Friday, December 29, 2006

Christians have a tough row to hoe in "moderate" Syria


Recently, Ricky Warren kicked up a storm during a visit to Islamic Syria by meeting with the president and speaking favorably about conditions there for Jews and Christians. Even before his return to the States, his and his church's PR corps jumped into high gear to spin everything as a "why is evaboddy always pikkin' auhn maaeeeee?" thing. Much like many Emerging/Emergent types, when his statements were analyzed, he cried foul and claimed he was "taken out of context" and that those who took umbrage at what was stated and left unstated are big mean meanies who are meanly being mean. The bullies.

Anybody who has a heart for the persecuted church knows that while Syria isn't exactly Saudi Arabia or Turkmenistan or Indonesia, it's not precisely Club Med for Christians and Jews, either.

WorldNetDaily (one of the big meanly mean meanie bullies who are just mean) just published a great article that helps put it all into perspective.

Some specially salient specifics:

While Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Middle East nations are well-known for persecuting Christians, Syria's actions are of a lower profile. But it is listed among those nations around the world that persecute Christians by everyone from Jacobson's organization to the U.S. government.

In Syria, the constitution requires the president to be a Muslim and specifies that Islamic jurisprudence is a principal source of legislation. And sharing your Christian faith with someone – anyone – is discouraged as "posing a threat to the relations among religious groups" and carries a penalty of up to life in prison, he said.

"For Christians, one of the core tenets is the ability to share your faith, but in Syria that can lead to arrest (and) persecution," Jacobson said. "We list Syria as one of the top … countries where Christians are facing real persecution."



"Syria isn't Saudi Arabia, but it's one of the big untold stories out there," he said. For those who want to convert from Islam to Christianity, "you're disowned by your family, if the local mosque issues a death threat, no one is going to do anything about it, you'll just end up dead. Nothing is done, no police action, that's just understood.


For those who already are Christian, the government allows them to practice their religion – but within harsh and restrictive guidelines. A Christian is not allowed to proselytize – ever. And churches who want to hold an extra service must get a government permit. Sermons are routinely monitored, as is church fundraising.


WORLD Magazine cited the case of Samer, a Jordanian Christian, who was jailed in Syria for 50 days with no notification of the nature of his "crimes." He later was released from the Syrian court system and moved to the United States.

"I want [people] to understand that there is a false image of Islam as a religion of peace and compassion. Many countries of the Middle East have a good image here in the U.S., but their rules are not what Americans think … When [Islamic countries] talk about human rights and freedom, it's not true – unless you remain in Islam," he said.



Christian Solidarity International-USA also noted that "the historical process of Islamization has transformed Syria's once thriving Christian majority into a small frightened community. Its existence is under threat. Syrian's Baath Party dictatorship is not as violent in its persecution of Christians as some other regimes and extremist Islamist movements in the region. Yet, the odds are stacked against the country's intimidated Christians."

CSI spokesman Father Keith Roderick said Syria is a totalitarian state, and the Christian freedoms, or lack thereof, reflect that. "There are restrictions. It's not a free society, therefore religious express is not as free at it should be," he said.

He said one particular concern was Christian schools, which are required by law to have a Muslim principal. "It's a police state. Of course there are problems," he told WND.



Darn those nasty, mean meany facts! Oh, the meanly mean bullying bullyness of it all! Darn them! Darn them to heck!

I'm sorry, but the more I dig into this, the more I have to agree with my esteemed pastor friend from Bangor...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Geek Tools

Here at the end of the year, though completely unrelated to that auspicious occasion, I give you for whatever inscrutable reason a list of helpful online geek tools I use frequently.

Just in case you might find something helpful which herein you... ah... find. Here.

Anyway:

  • Folder Share
    • I use this to keep different folders in synch between my home computer, my "tentmaking" computer, and my laptop. Namely, My Documents, and a folder which I use to drop files into that I want to transfer betwixt them - without the hassle of FTP'ing the files up to a web server... open FTP on my computer to transfer to... downloading the file via FTP... deleting the file(s) from the web server... closing FTP... kicking self because I actually didn't want to delete the file yet... re-open FTP... re-upload... you get the picture.

    • I also use this to keep Outlook synched between my three 'puters. I created a hidden subfolder ("_outlook_xfer_") and put my .PST files that I want synched into it. Obviously, Outlook should only be open on one 'puter at a time with this method; but it works real well. Also, so that you don't have huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge .PST files and the consequently looooooooong synch times, embrace the practice of breaking out your archives/inbox into several subfolders (and attendant .PST files).

  • Log Me In
    • Free, secure, browser-based remote access service. I use this to access my home 'puter when away from it, and my work 'puter from home. Or either from the road. Works very well.

    • The free service does not permit file transfer - but when you combine Folder Share with Log Me In, you get the same thing in effect - all for free. Bu-wah. Bu-wah-ha-ha. Bu-wah-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa...

  • Xdrive
    • Free, easy-to-use online file storage - for stuff I not only want synched, but completely backed up somewhere other than my sundry assortment of 'puters. And with a 5GB limit with the free service this is a NICE supplement to the previous two...

  • Flickr
    • Online photosharing. The free service offers you 200 photos. I got the premium service - all of $25/year, which has unlimited bandwidth, uploads, or stored photos. Plus, I can put a Flash badge on my blog (see pane to the immediate right) which shows a spiffy slide-show-ish whatever of random recently uploaded photos.

    • I like this better than Photobucket only because I saw it first.

    • Which brings up a trick if you're super-duper cheap: When you run out of space on one, sign up for an account on the other. Tee hee hee.

  • Backpack
    • Great free online collaboration tool.

  • And believe it or not, YAHOO! Groups
    • Another great free online collaboration/community tool. We use this on the Lakeshore here to keep our Servanthood and Children's Ministry volunteers in the loop. Has online file storage (limited, but still useful), online database, contacts, calendar, list-o'-links, and listserv-ish functions. We use it primarily to set and send reminders for events and stuff. I've sort of moved away from using it more in recent months since my "tentmaking" work hours have vastly ramped up ... but I think I need to get back into using it more.

    • I stole this idea from CC Sunset Coast, which used to host one for their youth group.

  • Bloglines
    • Web-based (and free) RSS aggregator - allows me to track all the blogs and podcasts whose feeds I subscribe to in one interface.

    • Even has a system tray icon which notifies you at a preset interval of changes/updates to any of your blogs.

  • Dictionary-dot-com and Thesaurus-dot-com
    • Not exactly geek tools per se, but I make heavy use of both.

  • DEL.ICIO.US
    • Online bookmarking service. I never bookmark to my browser anymore; I always "tag with del.icio.us" when I want to keep a page for further reference. Why? Because when it's on del.icio.us, I can access my bookmarks from any browser on any machine. Plus, with the use of tags, I can use it for (and this is a huge one for me) research; say I find a great article that I know is going to be useful during our yearly prophecy update; I can del.icio.us it, with a (for instance) prophecy-update tag, perhaps add a quick bit of text into the description to remind me of why I found it so interesting (or highlight a part of the text of the webpage in question prior to clicking "add to del.icio.us") and viola! it is saved, and I can pull it up again anywhere. Sweeeeeet...

