Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Reformation Day is Nigh

While I knew Reformation Day is upon us, I didn't know about these resources available through the Triablogue team. Have to give a hat tip to Dan Phillips, who is, of course, one of the TeamPyro guys and also maintains his own "Biblical Christianity" blog—all linked on my right sidebar. It was reading over at Dan's blog that pointed me to the Triablogue stuff on this.

So, let me give a shout-out to all these brothers today, and thank them for their labors on behalf of the Lord and for the sake of the Gospel. Having read Roland Bainton's great bio of Martin Luther, the items rebutting some of the myths about Luther will be interesting reading.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

NRB Chief on Election Stakes

As often happens on this blog, intent of a post gets subsumed by something else for a while. I had intended on doing a post about multiculturalism on Monday, but got busy and couldn't get to it. Then today, I see this comment by NRB president Dr. Frank Wright about the stakes of the upcoming election. I knew I had to post a link to it.

Dr. Wright has it correct. The stakes are enormous, and I don't think people realize how close we are to losing the America envisioned by our Founders. The rot has been eating away at the core of the Constitution and our values for a long time—under both parties. But this time may well be the game changer of all game changers.

Barack Obama said he wanted to fundamentally transform this country. I think if most Americans really understood what he means by fundamental transformation, they wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole. Mitt Romney was—and is—not my first choice for a Republican candidate. But I have hopes that, if he gets elected, he at least will respect our Founding Principles and values much more than the current crop of radical left activists in charge now. But reversing the slide will take much more than one election cycle. It will take a spiritual rebirth of our country. And that will not come from any candidate for office.

That has to begin with a nation falling on its knees in repentance and turning back to the God who allowed the nation to rise in the first place.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dr. Michael Brown on Obama

Dr. Michael Brown is perhaps best known for his five-volume work answering Jewish objections to Jesus as the Messiah. Dr. Brown himself is a Jewish Messianic believer.

As he himself says, Dr. Brown seldom writes directly about the president. But given a recent question he received, he felt constrained to pen this article. And this article—in my humble view—clearly deliniates Barack Obama from mainstream, Bible-believing, evangelical Christianity. It's worth the read, and worth serious consideration by all true Christians.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pastor Tom Chantry on Politics

I first became aware of Pastor Tom Chantry when I began reading Phil Johnson's "Pyromaniacs" blog several years ago. Tom was (and is) a frequent commenter. He is the pastor of Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In this current election year, Tom recently tweeted a post he had written on his own blog back in the 2010 election cycle. I can honestly say it's one of the best essays on this subject I've read. So, I'd like to share the link with you here.

Enjoy, and think. Maybe you won't agree with every jot or tittle, but I think in the main he's got it right. Our first and foremost duty as believers is to serve our Lord and the cause of the Gospel.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dinesh D'Sousa Resigns and Scandal

I don't normally bump a post for a day, especially when you've been posting as rarely as I have these days. But today's news about the resignation of Dinesh D'Sousa as president of Kings College over a divorce scandal merits immediate comment. 

You can read the linked article for the gist of the story. The Christian news magazine "World," broke the story, and now it's all over The Christian Post and other media outlets. The allegations are that Dinesh, who has been separated from his wife for two years, stayed the night at a hotel with another woman not his wife, and reportedly represented her as his "fiance" even though still married.

I will take no position on this in terms of Dinesh's guilt or innocence. Obviously the matter was serious enough that he had to step down from Kings College. My greatest concern is spiritual for the sake of Dinesh, his estranged wife, his family, and yes—even the young woman involved. I pray for the reconciliation of his marriage and restoration to full productivity for the Kingdom. I pray for repentance where repentance is necessary, and salvation if that has not yet truly taken place.

I can't also help but be concerned with the timing of this story. Dinesh's movie about Barack Obama, called 2016, has been tearing up the theatres and might have an impact on the election as it vets the president like the media refused to vet the president. But now, we have this scandal, and like it or not, the left can use it and have a field day once again with a conservative who has clay feet. Remember Mark Foley? Remember Congressman Livingston? Remember Senator Vitter? The GOP is supposed to be the party of family values, and all stories like this do is shred credibility. "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." It is beyond sad. So predictable. And it all could have been avoided. It is hard to be someone so smart can be so politically naive.

