying to force more things into the courts. They're trying to throw out the U.S. Constitution completely and establish a dictatorship in all but name. Individual rights and liberties are subordinated to the demands of the state, although lip service is given to protecting the right to perversion and everything else that's indefensible. It really will be a fascist-style system, technically allowing private business but so tightly controlled and regulated it might as well be state enterprise.
I could go on, but give Justice Markman's article a read. His clarion call needs to be heeded.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Now and then, an incident happens across the pond that serves useful here in the U.S. Today's lesson is the way that the left looks at people who disagree with them, and tries to paint them in the worst possible light. Of course, the right can be guilty of doing the same thing, but the disdain the left has for ordinary people (while pretending to have their best interests at heart) never ceases to amaze.
British prime minister Gordon Brown is in a tough re-election fight. Recently, he was caught on tape referring to a voter as a "bigot." Her perfidy? Daring to ask him honest questions about the impact of unrestrained immigration on U.K. society, especially the economy and pocketbooks of average citizens.
Mr. Brown apologized for the slur, but in a way I am glad it happened, because it really is illustrative of what we deal with here. People rightly have all sorts of concerns about illegal immigration along the U.S. southern border. The reasons are myriad, from economic to security. But the left likes to play the race and bigotry cards, falsely charging people with those offenses for daring to want to uphold our law and sovereignty as a nation. Never mind that many Hispanic Americans are outraged at the illegals. The media won't focus on them because it doesn't fit their chosen narrative.
The left's "compassion" is more like cotton candy, tasting good at first but disappearing after you put it in your mouth, and generally leaving a bad aftertaste. Most of these politicians and media types could care less about the plight of illegal immigrants. They see them purely as future voters to help keep them in power, so they'll do anything short of murder to see that they are given amnesty and citizenship.
Cynical of me? Maybe. But I'll bet I'm not far off the mark.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
There are two items in the news today that need some perusal and comment.
First is this little item from USA Today talking about the decline in faith among the younger set. Cathy Lynn Grossman's article highlights some grim statistics about young adults -- 65 percent rarely or never pray with others, and 38 percent almost never pray themselves. Some 65 percent rarely or never attend worship services, and 67 percent don't read the Bible or "sacred texts." Many are unsure Jesus is the only path to heaven, half say yes, half no. You get the idea.
Stories like this in the past have helped fuel usually well-intentioned, yet very unwise, biblically unsound ideas to try and bring young adults and families back in the door of the church. The Emergent nonsense is a good example of it. But thankfully, the article quotes Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian resources. "We have dumbed down what it means to be part of the church so much that it means almost nothing, even to people who already say they are part of the church."
Exactly. Preach the Gospel uncompromisingly, and adhere strictly to biblical orthodoxy and orthopraxis. The Holy Spirit will draw people to saving faith. That's His business. The Lord will build His church, and nothing will stop Him. Not even statistics.
Next comes this little gem from the Christian Post. Newly outed "Christian" singer Jennifer Knapp tries to justify her lesbianism by saying that we can't trust biblical translations on the issue. She throws the bomb, but insists that she's not a theologian or a Bible scholar. Oh, really?
Perhaps she should kindly be quiet, and get some education on the subject from people who actually do know what they're talking about when it comes to biblical translation and interpretation.
While she's at it, she might consider repentance.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Chuck Norris is known for his achievements in martial arts and in motion pictures. In recent years, he's been much more vocal about political issues. In this WorldNetDaily column, Chuck begins a multi-part series on the threat to Americans' right to keep and bear arms.
This bears close watching. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security due to the Supreme Court's recent ruling declaring that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right. Leftist politicians have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves to get around that particular Constitutional prohibition. They really don't think much about the Constitution at all, except how to abrogate it.
As an aside, yet another reason to deport George Soros. Immediately.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
This Week's Excerpt -- Doctrinal Emphasis in Evangelism
by Dr. L.W. Munhall
from "The Fundamentals"
Sin separates and estranges the sinner from God; and he becomes an enemy of God by wicked works (Romans 8:7), has no peace, (Isaiah 57:21), no rest (Isaiah 57:20), is polluted (Ephesians 4:17-19), condemned (John 3:18), and without hope (Ephesians 2:12). Oh, the curse and ruin of sin!
If unrepenting and unbelieving, the future has for him, first, inexorable and awful judgment, second, the wrath of God, and third, eternal torments . . .