  • The Blue Letter Bible Project
    • Even though I have Logos on my 'puter (and e*sword), I find sometimes that it's quicker just to jump up onto www.blueletterbible.org and do searching/word studies there - especially when I'm not at my home computer or laptop. Very convenient, and actually quite powerful.

  • GMail Space extension for Mozilla Firefox (link to Firefox here.)
    • ...what? You're still using Internet Exploder? ...and you call yourself "culturally relevant..."

    • This Firefox extension allows you to use your GMail space as online file storage.



There's more, which I'll likely add to this list in the coming days, but this is a good start.

Orange County Choppers


Looks like today's going to be a blogposting day.

Yes, I know, "blogposting" probably isn't a word. My blog. My rules. Neener.

Anyway, a brother in the church just sent me a link to the OC Choppers website with a comment to the effect, "looks like they have a Red Wings bike..."

Oooooooh... preeeeetty...

So, here's the plan:

  • Flip our small yet tiny house for an unholy-huge profit.

  • Buy the Joe Louis Arena and make one of the suites our new apartment.

  • Buy the Red Wings extended wheelbase four-door Jeep Wrangler/Scrambler.

  • Buy one of these OC Choppers Red Wings bikes.

  • Solve the problems of world hunger, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Green-versus-Orange-Irish spat, and figure out how many licks it does take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.


...kinda figure that last one is about as likely as the first four.

doh.

Anway, nice bike...

MacArthur Shoots Himself in the Doctrinal Foot

Tee hee hee.

I love John MacArthur. Few expositors today exhibit a comparable commitment to Biblical fidelity, few are his equal in mastery of the Text. He is an adept of doctrine. I have used his commentaries, am currently reading his book Pastoral Ministry, and love reading his blog.

But he has two problems that make me giggle at him some times.

  1. He's a stark-raving pinko-Commie Calvinist

  2. He's a stark-raving pinko-Commie cessationist


On the subject of his deeply ingrained cessationism, he's written several books, delivered a number of talks, and written a plethora of articles all describing how the Holy Spirit took an extended Sabbatical way back at near the close of the first century A.D.

So it's highly amusing to watch him in effect negate his own argument on this point.

On his blog, he is posting a series of exceptionally good articles on the Fundamentals, titled "What Doctrines Are Fundamental?". Very good series, since a lot of "fundamentalism" ...well, isn't Fundamentalist. Much of modern "fundamentalism" has accreted an impressive mass of secondary doctrines and declared them to be Fundamental, as well (i.e., rock music is of the devil, long-haired guys are of the devil, short-haired chicks are of the devil, the NIV is of the devil, Billy Graham is of the devil, most if not all of the rest of Christianity today is of the devil, etc.), so it's good to take a step back and re-examine what the Fundamentals really are.

Technically, I am a fundie.

In the sense that I am a Biblically conservative inerrantist who unequivocally stands on the actual Fundamentals of the Biblical Christian faith.

Anyway, back to MacArthur.

In his latest blogpost, he makes the fatal (to cessationism) point that, "Every Doctrine We Are Forbidden to Deny Is Fundamental".

I agree with this statement a billion percent.

Now, combine that with the following verse:

Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. [I Corinthians 14:39]


...oooops...

Koinonia House's Year-in-Review


Chuck Missler and Koinonia House have issued their Strategic Trends: Year in Review for 2006. You can read it here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Nineteen

I'm watching the Wings play the Wild again at home, awesome game - scored just sixteen seconds into the game. Since I am, after all, über-geek, I pull up www.detroitredwings.com, and see a great tribute for Stevie "Y"... actually choked me up. There are few athletes today with comparable class. Loyal to the team, a born leader, and a great player. The era of his wearing the "C" was, in my opinion, one of the greatest of this storied team; he unquestionably presided over the modern renaissance of the franchise, ending nearly a half-century Cup drought and putting the Wings back on the top of the league.

He will be missed.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Bootdisk Dot Com


So I'm at "tentmaking" and I need to GHOST a drive from an oooooooooooooooooooooooold CNC machine since impending failure of the hard drive is... well, impending. And since it's an Italian machine, "tech support" is more the punchline to a painfully bad joke than an "expectable" reality.

Bad news: The poor thing runs Windows 95. Worse news: For whatever reason, its Win95 support of USB can only be described as "flaky" if I'm being reeeeeeeeeeeeal charitable. Even with Microsoft's dribbleware USB drivers, if you bring a USB device (like oh, say, a flash drive or CD-R drive) within a ten kilometer radius of the thing, she locks up real pretty-like, Captain.

Enter Bootdisk-dot-com.

These guys have boot disks for every flavor of Windows, some for DOS, and even some Linux boot images. So I found a few options to boot into DOS on our piece of fine Italian machinery, load USB drivers, and then GHOST to a USB flash drive.

Hooray for the internet!

This geek moment has been brought to you by Blammo, makers of fine LOG products. LOG - it's big, it's heavy, it's wood.

Thank you.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

At the Joe with Maggie

My lovely and gracious wife, for CHRISTmas this year, got me tickets to see the Red Wings play the Minnesota Wild at the Joe Louis Arena last night. Anybody who knows me knows I am a Wingnut.


Maggie got the tickets at StubHubDotCom, where season ticket holders sell unused game tickets, so we got to sit up in the season ticket holder section (right pocket, right side of the ice).

It was an awesome game! The Wings scored early, the Wild answered back, but then it was all Wings all the time.

Though Hasek kept coming out of net, giving us all consecutive heart attacks...

Some pics of the game from www.detroitredwings.com












Some pics of the game from my camera phone...


The Wings are up
2-1 at this point, well into the second period...









...the game is over at this point...





...closer to the ice, after the game - go, Zambonis, go!!!






You can barely see it - the final score, 3-1 Wings.



...and some pics from our digital camera.


...and the Wings
celebrate their victory





She's sooooo hot...





Us, overlooking the ice





Yes, that's a Jeep. A Red Wings 4-door extended wheelbase Jeep. Oh,
I like, I like...









That's a Lego Stevie "Y"...





The Wings're on a roll...













Outside the Joe, after the game





Maggie shot this of me - the Wings just SCOOOOOOOORED!!!





...ah, the Joe...




And two quick, no-audio videos taken on our camera phone there at the end of the game...






Wednesday, December 13, 2006

ECMmers and the Rapture

'nuther quick thought on the ECM.

More and more in my reading, I'm running across a... well, I suppose you could call it a general attitude amongst ECMmers that's decidedly derisive of dispensational eschatology.

In other words, where an eschatology is expressed more clearly than a vague "well, Jesus'll come back some fine day..." it generall tends toward Laddian or outright postmillennialism (albeit not as clearly expressed as such as, for instance, Christian Reconstructionists). And where eschatology isn't directly referenced, I've noticed more and more side-swipes against us "fundie dispies."