Scripture says that teachers will be held under a stricter judgment. It's proving true yet again.

Dealing with Islamic Aggression

The fact that Christians in Islamic nations endure persecution is nothing new. And the fact that some elements of Islam are becoming more radicalized is not new. But since The Seventh Sola often reacts to things in the news, I will need to make some comment about this article in the ASSIST News Service. 

In the article, writer Jeremy Reynolds tells the story of 16-year-old Ryan Stanton, a Christian youth from a Christian family living in Karachi, Pakistan. As you see from the article, a frenzied Muslim mob ganged up on the kid over supposed "blasphemy" of Muhammed via a cell phone text message. It appears that someone else sent the message from Ryan's phone, but Ryan is getting the blame for it.

Okay, let's say some things as givens - at least in my view. 1. Christians do need to be sensitive in Muslim cultures. 2. Muslim nations DO have the right to protect themselves from armed aggression, and they do have a right to their own laws, which must be respected. However:

3. That does NOT mean that persecution of Christians and other religious groups ought to be tolerated by societies that claim to be civilized. 4. Muslims do not have the right to impose their faith by force on any human being. When that is tried, then nations and individuals have the right to defend themselves and to refuse being forced into another belief.

Now that all of this has been said, there is a paragraph in the story that I find troubling as a Christian. And it is this:

Ryan said, "Of course I knew (consequences of making anti-Islamic statements). I've lived all my life in Pakistan. I know the grave consequences of such a charge. Besides, we Christians are taught from childhood to avoid discussing religion with our Muslim friends and neighbors."

If you are a true believing, practicing Christian and not a Christian of the nominal variety, this ought to be very troubling to you. And the reason is that such an idea/practice is in direct disobedience to Christ Himself. We are commanded as believers to "Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every nation." There are no escape clauses in that command. Note that we are not to spread the faith by force or compulsion. Far from it. But we are to share the Gospel as the Lord grants us opportunity. We are not to hide our light under a bushel.

I don't want to seem insensitive to Christians who are living in tough parts of the world. I acknowledge that it's easy for me to write this from the safety of America. If you are under the point of a gun or blade of a sword, that in essence will be a test of your faith like no other. God forbid that I ever have to experience such a thing, and thank God that I live (for now) in a land where I am not faced with such trials. Yet for many years now, I have worked with a Christian organization serving believers and churches in countries where persecution is severe. And the life attitude of these faithful believers informs my viewpoint. They know the risk. But they also know they have a sovereign Savior, and know that their ultimate obedience is to Him. And they boldly proclaim their faith.

I—like ALL true believers—have to be true to God's Word, and God does not promise us as believers that we will be spared persecution. In fact, He warns us that the righteous shall live by faith, and that if we shrink back, He finds no pleasure in us. That's in Hebrews. In fact, the book of Hebrews has quite a sober litany of faith heroes. I'll close this post with that passage:

And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 

Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 11:32-12-3).

*Sola's note: As an aside, I've often wondered at the "blasphemy" charges in Muslim nations. One blasphemes God. You don't blaspheme a "prophet" or a human political/religious leader. If someone is critical of Muhammed, that is not tantamount to being critical of God. Remember Nathan the Prophet's boldness in laying into King David for his sin with Bathsheba. Also, in the economy of God, false prophets come under righteous condemnation. I tend to think this current violence is nothing more than an intimidation tactic to bully people into submission. It needs to be punished by appropriate governmental authority, and severely. And nations that are under the threat of such aggression need to defend themselves with severity, and make the cost of aggression way too high.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Parenting and Muddled Thinking

While Eminem is the locus of this post, I really don't intend to pick on the now 40-year-old rapper. Instead, I want you to focus on this clip of Em speaking about his parenting style . . .

