Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Next Star Wars?

By now, at least if you're a sci-fi film fan, no doubt you will have heard that there will be another Star Wars film coming out. I guess it's supposed to be about 30 years after "Return of the Jedi."

If you'd like, here is some speculation on what the film might hold. I have yet to see the last two films in their entirety. "The Phantom Menace" was the last one I saw in whole at the movie theatre. Sadly, I've had little time of late for movie watching except my occasional 1940s/1950s film noir classics. Once I get caught up, I will be interested to see what they come up with, hoping against hope that Disney won't ruin the franchise.

I have one other hope in mind for the new film. No Jar-Jar. Please. Pretty please.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Papal Authority, or No?

Long time readers of The Seventh Sola know well that I am firmly a child of the Reformation. Even so, I typically don't post a lot of articles debating over Roman Catholicism. That argument has been raging between Catholic and Protestant theologians since before Martin Luther, and we won't settle it here.

Having said all that, I became aware of a new book out that continues the argument over the Roman pontiff's authority, and indeed, whether the Apostle Peter ever even set foot in Rome. Here is an article about it if you'd like to read it. Scripture itself does not mention anything about Peter being in Rome although long-standing tradition says he was. It will be interesting to see what kind of media stir Fordham theology professor George Democopolous's book "The Invention of Peter" causes. Stir or no stir, somehow I don't think that the disagreement between Rome and evangelicalism will end any time soon. Only when Jesus Himself returns to set us all straight.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

What If? Not a Civil War, but States vs. Feds?

Note: Edited slightly from the original for the sake of clarity of intent.

I am going to mention some provocative questions here, but I want it to be clearly known that I am advocating nothing. I do not want bloodshed, but I do want our American way of life preserved. I want to see just how much of the original American spirit from 1776 remains.

What if the federal government continues (under Obama's arrogance and belief that he can rule like a dictator) to overreach. They grab land, they take over our most personal relationships between our doctors and us, and assert the non-American idea that the state is supreme. What should we do?

Could it come to the nation's governors and state legislatures deciding "enough is enough?" Obama says he "has a pen and a phone." Well, so do the nation's governors. What if the governors—if they cannot unfederalize the National Guard—could they elect to legislate and call up a separate state statute that a new militia is being formed—one accountable to the state with the governors as commanders in chief, and not to the feds?

Could the governors, backed by the legislatures, say to the Obama Administration, "No more. No more power and land grabs. So-called "federal" property that is not legitimately federal property such as military bases and government buildings is now confiscated by the states. (We're talking huge swaths of land within state borders.) All local and state police forces are now the new state militias. Your unconstitutional federal mandates will be ignored. And if you try to send federal troops into the states, you will be resisted."

And a big "what if" to the U.S. military—those federal troops. You all hail from states and localities. Should orders come for you to act against the citizenry, could you all collectively say "NO!" since the "Commander in Chief" seems so little inclined to respect the Constitution and American rule of law? You are sworn to the Constitution, not to be slaves of Obama or any other president. The rule of law is not by cafeteria plan. If Obama won't behave and respect the Constitution, maybe the states, counties, municipalities, local police and other armed citizenry who love local law enforcement and their local police friends who back them WILL respect it. I am even hoping (in the wake of Obama dismissing generals who disagree with them) that our military by and large will agree and protect the people if push came to shove.

Again, I am not advocating armed rebellion by fringe groups, individuals and loose cannon "militias." I am talking about legitimately constituted authority on the state and local level restraining the federal leviathan. My hope of what I am advocating is that it will PREVENT the bloodshed that might arise later if nothing is done to nip this in the bud. Our Founding Fathers in the Declaration presupposed the right (and a right is NOT a privilege—rights are inherent and cannot lawfully be taken). Privileges can be.) for an oppressed people to change their government. Preferably by the ballot box, but when voter fraud, lying media, and a host of other things compromise the people making intelligent decisions, must other methods be considered? Hard, hard question.

I do not want war. I do not want civil war. But in America, we have a battle between those who really value America and why we were constructed the way we were by our Founders, and the most recent crop of statist bureaucrats and office holders who don't care about the Constitution other than by lip service. Statists hate our freedom, our individuality, and government power is their solution. They are, and always have been, enamored of the authority and total power of the State to bring their desired Utopia into pass. And once they gain total power, history is shown that they are unparalleled in their brutality to get their way.