Very, very instructive.

Kimball Cries Foul

Dan Kimball, a pastor at Vintage Church and a leader in the Emerging/Emergent Church Movement, has blown a fuse over MacArthur's critique of the ECM. The title of his blogpost is Please Don't Stereotype The Emerging Church, and is very fascinating to read - especially the comments that follow the post proper.

Kimball cries "foul!" regarding MacArthur's analysis of the movement, and in so doing fulfills John's predictions almost uncannily to the letter, almost. Almostly almost almost. How many times can I misunderetsimatingly use the word "almost."

Anyway.

When I read Kimball's several-paragraph-long complaint, I was struck by how prescient MacArthur's (and Koukl before him) caveat concerning his analysis has proven to be:

With that as background, let me attempt to give you something that approximates a definition of this movement—this thing—that we all agree resists any kind of precise definition.

Some important disclaimers. I hope you won’t be surprised or dismayed when people who are devoted to the emergent subculture point out that my description of their movement is an oversimplification. They are also going to complain that some of the things I criticize don’t apply in every exhaustive detail to every person or every congregation in their movement.

Remember: I know that, and I have already acknowledged it. But I still think there’s great value in giving you a description of the broad contours of the movement, and that is what I am going to try to do.

Some in the movement will complain that I haven’t read enough of their literature; I haven’t interacted enough with the right emergent bloggers; or I haven’t visited enough of their gatherings to be a competent critic of their ideas.

All I can say in response is that I have read as much literature from the movement’s key writers as I can get my hands on; I have interacted directly with people in the emerging movement as much as my time and schedule will permit; I have already put many of my criticisms of the movement in the public arena repeatedly, and I have invited (and received) lots of feedback from people who are devoted to the movement. I have done my best to be fair and complete. And I assure you that I will continue to study the movement.

But I don’t agree with the notion that in order to be a reasonable and credible analyst of a movement like this, you have to remain neutral indefinitely and never become a critic. There is simply too much in the movement that warrants criticism.

As I said, I just want to be candid and clear for you. I wish time allowed me to be as nuanced as I would normally like to be. On the other hand, I think a tendency to over-nuance and over-qualify everything has already spoiled some otherwise potentially helpful critiques of this movement.


Admitting that I'm sure not happy with MacArthur whenever he starts to plunk out critiques of those of us who don't actually think the Spirit went MIA at the close of the "Apostolic Age", or that God created the majority of the human race specifically for the purpose of stoking the fires of hell, so I'm quite certain it's not pleasant for an ECM-type to read his critique of the ECM, I note with fascination that it sure seems to me at least that Kimball pretty much missed John's point and launched into a "nuh-uh! nuh-uh!" session which ultimately fails to deal with MacArthur's central premise (that the ECM on aggregate sets aside or outright jettisons the doctrine of the perspicacity of Scripture) and ironically proved MacArthur's point in his disclaimer cited above.

One of the most stunningly irritating thing about the ECM that I've found - again, in aggregate - is the "moving target" nature of the debate; any time anyone attempts an analysis, they're answered with the increasingly untenable line that "you really don't understand, you're painting with a broad brush, yadda yadda yadda..."

Okie-dokie.

Sounds a lot like the univerally tired Calvinist objections to non-Calvinists critiquing their soteriology (e.g., White's classic oh-so-close-to-ad-hominem dodge of Bryson's critiques).

Let's just say, the more I read, the less impressed I am with the majority of the ECM...

Anyway, Kimball's post is worthwhile to get an ECM dude's view of things.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Dudes at The Sign of Jonah

The dudes over at ..the sign of jonah.., an apologetics blog, have posted an excellent article which demonstrates absurdity by being absurd. They are continually criticized for examining the doctrine of the current "prophetic movement" and comparing their doctrines with Scripture; in this article, they demolish the arguments of their critics by substituting "prophetic movement" with "Mormonism" and thus showing how it all boils down to doctrine.

Well worth the read.

Monday, December 11, 2006

MacArthur on "Engaging Culture"

MacArthur's latest post, Engaging Culture is well worth a read.

The opening quote for the blogpost:

One of the favorite topics on the evangelical agenda these days is how the church should “engage the culture.” Do Christians need to imitate the boorish aspects of a quickly-decaying civilization in order to remain “relevant”? Some evidently think so.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Selfishness = Selflessness...?

Scientific American recently published an article in their science news section that I found really instructive and very, very amusing.

Evolution postulates "the survival of the fittest," and that species improve over time largely due to the violent competition of life which tends to favor traits that give individuals or groups an advantage over others (and by extension, mutations which convey evolutionary advantages - leaving aside, of course, the discussion on "advantageous mutations" for another time, since such a thing does not exist...). In fact, many believe that selfishness is an evolutionarily ingrained trait that's really good for the individual and species.

It is a bloody, brutal enterprise.

So why do humans on a whole demonstrate compassion?

True, selfishness defines our race. However, in aggregate, and mostly in the individual, there is at least an echo of compassion which sure would at least seem to be contra-evolutionary.

And so, evolutionary biologists and sociologists have long been perplexed by this one (of very, very many) observable facts which sure do seem to militate against evolutionary presuppositions.

Enter Economist Samuel Bowles of the Santa Fe Institute. He's suggesting that selfishness actually equals altruism in evolutionary terms; that it's our very selfishness, ingrained in our very DNA by evolution, which produces selflessness.

...huh?

I'm selfless because I'm selfish?

Yet another example of the desperation of the evolutionist to explain away actual facts so that he doesn't have to examine his presuppositions too closely and be forced to conclude that his philosophy really has little to do with actual science.

The Bible tells us that we are created in the image and likeness of God Himself. Now, that's a shattered image since the Fall, but it still holds even in its degraded state; we love because our God loves. We sacrifice for the greater good because that's His character. And we look very much down on those who are selfish or possess other similar character flaws because these things are ingrained in us - by design, not by [start: Carl Sagan voice] billions and billions [end: Carl Sagan voice] of years of freak accidental random mutations.

Reeeeeal instructive, the lengths to which men will go to avoid dealing with the obvious...

Anyway, an interesting, amusing read...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Spook86 on the ISG's report

Spook86 comments on an analyzes the ISG's report on the situation in Iraq, comparing our current national intestinal fortitude and stick-to-it-iveness with that of the Greatest Generation which fought (and won) the Second World War in spite of astronomical losses and terrible setbacks.

Good stuff, well worth the read...