Arguably, the most surprising revelation about Eminem's parenting style was revealed during a 2010 interview on 60 Minutes. Despite his excessive use of explicit language in his music, he said his home is a curse-free zone. "I'm a parent. I have daughters," he told Anderson Cooper. "How would I really sound as a person walking around my house, 'B-tch pick this up'? Profanity around my house? No. I'm not saying that there's not glimpses of me in the music. I'm not saying there's not truth in what I say, but this is music. This is my art. This is what I do."

I commend Em on wanting to be a good parent, and trying to be in the home. But do we not see a bit of a disconnect here? The language on many of Em's songs is pretty vile. He doesn't want that language spoken in his home before his children, but there seems to be no problem in marketing the music to plenty of other young kids out there who soak it up like a sponge. 

Yes, I know. Parental control and responsibility, and I agree. It ought to be exercised. But the general point still stands. I think Em—and his fellow musicians—really need to do some serious soul searching. If it's not appropriate for their children, it's more than likely not appropriate for others' children. In that case, either clean it up or begin putting "adults only" stickers on the CDs and don't sell them to anyone under 18. 

And that leads me to another somewhat wry observation. I always wonder why they call some things "adult entertainment, i.e. the vulgar, obscene magazine and movie trade. Honestly, it seems like more third-grade juvenile material. The type where naughty little boys go behind or in a shed and snicker at each other over who can use the worst cussword. Or worse things that deserve a good tanning with the nearest peach tree switch. 

Whatever it is, it's not adult. True adults know better. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Revisiting Inerrancy with Dr. Mohler

By now, most readers of The Seventh Sola will know of the deep respect in which I hold Dr. Al Mohler. Recently, Dr. Mohler headed up a panel discussion on the subject of biblical inerrancy—something that has been a bone of contention in the church for quite a while now.

The late Dr. Harold Lindsell wrote a fantastic book on this subject back in the 1960s called "The Battle for the Bible." As Dr. Mohler's panel shows, this subject is still paramount and absolutely must be understood by those having the responsibility to teach.

I have often thought that "The Battle for the Bible" ought to be updated and reprinted, especially in light of the "Emergent Church" battles of recent years. Barring that, I hope Dr. Mohler and other scholars perhaps will contribute a new anthology on this subject that will be useful for this and upcoming generations. Because the Battle for the Bible will never end until Jesus returns.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Police Brutality

To have to post a story like this pains me. The dateline is Milwaukee, Wisconsin, of all places.

Most people who know me or follow my blog (despite its sporadic nature in the past year or so) know that I'm typically a law-and-order conservative. My general reaction is to support the police, having many friends in law enforcement. That includes officers and judges.

But since September 11, 2001, and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, I've noticed a trend that I don't like. We keep hearing more and more reports of police brutality such as that described in the linked article. We live in a free society, and the purpose of the police is—as always—to protect and to serve. We do not live in a police state, where authorities can abuse people at will and get away with it. At least not yet.

I am not going to convict these officers here. I am hopeful that a fair hearing will take place, and if they are innocent, that they will be exonerated. If guilty, I hope they will be fired immediately and never work in law enforcement again.

The police have a tough job. There are a whole lot of evil creeps out there. Dangerous creeps. Sometimes the police have a legitimate reason to get rough when they take someone into custody who resists arrest, or who might be armed and dangerous. But when we continually see video such as the type we saw from New Orleans during Katrina, or this Milwaukee situation, or the dash cam videos where officers are dragging women out of cars by their hair and slamming them headfirst on the trunk of the car, it's a sign that things are going too far and need to be reined in.

When a society gives its liberty up, it's very very difficult to get it back. Bloodshed is a virtual certainty. Let's not let things get that far, okay?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Some Things Never Change

Miracles and "No Insight Gained"

In chapel this morning, we briefly looked into the Gospel of Mark, chapter six. This chapter has been preached on frequently, and is familiar to most committed believers. But one passage in particular caught my eye today—the aftermath of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee during a windy evening. He was walking on the water from the shore toward the boat that contained the disciples. Their reaction is interesting:

But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and they cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately, He spoke with them and said to them, "Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid." Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened. (Mark 6:49-52).