The Bundy situation in Nevada has been obscured by the octopus ink of his racist and racially insensitive statements. As repugnant as those are, the fundamental issue has not changed. The feds are overreaching. States have reserved powers that are not relegated to the Feds. The states just don't use them much. They tend to cave in to the Feds. It needs to stop, now.

Please note: our Founders saw a place for the federal government, but they kept it on a leash. The federal government is constrained by the Constitution. When we have leaders in office (including one sitting Supreme Court Justice) who vocally express their disdain for the Constitution, then those leaders must be kept at arms' length and stopped when necessary.

I must say it one more time. I do NOT want things to degenerate to this. I hope and pray not. God forbid. Yet we currently have a Chief Executive who thinks he can do whatever he wants with a pen and a phone. This is cockiness, this is arrogance, and it needs to be slapped down. And that is for the benefit of future Chief Executives who forget their Constitutional limits.

If there is a new Civil War in America, it will not be divided by North and South. It will be divided by those who are statist and those who revere our liberties. We need to think it over, and think it over hard. I pray it is not too late to restore Constitutional balance to our body politic. But it may be. More on that later.

Addendum to the above. Two things—remove the "allegedly" from the paragraph about Bundy's statements. They were racist at worst, and extremely insensitive as the least. Second, attorney and talk show host Mark Levin has suggested a Constitutional Convention as a solution to federal overreach. I would like to think he is right, but anytime anyone suggests opening up the Constitution for rewriting, I get very, very nervous. Once you do that, if I understand a Con-Con correctly, you open it up and anything can happen. Consider retired Justice John Paul Stevens wanting to add "militia only" to the 2nd Amendment the other day. Your right to keep and bear arms gone in a flash. Better be very careful with that one.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"Christians" Offended by the Cross?

It has been a very long time since I've done any post on the so-called "Emergent Church" matter. When I was still doing my radio program, we dealt with the subject quite often and I did quite a few blog posts calling attention to the aberrant, if not heretical, views of some within that movement—a movement compared to "nailing Jello to the wall" when you try to find out what they really believe. It varies, as the Emergent/Emergence movement (and they don't like being called a movement) is not monolithic.

Having laid that groundwork, I wanted to link you to this article by Roger Oakland, one of the contributors to Lighthouse Trails publishers. We had Roger as a guest on our radio program a few times prior to 2009, and he was always an engaging, knowledgeable guest. His column today focuses on the cross of Christ—the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord, the nature of the Gospel and the nature of the atonement. The EC types have real issues with the cross as it turns out, or better yet, they have real problems coming to grips with the reality of the substitutionary atonement of Christ—a key biblical doctrine. They seem to be more inspired by Fosdick than by Scripture itself, sadly.

And despite what postmodern-types say, Scripture is clear. Postmoderns find clarity and certainty very problematic, and there lies a key reason why their theology is so messed up. The Apostle John said that Scripture was written so that we might KNOW we have eternal life. The "mystery" postmodern Christians love to wallow in is really no longer a mystery, because as the Apostle Paul declared, the mystery has been revealed to us—Christ, God Incarnate crucified, reconciling His people to Himself.

In the end, so much of this EC stuff is exactly what was predicted in Scripture, people who want a form or veneer of spirituality but rejecting the real power and truth of God as revealed IN Scripture. It ultimately is yet another form of rebellion. In the meantime, check out Roger's article. It's a good overview of an important issue.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Looking for an Old Children's Anthology

Ever had a book that you read in your childhood over and over? You read it so much it began to fall apart? You can see the book in your mind's eye - even some of the design elements and the blue cover, but you can't remember the title of the anthology, the publisher, or anything else to identify it.

You try typing in specific stories that you remember were in it, such as Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, The Emperor's New Clothes, Snow White, and a host of others. In one such Google search, the book to the right came up, but it's the wrong cover and wrong color. I don't remember Tolkien being in the anthology I am seeking.

It's driving me crazy. I'm going to have to go hunting at antique stores and poring through the book section. I just might find it eventually.

After all, I found a Hull Pottery mixing bowl my Mom had in my youth - the same exact design. I was stunned, and was glad to pay the $30 cost for it. I keep Mom's original put up safe, and we use the replacement I bought. Now I have to find the yellow one!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bart Ehrman Vs. Easter?

Just what we needed, ay? Another controversy over the Bible, and more specifically, the Lord Jesus.

I have, of course, heard of Bart Ehrman. However, I have had little time in the past couple of years to pay much attention to the occasional kerfuffles that arose when he'd launch an attack on Christianity.