Also, heterodyne this with Koinonia House's The Decline of America strategic trend...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Kierkegaard, ECM Luminary Extraordinaire


In thinking more on the resonance between the ECM and Kierkegaard's existentialism, I ran across this quote in Søren's Wikipedia entry:

Whereas his first authorship focused on Hegel, this authorship focused on the hypocrisy of Christendom. It is important to realise that by 'Christendom' Kierkegaard meant not Christianity itself, but rather the church and the applied religion of his society. After the Corsair incident, Kierkegaard became interested in "the public" and the individual's interaction with it. His first work in this period of his life was Two Ages: A Literary Review which was a critique of the novel Two Ages (in some translations Two Generations) written by Thomasine Christine Gyllembourg-Ehrensvärd. After giving his critique of the story, Kierkegaard made several insightful observations on the nature of the present age and its passionless attitude towards life. One of his complaints about modernity is its passionless view of the world. Kierkegaard writes that "the present age is essentially a sensible age, devoid of passion ... The trend today is in the direction of mathematical equality, so that in all classes about so and so many uniformly make one individual". In this, Kierkegaard attacks the conformity and assimilation of individuals into an indifferent public, "the crowd".[12] Although Kierkegaard attacks the public, he is supportive of communities where individuals keep their diversity and uniqueness.


And also note this quote regarding his concept of the "leap of faith":

The leap of faith is his conception of how an individual would believe in God, or how a person would act in love. It is not so much a rational decision, as it is transcending rationality in favour of something more uncanny, that is, faith. As such he thought that to have faith is at the same time to have doubt. So, for example, for one to truly have faith in God, one would also have to doubt that God exists; the doubt is the rational part of a person's thought, without which the faith would have no real substance. Doubt is an essential element of faith, an underpinning. In plain words, to believe or have faith that God exists, without ever having doubted God's existence or goodness, would not be a faith worth having. For example, it takes no faith to believe that a pencil or a table exists, when one is looking at it and touching it. In the same way, to believe or have faith in God is to know that one has no perceptual or any other access to God, and yet still has faith in God.


Note especially that Kierkegaard's existentialism was a reaction against the modernism of the 1800s, and connect the dots with the ECM's emphases... Much of Kierkegaard's thinking reads like something from Bell or MacLaren or other ECM-types...

...truly, there is nothing new under the sun...

ECM = "Modernism 2.0" = Kierkegaardian Existentialism Badly Repackaged...?

Let's start off the month of December with a bang, shall we?

As you know, John MacArthur has been posting on his blog a series of articles on the Emerging/Emergent Church Movement. These have in my opinion proven to be a very important contribution to the ongoing "conversation" regarding the ECM and the ECM's underlying philosophical premise: Postmodernism.

John's analysis so far has, in my opinion, been absolutely, utterly, an unqualified masterpiece. Keeping in mind that he is no friend of the ECM, his critique of the movement and its epistemological underpinnings is very, incredibly incisive.

He posted the 4th installment today, and it just rocks. Some highlights:

Incidentally, Postmodernism itself is not easy to define, but in general it refers to a tendency to discount values like dogmatism, authority, absolutism, assurance, certainty, and large, commanding, exclusive worldviews—which postmodernists like to label metanarratives. Postmodern values would include things like diversity, inclusiveness, relativism, subjectivity, tolerance, ambiguity, pragmatism, and above all, a view of “humility” that is characterized by lots of qualms and reservations and uncertainties and disclaimers about whether anything we hold in our belief system is really true or not. Those are the very same values that are usually held in high esteem in the “emerging church movement.”


By the way, the suggestion that we try to deal with truth in non-propositional form is not anything new with the “emerging church movement.” It’s an idea that was floated as one of the key tenets of neo-orthodoxy at least 65 years ago or more. I would argue that the assault on propositional truth ultimately entails the abandonment of logic completely. It is an irrational idea. Francis Schaeffer said the same thing. He regarded neo-orthodoxy’s attack on propositional truth as the theological equivalent of suicide. He said when we abandon rationality in that way, we have crossed “the line of despair.” We might as well abandon the quest for truth itself. And in effect, that is the result of the postmodernist perspective.


Some actually believe the “emerging church movement” is so much the polar opposite of modernism that when you criticize their movement, they will accuse you of blithely and unthinkingly buying into the errors of “modern” thinking. They will often label you a “modernist.” And among other things, they will accuse you of parroting a brand of philosophical foundationalism that owes more to Rene Descartes and Cartesian foundationalism than it owes to the Scriptures. Lots of naive people have been drawn into the movement by sophisticated-sounding philosophical arguments like those. That claim is based on the assumption that postmodernism itself represents a correction of the philosophical errors of modernism, rather than just a further step in a wrong direction.



So my assessment of the “emerging church movement” is that far from being the antithesis of modernism, this sort of “evangelical postmodernism” is really ultimately nothing more than Modernism 2.0.


Far from being antithetical, the two movements are ultimately just one and the same. The “emerging church movement” is this generation’s version of what our grandparents knew as modernism—updated in some ways, but ultimately, it’s essentially the same. Postmodernists today are using the same arguments and the same strategies that the modernists of the Victorian era employed. The results will be exactly the same, too.


Absolutely, utterly, 1000% correct.

One thing, in fact, that I have noticed about the leftward-leaning majority of the ECM (like McKnight, MacLaren, Bell, Jones, et. al.) is that their worldview has troubling echoes of Kierkegaard's existentialism. Specifically, the emphasis on a "chastised" epistemology resonates powerfully with Søren's concept of the "leap of faith".

And again - the more I read about the ECM, the more I'm convinced that after it's blown around a bit, stirring things up and such, it will ultimately blow back out again. It has no staying power. It exists to accommodate a perception of current culture and so it will pass when the current cultural climate inevitably shifts as the pendulum swings back again.

The Word remains.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Great Quote

A fellow pastor sent me a quote this morning in response to something other than what I'm about to write, but it fits so well that I'm going to post it here in the following context:

One of the most critical failures of the ECM (specifically EmergENT, but the weakness is somewhat pandemic across the breadth of the "conversation"), as Koukl, Taylor, and MacArthur point out, is the downplaying or outright jettisoning of the absolute authority of Scripture.

Side note: many ECM types will decry that statement and loudly proclaim, "Nuh-uh! Nuh-uh! We believe in the authority of Scripture! We do! We do! We're telling you on our mommies!" ...blah, blah, blah. One of the consistent hallmarks of the ECM is what they have called a "chastised" epistemology, and the direct and necessary consequence of that thinking is that you can't be absolutely certain about anything (though some would limit that and say we can know there's a God, He is love, etc., but they're really just being inconsistent at that point). Propositional truth is viewed as "dogmatic" and "outmoded", etc.

So in light of all this, you can see how the following quote speaks volumes to our current cultural condition:

"What does it matter whether people go to Hell because modernists have robbed them of any confidence in the Bible or whether they go to Hell because their loved ones have no power, no supernatural influence, no anointing from God to win souls, to change lives, to draw the unsaved to Christ! The results are the same. The sins that bring the same results are not far apart in wickedness!" - Dr. John R. Rice, The Power of Pentecost (p. 24)


Owwwieeeee...

Poor Benny Needs A Plane

In the "you've got to be kidding me" category, Benny Hinn needs a new jet.

You absolutely have to read this to get the full impact of how very sad it all is. See if you can spot the thinly veiled manipulation ole' Benny throws in there in liberal doses.

So's you know, I was clued into this by Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries, an apologetics outfit that I reference frequently. White's comments on Benny's beg session are spot-on.