The preacher who ignores these three awful and inexorable truths preaches an imasculataed Gospel, be he never so faithful in proclaiming other truth. He who preaches the love of God to the exclusion of God's justice and wrath proclaims idle sentiment. No one will ever truly desire salvation unless he first realizes that there is something to be saved from. "By faith, Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house" (Hebrews 11:7); all of which symbolizes the sinner,s condition, need, motive and hope.
In no way can the love of God be so clearly, beautifully, and convincingly set forth as in the fact that God makes plain to the sinner his condition and peril, then shows him the way of escape, having in His great mercy, Himself provided it at infinite cost. Now, at this point the Gospel comes in as indeed good news, showing God's love for the sinner.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I was not able to attend this year's "Together for the Gospel" conference, but judging by this article in the Christian Post, Dr. Al Mohler hit another one out of the park.
Dr. Mohler is exactly right. The church collectively -- or Christians as individuals -- water down the Gospel at our peril. An altered or "adjusted" Gospel is no Gospel at all. It's a false Gospel. And as Christian apologists have said for years, "a true Gospel saves, but a false Gospel damns."
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
The steady stream of garbage coming out of Hollywood is almost overwhelming these days, so much so that I'm reluctant to even comment on new films. But this one needs some comment, so here goes.
There's a new "comic book hero" film out called "Kick A**." Judging from the reviews in USA Today, I won't be going to see it and would find it sad if any parent would take their child to see it. Here is a link to Claudia Puig's review. There are other articles you can read in the paper's website if you hunt around a little. The film stars 13-year-old Chloe Moretz, who was actually only 11 when she did the film. The movie is based on a comic book by Mark Millar, and was directed by Matthew Vaughn.
The movie is controversial because of the violence to a lesser extent, but more because of the very, very bad language mouthed by Chloe's character. She even uses (according to the review) a word that's considered possibly the worst profanity in the English language -- a reference to a certain part of the female anatomy. Director Vaughn seems pleased by the uproar. Here's a direct quote . . .
“I guess we could have toned it down. But comics have been a bit stale. It’s time for something more edgy, post-modern. And why change a comic book if it’s good?"
Claudia Puig says the movie is rated “R for brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and drug use, some involving children.”
Edgy. Postmodern. Spicing things up that were stale. Out of the mouths of babes.
I found it especially ironic that one of the film's principals said that they wouldn't allow their child to talk that way at home. So let's help some corruption along and let kids swear like sailors on film, but just not at home. Isn't that rich?
Why would parents want their children talking that way, first of all? And especially on film, captured for all time? I guess fame must be achieved at all costs, including personal integrity.
The long and short of it is, this is just more decay and degradation. Pretty soon we'll be having young children in sex scenes. Just give it some time.
And they'll probably call it art.
Monday, April 19, 2010
I was waiting for this one. This morning, it came courtesy of the London Daily Mail.
Remember the occasional supermarket tabloid shot of a volcano, forest fire, or some natural disaster -- complete with eyes, nose and gaping maw with fangs? "Satan's Face Seen In Eruption" or some similar headline?
Well, it's not Satan today. It's Edvard Munch's famous "Scream" painting. And while the tabloid shots are nearly always doctored, I think this one's a natural photograph. Volcanoes can have multiple craters.
Still gave me a chuckle, though.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
This week's installment from "The Fundamentals"
by Rev. Wm. G. Moorehead
Xenia Theological Seminary, Xenia, Ohio
The sinlessness of the Saviour witnesses to His moral glory. The Gospels present us with one solitary and unique fact of human history -- an absolutely sinless Man! In His birth immaculate, in His childhood, youth and manhood, in public and private, in death and in life, He was faultless. Hear some witnesses. There is the testimony of His enemies. For three long years the Pharisees were watching their victim. As another writes, "There was the Pharisee mingling in every crowd, hiding behind every tree. They examined His disciples, they cross-questioned all around Him. They looked into His ministerial life, into His domestic privacy, into his hours of retirement. They came forward with the sole accusation they could muster -- that He had been disrespectful to Caesar. The Roman judge who ought to know, pronounced it "void."
There was another spy — Judas. Had there been one failure in the Redeemer's career, in his awful agony Judas would have remembered it for his comfort; but the bitterness of his despair, that which made his life intolerable, was, "I have betrayed innocent blood."