Hardened hearts. No insight gained. These disciples had already witnessed some amazing events with the Lord Jesus. He had earlier fed a crowd of 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish. Now, He walked on water in the midst of a gale and calmly got into the boat.

One can understand the fear and astonishment. But the fact that they had not gained any insight at all from the previous wondrous events, and then had HARDENED HEARTS on top of it is breathtaking to me.

I suppose it shouldn't be. The disciples were simply following the same sinful, unbelieving nature on display since Eve took the first bite of fruit thousands of years earlier. The same unbelief that caused Israel to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. The same unbelief that would end with Jesus' crucifixion later on.

After His glorious resurrection and ascension, thankfully a few hardened hearts were softened and eyes opened. But we still have a whole lot of people—some even in the church—with closed eyes and hardened hearts. In the last days before He returns, when deception runs rampant, we will see even more closed eyes and hardened hearts. Even worse, there will be a man who arises to lead the world—a man who has a slick tongue and the seeming miraculous ability to amaze. The unbelieving world will swoon and gush over him, but ignore the One who really matters, to their own eternal destruction (John 5:43).

Sometimes I think that is at least one of the ultimate lessons God wants to drive home to us. Human beings never change because the sin nature still exists. The Gospel of Jesus Christ leading to the new birth is the only thing that will change the human heart and subdue the old, evil nature. By God's grace, some of us find it. But the vast majority will reject it and shake their fists in God's face. And in the end, they will be judged.

Some things never change, but thankfully, someday there will be an end to sin.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Children Who Kill

Sola's Note: The following article was released today by Chuck Missler's ministry, Koinonia House. It's interesting timing, because the subject—children committing murder and other acts of violence—has been increasingly on my mind of late.

When stories like a child murderer surface in the press, many of us as Christians will shake our heads and say "signs of the times," and then forget about it. But we really ought to stop, think, and pray. And then ask ourselves if we, as the Church, are doing enough to address what is becoming a really troubling societal problem.

We've seen that children are being desensitized to violence and improper sexual conduct. It's not even what I would call a slow trend any longer. The question is, what are we going to do about it? Chuck, as always, is very thought-provoking.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." - Prov 22:6
Early in September, a 14-year-old boy rode his bike up to the NATO headquarters in Kabul. The explosives wrapped around the boy's chest then detonated, killing himself and six other people, including children. Across the world later in September, a 14-year-old girl choked her newborn baby to death and hid the body in her room. It is easy to be horrified when mere kids willingly commit murder, and yet, the cultures of these two teens prepared them to treat human life as something okay (or even good) to destroy.

A recent Time article bemoans the situation in Afghanistan, grimly suggesting that the years of fighting there will have accomplished little or nothing once the U.S. leaves as scheduled at the end of 2014. The Press Trust of India offers more encouragement, offering NATO warnings to the Taliban that even after 2014, the well-trained and capable Afghan security forces will be a pain in the side of the insurgency.

Yet, whether the Afghan security forces are capable or well-trained is not nearly as important as which side they are really on. A series of insider attacks have killed scores of U.S. soldiers, demonstrating a lack of loyalty among some in the Afghan army and police. The choice of the Afghan people is either the corrupt government of Hamid Karzai or the Taliban. Neither choice is particularly pretty, but at least the Karzai government will end soon - due to term limits - with the upcoming elections in 2014, and the citizens of Afghanistan will have a chance to elect a candidate of their choice.

Somehow, the Taliban has managed to maintain a vicious insurgency, even while meting out cruel injustices against those that fail to bow before its authority. At the end of August, for instance, insurgents decapitated 17 civilians for throwing a party that didn't fall within the fun-free Taliban code. Apparently, Allah approves of wanton murder of civilians, of betraying those who train you and fight beside you, and of blowing yourself up in the presence of little street children.