One thing: Benny's claiming the need to use God's money to buy himself a fancy new Gulfstream jet so that he can fly around the world proclaiming the Gospel, and that this is "absolutely essential" to that calling. ...we're an itty-bitty, teeny-tiny fellowship here on the Glorious West Coast of Michigan, and one of our own just recently spent two weeks in India -- all without his own personal Gulfstream jet. Huh...

As Chuck Smith is fond of saying: "Where God guides, God provides." There's never any need to manipulate or beg God's people. If He is guiding, He will do the providing.

And yet, as White points out, Benny's going to get his plane, because God's people sometimes aren't the most discerning bunch...

Emerging/Emergent = Last Dying Gasp of Modernism

John MacArthur is blogging a series on the ECM which adds some important perpspective to the... ah... conversation... ahem.

In his latest entry (part 3), he states:

In the first place, I object to the implications of the word emerging. This movement is not some beautiful new butterfly coming out of a cocoon. Although people in this movement sometimes claim to represent the next great step forward after the failure of modernism, my assessment would be that what we are really seeing here is the collective dying gasp of every major modernist idea evangelicals and fundamentalists have stood against for the past century and a half.


Very interesting, and actually something that I myself have been suspecting (at least on the more liberal MacLaren/Bell/McKnight/Jones/et. al. side of the ECM).

MacArthur doesn't claim to be unbiased, impartial, or even marginally friendly to the ECM, so read the posts with that in mind... but a worthy entry into the "dialog" from an evangelical/fundamentalist perspective.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

MacArthur on the Emerging Church

John MacArthur (Grace To You, the Master's Seminary, et. al.) has begun a series of posts in his blog about the Emerging Church Movement which I think is very insightful. Other than his comment on the charismatic movement (he's got a "thing" about the gifts of the Spirit - that and he's terminally Calvinist), this is probably one of the more incisive critiques I've read. His point on the ECM's problematic view of the perspicacity of Scripture is spot-on.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

More on Rick's Syria flap

Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Theological Seminary in Virginia, a former Muslim who surrendered his life to Jesus, has some very, very interesting insights into the comments of a certain Saddleback Church's senior pastor during a recent trip to the Islamic republic of Syria:

"What Rick Warren saw was 'religious toleration.' Not only is it a common mistake, it is the media norm to confuse the two," said Ergun Mehmet Caner, the president of the Liberty Theological Seminary at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

"He was shown open churches, and worshiping people. He was not shown a single Muslim who converted to Christianity, he was shown people who are 'grandfathered in," Caner continued. "If he would have seen a Muslim convert, the scene would be different, and tragic. He would have seen one of my kinsmen … buried up to his waist in his burial cloth … and then stoned to death. Killed for the sole crime of finding faith in Jesus Christ.

"That is not religious freedom, and that is not tolerance. That is religious genocide," said Caner, who has authored 14 books on Christian apologetics and world religions, including "Unveiling Islam."



The entire article can be found here.

You know, I find it nothing short of very fascinating and very instructive to note that many of our good and wise social/theological/political commentators here in the West are so much more better informed about Islam and Islamic regimes than those who have lived and suffered under them. While those who have paid the price to follow Jesus in Muslim countries warn us of the totalitarian nature of Islamic culture, those who know far better because they are celebrities rush to the rescue and helps us to see how things really are.

...huh.

Anyway, Dr. Caner brings up a very incredibly important point: Many Muslim nations tolerate other religions (and Christianity), but toleration is not the same thing as freedom. We often do confuse the two, since here in America, where we have a society heavily influenced by Christianity (yes, even still in the "post-modern," "post-Christian" era - our social morality still borrows epistemological capital from a Biblical mindset, as Cornelius Van Til very ably pointed out earlier last century) we actually have religious freedom - as a direct consequence, by the way, of that very underpinning of Christianity.

...but be that as it may, read the article. Lends the lie to the Good Reverend's recent comments regarding Syria and all that.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ron the Luthier

My poor Epiphone wasn't sounding too good no more no how. A few years back, some of the guys in the fellowship bought her for me, when I was first learning how to play. And I played her; so much so that now a few years later, there was tremendous wearing of the fretboard, fretwires were deeply worn, the nut and saddle were in sorry shape, and as a result of all of it I was experiencing fret buzz and snapped strings (I went through two sets of strings a month - all because my strings would snap in the middle of worship, which is both embarassing and distruptive of worship).

Enter Ron.

Ron started working for the company I also work for about a month ago, and he overheard me talking with Fred (one of the four owners of the company, who leads worship at his church) about my poor git-fiddle and my string snapping woes. He mentioned that he's a luthier, and that he'd give my guitar a thorough going-over and bring it to better than factory specs.

He certainly did that!

My guitar - which I've always been thankful for, but never thought of as more than a "I own this because I can't afford a Washburn" thing, now plays like butter. Sweeeeeeeet...











I'd like to officially recommend Ron the Luthier for any and all luthier needs.

You can reach him at
rsenf@theboldcompanies.com

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Addictive... sooooo addictive...

Okay, this is sick; Lethal Penguin, online game.

...and of course, DHTML Lemmings, to which I flock like a... lemming...

Now I have one more thing to soak up what little spare time I have left. Thanks. Thanks a bundle.

(...I'm trying to get high score as I type...)

Driscoll hits a home run

Anybody who gets theological liberals all in a tizzy pretty much instantly becomes one of my personal heroes. And the more I learn about the EmergENT side of the "Emerging/Emergent Church Movement," the more easy it becomes to recognize it for the hastily/haphazardly repackaged liberalism that it is. It's "hep cat yo dog g-money" liberalism, as opposed to the more "zzzzzzzzzzzzzz" liberalism of the intellectual elites. But it's still liberalism.

So when Driscoll's latest post got the EmergENT-types' collective undershorts all in a bunch, my esteem for the guy shot several floors up.

I still have reservations about Driscoll (see [1], [2], [3], [4], and [5], along with the fact that he blankety-blank uses blip-blip-blank inappropriate bleeping blankety-blip-blank language at times... plus he's a stark-raving pinko-commie Calvinist...), but overall I'm starting to like him more and more...

...in a very non-metro sort of way, of course.

John Leo: "Double Trouble Speak"

Ran across this great article from John Leo in the U.S. News and World Report. Good night, this is a crack-up of an article, which really cuts to the quick with regard to the whole explosion of euphemistic doublespeak in our culture (for those of you living in Rio Linda, that means "using purdy fancy words to make it seem like I didn't say what I really said")

You've got to read the article... tee hee hee...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Islamic militia peacefully slaughtering children in Darfur

According to this article from Fox News, it appears that the practitioners of the religion of peace are, with the backing of the Sudanese government, perpetrating "acts of terror" against civilian targets in the Darfur region - especially children.

Whew! It's a good thing that Islam teaches peace and tolerance, like the completely fair and unbiased American news media - and a certain pastor who I am Purposefully Driven to not name - continue to assure us! I'd hate to see what the carnage might become should that actually not prove true...