There is the testimony of His friends. His disciples affirm that during their (relationship) with Him His life was unsullied. Had there been a single blemish they would have detected it, and, honest historians as they were, they would have recorded it just as they did their own shortcomings and blunders. The purest and most austere man that lived in that day, John the Baptist, shrank from baptizing the Holy One, and in conscious unworthiness he said, "I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?" Nor is His own testimony to be overlooked. Jesus never once confesses sin. He never once asks for pardon. Yet is it not He who so sharply rebukes the self-righteousness of the Pharisees.
In the annals of our race there is none next to or like Him.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I was captured this morning by the well-known story of Jesus meeting the woman from Samaria at Jacob's Well. Here's how the biblical passage in question begins . . .
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? “You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life" (John 4:7-14).
Later in another post, I'll put up the rest of the passage's verses that finish the account. But when considering the whole story, it is interesting to see the different emphases given to this passage depending on who is talking about it or teaching from it. As for me, I like to look at the whole account and draw out all of what God has for us in His Word. Briefly, here are the things that most often get discussed:
1. The gulf or divide between Jews and Samaritans at the time.
2. Jesus using the need for water as a teaching moment, i.e. to point to the need for Him. Physical thirst is temporary and easily assuaged by a drink of water, but our need for Christ is eternal and can only be assuaged by faith in Him.
3. Later in subsequent verses from John 4, Jesus reveals His omniscience (as God incarnate) of the woman and her sinful lifestyle.
4. The woman ends up being an evangelist of sorts. "Come and see this man!"
Something else jumps out at me in addition to all of this (again, assuming familiarity with the whole account and not just the verses I quoted). It is interesting that the woman in question -- although she is a Samaritan and the Jews have nothing to do with Samaritans -- is still aware of a key biblical truth. "Messiah is coming." Despite her outcast status, and despite her lifestyle that reflects an attitude not too terribly bothered by the notion of sin, she still knows some truth. It rather makes you wonder what else she knew about God and sin. Regardless of what she knew about God and sin, Jesus still brought the issue front and center.
So often, we tend to think of unbelievers as living in some kind of vacuum. Unbelieving people in our culture might not be aware of every jot and tittle of Scripture, but God has given to everyone a general conscience. Also -- at least in America -- there's been enough saturation through the years of preaching, teaching, books, tracts, street-corner soapboxes and the like. We can't plead ignorance of God. The Apostle Paul certainly points that out in rather vivid form . . .
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20).
In that little clip from Scripture, the phrase "suppress the truth in unrighteousness" speaks volumes.
We'll chat more about this later.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Hillsdale College's newsletter, Imprimis, is always a worthy read. In March's issue, Andrew McCarthy of the National Review Institute takes a look at the issue of presidential powers vs. judicial powers in wartime.
There has been much hue and cry from the left about George W. Bush supposedly acting like a dictator and trampling on the Constitution. As Mr. McCarthy shows from American history, the left really doesn't get it, as usual. Today's terrorists (unlawful combatants) require trial in military commissions, not in civilian courts.
More than that, there are times when the court needs to be told to go pound sand. The executive, legislative and judicial are three separate branches of government with checks and balances. The judicial should not -- and was never intended to -- reign supreme in our system. They are to interpret the law as passed by the legislature, not make law themselves. It is the job of the executive to enforce and carry out the law. It's really pretty simple.
Friday, April 09, 2010
This week's installment from "The Fundamentals"
Excerpted from the essay, "Life in the Word," by Philip Mauro
The Bible has nothing to say in praise of man or of his natural endowments. On the contrary, it derides his wisdom as "foolishness with God." It declares that God has made foolish the wisdom of this age (1 Corinthians 1:20); that the natural man is incapable of receiving the things of the Spirit of God (2:14); and that if any man thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know (8:2).
Nor does the Bible predict the ultimate triumph of "civilization." It does not say that the progress of humanity shall bring it eventually to a vastly better state of things. It does not say that human nature shall improve under the influences of education and self-culture, even with that of Christianity added. On the contrary, it declares that evil men shall "wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13).