A Boy:
The boy who rode his bike up to the NATO headquarters was just that – a boy. He could be considered an especially brave young man, one dedicated to his cause, filled with faith that his act of sacrifice would benefit his family and tribe and would give him assurance of heaven. He went out to fight the infidels, the enemies of Allah. He obeyed those who sent him. If only he had been raised in a different culture. Poor, foolish kid.

Did he pedal with focused determination or with terror? Did he even stop to think about the lives of the children selling this and that in front of the NATO building? Did the children catch his eye for a moment, causing him to hesitate? He was 14, not 24, not 54.

This solitary boy was used by a group that does not value human life. He was taken advantage of at an age when boys want more than anything to impress others, to prove they can be men, tough, strong and brave. Yet, the result was that he killed himself and others in a vicious act that left bits of flesh raining over the sidewalk.

He did what he'd been taught to do.

A Girl:
The Florida girl, on the other hand, was not weighed down by a vest packed with explosives and sent out by her elders. She was a pregnant girl who didn't want to mess things up with her mother and so hid her pregnancy and killed her newborn. She was physically mature, old enough to have sex and conceive a child. At the same time, she was so young that she didn't even try to dispose of the baby's body. She just hid it, like any kid hides something that could get them into trouble.

A 14-year-old is quite old enough to understand that murder is wrong, that babies should be cared for and protected. At the same time, 14-year-olds are not known for being tremendously skilled at appreciating the full consequences of their actions. They are known for being emotional and making decisions based on feelings. Remember Romeo and Juliet.  It's certain the girl knew that what she was doing was wrong, but she did it anyway, and confessed openly to the police when questioned about it. At the same time, was she truly doing anything contrary to what she had been taught?

Babies are valued in American culture. They are adored and dressed in cute clothes and parties are thrown for them. Wanted babies, anyway. The unwanted ones, however... those are considered disposable by law.

This 14-year-old girl's case underlines the moral schizophrenia of our society. Had she gone to a clinic and received an abortion three months prior to the birth, she would not be facing charges of murder. Not only would she have been considered in her rights to get an abortion, many Americans would have thought her mother crazy to have her keep the baby.

So, what is this girl really guilty of? Is she guilty because she waited too long to deal with her problem? She didn't trust her parents? She didn't seek help from anybody?

No, she's guilty of murdering her baby! She simply did it after the baby was already born, losing the sanctioning of the law. It is a tragic commentary on her life and our society that a 14-year-old kid didn't think that murder was as bad as telling her mother she was pregnant.

Human beings are born in sin. We know right and wrong innately, and yet we are capable of every evil under the sun. At the same time, our thought processes are formed by the world and people around us. By the time these two young people turned 14, they should have appreciated the evil of murder and the value of human life. They should have been tender enough to vomit at the idea of killing another person, especially children younger than themselves. Yet, both have been raised in cultures that say that human life is disposable if necessity demands it.  Both behaved according to what they had been taught was justified behavior.

While we have so far been unable to control the Taliban and their powerful influence over the Afghan people, we do have responsibility over our own lives. We are in charge of our families, our children and the patches of perspective that we ourselves add to the fabric of our culture. We need to make sure that in all things, we bring the life of the Spirit of God with us wherever we go, and by His presence shine godly wisdom into dark situations.  We need to each be a bright shining light that offers scared 14-year-olds other options available to them than the destruction that comes so naturally to us all.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Christian Conservatives Vs. Libertarians

When it comes to political arguments, one that I have done my best to stay out of (as much as possible) is the "conservative vs. libertarian" argument in the Republican Party.

Of course, there is a "Libertarian Party" proper, but the GOP has a significant libertarian wing in it, represented most notably by Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. The two sides can get quite contentious with each other.

The other day, I came across what I thought was a very thoughtful article in The American Thinker. Written by Jeremy Egerer, it basically discusses why the author chooses to identify with conservatism rather than libertarianism as a political philosophy. You'll notice that I didn't put the word "Christian" in this paragraph although the author did include that in his title (However, I did put it in the blog post title above). The reason I didn't is that there are genuine Christians in both camps. This is an effort made by one side of this argument to declare his heart on the matter. Worth reading and pondering.