On a slightly different note, the Revolutionary Islamic Republic of France has apparently installed AA weaponry in Lebanon for the specific purpose of shooting down Jewish fighter craft trying to defend the Jewish homeland.

Well, at least the French aren't antisemitic, right?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Sow an act..."

In studying to teach the closing chapters of Genesis tonight at our midweek study, and expanding on the point that Jacob's prophecies over his sons are rooted in the characters they'd developed through the decisions they'd made and actions they'd taken, I was reminded of a quote I'd heard a long time ago: "Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny." After a quick web search, I ran across a list of quotes on habits that gave me the source of the pithy statement (Marcus Fabius Quintilian in De Institutione Oratoria)... and also a plethora of other gems of wisdom.

  • We sow our thoughts, and we reap our actions; we sow our actions, and we reap our habits; we sow our habits, and we reap our characters; we sow our characters, and we reap our destiny.
    Author: Desiderius Gerhard Erasmus
    Source: Diluculum

  • Good habits result from resisting temptation.
    Author: Ancient Proverb

  • Habit, if not resisted, soon becomes necessity.
    Author: Saint Augustine

  • Cultivate only the habits that you are willing should master you.
    Author: Elbert Hubbard

  • The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.
    Author: Samuel Johnson

  • Good habits, which bring our lower passions and appetites under automatic control, leave our natures free to explore the larger experiences of life. Too many of us divide and dissipate our energies in debating actions which should be taken for granted.
    Author: Ralph W. Sockman

  • Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.
    Author: Mark Twain

Flying Spaghetti Monster

A lot of my "extracirricular reading" involves reading the blogs of some of those involved (whether self-consciously or not) in the Emergent Church Movement. I do this, among other reasons, because of all the recent hoopla over the ECM. Instead of relying on predigested summaries of the beliefs of those in the movement, I consider it part of my duty, as a pastor, to do at least a modicum of my own homework. Being, as I am, "bivocational" (a fancy clergyese word meaning, "I have a day job to support my habit"), time is certainly not a commodity I have in any great abundance. My solution has been to monitor ECM blogs, for at least two reasons:

  1. It's instructive to find out what they consider "required reading" and focus my efforts there

  2. Blogs are great summaries & internal critiques of their ongoing conversation, and as such are superb sources of context.


One of the blogs I read had a link to a Wired Magazine article about the "New Atheism" - which, by the way, is just the old atheism without even so much as a facelift.

Dawkins rejected all these claims, but the last one -- that science could never disprove God -- provoked him to sarcasm. "There's an infinite number of things that we can't disprove," he said. "You might say that because science can explain just about everything but not quite, it's wrong to say therefore we don't need God. It is also, I suppose, wrong to say we don't need the Spaghetti Monster, unicorns, Thor, Wotan, Jupiter, or fairies at the bottom of the garden. There's an infinite number of things that some people at one time or another have believed in, and an infinite number of things that nobody has believed in. If there's not the slightest reason to believe in any of those things, why bother? The onus is on somebody who says, I want to believe in God, Flying Spaghetti Monster, fairies, or whatever it is. It is not up to us to disprove it."cience, after all, is an empirical endeavor that traffics in probabilities. The probability of God, Dawkins says, while not zero, is vanishingly small. He is confident that no Flying Spaghetti Monster exists. Why should the notion of some deity that we inherited from the Bronze Age get more respectful treatment?


This just jumped out at me. It's probably one of the most popular arguments that atheists use against God's existence; it's clever, it's catchy, and it's been used to devastating effect.

It's also quite flawed.

For one, the argument sophomorically lumps God into the same category as the Flying Spaghetti Monster et. al.. This won't work; they're in completely different categories. Same goes with unicorns, Thor, Wotan, the Tooth Fairy, bigfoot, life on Mars, Elvis, or honest politicians. It's roughly akin to lumping "hard science" initiates like Dawkins in with pseudoscience adherents like astrologers. They're in completely different categories, though there might be some superficial similarities.

To be fair, the argument that because science can't disprove the existence of God, therefore He exists, is quite weak. It's a non-argument, which Dawkins easily defeats in his witty riposte. So I find no small irony in noting that he falls for a similarly weak premise. He assumes that because he's batted down a poorly formed theistic argument, that his position must be true. Bow to the applause, pat self on back, rest contentedly on our rhetorical laurels, our job here is done.

...except that all he's done is pointed out the soft underbelly of perhaps one of the weakest arguments for God's existence that there is, and in the process exposed the most glaring weakness of his own atheistic position.

He makes the very bad (for him) mistake of tying the issue to probability and (by extension) proveability.

Science is inextricably tied to empiricism. If something can be empirically demonstrated, it is (generally) presumed to be true. Thus the scientific method. And therein lies the greatest single weakness of that atheism which tries to maintain a patina of scientific rigor: the very empirical reality of God. Hence the "Intelligent Design" movement which in spite of the frantic attacks of open-minded atheists is gaining incredible steam in the scientific community.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster has exactly zero evidence to support its existence. Ditto the unicorn, Thor, Wotan, Jupiter, fairies, guileless politicians, or the hope that Proposition 2 will actually be enforced in the Sovereign State of Michigan what with the results of this month's election of the state executive and legislature. But I digress.

God, on the other hand, is in an entirel different category. Consider:

  1. The empirical improbability of life arising spontaneously outside of the agency of an intelligent Designer:













    THE
    GOLD WATCH


    Creation Model

    Evolution Model 
    Hans created timepieces.  As a young man he made ordinary sundials.  He later built hourglasses and water timers.  And he fashioned all kinds of clocks... magnificent grandfather clocks, pretty little anniversary clock... clocks of every shape and size.  But his most prized creation was a watch. 

    Hans worked on details of his gold watch for many years.  Day after day he labored over design - sizing every gear, calculating every small weight and detailing the exquisite artwork.  Meticulous care went into the manufacture of each piece.  Tiny gears were microscopically measured, formed and polished for precision.  The balance wheel was carefully calibrated ensuring maximum accuracy.  The spring, the casing, the face, the crystal... every detail was crafted to create the most "perfect" timepiece ever.  Finally, when the last gear was delicately placed, the polished crystal gently set and the gold band lovingly attached... Hans marvelled at the beauty and precision of his masterpiece.  He realized, however, that he was still holding just a beautiful ornament.  Then Hans began to wind the watch.  The sound began...  "Tick, tick, tick."  The ornament had become a timepiece.

    Billions of years ago, the earth was far more favorable to "manufacturing" than today.  Surrounding the earth was a sea of "ooze", richly laden with the precise elements to create timepieces.  Bits of gold, bits of silica, even bits of paint. 