Even of "this present evil age" (Gal 1:4), during which the professing church is the most conspicuous object on earth, and during which the world has the enormous benefit resulting from the light of revelation and an open Bible, it is not predicted that man and his world would undergo any improvement, or that the developments of the age would be in direction of better conditions on earth. On the contrary, the Bible declares that "in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power" (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Such is the character of man, and such is to be the result, as Scripture foretells it, of all his schemes of betterment, education, development, self-culture, civilization and character-building. And because of this, the Bible is heartily detested. Men have sought nothing more earnestly than they have sought to destroy this appallingly accurate portrait of themselves and their doings. How astonishing it is that any intelligent person should suppose that man drew this picture of himself, and predicted this as the outcome of all his own efforts! No wonder the Bible is hated, and for the simple and sufficient reason that it declares the truth about man and his world.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
This wonderful photo is in connection with a 71-year-old man in Alaska who was found guilty and received stiff fines for feeding bears. Kind of sad, isn't it. This looks like a real chummy group.
Why can't they leave the old guy alone?
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
I am not the only person on Blogger who has problems with occasional spam comments. Some of them might be automated, but others are not. Apparently some posting these comments, usually with links to pornographic sites, are fairly dense individuals. There is a warning that such comments will be deleted on site, and they will be. For the time being, Blogger doesn't allow blocking by IP, but we're going to see if we can get that changed.
In the meantime, I'll go on deleting these annoying comments in the hopes that the idiots behind them will get the message. I get immediate notification of any comments, so they'll be gone before the cyberink is dry on the screen. You might as well knock it off, assuming you're smart enough to take the hint, which I doubt.
I will not enable comment moderation for the time being, but it might come to that. If I am forced to do that, your stupid unwanted posts will never see the light of day.
Get it, clowns?
Sunday, April 04, 2010
As this is Resurrection Sunday, I'm going to post a brief reflection instead of the planned "The Fundamentals" post. That series will resume next weekend.
When I think about the events of Passion Week, I can't help but wonder if any of us really get it. And I'm talking about believers, even people like me who have been believers for years. The very thought that the Creator of the universe humbled Himself, became a man, allowed His own creation to abuse and kill Him, died on the cross for my sins, and then rose again from the dead for my justification. It really passes human understanding.
And what a challenge to really understand grace and mercy. When I look at my own life, I realize that I am so, so far from what the Lord would want me to be in character. It's not really necessary to write a list of my own shortcomings, but let me assure you, they are voluminous. And would I be any different if I had been alive at the time of Jesus' crucifixion and had witnessed it first hand? Of course, there's a change that comes at the moment you are converted. But you still struggle with sin.
We tend to put the Apostles on a pedestal, but they were still human. Paul had to correct Peter when Peter compromised the Gospel, and Paul continued to refer to himself as the chief of sinners. But they, more than anyone else, had to have come he closest to really knowing what God's grace and mercy means. They understood the enormity of it.
Why don't more people believe? It can't be merely because they can't see it or didn't see it happen. If you remember Jesus' parable about the rich man and Lazarus, even if they saw Lazarus rise from the dead, they still wouldn't have believed. The children of Israel saw the Lord directly do all sorts of things, but it didn't stop their unbelief and rebellion.
But somehow, miraculously, God is saving a people for Himself. He bought and paid for us with a price. And His blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness. He will complete the work He began in us.
Thank you, Lord, seems so inadequate. But say it I must.
Thank you, Lord.
Saturday, April 03, 2010
Soteriology of Calvinism
Soteriology, or how we are saved, is vitally important in Christian theology. When you add human works to the Gospel, it nullifies the Gospel. As we prepare to observe Resurrection Day tomorrow, I think it's good to remember that biblical fact.
As I was reading B.B. Warfield this weekend, I came upon this passage discussing the soteriology of Calvinism. I really love the way that it gives God all the glory . . .
Thus it comes about that the doctrine of monergistic regeneration — or as it was phrased by the older theologians, of "irresistible grace" or "effectual calling" — is the hinge of the Calvinistic soteriology, and lies much more deeply embedded in the system than the doctrine of predestination itself which is popularly looked on as its hallmark. Indeed, the soteriological significance of predestination to the Calvinist consists in the safeguard it affords to monergistic regeneration — to purely supernatural salvation. What lies at the heart of his soteriology is the absolute exclusion of the creaturely element in the initiation of the saving process, so that the pure grace of God may be magnified. Only so could he express his sense of man's complete dependence as sinner on the free mercy of a saving God; or extrude the evil leaven of Synergism (q.v.) by which, as he clearly sees, God is robbed of His glory and man is encouraged to think that he owes to some power, some act of choice, some initiative of his own, his participation in that salvation which is in reality all of grace.
The Seventh Sola wishes everyone a most blessed Resurrection Sunday.