Thanks to our friends at World Magazine, I was made aware of this newest launch from Ehrman's missile base. It's a book called "How Jesus Became God," an effort to debunk the biblical account and what the Church has believed for 2,000 years. World's article is calling attention to another new book—this one written by five Bible scholars who rebut Ehrman's arguments from different perspectives. I'm glad that they were able to respond so quickly.

Now, let's see if the media that give Ehrman so much attention bother to be fair and balanced, and contact these Bible scholars for equal time. Somehow, I doubt that they will do so. Therefore, it's up to us to spread the word that there are answers out there to this stuff.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Michael Bloomberg At It Again!

I am normally not one who wants to engage in name-calling, even in heated political discussions. Ad hominem attacks really don't prove your conclusion in an argument. But I'm mad enough this morning to use the term "megalomaniac," and when you read the article that prompted it, you'll see why. At least I hope you do.

Check out this little piece from The Weekly Standard, which discusses former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ongoing cultish zeal for gun control of whatever kind he can push with his influence-buying. There is a separate piece on Breitbart on this same subject, (you can see the link on Drudge) but the commentary got a little profane for my tastes so I didn't link there.

Despite what Bloomberg says about "no one wants to take your gun away," he has about as much credibility as Pinocchio. Along with California Senator Diane Feinstein, he'd be thrilled to confiscate every last one of them. And the full court press is on again, despite the Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment conveys an individual right. The press was making much of an article by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (a liberal appointed by a Republican president), which tried to make the case that the current Court changed the historic understanding of the Second Amendment. The writings of the Founders indicate otherwise, but who cares, right? Stevens believes in a "living, breathing Constitution" that can morph like a chameleon.

Bloomberg is notorious for his interference in the affairs of other states and cities across the country on this issue. Aside from Bloomberg spending his billions to take away your rights, another statement he makes in the article both angers and saddens me. Most notably, this quote:

“I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close,” Bloomberg told the Times.

Amazing, isn't it? Now, Bloomberg is associated (from what I can find out) with Reform Judaism, which my conservative Orthodox Jewish friends tell me is pretty open-ended on anything. As a Christian, I would compare it using conservative evangelicalism or fundamentalism with liberal mainline denominations such as the United Church of Christ, where core, orthodox biblical doctrine means little. Regardless, one does not "earn a place in heaven." Salvation and justification before God has always been by faith, not by works—Old and New Testaments. I'm afraid Bloomberg is headed for a tragic surprise.

Anyway, back to gun control. I'd love to hear a discussion face-to-face between Michael Bloomberg and Dr. John Lott, formerly of the University of Chicago. Too bad Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and our other Founding Fathers couldn't be there to chime in. Bloomberg would be in for some schooling.

However, Bloomberg has shown that he's not a very teachable person. He knows what he wants, and intends to get it, no matter who or what he has to run over in the process, including your constitutional rights. Let's not let him get away with it, shall we?

Addendum: Another frequent point on which Bloomberg and his fellow anti-firearm freedom zealots make is this:

The billionaire Bloomberg told NBC's "Today" show he did not view the $50 million investment as a "heavy political lift. Thirty-one thousand Americans either get murdered or commit suicide with illegal guns. That's the heavy lift."

"Illegal guns." Hint: criminals disobey laws. The word "legal" means nothing to them. Pass as many laws as you like. As with drugs and other "illegal" matters, criminals will still obtain and use them. The only thing that Bloomberg will manage to do is to make millions of otherwise law-abiding, patriotic, faithful citizens into criminals because they will not bow the knee to him and give up their rights. Underscore the word RIGHTS.
Rights are inherent, unlike privileges. Rights cannot lawfully or rightfully be taken away, at least under the Founding Fathers' principles.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Communicating Between Worldviews

A hat tip to Ed Stetzer for for this article by Dr. Toby Jennings about communicating with people who hold a different worldview. It's excellent.

One major mistake being made within today's evangelicalism is that love means mush. Never challenge, never rebuke, never "judge," behavior doesn't matter (especially among professed believers), and most of all, doctrine doesn't matter or is relegated to the back closet. Just warm fuzzies, because people will be turned off if we don't deliver them.

That's not the love of God. It's a false notion of love eagerly encouraged by enemies of the Gospel, and all too quickly embraced by well-meaning evangelicals who either want to be liked too much by the culture, or are fooled into thinking that the God-kind of love means a Gospel that never confronts and only delivers warm fuzzies.