    Years and years went by.  Then the inevitable happened.  Bits of metal were joined together by volcanic heat.  Amazingly, metal molecules bonded in the exact way needed to create intricate gears and balance wheels.  As the parts tumbled in the "ooze," delicate polishing occurred:  Precision polishing in the exact way to produce a perfectly calibrated timepiece.  Then, molecules of black paint formed together in exact patterns to create numbers.  And they coincidentally landed on a surface randomly covered with pure white paint.  As the years continued to pass, eventually gears, wheels, a face, a crystal and a beautifully engraved band came together to form an exquisite gold watch... a product of the right mix of materials and billions of years.  It was beautiful.  It was complete and meticulously formed.  It was perfect in every way.  Almost...  It still needed someone to wind it.


    Sound ridiculous? Absurd? Consider that the simplest "simple" organism is orders of magnitude more complex than a precision watch, and then insert "simple cell" and things like "amino acids" and "organelles" and the like into the story above, and you quickly realize that it is statistically absurd to believe that life appeared by accident all on its own through natural, materialistic, uniformitarian processes.

    That is at minimum just as much of a fideistic position to take as to simply accept the statistical reality that it is for all intents and purposes impossible that the universe created itself and life arose on its own, and make the short leap from there to the realization that there is a creative God behind it all.


  2. In the famous debate between Wilberforce and Huxley, the latter asked the theologian/mathematician for three assumptions:  Ten monkeys that never die, ten perfect typewriters that never break or run out of ink, and unlimited amounts of paper.  Having granted Huxley these assumptions, Wilberforce was backed into a mathematical corner:  According to the Probability Formula, as you reach infinity in the amount of time, the probability for anything becomes "1," or "a foregone conclusion.  Therefore, Huxley's monkeys, clanging away at the typewriters, would eventually type out all the works of Shakespeare, and other works -- including Psalm 23.  Shamed, Wilberforce never again spoke in public; the defeat was rabidly pounced upon by Darwinist and liberal theologian alike as a death-knell for rational thought.

    Huxley, however, had a problem that neither he nor any of his contemporaries ever picked up on.  His starting assumptions were grossly faulty.

    Leaving aside for the moment a discussion of amino chirality and reversible processes (which dictate that in a random environment amino acids will never form proteins or even peptides due to the nasty little problem of "critical mass"), we note that the universe is not infinitely old.  Even rabid evolutionists agree that the universe had an origin.  Seeing as how it did, that seriously truncates Huxley's monkeys chances. 

    The most liberal (i.e., "favorable to chance") probability I've been able to find calculates the odds of DNA spontaneously producing itself from a primordial "ooze" at 1 in 1070.  Let's put that into perspective.

    Granting for the moment the ridiculously inflated estimates for the universe's age given by evolutionists, and assuming that present estimates for the universe's actual volume are correct, we find that: 


    • There are only 1018 seconds in the history of the universe

    • There are only 1066 atoms in the universe

    • There are only 1080 particles in the universe


    What this means is that a) there's not been enough time in the universe for DNA to spontaneously generate [if you had one try every second, you're out of luck; even if you had one try every microsecond, that's still only 1024, so you're still out of luck]; b) there's not enough material in the universe to experiment with.

    Now, that's using a very liberal estimate of the chances for DNA to develop randomly. But once you have the molecule, you're still not out of the woods; for DNA to be viable, all the required attendant protein apparatus are necessary for reproduction! It's not as simple as "cooking up the stuff" (the way Stanley Miller tried -- and failed to do back in 1953); the entire molecule must be completely present, absolutely without error, the first time, along with attendant servant proteins, in order to be viable; i.e., to reproduce.

    Why? Superb question! Here's the answer:

    The DNA molecule contains coded information and complex interactions that are so interdependent, that if one of the necessary pieces is out of order or missing, the entire construct becomes unviable. This is made all the more impossible when one considers that in order for DNA to reproduce, there must be a special error-correcting protein that has to travel up the nucleotide chain to check for errors. This protein is in turn produced by the DNA molecule (of necessity, since that's how we get proteins in the first place; from DNA) Which brings up a very irritating (to the evolutionist) twist to the old quandry, "which came first?" The duplication protein, or DNA?

    Both had to be present, in perfect working order,at the same time.

    Add to that the fact that DNA is a truly breathtaking -- and absolutely unparalleled -- example of an information storage system. The information encoded on the DNA molecule is, first of all, digital. It is encoded in 4-bit code [the four bases that make up nucleotides: adenine, thymidine, cytosine, and guanine]. DNA has built-in redundancy to ensure error-free data transfer; that is, many nucleotide sequences occur in multiple places, so that if one sequence is damaged (the special duplication protein knows when it is so!), the backup sequence can take over the production of the necessary proteins! DNA also is error-correcting (the duplication protein travels up the "daugher molecule" checking for errors). In summary, the DNA molecule stores coded information in 4-bit binary, redundant, error-correcting chains. And all this must be in place, perfectly, before any duplication (i.e., "reproduction") can take place.

    Harold Morowitz estimates the probability of all necessary conditions existing simultaneously for a single "simple" cell to be at 1 in 10100,000,000,000, or similar to the odds of winning 10,000 lotteries in a row.

    Sir Frederick Hoyle (an avowed atheist) calculates the odds of only the proteins of an amoebae arising by chance as 1 in 1040,000!

    What are the odds? Well, in order for all of this to occur (and it must in order for evolution to be a viable theory of origins), we compute as follows:


    • 1017 seconds in the history of the universe (average age estimated by evolutionists)

    • 1084 particles in the universe (counting baryons)

    • 1020 events per second (maximum number of conceivable interactions between subatomic particles)

    • 10121 total events (1017 x 1084 x 1020= 10121)

    • 10100,000,000,000 events necessary to produce a single living cell (estimate by molecular biologist Harold Morowitz)


    The equation would be thus:

    Probability of evolutionary start = 10121 / 10100,000,000,000= 1 / 1099,999,999,879 = zero


    One final thing should be noted: Whereas nothing is mathematically "impossible," strictly speaking, statisticians define odds beyond 1 in 1050 as being absurd, or as being so incredibly unlikely that it will never occur. So, not only is there not enough time in the universe (even granting evolutionists their mythological "billions of years"), and not enoughmaterial in the universe for the necessary tries, and not enough chances in the first place in the universe, the best-case scenario for DNA producing itself randomly calculates out to zero, but even the best odds available are definitionally absurd!!!

    Conclusion: Evolution is irrational on pure mathematical grounds.

    ...and if evolution is not a viable explanation for the origin of all things, then that leaves... oh, dear... ahhhh... oh, help me out here... starts with a "G"...



Then, and here's the clincher which places God in an entirely different category than the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or unicorns, or Thor, or a winning Lions season, etc.:

None of them have ever revealed themselves to man in an empirically verifiable way; none have ever entered human history in a redemptive way; none




...post in progress, more to come, eh?...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ricky goes to camp

...or to Syria, as the case may be.

I recently attended a pastors' conference where one speaker I admire made a passing reference to Rick Warren as "a punk." If you understand the context of the dude who was speaking, this was totally within character and actually somewhat funny. However, there were some of my fellow pastors who got their undershorts all in a bunch and grumbled about the pugilant pastor and his off-the-cuff remark.