A kind of love that leaves people in their sins is no love at all. It's the worst kind of hatred, because the consequences are eternal.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Noah, Movies and Holy Writ

Looks like it's time for one of my infrequent movie commentaries, because we have another controversial film dealing with a biblical subject—Noah and the Great Flood.

I have not seen the film, but I've read about the uproar over it. Within Christian circles, you have defenders and detractors. I can tell you where I stand in general on things like this. Open, but very, very, VERY careful.

I am a biblical and theological conservative. I take the Bible seriously both as a practicing believer and as a teacher of Scripture. Believing as I do—that the Bible is God's written Word and revelation to man—I think great care needs to be taken when dealing with what is written in its pages, and that includes creative license in making a movie. I used to be less cautious when I was younger, especially when I enjoyed movies made on the life of the Lord Jesus and historic epic films such as The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston. I knew with the latter that some liberties were taken with the story, but by and large it treated the subject matter with respect and didn't stray so far from the biblical account that it became unrecognizable.

But now (and I think it because I HAVE become more of a Bible teacher and occasional pulpit fill), I am leery of the Hollywood treatment of Scripture. Yes, people have been drawn to faith through motion picture productions, or more accurately, as the Gospel was proclaimed through those films or by those addressing crowds after the films were shown. But given the warnings of God Himself about not adding to—or taking away from—His Word in specific places, and the very idea of a fallen man trying to portray the sinless Son of God . . . hmmmm. I am just very uncomfortable with it these days. I would hate to stand before the Throne of God and have to give account to Him for putting words in His mouth that He didn't say. That's serious.

Now, for some balance, I do not believe that this is necessarily in the same light as making "graven images." As I read Scripture, a graven image or statue (and one could include other works of art such as paintings) would have to be made for the purpose of worship i.e. "to bow down and to worship it." It is that qualifying phrase that gives me pause about making blanket prohibitions against artistic portrayals. We know that when we see Jesus portrayed in film that it is not the real Jesus, and we don't worship the actor doing the portrayal. We know that when we see artwork portraying biblical scenes, it is an artist's conception and not the real people. Or at least we should. And in THAT lies the danger of any image of any kind—the chance that someone MIGHT make it an object of worship. You can get ridiculous with that kind of fear. That was one of the Lord's criticisms against the Pharisees of His day—they added their own laws and traditions on top of what had been divinely revealed and written. They were so afraid some command might get broken that they felt adding firewalls was necessary. It wasn't. But I digress.

It is on precisely those grounds that some fellowships and Bible teachers are much more severe than I am—they think that films and paintings—even plays—are wrong, period. While I can't go that far yet, I respect their convictions, and I am teachable on the subject if they can make a sound biblical case. Worshipping graven images is a direct violation of Scripture. The penalty is severe. In fact, that is why Eastern Orthodoxy receives criticism from within Protestantism—the practice of venerating icons. It's a debate that's gone on for eons and I have no intention of settling it here today. Just a notation of a very real, ongoing argument within Christendom.

Next—and finally—a word to those who mock and scold those who DO have scruples on this issue. Before you rip on someone too heavily for expressing their reservations, look at it from the perspective of someone who takes their faith and the "sacred writings" of their faith very seriously. I think we know how many Muslims would react were someone to try and make a major Mohammed film or a film based on the Quran. How would Eastern religions react to films being made on the Bhagavad Gita or the rest of the Mahabharata? I haven't really researched the attitudes of other religions on this subject with the exception of Islam, and perhaps such films have been made. I just don't know about them off the top of my head. But what I do know is this. Many faiths have their more conservative, even fundamentalist, adherents, as well as more liberal types who reinterpret their faith or belief out of historic norms. If one were to make a film that took horrendous liberties with writings considered sacred or deeply valued, or to veer wildly off on the nature, personality and words of one of their deities from what is recorded, I have a hunch you'd have a lot of very upset people out there.

So, let's step back, take a deep breath, and think. And filmmakers, sit up and take notice. I fully respect your craft and desire to make art, as well as a living. I know there are believing filmmakers and actors out there, as well as many who have no religious belief at all. Just remember to have a care. You are touching on things that are deeply meaningful to millions of people around the world. If you get it wrong, and take liberties with what millions consider Holy Writ, you will stand to take a lot of heat. The entertainment world likes to carry the tolerance, acceptance, and understanding banners and wave them high. Vocally. And that's great. Just have a little tolerance, respect, understanding, and forbearance for people of faith, okay?

Christians and my Jewish friends included.