I later unpacked the pastor's session for myself as I worked through and found application for his points to myself, and realized that I actually wasn't too happy myself with the "punk" statement; Rick is a brother, and I believe that he is doing what he thinks is God's work. The statement was, in the final analysis, good comedy, but poor in charity. I'm pretty sure the pastor who made the comment rues it... he's had to repent before, and I love him for his sometimes messy, always gritty "real-ness."

That and he doesn't have any patience with girly-men. Gotta love that. [Tim the Tool Man Taylor grunting:] Ar-ar-ar...

All that said, it seems that the appelation of "punk," while unwise and uncharitable, also isn't 100% off the mark.

Consider this article from the Syrian Arab News Agency, "American Priest [sic] Says no Peace without Syria," which includes the following atomic bomb of a comment:

Pastor Warren expressed admiration of Syria and the coexistence he saw between Muslims and Christians, stressing that he will convey this image to his church and country.


Syria is a major state sponsor of terror. Read: Syria pays people to blow up or otherwise mutilate Jews. Not even combatant Jewish soldiers; that at least is marginally comprehendable. Syrian-sponsored homicide bombers routinely try to blow themselves up with shrapnel-laden jury-rigged ordnance in heavily patronized urban areas specifically for the purpose of killing or maiming Jewish women and children. Dead Jewish men are just a bonus. A nice "icing on the cake" is if some Americans also get hurt. Not as much candy is passed out by "oppressed" "Palestinians" if any other sort of Westerner dies, but these heroic shahids aren't picky.

I don't doubt the authenticity of Warren's remarks as reported by SANA; I've read similar moral-equivalency statements from "America's pastor." And no, there is no context which could adequately mitigate the horrific moral inversion of it all.

But really this isn't all that surprising. Beliefs have consequences - belief determines action. Abandon an expectant hope in the immanent return of Jesus for His Church (like Driscoll suggests we do), and other doctrines fall like dominoes. Next to go would be the Israel/Church distinction. Then you lose the eternal perspective of the Kingdom, and are left with a "now-only" view. Etc.

And since belief determines action... you begin to morally equivocate. The Kingdom cannot and will not "break in" to our current world system; it will utterly replace our world system. But if you're committed to try to force the Kingdom on a corrupt and fallen world, you are forced to compromise, and you begin to fail to distinguish between fact and fiction, and so on.

And, you inevitably fail to see Israel's unique, eternal right to the Land, and you begin to lobby for Israel's enemies... and on and on an on.

Israel as a political entity has no shining halo. The government of Israel is not spotlessly innocent. They are not always right.

They are, in fact, as corrupt as any other merely human government.

But the people of Israel themselves are still God's chosen people (though of course they still individually need to surrender to their own Messiah, as we Gentiles who believe have in order to be saved), and I'm sorry, but Genesis 12:3 still applies; and anybody, or any entity (governmental or otherwise) which seeks to thwart God's purpose in His physical people make themselves at least at that juncture His enemies.

Period.

And it's fascinating to note that those who refuse to see that begin to morally equate the suffering of the Jewish people with the entirely self-imposed "suffering" of Israel's enemies and blind themselves to the reality that:

  • Muslim shahids go out of their way to kill and bring unspeakable suffering to as many Jewish women and children as possible, while IDF soldiers generally go out of their way to avoid collateral civilian damage

  • Muslim shahids are driven by an implacable hatred of Jews, while Israel is driven by a desire just to exist

  • Israel has always bent waaaaay over backwards to try to placate the Islamic world and win a lasting peace, while their Muslim neighbors have invariably rejected any and all concessions, desiring only the simple destruction of all Jews and the sterilizing of all Jewish influence off the face of the map

  • The Islamic world, which outmasses Israel, outmatches her in size by orders of magnitude have callously and calculatingly used their own people to fan the flames of world opinion against Israel by keeping the "refugees" still in their hellish situations instead of absorbing them into their much larger economies... while itty-bitty Israel has successfully and continues to successfully integrate real refugees into their vastly smaller economy

  • Arabs and Muslims have full citizenship rights and full vestiture in Israeli society and government, while no Islamic state reciprocates with their resident Jewish populations; for instance, no Jews are allowed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Can you imagine the uproar in the Western press if Israel made a reciprocal law? Yet nobody demands concessions from S.A. There are no Jewish homicide bombers blowing up Muslim women and children in Riyadh. And the French aren't sanctimoniously demanding that the Muslims return to their pre-Hajj borders, or for a "right of return" for Jewish refugees from when Mohammad's original muhajadeen sacked their towns in pre-Islamic Arabia... or Iran... or Syria... or Lebanon... or Egypt... or Iraq... or...


But again; they're just Jews, so they don't count.

...right, Rick?

You might not be a "punk," but you're no paragon, either.

Unless we're referring to a paragon of pragmatism and moral equivalency.

I suppose, at the end of the day, I don't completely disagree with my pastor friend from the conference...





UPDATE

Rick's responded to the uproar that his statements in Syria have made. He says he didn't say what he said, and took Joe Farah to task for not asking him first before reporting on what he says now he didn't really say... even though his church (and by extension, Rick himself) refused to return calls asking for clarification. Awfully convenient to now attempt the moral high ground and say "why didn't you ask?" after refusing to answer.

Add to that that up until yesterday you could pull up a vid on YouTube of Rick talking about many of the things he's now saying he didn't really talk about. I'm hearing echoes of a question... "what is the definition of 'is'...?"

Anyway...

In Rick's response to his congregation there, he makes some more really insightful comments:

"Next, my neighbor arranged for me to meet many of the key Christian leaders of Syria, including the Presbyterian pastor who leads the coalition of Evangelical Churches of Syria, the patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Catholic Church, the patriarch of the Catholic Church, and the pastor of the oldest church in the world," he continued. "You may be surprised to know that Christianity is legal in Syria, that the government provides free electricity and water to all churches, allows pastors to buy a car tax-free (a tax break not given to Imams), appoints pastors as Christian judges to handle Christian cases, and allowed Christians to create their own civil law instead of having to follow the laws for Muslims. One city we visited, Malula, is two-thirds Christian. Every Christian I met with expressed gratitude to the government for protecting their right to worship. Honestly, that shocked me."


Yyyyyeeeeaaaahhhh...

I haven't been able yet to check on how much of this is actually true (and given Rick's Orwellian "I didn't really say what I said, I really said something different than what I actually said, why is everybody always pickin' on me?" protestations, I'm really quite skeptical about a lot of it, especially given Syria's Islamic culture), but even if so... it's likely sort of like the Communist Chinese government claiming that there is religious freedom in the PRC because of the "Three-Self Patriotic Movement."

Besides, the line that Syrian Christians live happy, sugar-cookies-and-dandelions lives with more privileges than even Muslims just ain't so. Doh. Stupid appeal to facts...

Hmmmmmmm...



UPDATE:

See also this article from Spook86 regarding the (apparently in the opinion of Ricky W.) moderate, peace-loving president of Syria and the implications of the assassination of Pierre Gemayel.